Your Daily Phil: Should Kanye have visited a Holocaust museum? + Adventures with children’s theater
Good Thursday morning.
Today we remember the 11 Jews killed in the shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life-Or L’Simcha synagogue, which took place four years ago on this date.
In today’s Your Daily Phil, we look at the promise and pitfalls of inviting people who have made antisemitic statements to Holocaust museums, and feature op-eds by Yeshivat Maharat’s Rabba Sara Hurwitz about the weekly Torah portion, by David Bernstein of the Jewish Institute for Liberal Values on antisemitism, and by Jonathan Shmidt Chapman and Alan Scher about children’s theater. Also in this newsletter: Hillary Clinton, Allison Fine, Rabbi Berel Lazar, David M. Rubenstein and Israeli President Isaac Herzog. We’ll start with the scene at a gala in Beverly Hills…
Servers passed hors d’oeuvres and cocktails to 500 people who were milling about in a Beverly Hills backyard last night, as a DJ cranked tunes including one of Taylor Swift’s newest singles, “Anti-Hero.” The crowd had gathered to celebrate Creative Community for Peace (CCFP), a nonprofit that mobilizes prominent members of the entertainment community to oppose boycotts of Israel and promote arts as a bridge to peace.
The gala honored several industry leaders with CCFP’s Ambassadors of Peace Award: actor and “Schitt’s Creek” co-creator Eugene Levy; Darren Star, an award-winning writer, creator and executive producer of shows such as “Sex & the City” and “Emily in Paris”; Brandon Goodman and Danny Rukasin, co-founders of talent agency Best Friends Music; songwriter and producer Autumn Rowe; and David Zedeck, the co-head of global music at the United Talent Agency.
The event was catered by the Milky Way, the dairy kosher restaurant in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood of Los Angeles once owned by Steven Spielberg’s late mother, and guests chatted in Hebrew and English about their new projects as well as the rise of antisemitism — including the recent series of comments by Kanye West.
“As a writer, I strive to tell stories that affirm our individuality, expose prejudice and illuminate our shared humanity,” Star said in a speech. “And as a Jew in this country right now, at this frightening time, I feel there is no more important moment to affirm and take pride in my own Jewish identity.”
After joking about how his name had been misspelled on the monitor, Levy recalled how he had faced antisemitism in high school.
“If you can actually get people to a point of feeling shame for their own despicable thoughts and actions, or for following the despicable thoughts and actions of others, then that can be a giant first step in turning heads, and eventually in eradicating hatred and bigotry,” he said. “So one of the things we can do in the entertainment industry is try and show those people what the other side can look like through the stories that we tell, what a world without bigotry can look like.”
CCFP hosts events, organizes trips to Israel for entertainment industry executives, creates coalitions like the Black Jewish Entertainment Alliance (BJEA) and serves as a resource for managers and agents whose clients may come under fire for booking concerts or other events in Israel. The organization, which was founded a decade ago, also spearheaded a letter this month against boycotting Tel Aviv’s LGBTQ Film Festival, signed by more than 200 celebrities including Mila Kunis, Mayim Bialik and Neil Patrick Harris.
The Ambassador of Peace event generates about half of CCFP’s annual budget, which hovers between $800,000 and $1 million, co-founder David Renzer, the former CEO and chairman of Universal Music Publishing, told eJewishPhilanthropy. CCFP’s supporters include Shari Redstone, the Blavatnik Family Foundation and entertainment mogul Haim Saban, who sponsored the award that went to Zedeck on Wednesday night.
“Our red line is we don’t believe that boycotts are the solution,” Renzer told eJP in advance of the event. “We talk about that openly. Cultural boycotts are not the solution. In fact, it’s the opposite, right? Let’s use the power of culture and the arts to actually do something positive and bring people together.”
Read the full story here.
Kanye was invited to tour a Holocaust museum. Would it have worked?
Near the beginning of Kanye West’s weekslong string of antisemitic statements, the Holocaust Museum LA turned to a familiar approach: inviting him to see the worst consequences of Jew-hatred, and the conditions and conspiracies that led to the Nazi genocide. It didn’t work. West declined the invitation, and the museum instead received a stream of hate online, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Ben Sales.
Standard practice: Asking that public figures — especially those accused of antisemitism — visit Holocaust museums is common practice across the Jewish world. Foreign dignitaries make a de rigeur visit to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial and museum, when they travel to the country. After antisemitic street attacks surged in New York City in 2019, the city allocated funding for middle and high school students to visit the city’s local Holocaust museum. TV host Nick Cannon and NBA player Meyers Leonard both visited Holocaust memorials after making antisemitic statements.
Limits of the visit: But such visits don’t always change minds on their own. Sara Bloomfield, the longtime director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., told eJP that “Holocaust education can contribute… to developing anti-antisemites, but I also think we need to be realistic” about the limits of one visit to a Holocaust museum for someone who is already antisemitic.
