Your Daily Phil: The 10/7 Project begins to take shape

Good Wednesday morning.

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on a new course on antisemitism and the law taught by former World Jewish Congress General Counsel Menachem Rosensaft, and feature an opinion piece by Andrés Spokoiny about a new resource aid for funders making donation decisions in a time of uncertainty. Also in this newsletter: Rabbi Morey SchwartzMichael Rapaport and Maria Erlitz. We’ll start with an update on the rollout of The 10/7 Project. Happy Hanukkah!

The 10/7 Project, a new joint initiative by five large American Jewish groups to press Israel’s case in Congress and monitor press coverage of the war between Israel and Hamas, will be run by three public affairs consulting firms from across the political spectrum. The project is beginning with the launch of a daily newsletter, followed by broader communications-related efforts, those involved told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen.

The 10/7 Project was announced last week by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Jewish Federations of North America, Anti-Defamation League, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and American Jewish Committee. It will be run by the political and public relations consultants SKDK, OnMessage Public Strategies and CKR Solutions.

“The 10/7 Project is committed to promoting continued bipartisan support for Israel by pushing for accurate and complete coverage of the Israel-Hamas war,” Josh Isay, executive director of the project and the former CEO of SKDK, told eJP.

Ted Deutch, CEO of AJC and a former Democratic congressman from South Florida, stressed the nonpartisan nature of the project. “[It] puts politics aside to come together to ensure the facts are getting out there as Israel defends itself,” he told eJP. “This is not a political effort. The 10/7 Project is focused only on ensuring that the facts get out there. It’s about support for Israel,” he said, noting that it does not endorse or oppose any candidates for public office.

Since its launch on Dec. 5, The 10/7 Project has started distributing a daily newsletter for journalists called “The 10/7 Project Daybook,” featuring links to articles — mostly from American and Israeli outlets — about the war and rising antisemitism.

Isay declined to say how many people have so far signed up for the newsletter, but told eJP that there are “far more subscribers to The 10/7 Project Daybook than we anticipated we would have at this early stage.”

Read the full report here.

CASE LAW

As universities struggle to curb antisemitism, Cornell teaches how to fight it in the courts

Rabbi Dina Brawer, executive director of the U.K.-based World Jewish Relief’s American branch, speaks at the Clinton Global Initiative in September 2023.
Menachem Rosensaft attends a panel for “Media’s Role In Combating Antisemitism: Jewish Representation On Television” at The Paley Center for Media on June 15, 2023 in New York City.

As the presidents of Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology last week faced widespread condemnation for their stilted, legalistic answers to what seemed to many a straightforward question about genocide, Menachem Rosensaft, a legal expert on genocide, looked on in alarm, reports Gabby Deutch for eJewishPhilanthropy’s sister publication, Jewish Insider.

Could have helped: Starting in January, Rosensaft is for the first time offering a new course at the Cornell Law School that may have something important to teach the university administrators struggling to appropriately respond to a crisis of antisemitism on their campuses. Called “Antisemitism in the Courts and in Jurisprudence,” Rosensaft’s course is a survey of the different ways antisemitism has manifested in modern history, and how it’s been handled in the courts. “My hope is that this course will be a prototype that other institutions can use, and hopefully have the fight against antisemitism, and countering antisemitism, become a serious academic intellectual exercise,” Rosensaft.

Quick turnaround: He first pitched the idea to the dean of Cornell Law School, where he is an adjunct professor, over the summer. It was tentatively approved to be taught in January 2025; Rosensaft estimated it would take him several months of intensive research to perfect the syllabus. But then, on Oct. 7, Hamas executed the most deadly antisemitic attack since the Holocaust. “Around October, I think 11th or 12th, I spoke with the dean, and he said, ‘Tell me, do you think you could get the syllabus together on a more expedited form so that we can offer the course now, in January 2024?’” Rosensaft recalled. “I was able to just devote myself full time to pulling everything together.” He retired as WJC’s general counsel and associate executive vice president in August.

Read the full report here and sign up for Jewish Insider’s Daily Kickoff here.

JNF TEAMS UP

Planning for an unknown future

Illustration by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

“Probably the greatest challenge that leaders face today is how to act decisively in times of radical uncertainty. How do we cut through the deep fog of unknowns and not become paralyzed by the unpredictability of our world?” asks Andrés Spokoiny, president and CEO of the Jewish Funders Network, in an opinion piece in eJewishPhilanthropy.

