Your Daily Phil: Spielberg, Capshaw launch Jewish Story Partners + Forever a Young Judaean

Good Friday morning!

Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw launched a new L.A.-based foundation yesterday whose mission is to fund films that reveal the complexity and diversity of the Jewish experience. Roberta Grossman, a documentary filmmaker with a focus on Jewish history, will serve as producing director at Jewish Story Partners, and Caroline Libresco, formerly Sundance Catalyst’s director, will serve as artistic director. 

Spielberg and Capshaw have donated $1 million in initial funding through their Righteous Persons Foundation, and Jewish Story Partners has $2.5 million in financing due to a matching grant from Maimonides Fund and support from Jim Joseph Foundation, according to a statement from the group.

The organization will soon announce $500,000 in grants to support U.S.-based, feature-length documentaries. International filmmakers and makers of fiction films will be able to apply in coming years as the foundation plans to expand its grantmaking and eligibility requirements.

The Network of Jewish Human Services Agencies (NJHSA) will be co-hosting its annual conference this year with Neshama: The Association of Jewish Chaplains, a new member of the network, NJHSA CEO Reuben Rotman told eJewishPhilanthropy

About 1,700 people have signed up for the conference, which will run online April 19-22. The event will include a plenary by Rabbi Susan Berman Stone, who will speak on “moral injury,” the witnessing or enacting of behaviors that contradict one’s values. A common problem of soldiers, moral injury has affected health care workers during the pandemic.

Four historically Black medical schools will receive $6 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies to expand coronavirus vaccination outreach in minorities communities. The foundation will give $2.1 million to Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, $1.6 million to Charles R. Drew University of Medicine in Los Angeles, $1.6 million to Howard University College of Medicine in Washington and $869,000 to Meharry Medical College in Nashville.

A new report from Wealth-X, a provider of data and analytics, titled “Very High Net Worth Handbook 2021” shows that the global population of very high net worth individuals who have between $5 and $30 million rose 1.3% to 2.7 million people worldwide in 2021, with the biggest increases happening in Asia and North America. In both Asia and Europe, the top hobby among high net worth people is sports, while in North America, it’s philanthropy. (h/t @TeddySchleifer)


Funders gather on Zoom to discuss racial justice

Courtesy Jordan Daniels

Moved by the racial justice protests last summer in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in police custody, a group of foundations and federations has met online regularly since the fall to discuss racial equity and inclusion in the Jewish community, and in some cases to make related grants. The Racial Equity and Inclusion (REI) Funders Circle consists of about 35 individuals representing as many as 25 funders and grantmaking organizations, including the Jim Joseph and Leichtag foundations, the Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies and UJA-Federation of New York. The online brainstorming and discussion sessions were inspired by last summer’s protests and the national reckoning on race in America that they sparked, said Hindy Poupko, deputy chief planning officer at UJA-Fed NY. “We are trying to figure out how we can make a contribution in this space. Lots of other people are in the same boat,” said Aaron Dorfman, president of the Lippman Kanfer Foundation. “Is racial justice a program area? Is racial justice a lens that should be applied to all work? Probably both. Probably there are other ways of thinking about it, too.”

How to help: The conversations focus on how organizations that don’t have racial justice as their core mission — unlike the Jews of Color Initiative, a San Francisco-based nonprofit whose mission is to support Jews of color through grants, research and education — can do racial justice work, Dorfman said. Ilana Kaufman, executive director of the Jews of Color Initiative, has been an essential interlocutor of the REI Funders Circle, Dorfman added. “I think it’s great that some funders are connecting around racial justice themes. Next to the kavod that we all feel about it, there are a bunch of questions,” she said, using the Hebrew word for respect. “Symbolism matters. What does it mean that core community funders, if they want to talk about non-white Jews, have to take the margin?”

Defining the field: These funders are some of the most influential in the country, she pointed out, and the Jewish Funders Network (JFN), a support organization for Jewish foundations that give a minimum of $25,000 annually, could be a home for these conversations. The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation is also part of these informal conversations and supports this collaborative effort to advance important and meaningful work in the field, the foundation said. Andres Spokoiny, JFN’s CEO, praised the convening and said that it could be done under JFN’s auspices if that would be useful. “JFN supports every initiative that brings funders together,” he said. “What JFN brings is a toolkit, an expertise in facilitating. The first issue is to define the field, and what is Jewish about it, and what the goals are.”

Read the full article here.


Changing the focus: embracing a new approach to Hebrew language education


“One of the many lessons that we have all learned from our global ‘experiment’ with online teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic is that technological tools are not the key to real success in education. Students cannot learn effectively if they are just bombarded with information,” writes Mickey Katzburg in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Language learning: “It is important to understand how language is acquired, and particularly how children learn a second language. Whatever digital and paper resources are chosen for each class, the success of their Hebrew language acquisition will always depend on the teacher. If we want students to become literate in the Hebrew language, Jewish schools must invest first and foremost in properly equipping the most essential resource in the classroom: the teacher.”