Still worthwhile: Holocaust Museum LA CEO Beth Kean stands by the impulse to invite West both because of his outsize following on social media — he has 30 million Twitter followers, roughly double the number of Jews in the world — and because she wants to make sure he understands the way statements like his created a fertile ground for genocide in the past.
Parashat Noach: Harmony, not conformity
I am blessed to know second- and third-generation philanthropists. As parents age, families are sometimes faced with the question of remaining loyal to their parents’ and grandparents’ philanthropic interests or prioritizing new and innovative projects. Should children follow their parents’ direction, or is divergence acceptable?” asks Rabba Sara Hurwitz, co-founder and president of Yeshivat Maharat, in this week’s Parsha Phil column for eJewishPhilanthropy.
This week’s parsha: “Conformity, where everyone ascribes to a shared mission and vision, was the operating ethic in the world after the Flood, a state described in chapter 11 of parshat Noach: ‘The whole world was of one language and of one common purpose… The story of the Tower of Babel continues: ‘Let us make bricks. Let us build a city and a tower with its tops in heaven, and let us make a name for ourselves.’”
Family legacy: “I believe that it’s possible for children to honor their family’s legacy without doing exactly the same things. I would even venture to guess that parents’ greatest joys are seeing their children carve their own unique path, navigating their own unique interests. Children do not need to conform to their parents’ philanthropic interests, but to have a greater sense of harmony, they should assess how to honor the work their parents have already done and to integrate what was meaningful to the previous generation into their own contemporary work.”
The board report on antisemitism Jewish organizational leaders have yet to give
“One of my jobs as president and CEO of this organization is to highlight external trends that impact our organization and the broader Jewish community. Sometimes these trends are straightforward, noncontroversial and easy to speak about. At other times, however, they can be sensitive and hard to raise because in addressing them we may rattle the sensibilities of some in our community,” writes David Bernstein, founder of the Jewish Institute for Liberal Values, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
Antisemitism on all sides: “We have all noted and expressed alarm about rising antisemitism in American society coming in various forms. It’s not controversial to identify antisemitism on the far right, in the Muslim world, and on the far left of America… We have not, however, fully grappled with the rise of antisemitism on the left, sometimes cloaked in anti-Zionist rhetoric and sometimes expressed in a social justice terminology alleging Jewish power and privilege.”
Left-wing antisemitism: “I believe that we have not been forthright about the sources of left-wing antisemitism and thus haven’t addressed it effectively. Jewish organizations may even be inadvertently fanning its flames. ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt recently compared antisemitism on the right to a hurricane, and antisemitism on the left to climate change, meaning that the left-wing form of antisemitism is slower moving and takes a toll over time on Jewish security and well-being. I think that’s an apt analogy. As with climate change, however, it’s not enough that we speak of the symptoms; we need to understand its causes to prevent it from metastasizing and spreading.”
Sparking joy in community: Activating Jewish holidays through theatrical adventures
“A group of preschoolers sits close together, eyes wide with wonder, faces illuminated by the glow of a battery-operated campfire fashioned to look like the Burning Bush. The trick is simple, but to them, the illusion is completely real. Suddenly, one child emphatically proclaims, ‘We need to go back to Egypt with Moses. He needs our help!’’’ write Jonathan Shmidt Chapman, founder of The K’ilu Company, and Alan Scher, CEO of the Kaiserman JCC in Philadelphia, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
Theater as a vehicle: “In the fall of 2021, the Kaiserman JCC began a partnership with The K’ilu Company, a new organization dedicated to activating early childhood Jewish discovery through immersive theater and imaginative play. The school year had once again been dominated by the impact of COVID-19, and the community was just beginning to consider in-person programming again. The partnership began with a question: Can we bring people together again for the spring Jewish holidays, using theater as a vehicle for shared connection and joy? The question felt especially charged for very young children and their families, who had navigated the last few years in isolation, missing out on the moments of communal celebration that might have otherwise been a vibrant part of their lives. A year into our partnership the answer seems clear – Not only can we, but arguably this approach may be exactly what we need.”
Dear Donor: Donor letters should be effective, but also engaging and mindful of readers’ feelings, Willis Turner writes in NonProfitPRO. “Don’t set out to write a two- or four-page letter, or worry about production considerations in this early stage. Simply make sure the letter says everything it needs to say in clear, concise language. Make certain your story has emotional power, gives readers a compelling reason to send a gift, and that reading your copy is a rewarding experience for them. Then, you can go back and add, subtract, edit and revise as much as you need to in order to meet the package’s production requirements… Giving is an emotional, even irrational, act. Treating donors like Pavlov’s dog, or having them react to carefully tested stimuli, does work, and those types of tools are important. But readers are also sensitive, emotional beings. Keeping that in mind, and focusing on little details that touch their human sides can further improve results and strengthen relationships.” [NonProfitPRO]
Deadline approaching. New Spertus Institute certificate program equips communal executives to combat rising antisemitism. Application deadline is November 7. Find out more.
