Your Daily Phil: Summer camps still in COVID’s grip + The Jewish world’s response to Ukraine war
Good Thursday morning!
From the day Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began nearly five months ago, the Jewish organizational response has been robust and widespread — ranging from raising tens of millions of dollars to saving refugees to mobilizing volunteers and creating long-term response plans.
Now, a new survey describes why Jewish organizations were able to mobilize so quickly to help Ukraine — as well as naming the pitfalls that lie ahead. Commissioned by Olam, a network of Jewish global service agencies, and written by Rosov Consulting, the report is based on 25 interviews with representatives of 21 aid groups, from large organizations such as the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) to Israeli government aid operations such as MASHAV to smaller grassroots outfits such as the Ukraine Support Teams, a network of volunteers.
The report points to an established Jewish infrastructure in the region, a Jewish community that felt compelled to help due to historical ties and what interviewees described as a surprising amount of interorganizational collaboration. But it warns that the arrival of delegations and inexperienced volunteers has hindered disaster response efforts, and that waning attention toward the war could threaten future funding.
“There is significant Jewish infrastructure in Ukraine,” the report reads. “Several organizations have maintained extensive networks in Ukraine for decades. During the crisis, these communities and networks have served as both foundation and scaffolding for other Jewish and Israeli organizations to provide an unprecedented level of response.”
Olam CEO Dyonna Ginsburg told eJewishPhilanthropy that she noticed how much interviewees praised intergroup collaboration in their interviews, which were quoted anonymously. One interviewee described a chain by which a refugee might be aided via funds from the JDC, fed by another group, then flown to Tel Aviv by The Jewish Agency for Israel.
“[Collaboration] is particularly challenging in disaster response because competition is fierce for dollars, for attention and because things are happening super quickly,” she said. “So those conditions are not ripe for collaboration. Those conditions are more ripe for competition. Generally, to build partnerships, that requires time and processes, and it’s when you’re not in the limelight and not dealing with funding coming in at that moment.”
How Jewish summer camps are dealing with the latest COVID-19 spike
On the first day of camp at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires on June 28, the administration received some distressing news: Nearly all of the 40 members of the kitchen and dining room staff had tested positive for COVID-19. They would have to quarantine for six days, per camp policy — with hundreds of hungry kids at the gates, reports Ruben Brosbe for eJewishPhilanthropy.
An ill-timed surge: The kitchen staff infections were a particularly disruptive example of an issue Jewish camps have been contending with during the third summer since the start of the pandemic: the spread of the BA.5 subvariant. Across Ramah’s camps in North America, 560 out of 11,000 total campers and staff have contracted COVID since the beginning of the summer, with no documented cases of serious illness.
Relaxed restrictions: The surge in cases has come alongside a loosening of restrictions. While camps were able to keep case numbers relatively low last summer through strict testing, masking and podding protocols across the Jewish camp ecosystem, camps are now prioritizing a return to most of the pre-pandemic status quo.
Hit hard: In Northern California, where the subvariant appears to be driving a spike in cases, campers at JCC Maccabi Sports Camp were sent home 48 hours early due to an outbreak among staff and campers. The camp’s second session began on time. “Just over a dozen campers and staff had tested positive… so we made the decision that it was important to close the session about 48 hours early to prevent further infections,” Nathaniel Bergson-Michelson, chief marketing officer for the Oshman Family JCC, which runs the camp, told eJP via email.
Older Jews less engaged? We knew it all along.
The recently released Los Angeles community study found that, “Younger Jews in the Los Angeles area might be moving away from the denominations that dominated in previous generations, but they are more likely than their elders to be engaged in Jewish life,” write Rabbi Laura Geller, rabbi emerita of Temple Emanuel Beverly Hills, and Stuart Himmelfarb, co-founder of the B3 Boomer platform, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
MIA from communal priority lists: “After nearly 15 years exploring baby boomers and the life stage from midlife careers into retirement, we have observed that active aging and boomer engagement have not been on the communal radar screen or priority list.”
First Jewish boomer study: “In 2009, our B3 partner and co-founder, David Elcott, fielded the first national study of Jewish boomers. Among the many findings, Elcott reported that even though Jewish boomers would prefer working with Jewish agencies to find ‘encore’ careers and meaning, ‘they are also prepared to utilize non-Jewish resources if the services and opportunities they seek are not available in the Jewish community.’”
Back to L.A.: “In the years since this study was conducted, the opportunities for Jews as they age to find resources ‘elsewhere’ have dramatically increased and the internet and social media have facilitated grazing among an infinite number of activities, pursuits and connections… Viewed in this context, the finding in L.A., then, is no surprise and was to be expected. Elcott concluded the 2009 report by observing, ‘Jewish institutions are not prepared or preparing for an influx of Baby Boomers as volunteers or encore career professionals.’”
