Your Daily Phil: The inspiration behind At The Well + DCJCC’s comprehensive vaccine mandate

Good Tuesday morning!

The Edlavitch Jewish Community Center of Washington, D.C. is imposing a vaccine mandate on all individuals entering the center starting September 1, Dava Schub, the center’s CEO, told eJewishPhilanthropy.

“I’m leading with the kids in our building in mind,” Schub said, referring to children under the age of 12 who aren’t yet legally eligible to be vaccinated.

Schub said she doesn’t anticipate significant backlash, because her community is readily complying with a citywide mask mandate imposed at the end of July with D.C.’s mayor, Muriel E. Bowser.

Some of her colleagues who also lead JCCs in urban areas are considering vaccine mandates for staff, Schub said, citing a meeting she recently attended.

The primary problems she anticipates are logistical, such as people who forget their proof of vaccine and ask the JCC to make exceptions for them. “There are no exceptions,” Schub said. “The mandate needs to be comprehensive to be effective.”


How Purim inspired Sarah Waxman to create her women’s wellness group


Sarah Waxman likes to talk about her “Queen Esther moment,” when, while planning a Purim party, she realized her calling: making Judaism’s healing rituals for women more accessible, she told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Helen Chernikoff. “Mordechai tells Esther that she was born for this moment,” Waxman said. “It sparked something in me. This is something I can do. Judaism is a strategy for wholeness.”

How-to guides: That moment led to the founding of At The Well, the organization Waxman created to help women create “well circles” — groups that celebrate Rosh Chodesh, or the new month, a ritual associated with women for more than a thousand years. At The Well provides training and resources, some free and many available for purchase. The group estimates that there are 2,000 women currently in well circles. Sofia Abram, a board member who helped launch a well circle in Durham, N.C., more than two years ago, said the circle’s members have supported each other through marriages, births, divorces and deaths.

A spiritual leader: She credits Waxman both with helping her reconnect with her own Judaism and with inspiring her to become a philanthropist. “I see her as a spiritual leader,” Abram said, “and it’s been a joy to watch her turn into a powerhouse fundraiser and a true manager.” At The Well is at an inflection point in its growth. It was just accepted into the Legacy Heritage Fund’s Project Accelerate, which develops the leadership of mid-sized Jewish nonprofits. Waxman says the group is in its “infrastructure year” — it is working on a strategic plan, and recently hired a chief operating officer, a program director and a development director.

Necessary experiences: But Waxman had to do a lot of learning, and some healing, too, before she was able to experience that moment of inspiration while reading the Scroll of Esther. Waxman was born and raised in Washington, D.C. Her mother was a budget analyst and a homemaker; her father was a constitutional lawyer who served as a solicitor general under former President Bill Clinton. The family attended the district’s Adas Israel, and Waxman grew up connected to Judaism because she felt it was the “glue that held her family together.” An alum of Sidwell Friends School, also appreciative of the contemplative Quaker practices she learned there. “I always wanted to get into conversations about the soul with people,” she said.

Read the full article here.


Leading by example


“Over the years I have become increasingly concerned about our communal emphasis on exclusivist listings of ‘great’ leaders – ‘Forward 50s,’ ’40 under 40s,’ ’36 under 36s.’ My fear is that these contests convey a distorted understanding of what it means to be an effective leader,” writes Hal M. Lewis, chancellor of the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.  

Antiquated ideas: “It is not that I begrudge either the organizers or the winners of such competitions, many of whom are, indeed, women and men of great influence and vision. My discomfort with these parades of glory is the way in which they advance, perhaps unwittingly, an antiquated notion of leadership, often referred to as the Great Man Theory.”