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Word on the Street
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is building her next philanthropic endeavor, the Hillary Rodham Clinton Leadership Project, under the umbrella of the Clinton Foundation. The new initiative will both highlight what Clinton has already done, particularly for women around the world, and serve as a new home for her to talk about her own philanthropic work going forward…
A senior Russian national security official referred to the Chabad-Lubavitch community in Ukraine as a “supremacist cult,” drawing fierce criticism from Russia’s Chabad Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar. The Chabad and Orthodox Jewish communities in Russia have mostly refrained from taking sides in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict…
The Breakthrough Prize Foundation pledged $3 million to establish an international group that will support Ukraine’s scientists and researchers…
Allison Fine has joined every[dot]org, a platform for nonprofits, as the group’s president. Fine is a strategist on the use of technology for social good and the author of four books…
President Joe Biden announced the appointment of philanthropist David M. Rubenstein, co-founder and co-chairman of The Carlyle Group, to serve as a member of the board of trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Rubenstein’s philanthropy includes a $15 million pledge, made earlier this year, to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., after being motivated to donate by the conflict in Ukraine amid rising antisemitism worldwide…
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem School of Engineering and Computer Science and Yissum, the university’s technology transfer company, announced a new research partnership with Meta AI. The joint effort stems from the university’s initiatives to strengthen ties between academia and the tech industry…
The Jewish Federations of North America leadership met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Wednesday during his visit to Washington, D.C. Herzog was briefed on the communal agenda-setting issues that will be addressed at the organization’s upcoming General Assembly in Chicago…
Foundation Source, the largest U.S. provider of management solutions for private foundations, released the “2022 Report on Private Philanthropy,” a study of nearly 1,000 private and family foundations with assets between $1 million and $500 million. Among the findings, the study found that while there was growth across foundations in 2021, smaller foundations realized the greatest gain in assets, adding 15.6% in net value. Additionally, foundations of all sizes, on average, granted more than their annual mandatory distribution requirement of 5% in 2021, with the smallest foundations giving an average of 8.9%…
Pic of the Day
More than $2 million in grants were awarded to Israeli climate-tech researchers and startups at Wednesday’s Climate Solutions Prize Festival, held in the Hulda Forest in central Israel. The Climate Solutions Prize is a joint annual initiative of JNF Canada, Start-Up Nation Central and KKL-JNF to spark climate innovation. Above, a grant is awarded to Israeli startup Red Solar Flower.
Hasidic cantor and singer known by his first and middle names, Shlomo Simcha Sufrin…
Pacific Palisades, Calif., resident, Gordon Gerson… Senior U.S. District Court judge in Maine, he was born in a refugee camp following WWII, Judge George Z. Singal… Rabbi emeritus at Miami Beach’s Temple Beth Sholom, Gary Glickstein… Author, actress and comedian, Fran Lebowitz… SVP at MarketVision Research, Joel M. Schindler… CEO of Jewish Creativity International, Robert Goldfarb… Co-chair of a task force at the Bipartisan Policy Center, he is a former U.S. ambassador to Finland and Turkey, Eric Steven Edelma… Television writer, director and producer, best known as the co-creator of the 122 episodes of “The Nanny,” Peter Marc Jacobson… Specialist in Middle Eastern affairs at the Congressional Research Service, Dr. Kenneth Katzman… Co-owner of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and English soccer club Manchester United, Bryan Glazer… New York State senator from Manhattan, Brad Hoylman… Creator and editor of the Drudge Report, Matt Drudge… Managing partner of the Los Angeles office of HR&A Advisors, Andrea Batista Schlesinger… Television meteorologist, currently working for The Weather Channel, Stephanie Abrams… Recent member of the Knesset, up for reelection next Tuesday, Idit Silman… Deputy chair of the Open Society Foundations, Alexander F. G. Soros… Israeli actress best known for playing Eve in the Netflix series “Lucifer,” Inbar Lavi… Senior advisor and strategic engagement lead at USAID, Elizabeth (Liz) Leibowitz… Executive producer of online content at WTSP in St. Petersburg, Fla., Theresa Collington… Senior manager of social media and content marketing at Marriott International, Stephanie Arbetter… Senior strategist at Red Balloon Security, Andrew J. Taub… Co-founder of New York City-based Arch Labs, Ryan Eisenman… Founder and partner at Oak Grove Advisors, Andrew Hanover… Chief operating officer of the American Conference of Cantors, Rachel Roth…
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