A familiar tool: “Scenarios are not predictions but rather narratives about the future, designed to expand our thinking and systematically deconstruct the uncertainties before us and their possible solutions. They ultimately serve to strip away layers of the unknown — where possible — and arrange the rest, enabling us to make decisions with clarity and confidence. Scenarios are the most robust tools that organizations and communities can use in situations like the present, and our organizations have experience with this approach. JFN conducted a community-wide scenario exercise at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, helping funders and communal organizations prepare for the post-pandemic future.”

A new resource: “PollyLabs is an Israeli-American think tank and venture studio that combines the best practices of the corporate world with a deep understanding of the social impact space. In recent weeks, PollyLabs convened a group of experts and leaders to craft a set of scenarios that outline the different futures that we could be confronting in the next 12-18 months… JFN and PollyLabs have teamed up to use the work that PollyLabs has been developing as a tool for the philanthropic community to think strategically about the future of its work in Israel. We aren’t trying to predict or assign probabilities to each scenario — we’re doing our best to ensure that we are prepared to respond effectively to all of them.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Better Sources in Higher Ed: In USA Today, Rabbi Morey Schwartz, international director of the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning, advocates a back-to-basics approach to educating college students about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Learning directly from primary texts, rather than relying solely on secondary or tertiary articles, much less social media posts, quick animations and TikTok videos, needs to be the call of the day. Primary sources offer unfiltered access to original information, enabling firsthand engagement with the original thoughts, context and intentions. Direct exposure to primary texts fosters critical thinking, independent analysis and a deeper understanding of all subject matter… There is a way to debate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on campus without students fearing for their lives. Educators are tasked with building a safe environment for their students. It is time that all universities once again embrace as their highest priority democratizing knowledge, returning to earnestly present their students with primary sources that serve to clarify the nature of the conflict, the facts and historical nuances at the core of this conflict, without peddling their own biases.” [USAToday]

A Lesson From Jacob: In the Jewish Journal, Rabbi Chaim Steimetz of Kehilath Jeshurun in New York shares his impressions — some horrifying, others hopeful — from his recent visit to Israel. “Most inspiring is that Israelis still have dreams. On Shabbat in Jerusalem, we read Parshat Vayetze, which begins with Jacob’s dream… It is of a ladder, on which angels are going up and down; it symbolizes that God is sending His emissaries to watch over Jacob and protect him wherever he goes. Jacob has this vision at the lowest point in his life; when he’s homeless, penniless and fleeing from his brother Esau, who wants to murder him. He lies down to rest in a field, forced to use a stone as a pillow; and it is then that he has his dream of hope. Jacob reminds us that at the worst moments in time, one needs to dream the most. As Langston Hughes put it: ‘Hold fast to dreams/For if dreams die/Life is a broken-winged bird/That cannot fly.’ Jacob holds fast to his dream; and that changes his perspective. Rashi explains that after he wakes up, Jacob’s ‘heart lifted his feet up,’ because he was now filled with hope. Jews have always understood that you are what you dream. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev points out in his commentary that the Hebrew word for dreaming, ‘chalom,’ is similar to the word for healing, ‘hachlamah.’ Dreams of hope can heal a tattered soul, and give it the strength to continue forward.” [JJ]

Around the Web

President Joe Biden will meet today with the families of eight American citizens taken hostage by Hamas on Oct. 7. This comes after an in-person meeting with some in October and virtual calls with the others over the past two months…

For the first time ever, all four top congressional leaders took part in a Hanukkah candlelighting ceremony at the Capitol yesterday, which was led by Rabbi Levi Shemtov, the executive vice president of American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad)

Foundations and other funders pledged at least $2.1 billion at the COP28 summit to alleviate the impact of climate change, particularly in agriculture and for vulnerable communities…

Zvika Klein will replace Avi Mayer as the next editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post

The Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County launched a new Palm Beach Center to Combat Antisemitism & Hatred last week, which has received an initial donation from Linda Teitlebaum of a $5 million endowment. The announcement was made at the federation’s Celebrating Philanthropy event, at which the organization also revealed the “Campaign for the Future” to raise $250 million by July 2026. So far, $180 million has been raised for the campaign…

Right-wing Polish lawmaker Grzegorz Braun used a fire extinguisher to put out candles on hanukkiah in the country’s parliament, in a move that has been widely criticized by Jewish, Israeli and Polish officials…

J. Larry Jameson, the dean of the University of Pennsylvania’s medical school, will serve as the university’s interim president after Liz Magill resigned over the weekend…

