Your Daily Phil: The Jewish Agency’s new exec + Meet the micro-fundraising ‘queen’

Good Friday morning!

After a roller-coaster search lasting more than a year, The Jewish Agency for Israel has a new incoming chair of the executive: Doron Almog, a former Israel Defense Forces general and leading activist for the disability community.

In an interviewwith eJewishPhilanthropy on Thursday, shortly after he was tapped, Almog, 71, stressed the agency’s mission of facilitating aliyah, or immigration to Israel, which has taken on a greater urgency as tens of thousands of Ukrainians have sought refuge in Israel from Russia’s invasion. Immigration from Ethiopia also recently restarted after a hiatus of more than a year.

“We are a small nation but the power comes from our values,” he told eJP. “We’ll focus on continued aliyah, stretching our hand to the people in Ukraine, to the Jews in Ukraine, to the immigrants from Ethiopia — stretching our hand in assistance to any Jew in trouble all over the globe.”

Almog, who was selected by The Jewish Agency’s nominating committee, told eJP that he also hopes to continue the organization’s work of strengthening Jewish identity.

The retired major general was light on the details of how he plans to execute that mission, stressing that he was just nominated. He said he wants to focus on reaching young people, and strengthen connections between Jewish denominations, but did not get more specific. He declined to comment on whether he would prioritize the expansion of a non-Orthodox space at the Western Wall, saying he would address that question when he takes office.

Two decades ago, Almog served as head of the Israel Defense Forces’ Southern Command. Prior to that, he served in the 1976 hostage rescue at Entebbe International Airport in Uganda, and also took part in Operation Moses, which brought Ethiopian Jews to Israel in the 1980s.

Since retiring from the IDF, Almog has dedicated himself to disability rights in memory of his son, Eran, who died at age 23 from Castleman disease. Almog is the founder and chairman of Adi Negev-Nahalat Eran, a rehabilitation village offering a range of services to people with disabilities.

Read the full story here.


Meet Jordan Silverman Raff, the Instagram micro-fundraising ‘queen’

Silverman Raff (left) with her mother, Ellen Silverman.

Courtesy of Jordan Silverman Raff

On Instagram, Jordan Silverman Raff self-identifies as “50% Instagram fundraiser, 50% fake influencer.” So when recent world events filled her with horror — from the war in Ukraine to potential restrictions on reproductive rights to the school shooting in Texas — she began creating micro-fundraisers on Instagram, mobilizing her social networks to raise money for various causes, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Esther D. Kustanowitz.

When bad news is everywhere: Since she began the effort in early 2021, she has organized 11 micro-fundraisers on her Instagram profile, @queenjord, raising a total of $43,109. “When something’s in the news, it’s sort of hard to escape,” Silverman Raff, 36, told eJewishPhilanthropy. “It’s on every website, or Twitter or Facebook, whatever I’m looking at. So it’s sort of inescapable. And I am just sitting there thinking, how can I help in this situation?”

Widening impact: In early 2021, when a series of attacks against Asian Americans drew national attention, Silverman Raff launched a micro-fundraiser on Instagram, asking her more than 1,600 followers to donate $2 each to a nonprofit called the Asian Mental Health Collective. She raised $613, which she appreciated, she said, because it is the number of Jewish commandments. “And at the time, I thought that that was a huge amount of money, which, you know, it is,” she added.

‘Micro’ no more: Encouraged by that response — and disturbed by the range of other crises in the news —  she started additional campaigns for nonprofits. After the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting, she raised some $22,000 from 400 donors to Everytown for Gun Safety, an anti-gun violence group.

A wider trend: Micro-fundraising has gone mainstream in recent years with the rise of crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe, which as of last year had raised $15 billion in total since 2010 for anything from medical bills to educational initiatives. As of late 2019, the average donation to GoFundMe was $75, and a report published late last year found that the platform was most popular with millennials and Gen Z.

Read the full story here.


Defining Dedication

Getty Images

“When a philanthropist creates (or donates funds to) an institution, must the funds be spent strictly within the bounds of the donor’s wishes, or can broader, often evolving, aims be considered? Donor intent in philanthropy is a hot topic, but it seems to be an age-old one. This week’s parsha, Behaalotecha, may shed some light here,” writes Rabbi Noah Greenfield, in this week’s Parsha Phil column for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Is this a rerun?: “Our parsha begins with an instruction from God regarding the menorah. “Speak to Aaron: “When you mount the lamps, let the seven lamps give light at the front of the Menorah” (Numbers 8:2). The verse is innocuous, but its placement in the parsha’s opening is strange. The menorah’s design and creation were already discussed in Exodus 25 and 37, respectively. If additional laws about the menorah are to be discussed at all, why place them here and not there?”