Creating a Culture of Philanthropy: To instill a culture of philanthropy at a nonprofit, the organization needs practical tactics “to attack the problem from the sides rather than head on,” Claire Axelrad writes in NonProfitPRO, such as sharing fundraising articles with the boss, board, staff and volunteers, and “Modeling an attitude of gratitude”: “In nonprofits with true cultures of philanthropy, everyone practices kindness and helpfulness on a daily basis. Staff don’t just greet each other with ‘How was your weekend?’ but with ‘How might I help you today?’ Simply walking in the doors of these organizations envelops people in a gratitude-infused embrace. Model gratitude by: Writing in a donor (or staff) gratitude journal. Focus on what you’re grateful for on a daily basis. Keeping a stack of five note cards on your desk. Each day, write a little thank you to someone who was kind to you that week. Setting aside 15 minutes each day for thank-you calls, texts or tweets. Tailor your method to the communication preference of your recipient; send to anyone needing an extra hug. Giving board members assignments to call and thank donors. This has the added benefit of getting them comfortable talking with donors (and on a path to becoming more comfortable with fundraising). Giving program staff assignments to call and thank donors. This helps them see donors as caring human beings who aren’t stuffy, above them or anything else negative they may have imagined.” [NonProfitPRO]
Artist-forward Grant Selection: The Ruth Foundation for the Arts has given $1.25 million to an array of 78 arts nonprofits across the United States; a significant share of the grantees were nominated by other artists, Maximilíano Durón reports in ARTNews: “[Karen Patterson, the Foundation’s first inaugural director, said] ‘We’re artist-forward in that we see artists as decision makers when it comes to community making and supporting creative process. This stems from the idea that we believe in them because artists believe in them.’ Enacted almost like a chain letter, in which artists Patterson knew would then refer other artists to participate, the nomination form involved three ‘straightforward’ questions, Patterson said, that were along the lines of ‘Name an organization that just gets it’ and ‘Name an organization where you’ve been treated with respect.’ Artist Mark Thomas Gibson, who served as a nominator, said what most excited him about the Ruth Foundation nominating process was that it presented ‘an opportunity for artists to give back.’” [ARTnews]
Nixing the Capital Campaign: While nonprofits may think a feasibility study followed by a capital campaign is the way to fundraising success, it’s not the only way, Paul D’Alessandro writes in NonProfitPRO: “While a capital campaign is a good approach to raising funds — in some instances — it doesn’t always have to be the approach taken. Think of a capital campaign as only one tool in the toolbox. For the organization I spoke to, the recommendation to do a feasibility study and then a capital campaign was like suggesting you needed a hammer while what was necessary was a scalpel. The reality is that a campaign requires a significant amount of infrastructure and could stress the organization’s human and financial resources. The fact of the matter is, in many cases, you need to create a funding plan (e.g., a strategic major gifts effort), and execute it consistently and well. Some consultants want nonprofits to do a capital campaign and typically recommend a study with the campaign. While this generates consulting fees and sets the table for future work, often it’s not in the best interest of the nonprofit or its donors. Further, it doesn’t serve small nonprofits with limited infrastructure and resources well.” [NonProfitPRO]
Word on the Street
Bill Gates is donating $20 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation this month to help the foundation increase its annual giving to $9 billion by 2026…
Long-time Kohelet Yeshiva donors David Magerman and Scott Seligsohn teamed up to provide $8 million and $4 million, respectively, to the Main Line Philadelphia institution for future expansion plans…
Congregation Rodef Sholom in San Rafael, Calif., has started construction on an entirely new building, rather than a remodel of the existing structure. To date, $28 million has been raised to fund the project, about 85% of what is needed…
Hidden Sparks, a New York City-based nonprofit focused on providing Jewish day school teachers with the tools to support struggling students in mainstream classrooms, is resuming its in-person program for teachers and administrators…
The Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles announced $1 million in grants to five community nonprofits working to alleviate older adult poverty…
Pic of the Day
President Joe Biden and Israeli President Isaac Herzog during an arrival ceremony on Wednesday afternoon at Ben Gurion Airport. Biden’s four-day trip to the Middle East this week is his first as president.
Editor-in-chief of the Washington Free Beacon, Eliana Yael Johnson…
Architect and urban designer, Moshe Safdie… Former MLB pitcher, now a sportscaster and author, Steve Stone… Los Angeles resident Susan Farrell… Film producer, best known for the “Lethal Weapon” series, the first two “Die Hard” movies and the “Matrix” trilogy, Joel Silver… SVP and wealth management advisor at the Los Angeles office of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, Scott Shagrin… Chairman and CEO of both Cantor Fitzgerald and BGC Partners, Howard Lutnick… Venture capitalist at Breyer Capital, James W. Breyer… Former media columnist for the Chicago Tribune, Phil Rosenthal… Principal at Oakland-based Full Court Press Communications, Daniel Eli Cohen… Member of the Washington State Senate, David S. Frockt… CEO at the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston, Renee Wizig-Barrios… Rapper and record producer from Brooklyn known as “Ill Bill,” William “Bill” Braunstein… Professor in the department of genetics at the Harvard Medical School, David Emil Reich… Fashion designer and cast member on “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” Dorit Kemsley… Retired mixed martial artist, now a life coach, Emily Peters-Kagan… Interior designer Tehillah Braun… Professional golfer with four tournament wins in the Asian and European tours, David Lipsky… Founder at Bashert Group, LLC, Daniel B. Jeydel… Program officer at Crown Family Philanthropies in Chicago, Rachel Giattino… Rabbi Menachem Shemtov of Washington, D.C…. Head of demand generation at GlossGenius, she also operates the Instagram feed called Second Date Shadchan, Elizabeth Morgan “Lizzy” Brenner…
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