Your Daily Phil: Talking Ukraine at the Holocaust Museum’s annual dinner + The scene at JPro
Good Tuesday morning!
The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., has two goals: to pass on the memory of the Holocaust and to apply its lessons to atrocities happening today. Both of those goals took center stage at the museum’s annual National Tribute Dinner last night, which highlighted a $15 million gift to fund the museum’s archival collection, and many of whose speeches focused on the victims of the war in Ukraine.
Comparisons between the era of the Holocaust and the present day were a recurring motif, expressed most strongly when Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova took the stage and accused Russia of “perpetrat[ing] a genocide against the people of Ukraine.” The museum’s leadership drew other parallels: Museum Director Sarah Bloomfield said that the international response to the war is “an example of Europe learning from its past.”
“During the Holocaust, the world, including our own country, did not want the stateless, persecuted Jews of Europe,” she said. “Today, many of those same countries now support Ukraine and are opening their doors to these refugees.”
The dinner, held at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, drew some 500 attendees at a sticker price of $475 a plate. Twenty-five Holocaust survivors were in attendance. At the event, the museum announced a $15 million donation from billionaire investor and philanthropist David Rubenstein, who is known for his charitable work with prominent D.C. institutions, including the Kennedy Center and Smithsonian Institution. Rubenstein’s donation will fund an endowment and go toward digitizing and caring for the museum’s expansive collection of archival materials, which includes millions of objects, documents, photos and recordings and will now bear Rubenstein’s name.
At the event, a group of World War II veterans called The Ritchie Boys, including many Jewish refugees, received the Elie Wiesel Award, the museum’s highest honor. The Ritchie Boys were an intelligence unit that accompanied American troops on the front and interrogated Nazi soldiers, providing a large share of the Allies’ actionable intelligence. Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke ahead of the award’s presentation, and also drew a connection to Ukraine.
“Never again will the world fail to act in time to prevent the terrible crime of genocide,” Milley said. “We must all harness the outrage of our own memories to stamp out oppression wherever it exists. We must understand that human rights and human dignity are indivisible. And yet today here we are in 2022, and we have witnessed in Ukraine — we are observing the ghastly, savage reminder of the worst of human history.”
FACE TO FACE
At JPro, reconnection after two years of COVID dominates the scene
Another day, another conference. Today is the second day of JPro22, which has brought 1,200 Jewish nonprofit employees to Cleveland for three days of networking and professional development, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Ben Sales.
Together again: It’s the second large-scale conference in five weeks, following the Jewish Funders Network gathering, to bring together Jewish professionals from across the country. JPro22 is twice the size of the JFN conference, and had been sold out for two months leading up to this week. On Monday, as participants streamed into Cleveland’s Huntington Convention Center, they engaged in the rejuvenating, mostly unmasked small talk that’s characterized the first slate of in-person Jewish conventions since before the pandemic.
Spontaneous singing: The theme of the conference is collaboration, but the process of emerging from the pandemic was very much the focus of the conference’s opening plenary on Monday night. A series of speakers at the start of the event reminisced about working through the pandemic, including organizing for racial justice in 2020 and dealing with shutdowns by having a drive-in movie screening in a Baltimore JCC parking lot. Two different rabbis, at two different points during the night, broke out into song in the middle of their remarks.
Revival: Keynote speaker Erica Brown, director of Yeshiva University’s Sacks-Herenstein Center for Values and Leadership, spoke about the importance of interpersonal connection and said the appropriate blessing for the crowd to recite would be “Blessed is the one who revives the dead” which, according to a rabbi in the Talmud, is recited upon not seeing someone for more than a year. Attendees also received socks with a quote from Hillel, the Talmudic sage.
Close campuses, open possibilities
“Rabbinical, cantorial and educational schools are reducing their physical footprints across America at a remarkable clip,” write Rabbi Benjamin Spratt, senior rabbi of Congregation Rodeph Sholom in New York, and Rabbi Joshua Stanton, senior fellow at CLAL – The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
The glass is half full, not half empty: “It would be easy to conclude that the future for professional Jewish leadership in America is grim. But we would do well not to conflate the closure of space with the foreclosure of opportunities. These long overdue reductions in physical plant lay the groundwork for future mergers and the potential for an era of profound pluralism, lay empowerment and renewed purpose.”
Diverting resources: “First the inherent downside of overinvestment in physical spaces. They make us feel safe and at home, fill us with awe and connect us to the past. Yet they can also snare us in nostalgia for a time when we were just barely ‘making it’ in America. They are cathedrals to our integration, and our communities pay an extraordinary price for them, while diverting resources from the human-centered projects of our community’s future.”
Declining enrollment: “For a sense of the scale of this drain of resources, as of 2014, a meager 168 rabbis studied for ordination across nine institutions from the major denominations and movements in the United States. The data is even more stark when Modern Orthodox seminaries are excluded. We have since seen a sharp decline in enrollment from these already unsustainable numbers.”