Continuing the theme: “Sometimes one parsha’s beginning follows themes from the previous parsha. Last week, Nasorecounted the dedicatory offerings of the 12 tribal princes, one tribe per day, as the Mishkan was finally dedicated (chanukat ha-mishkan). But why suddenly introduce the menorah after the princely dedication?”

This is dedicated: “The Mishkan requires the pomp and circumstance of a grand opening and the eternal recognition of the visionary leaders who facilitated it into existence. But without the dedication of the menorah detailed in Behaalotecha– daily, ongoing, engaged and engaging dedication –  a project like the Temple would eventually fade. So too with donor intent: While prominent donors are vital to the continued work of the organizations we support, so are ‘the people’ who participate on any level, illustrating perpetual, renewed dedication.”

Read the whole piece here.

Worthy Reads

Closer Look: MacKenzie Scott’s generosity is to be commended, especially when she supports groups with undeniably worthy missions, such as New City Kids, a New Jersey-based foundation that combats child poverty and delinquency, writes Aron Ravin in National Review. Yet many of her donations — like those that support land reparations to Native Americans — are more political, less traditionally philanthropic and also unlikely to actually achieve real change, Ravin states. “Charity has stopped being something we volunteer for our communities or to people in desperate need. It’s just becoming yet another low-risk method for people to engage in politics.” [NR]

Mission Control: While well-meaning people might travel to Ukraine and its borders to volunteer their assistance, these missions may not provide the kind of help that’s truly needed on the ground, Patrice McMahon writes in The Chronicle of Philanthropy. “Rather than give money to a huge organization, donors just spend it directly. Often this means paying the cost of their own airfare and lodging so they can provide the services on their own. When this involves traveling to where the trouble is, it comes with risks and potential problems. People in war zones and survivors of conflict have many immediate needs. Responding effectively in the midst of conflicts is hard without the proper training, language skills and experience… When people from far away just show up with their own ideas, agendas, and notions of what works, they can add to the chaos around them. Likewise, even if they do start to make a positive difference, they may leave once their passions subside.” [ChronicleofPhilanthropy]

Sky High Also Refers to the Prices: 
Sky High Farm, which was originally fueled entirely by donations, launched a pricey, for-profit fashion line to support its nonprofit efforts, Jacob Gallagher writes in The Wall Street Journal. “When worn, Sky High Farm Workwear has a similar appeal to, say, an NPR tote bag: It signals to those in the know that you care about societal issues. Fashion brands today are always trying to inject their clothes with some larger social or environmental meaning — they’ll sell hoodies with the World Food Programme logo on it, or crow about using recycled cotton. But Mr. Colen’s label is resequencing those steps: the charitable organization came first, and the clothing line came second. Contrary to that NPR tote, the clothing line — which is produced in partnership with the Dover Street Market Paris company — is pricey. It includes $746 recycled cashmere cardigans and burly Dickies-esque $536 work jackets, and is sold at discerning boutiques like Notre Shop in Chicago and Montreal’s Ssense.” [WSJ]

Community Comms

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Word on the Street

Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, director of the Tzohar Center for Jewish Ethics, was awarded the Rothberg Prize for Jewish Education by Hebrew University…

Naftuli Moster, the founding executive director of Yaffed, a New York-based organization that works to improve secular education in Hasidic and Haredi schools, will step down on Sept. 30…

A new hall at the Jewish Museum of Oporto showcases the chronology of antisemitism in Portugal from 2015-2022…

The Wilf Family Foundations announced a $5 million pledge to The Jewish Federations of North America towards its next stage of funding for Ukraine aid. The pledge comes during the last week of Mark Wilf’s tenure as chair of the board of trustees of the organization…

The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities is suing its American fundraising affiliate, the American Foundation for Basic Research in Israel, for refusing to approve the distribution of $17 million currently in its accounts.…

The New York Women’s Foundation announced 10 grants to 10 organizations, totaling $720,000…

Australia, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea have a high level of readiness for giving beyond their own borders, according to a new report from Give2Asia, produced in collaboration with the Asia Philanthropy CircleKing Baudouin Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Pic of the Day

The Torah scrolls that were destroyed in an overnight blaze at the Chabad center in Tallahassee, Fla., last month will be buried in a ceremony on Sunday at the Chabad Center of Aventura South.