Realigning teachers with technology: “The race to update Hebrew learning programs has been wasting an unfair proportion of the Hebrew department’s budget. We recognize that schools are already using the most advanced tools developed by the world’s leading technological companies, like Google Classroom and Microsoft Meet. So, rather than trying to invent new EdTech tools for Hebrew teaching, we should be focusing on training the teachers and finding the right curriculum materials to suit the needs of each school.”

Read the full piece here.


Forever a Young Judaean

Courtesy Young Judaea

“It is 1975. I am 18 years old and having Shabbat dinner in the home of a lively Moroccan family in Nazareth Illit, Israel. I have just completed the first two months of Young Judaea’s Year Course and my ability to speak Hebrew is minimal,” writes Mike Berman in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Back in the day: “We had just finished studying the differences between Mizrahi and Ashkenazi communities in the classroom, and now each member of our program went to stay for a weekend with Mizrachi families in development towns. Spending an immersive weekend with a non-English speaking Moroccan/Israeli family was an experience I recall and reflect on to this day, 46 years later. During that weekend, the family took me in as one of their own. My Hebrew improved more in three days than in an entire semester of Ulpan.”

Fast forward: “It wasn’t until 2011, 25 years later, that my personal involvement with Young Judaea picked back up. The organization was moving towards independence from Hadassah at the time, and I joined a group of Judaean alumni to envision what the Young Judaea of the future would look like. During those early gatherings I found myself being transported back to my time as regional Mazkir, my summers at camp, and my time exploring Israel as an 18-year-old.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Big Plans: President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan includes provisions such as $400 billion to help with elder care, $88 billion for work-force development and others that will help populations served by nonprofits, Dan Parks writes in the Chronicle of Philanthropy. However, leaders in the sector are also keeping a wary eye on the program, because past infrastructure plans, such as those that built highways, have had negative impacts on neighborhoods of color. Independent Sector, a national coalition of charities and foundations, has created a new advocacy group focused on infrastructure and is pushing for the White House to create an Office on the Nonprofit Sector. “The administration has really reached out to us,” said Dan Cardinali, CEO of Independent Sector. [ChroniclePhilanthropy]

Growing Down: Lachlan Markay and Stef W. Kight report in Axios that a Texas nonprofit called Family Endeavors that hired a Biden official received a contract worth as much as $530 million to help handle the surge of migrant children at the southern border. The official, Andrew Lorenzen-Strait, had served at U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and then on the Biden-Harris transition team. Family Endeavors’ most recent available tax filing showed an annual budget of $43 million. [Axios]

Next Gen: Donors in their 20s, 30s and 40s redefined “impact” as they tried to use philanthropy to help address the problems created by the coronavirus pandemic, write Sharna Goldseker, Michael Moody, and Holly Honig in a blog post on the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy’s website that draws on a survey fielded this winter. Previously, they would not have been able to assess impact without results; this year, impact meant disbursing money quickly and letting partners on the ground decide how to use it. They also became more politically active. “I think that the cracks in the system are showing more than ever and that we have a great opportunity and responsibility to actually have a part to play,” one donor wrote. [DorothyAJohnsonCenter]

Check List: James Mueller offers seven recruiting tips for nonprofit boards in a post on PhilanTopic that urges board members to do a lot of due diligence before they reach out to a possible candidate. A new member must have integrity, skills and connections to possible donors, but he or she must also be a good fit for the existing culture of the board and the organization. “It’s imperative that members of the governing board know how the organization is wired, and they have a special responsibility to ensure it continues to run, and run well, over time,” Mueller concludes. [PhilanTopic]

Community Comms

Apply: The Jewish Council of the Emirates Community Centre seeks a Dubai-based Executive Director

Apply: The Kirsh Foundation seeks a full-time NY-based Program and Special Initiatives Coordinator.

Apply: Want to join the team at Jewish Insider/eJewish Philanthropy? We’re looking for a top-notch philanthropy editor. Learn more here.

Be featured: Email us to inform the eJP readership of your upcoming event, job opening, or other communication.

Word on the Street

Patrick Radden Keefe’s latest book looks at the history of the philanthropic Sackler family, who created OxyContin… According to the UK Jewish charity Noa, the number of Orthodox young women and girls seeking mental health support has doubled over the pandemic… Yeshiva University plans to eliminate in-person, undergraduate Hebrew language courses and move to a completely asynchronous model beginning in fall 2022… World Jewish Reliefhas launched an emergency appeal to assist the thousands of Uyghur refugees living in poverty in Turkey… Respada, an invitation-only niche platform, recently hosted a virtual fireside chat on ‘Collaborative Giving and Social Impact’… Ter Molen Watkins & Brandt releaseda white paper, “A Guide to Writing Your Case for Support”…

Pic of the Day

Urban Adamah

A young child enjoys the spring sunshine at Urban Adamah, a farm in Berkeley that hosts an afterschool program.