From strength to strength at camp
“As summer 2022 rapidly approaches, camp directors are deep in the process of planning for the unique challenges associated with a third pandemic summer,” write Betsy Stone, Eileen Price, Danya Maloon and Ellen Rank, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
Psychological health is a top priority: “Unlike last summer, we are not thinking as much about the sometimes exhausting logistics of weekly testing and the social distancing of hundreds of exuberant children. Although illness is still an important topic, it has receded into the background and become the essential wallpaper of our current lived experience. Consequently, camp directors are thinking, more than ever before, about the psychological health of the children we serve, both campers and staff.”
The camp world is not an island unto itself: “Teachers tell us that lessons that used to take a day now take a week, and that they are often forgotten over a weekend. Our ability to retain information is lowered. Our emotionality is heightened. Our kids aren’t learning the way kids did two years ago. Teachers report this phenomenon stretching from preschools, where basic social skills and speech and language acquisition have regressed, to colleges, where students can’t process information or make social connections the way they have in the past. Anxiety is through the roof. There aren’t enough hospital beds for the kids who need them… The camping world is not separate from this psychological maelstrom. We exist within it, and our participants – both staff and campers – are impacted significantly.”
Power Dynamics: Funders need to recognize their unhealthy and demeaning dynamics with grantees and work to correct power imbalances, writes Vu Le in NonprofitAF. One example of such dynamics, Le writes, was a funder reportedly requiring a grantee to submit a 72-page application for a $5,000 grant. “The more we reduce the power imbalance, the more effective nonprofits and funders can be as partners, and the more we’ll be able to cut through the BS and successfully tackle cool stuff like participatory grantmaking and systems change work. To do that though, all funders need to be aware of power dynamics and how it manifests in their everyday life. And then try to mitigate for it.” [NonprofitAF]
Pitch Perfect: Andrés de Jongh writes in Forbes about the importance of focusing on the numbers, the quality of a pitch and communicating well toward effective fundraising. “Where it can get tricky is after the pitch — especially when it was successful. At the beginning, potential investors appreciate and encourage concrete and powerful information. However, after we awaken their interest, the pendulum swings and they want to hear more detail about every aspect of the business (founding team, revenue model, investment plan, etc.). It’s at this point that entrepreneurs need to avoid just pitching over and over again. Investors are not looking for a reminder of what generated the original interest; they’re looking for a wide range of details that will allow them to come to a decision.” [Forbes]
Word on the Street
The Jewish People Policy Institute released its annual pluralism index…
Philadelphia’s Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History will reopen to the public on May 13. The museum’s galleries have been closed since March 2020 due to the pandemic…
A new survey from Nishma Research found that the vast majority of 913 respondents, who were mostly Modern Orthodox, feel connected to their communities and that synagogue attendance among respondents dropped sharply during the pandemic…
The World Bank received pledges of at least $180 million in support of its Childcare Incentive Fund focused on expanding access to quality, affordable childcare in low- and middle-income countries globally. The program is supported by a five-year, $50 million pledge from the United States, other pledges from Australia and Canada and commitments from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Echidna Giving, the Ford Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the LEGO Foundation…
The Wikimedia Foundation announced that it will no longer accept donations in cryptocurrency…
Pic of the Day
Approximately 500 children, teddy bears in tow, visited the Azrieli Faculty of Medicine of Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan on Monday seeking medical treatment for their beloved furry companions.
Veteran of 13 NHL seasons, in 2005 sat out a hockey game to observe Yom Kippur, now an assistant coach for the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, Jeff Halpern…
Southern California-area writer and activist promoting wellness, she is the founder of the New Americans Museum in San Diego, Deborah Shainman Szekely turns 100… Founder and CEO of Westgate Resorts, David A. Siegel… Senior research scholar at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at The Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, Ely Karmon… Host of a radio show and podcast produced by Santa Fe (N.M.) Public Radio, David Marash… U.S. Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID)… Venture capitalist and economist, William H. Janeway… Francine Holtzman… U.S. senator, his original family name was Weidenreich, Ron Wyden (D-OR)… Six-time Tony Award-winning Broadway producer, Stewart F. Lane… Retired attorney, he represented political parties, campaigns, candidates, governors and members of Congress on election law matters, Benjamin L. Ginsberg… Retired in 2017 as chair and CEO of Mondelez International, Irene Rosenfeld… Real estate attorney, he is a senior counsel in the Chicago office of DLA Piper, Mark D. Yura… Political reporter and columnist for The Richmond Times-Dispatch, Jeff E. Schapiro… Retired senior advisor at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Susan Steinmetz… EVP at NBCUniversal News Group, Stephen Labaton… Russian billionaire who sold the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets for $2.3 billion, Mikhail Prokhorov… Lobbyist who was previously deputy COS at the RNC and deputy assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs in the Bush 43 administration, Scott A. Kamins… Israeli singer and actress, winner of multiple Israeli Female Singer of the Year awards, Miri Mesika… Reporter for Politico New Jersey and author of New Jersey’s Playbook, Matthew R. Friedman… Educated at the Hebrew Academy of San Francisco, he was a defensive lineman in the NFL from 2004 until 2011, Igor Olshansky… Managing director and head of executive communications of SKDKnickerbocker, a graduate of CESJDS and previously a speechwriter for former President Obama, Stephen Andrew Krupin… Co-founder of Democracy Works, Seth Flaxman… Member of the Knesset for the Likud party, May Golan… Benjamin S. Davis turns 35…
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