Great Man Theory: “The idea of the Great Man Theory, most associated with the 19th century Scottish historian, Thomas Carlyle, holds that only certain individuals, certain men at thatare blessed by God with natural abilities that make them great leaders. As Carlyle himself said, ‘The history of the world is but the biography of great men.’ Even allowing for the fact that, thankfully, today’s lists of contemporary Jewish leaders celebrate the invaluable contribution of women, as well, and even if we might imagine renaming the concept to say, the Great Person Theory of Leadership, the misconceptions emerging from such an approach remain significant.”

What it means to lead: “Carlyle, and the scores who embrace his approach even in our own day, insisted that leadership is exclusive and exclusionary, that either one is born with the ‘right stuff’ or not. That only certain ‘beautiful people’ are capable of being effective leaders. Whether they intend to do so, our elite registers of ‘superstars’ employ a similarly reductionist view of what it means to lead. They suggest that people who don’t make the cut are not leaders or that those who lead but are not so acknowledged, must not be as effective or noteworthy as those who are. It is one thing to fete volunteers or professionals for their accomplishments, it is quite another to suggest, however subtly, that only these chosen few are destined for leadership greatness.”

Read the full piece here.


Young Judaean first responders at Surfside


“‘You and I will change the world.’ This famous line from Israeli song “Ani Ve’atah” perfectly expresses the Young Judaean drive to make a difference. This phrase rings demonstrably true for two Young Judaean alumni and FEMA responders, Michael Plostock and Dan Shulman, who were called down to Surfside, Fla., to help following the collapse of Champlain Towers South,” writes Hannah Lane, a member of Young Judaea’s Global Team, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Personal connections: “While working for FEMA, both Michael, as the senior advisor for response and recovery, and Dan, as an external affairs specialist, have experienced deployments to disasters around the country including Hurricane Katrina, the Flint water crisis, and Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. Both men noted, however, that this tragedy was strikingly different in the way that it touched them personally due to the many Jewish families affected and specifically by the way it reached the Young Judaea community.”

Cultural awareness: “While in Surfside, Michael and Dan’s responsibilities were that of ‘community liaison to the Jewish community.’ Dan explained, ‘Our personal ability to relate to the families that were affected by the collapse allowed us to bring a little bit of cultural awareness to people who may not have ever dealt with a casualty event involving observant Jews, and brought perspectives to the issues that we were going to encounter in the response and long-term recovery of this event.’ Michael shared that ‘FEMA and the local authorities were committed from the start to be as empathetic as possible, and to respect Jewish traditions and law in the response.’”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Painful Gap: None of the frameworks proposed for disbursing the funds from opioid lawsuit payouts address the needs of patients who suffer acute, chronic pain — one of the problems that resulted in excessive reliance on opioids in the first place, writes Mark C. Bicket in The Conversation. To avoid making the same mistakes, it’s essential to understand that the most effective care for chronic pain includes therapies beyond pills, and that more research is needed to understand when opioids are truly necessary. “Giving patients with pain a say in how funds from the opioid lawsuits are distributed can help make sure they’re not forgotten,” Bicket concludes. [Conversation]

Bear Hugs: In Newsweek, outdoorsy tween Max Woosey recounts the story of how he came to raise £550,000 (about $750,000) for charity, inspired by the desire to thank North Devon Hospice for helping his friend Rick, who had bequeathed Woosey a tent before he died of cancer. Woosey has now spent more than 500 nights in a row camping outside. “My tent has a sleeping bag, a roll mat, pillows, a torch, a few rugby books and magazines, and lots of teddies. I reckon I have around eight teddies,” Woosey writes. [Newsweek]

A Higher Standard: The fact that trillions of dollars have been invested in enterprises that purport to meet environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals represents a shift in consensus against the notion that the sole responsibility of business is to increase shareholder value, but a backlash against ESG has started from within the business world, posits Andrew Edgecliffe Johnson in the Financial Times, citing executives who have called ESG’s integrity into question. Some of the criticisms are motivated by a broader distrust of capitalism, but many of them are well-founded, because business has touted ESG for too long without demonstrating any tangible impact, according to Edgecliffe-Johnson: “More transparency, better data and greater accountability are badly overdue. Standardising the current inconsistent mess of non-financial metrics now looks essential for boosting confidence that they do, in fact, create value.” [FT]