Patrick McMullan/PMC via Getty Images

One of the world’s best-selling singer-songwriters, Barry Manilow, born Barry Alan Pincus…

FRIDAY: Former undersecretary of state for international security affairs in the Carter administration, longtime UN Special Representative, Matthew Nimetz… Winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in economics, professor at Georgetown and UC Berkeley, he is married to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellin, George Akerlof… Former member of the Knesset for the Zionist Union party, Eitan Broshi… Former chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, now senior counsel in the Maryland Attorney General’s office, Jon Leibowitz… Deputy administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, Stephanie Pollack… Member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Aaron Dan Peskin… Fashion designer, daughter of Reva Schapira, Tory Burch… Active in interfaith peace initiatives, Rabbi Yakov Meir Nagen (born Genack)… Founder and chairman of Shavei Israel, Michael Freund… Former editor of the World edition of The SpectatorDominic Green… Advocacy, philanthropic and political counsel at Chicago-based Beyond Advisers, David Elliot Horwich… SVP for the economic program at Third Way, Gabe Horwitz… Chief philanthropy officer of the Jewish Community Foundation and Jewish Federation of Broward County, Keith Mark Goldmann… Director of government affairs for the Conservation Lands Foundation, David Eric Feinman… Rabbi of the Elmora Hills Minyan in Union County, N.J., Rabbi Michael Bleicher… NYC-based media and business writer for The Hollywood ReporterAlexander Weprin… Founder and executive director of the Zioness Movement, designed to empower progressive Zionists, Amanda Berman… Manager of strategic partnerships at Avodah, Alexander Willick… Award-winning college football senior writer for The AthleticNicole Auerbach… Member of the U.S. Ski Team’s alpine program, Jared Goldberg… Senior graphics editor at InsiderRebecca Zisser… Shortstop for Team Israel at the 2020 Olympics, now on the minor league Charleston Dirty Birds, Scott Burcham… Freelance foreign media consultant, Mounira Al Hmoud

SATURDAY: Attorney and former alderman on the Chicago City Council, Solomon Gutstein… Former Washington Posteditor and reporter, Fred Barbash… IT management advisor at Next Stage, Steven Shlomo Nezer… Croatian entrepreneur, previously the Croatian minister of economy, labor and entrepreneurship in the ‘90s, Davor Stern… Rabbi at Or Hamidbar in Palm Springs, Calif., Rabbi David James Lazar… Rebecca Diamond… Best-selling author and journalist, Joanne Lipman… Retired professor of English at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, Helene Meyers… Executive of the William Pears Group, a large U.K. real estate firm founded by his father and grandfather, Sir Trevor Steven Pears(family name was Schleicher)… Global head of sustainability and inclusive growth at Goldman Sachs, Dina Powell McCormick… Former assistant to President Trump and a principal of the Baltimore-based Cordish Companies, Reed Saunders Cordish… Film director and screenwriter, Jonathan A. Levine… Television producer and writer, Jeremy Bronson… Talent manager and music business mogul, Scott Samuel “Scooter” Braun… Baseball pitcher for Team Israel at the 2020 Summer Olympics, he is also an analytics staffer and scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Jeremy Bleich… Associate at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Esther Lifshitz… Private equity associate at Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners, Jacob E. Best… Rachel Hazan…

SUNDAY: Former U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands in the Carter administration, Geri M. Joseph… Attorney, investment banker, film producer and former deputy mayor of New York City, Kenneth Lipper… Rabbi emeritus of Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple in New Brunswick, N.J., Rabbi Bennett F. Miller… Retired territory sales manager for GlaxoSmithKline, Harry E. Wenkert… Retired president and CEO of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Jay Sanderson… Broker at Morgan Stanley, Inna N. Zalevsky… Overland Park, Kansas resident, Kathi Shaivitz Rosenberg… Director of communications for New York State Assembly member Steven Cymbrowitz, Adrienne M. Knoll… Member of the European Jewish Parliament for Latvia, Valery Engel… OB-GYN physician specializing in reproductive endocrinology and infertility, Dr. Jessica Rosenberg Brown… Co-founder of Centerview Partners, Blair Effron… Singer-songwriter, actress and television personality, Paula Abdul … Former member of Knesset for the Zionist Union party, Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin… Co-founder of nine venture-backed companies in the telecom, high-tech, pharmaceuticals, energy, water and biotechnology industries, Andrew Perlman… Official in Israel’s ministry of foreign affairs focused on the Metaverse, Eitan Weiss… Staff writer at TheNew YorkerIsaac Chotiner… Director of affinities and global experiences at the Minneapolis Jewish Federation, Tslil Shtulsaft… Founder of JSwipe Jewish dating app, David Austin Yarus… Senior program officer at Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, Anna Langer… COO at Stealth Fintech Company, Alex Jakubowski… Finance director at M/O Strategies, Cydney Couch

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