Investor Marc Rowan, one of the key figures behind the push to oust her, sent a letter to the Penn board yesterday, laying out how he thinks the school should proceed and offering “to assist in any way I can”…

Judy Klitsner was named the inaugural Rabbi Joshua S. Bakst Chair in Tanakh at Pardes Institute, which was named for a favorite Bible teacher of the anonymous donor who sponsored the chair, and Leah Rosenthal was named the inaugural Shapira Family Chair in Rabbinic Literature, which was named for the Shapira family of Pittsburgh who sponsored it…

The White House will brief Jewish lawmakers today as it looks to work with Congress to get additional funding for its National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism. It held a similar meeting with American Jewish leaders earlier in the week…

Shari Redstone is reportedly in talks to sell off the controlling stake in her media empire to Skydance, the media and entertainment company founded by David Ellison, the son of Larry Ellison

The Seattle-based Samis Foundation and Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools reported a 14% increase in enrollment among the schools participating in their Day School Affordability Initiative, which subsidizes tuition for Jewish day schools for eligible families. “The enrollment increase validates the importance and potential of tuition assistance programs,” Maria Erlitz, chair of the Day School subcommittee of the Samis Foundation, said in a statement…

Kenneth Griffin and David Geffen pledged $400 million to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the largest gift in the institution’s history…

American Jewish comedian Michael Rapaport is visiting Israel this week and appeared last night on Israeli sketch comedy show “Eretz Nehederet,” in a skit lampooning last week’s House hearing on antisemitism at elite universities…

The British Chai Cancer Care nonprofit raised $3.5 million toward BRCA testing for the Jewish community…

Diane Kaplan, the former president of The Rasmuson Foundationwas named a senior fellow at Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy

The FBI is investigating a recent rash of bomb threats called in to synagogues, schools and airports…

Rutgers University suspended the Students for Justice in Palestine chapter on its New Brunswick campus, following complaints of disruptive behavior and an allegation of vandalism. The Department of Education recently began investigating the university’s response to antisemitism on campus…

The Wall Street Journal profiled investor Bill Ackman, who has emerged as a leading voice among donors calling for regime change at elite universities

Pic of the Day

Diane Bondareff/AP Images for UJA-Federation of New York

Family members of Israeli hostages held by Hamas in Gaza gather for the New York City Council’s Hanukkah celebration on Monday. They are part of a group of 30 families — the largest delegation to come to NYC to date — to draw attention to the 137 hostages who remain in Gaza.

Birthdays

Annie Liebovitz smiles
Christian Peterson/Getty Images

California-based real estate developer active in the revitalization of downtown San Jose, he is a former co-owner of the Oakland Athletics, Lewis Wolff

Retired chairman and CEO of Loral Space & Communications, Bernard L. Schwartz… Former New York State senator for 28 years, Suzanne “Suzi” Oppenheimer… Real estate developer and a minority-owner of the Minnesota Vikings, David Mandelbaum… Past president at UCLA Faculty Women’s Club, Bette Billet… Senior rabbi emeritus of Temple Israel of Hollywood and a national co-chair of the rabbinic cabinet of J Street, John Rosove… Executive chairwoman and chief media officer of Eko, Nancy Tellem… Chair of the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Poverty and Social Exclusion at the University of Haifa, Roni Strier… Former chairman of the Federal Reserve from 2006 to 2014, now a distinguished senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, Ben Shalom Bernanke… Hedge fund manager, investor, writer and adjunct professor at Columbia University, Joel Greenblatt… Former assistant secretary for management at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, David F. Eisner… Member of the U.S. House of Representatives since 2017 (D-MD-8), Jamin Ben “Jamie” Raskin… President of the American Academy in Rome, Peter N. Miller.. Chairman and CEO of Fontainebleau Development, Jeffrey M. Soffer… Co-founder and principal of The Lead PR, LLC, Jeffrey W. Schneider… Mayor of New Rochelle, N.Y., since 2006, Noam Bramson… Comedian and actor, known by his stage name and alter ego, Wheeler Walker, Jr., Benjamin Isaac Hoffman… Chair of the Florida Democratic Party since earlier this year, Nicole (Nikki) Heather Fried… Head of communications at Google Bard and Assistant, Riva Litman Sciuto… American-Israeli basketball player who played for three NCAA collegiate programs, now on the roster of Maccabi Haifa, Eli Abaev