Word on the Street

A new treatment for Tay-Sachs disease has shown positive results in a late-stage clinical trial… The Jewish Agency for Israel launched a volunteer center for the Project TEN service-learning program in Chimalhuacán, Mexico, in collaboration with Cadena and with support from Keren Hayesod… The first bar mitzvah in Bahrain in 16 years was held over the weekend, at the House of Ten Commandments, the oldest and only operational synagogue in a Gulf Cooperation Council country… The number of British students studying in Israel has jumped five-fold compared to previous years under a new government program… A $60 million gift from James S. and Merryl Tisch will establish the Mount Sinai Tisch Cancer Center, a new cancer hospital in Manhattan… The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded $4.9 million to Western Governors University in Salt Lake City and WGU Advancement in support of efforts to close equity gaps in postsecondary education… Northwestern University announced a $25 million gift from Kimberly K. Querrey in support of a technology accelerator in health and life sciences. In addition, the Illinois General Assembly allocated $50 million as part of the state’s capital budget to build the accelerator…

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1986 winner of the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Children of a Lesser God, she is the only deaf performer to have won the award, Marlee Matlin

Professor at UCSD and the 1990 Nobel Prize laureate in Economics, Harry Max Markowitz… Dean of the Yeshiva Gedola of Passaic, Rabbi Meir Stern… Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshiva University, teacher at Cardozo Law School, and the rabbi of Congregation B’nai Jehuda in NYC, Rabbi J. David Bleich… Author and geriatric care manager and on-line counsellor for seniors in Scottsdale, Arizona, Lois G. Tager… Co-founder of Entercom, later CEO of CBS and Sirius Radio, Mel Karmazin… U.S. Senator (D-WV), Joe Manchin… Celebrity furniture designer, Dakota Jackson… President of Harvard University, Lawrence Seldon Bacow… Rabbi of the Maidenhead Synagogue in Berkshire, England, Dr. Jonathan Romain… Deputy Associate Attorney General at U.S. Department of Justice, Ricki Seidman… Former governor of Arkansas and twice a candidate for U.S. president, Mike Huckabee… Co-chair of the real estate practice and the infrastructure practice at Weil, Gotshal & Manges and the vice-chair of Birthright, J. Philip Rosen… Essayist and long-time staff writer for The New YorkerAdam Gopnik… Actor, producer and director, Steve Guttenberg… President of Pace University, Marvin Krislov… Professor of otolaryngology at Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC, Jonathan E. Aviv… President of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, Marc Terrill… Professional organizer, Donna Barwald… Founder of Gawker Media, Nick Denton… Former Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives, Andrew Romanoff… President of the Jewish United Fund / Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, Lonnie Nasatir… CNN political analyst, David Gregory… U.S. Senator (R-IN), Todd Young… Israeli cinematographer and director, Avigail Sperber… Director of content at the UK-based Brainstorm Digital, Miriam Shaviv… President of baseball operations and GM of MLB’s Texas Rangers, Jon Daniels… Boston-based founder and executive director of the bipartisan group New Politics, Emily Cherniack… Attorney in Tel Aviv specialized in cross-border intellectual property disputes, Michael M. Rosen… Israeli actress and musician, Meital Dohan… CEO and co-founder of Rent the Runway, Jennifer Hyman… Associate head coach of the Duke basketball team, slated to become head coach after the 2021-22 season, Jon Scheyer… CEO of the JCommerce Group, David M. Perelman… Director in The Glover Park Group’s Strategic Communications Division, Galia Slayen… Director of operations at Maree Pour Toi, Sammy Feinstein… Film and television actor, Griffin Gluck… Vice President at Edelman, Natalie Strom

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