Amit Avidan via Wikimedia Commons

Olympic track-and-field athlete and survivor of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre, Esther Roth-Shachamorov
Hasidic singer Mordechai Werdyger, known by his stage name Mordechai Ben David… Olympic track-and-field athlete and survivor of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre, Esther Roth-Shachamorov… Actress Ellen Barkin… Chairman and CEO of private equity fund manager Jordan/Zalaznick Advisers, David Wayne Zalaznick… Physician and venture capitalist in the biotechnology and life-sciences industries, Lindsay Rosenwald… Professor of international affairs at Princeton University and co-director of the Woodrow Wilson School’s Center for International Security Studies, Aaron Louis Friedberg. Ph.D… Filmmaker Stephen Kessler… Dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School and former Director of the Congressional Budget Office, Douglas Elmendorf… Secretary of State of the United States, Antony John “Tony” Blinken… Television producer and writer, David Sanford Kohan… Los Angeles pharmacist, Jeffrey D. Marcus… Former Mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey, Dawn Zimmer… Israel’s ambassador to the United States from 2013 until this past January, Ambassador Ron Dermer… Member of the House of Commons of Canada representing the riding of Toronto-Danforth, Julie Dabrusin… Celebrity plastic surgeon known as “Dr. Miami,” Michael Salzhauer, M.D…. Board member of Brandeis Marin Jewish day school in San Rafael, California, Ellen K. Finestone… President of Seattle-based Glass Ceiling Strategies, Alex Glass… Deputy opinion editor at Newsweek, Batya Ungar-Sargon… Founder of the Jewish Fashion Council and writer at Fabologie, Adi Heyman… Attorney who has served as a law clerk to three Maryland judges, Geoff Middleberg… Uriel Kejsefman… Singer best known as half of the folk-rock duo the Portnoy Brothers, Mendy Portnoy… Principal at Helena Special Investments, Matthew Saunders… Customer account executive at Quorum, Adam Gotbaum… 
SATURDAY: Cynthia J. Kugler… Retired Los Angeles cardiologist, Martin Bobrowsky, MD… NYU professor and noted legal scholar, Richard Allen Epstein… Marketing manager at Allied Interpreting Service, Barry Schreiber… The official historian for Major League Baseball, John Thorn… Talk radio host on NYC’s sports radio station WFAN, his nickname is “The Schmoozer,” Steve Somers… CEO of B’nai B’rith International, Daniel S. Mariaschin… Rosh Yeshiva of Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood, NJ, Rabbi Aryeh Malkiel Kotler… He and his brother own the House of Chanel perfume company as well as holdings in vineyards and a thoroughbred horse racing stable, Gérard Wertheimer… Elizabeth H. Scheuer... Rabbi of Beth Hillel Temple in Kenosha, Wisconsin since 1985, her brother is the former U.S. Senator from Wisconsin Russ Feingold, Dena Feingold… Actress, screenwriter and film director, Daphna Kastner… Winner of two Super Bowl rings with the San Francisco 49ers, now a physician and an inductee in the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, Dr. John E. Frank… Director of Rutgers University Press, Micah Kleit… Professor of politics and Russian studies at New York University and co-author of The Monkey Cage, Joshua A. Tucker… Congressional editor for The New York Times, Julie Hirschfeld Davis… Member of the Alaska Legislature, Jesse Kiehl… Executive director at Morgan Stanley, Nadya Belenkiy… Reporter for Bloomberg covering technology in Asia with a focus on China, Shelly Banjo… Southern California-based regional director at The Washington Institute For Near East Policy, Miri Katz Belsky… Press Secretary for Senator Chuck Schumer, Angelo Roefaro… Communications manager at the Center for Responsible Lending, Matt Kravitz… Managing director at Bully Pulpit Interactive, Alex Kellner… Founder and principal of DKL Strategies, Dean Lieberman… Member of the Baltimore City Council, Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer… Brian T. Earll
SUNDAY: Former chief rabbi of the Old City of Jerusalem, Rabbi Avigdor Nebenzahl… Partner in the intellectual property law firm of Furgang & Adwar, Philip Furgang… Biochemist, geneticist and winner of the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1985, Joseph Leonard Goldstein… Managing director of fundraising consultants Mersky, Jaffe & Associates, Michael Jaffe… Corporate turnaround expert, Jerry W. Levin… President of DeForest Concepts in Burlington, Vermont, Hinda Miller... Former Mayor of Phoenix, Arizona, Phil Gordon… Composer, pianist and musicologist, Robert M. Greenberg… Former college basketball coach, now an ESPN analyst, Seth Greenberg… Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of four acclaimed books, Susan Faludi… Editor of Commentary magazine and columnist for the New York Post, John Mordecai Podhoretz… President and rosh yeshiva of Ohr Torah Stone institutions in Israel, Rabbi Dr. Kenneth R. Brander… VP and deputy general counsel at Scholastic Inc, Mark Seidenfeld… Executive director of the American Zionist Movement, Herbert Block… Emmy Award-winning actress, Tamara Braun… Film director, producer, and actor, Eli Roth… Founder and executive director of the Aspen Chabad Jewish Community Center, Rabbi Mendel Mintz… Partner in the white collar and cybersecurity practices of Paul Hastings, nominated earlier this week to be undersecretary for strategy, policy and plans at DHS, Robert P. Silvers… Political director for AIPAC’s Florida region, Evan Philipson… Dov Maimon…