Your Daily Phil: The Jewish orgs funding abortion access for their staff + Board leadership at day schools

Good Monday morning!

At least two national Jewish groups intend to cover travel expenses for employees or their dependents who are seeking abortions and live in states where the procedure is now restricted or banned, following the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade on Friday, eJewishPhilanthropy has learned.

Jewish organizations nationwide weighed in on the national debate sparked by the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, with many Jewish groups opposing the removal of a constitutional right to abortion.

Among the major groups opposing the decision were the American Jewish Committee, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), Hillel International, the Anti-Defamation League, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies and leading organizations of the Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist movements. “Prohibiting abortion access is contrary to Jewish law, traditions, and our principal value of saving a life; it enshrines specific religious imperatives in American law,” JCPA’s statement read.

Agudath Israel of America, a Haredi organization, supported the Dobbs ruling, calling on Americans to “embrace a culture that celebrates life.” An addendum to the JCPA statement noted that the Orthodox Union, a major umbrella group, “cannot endorse a public policy that does not reflect the complex response of [Jewish law] to the abortion issue.”

Rabbi Abba Cohen, Agudath’s vice president for government affairs, told eJP that his group would not fundraise on the issue but would advocate for laws reflecting its stance that abortion should be largely prohibited but allowed in rare circumstances.

In the decision’s wake, donations to the National Council of Jewish Women’s (NCJW) abortion access fund, which launched last month to help people obtain abortions, have nearly quadrupled, from more than $56,000 before Friday to more than $204,000 from more than 1,700 donors as of Sunday night.

NCJW, which has been perhaps the most active Jewish group in support of reproductive rights, is also currently working with 75 Jewish groups, including national organizations, on their policies regarding abortion. “Everyone’s been extremely open to figuring out how to help their employees in this moment,” NCJW CEO Sheila Katz told eJP. While all of its employees live in states with abortion access, Katz told eJP that her group would fund abortion access for its staff or dependents if the need arises.

Another organization that plans to fund abortion access for its employees and their covered dependents, to the extent permitted by law, is the Israel on Campus Coalition, which has 30 employees, including in states with abortion restrictions.

“We want to take care of our employees and the people who matter most to them,” the group’s CEO, Jacob Baime, told eJP. “All of our employees and their families should have access to quality and affordable health care. That’s my position. I’m not trying to make a political statement.”


Second annual Holocaust Survivor Day aims to show appreciation for a dwindling population

Attendees at a Holocaust Survivor Day event at the the Ghetto Fighters' House Museum in northern Israel on Sunday.

Attendees at a Holocaust Survivor Day event at the the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum in northern Israel on Sunday; screenshot.

When she was 5 years old, in 1941, Ella Kagan was forced to flee her home in Moscow as the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union. Many years later, as she led a tour of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., she overheard teenagers denying the genocide had ever happened. Kagan hopes that a series of events held yesterday and today, for the second annual Holocaust Survivor Day, were a step forward in amplifying survivors’ stories, reports Jay Deitcher for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Dwindling numbers: In contrast to International Holocaust Remembrance Day in January and Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day in the spring, Holocaust Survivor Day is meant specifically to celebrate the Jews who survived and to raise awareness for their needs as they age and their numbers dwindle. While 400,000 Holocaust survivors were estimated to be alive in 2019, that figure is decreasing. In Israel, for example, there are some 161,400 survivors, a decline of more than 15,500 since last year, and their average age is 85.

Creating a tradition: While last year’s inaugural event was mostly online, this year’s included many in-person events, including a marquee event Sunday at the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum in northern Israel, and another being held on Monday morning at Habima Theater in Tel Aviv that will feature Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai. The Tel Aviv event will also feature a play titled “The Avengers: a Love Story,” based on the Jewish brigade that enlisted in the British military to hunt Nazis and their collaborators, and which fought in Italy in 1945.

Read the full story here.


The value and impact of board governance on Jewish day school effectiveness

iStock / Getty Images Plus

“As I look around the country, I can’t help but observe the wide disparity between those Jewish day schools and yeshivotthat possess well-developed governance leadership structures, policies and procedures and those that seriously lack any semblance of a governance structure or process,” writes Chaim Botwinick, principal of the Hebrew Academy Day School in Margate, Fla., in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Leadership vacuum?: “These disparities, which at times are striking, may be the result of a variety of factors and circumstances. Some may be attributed to a lack of understanding regarding the true value and efficacy of strong governing bodies on institutional effectiveness; for others, it may be the result of a leadership vacuum, insecurity or a complete disregard for how effective schools actually function or operate.”

Effective schools have strong boards: “Irrespective of the reasons attributed to these organizational deficits or shortcomings, the reality is that there are very few high-capacity and performing boards that govern weak or ineffective schools. By the same token, there are very few schools of academic excellence with mediocre or ineffective governing boards. This causal relationship makes tremendous sense and supports the contention that effective schools have strong boards and ineffective schools have boards that are mediocre or virtually nonexistent. This relationship is further supported by a growing body or empirical data regarding the effect of school governance on the quality of education in schools.”

Read the whole piece here.

Worthy Reads

Rage, React, Donate: “Rage giving” is becoming increasingly popular for people who react to something in the world that makes them angry or disappointed by making a donation, but can overwhelm groups that don’t have the infrastructure to handle the deluge, Emily Burack writes in Town & Country. “‘As far as we see it, crisis donors turn to philanthropy to work through grief, horror, sadness, anger, disappointment, even disgust — and charitable giving provides an opportunity to metabolize those difficult feelings into action,’ [HIAS Vice President of Development Miriam] Feffer continues. ’They donated to pivot from a sense of helplessness to concrete action…Giving during a time of crisis can be a healthy and empowering action step that assures donors they have some power to shape the world around them…’ For Feffer and HIAS, after the immediate crisis subsided, there was an opportunity to educate. ‘People are coming out of something deeply negative — they’re coming because they feel sorrow or pity, to put it really bluntly. And then we turn to the affirmative chapter,’ she explains, and introduce donors to the work HIAS does and their impact on displaced people worldwide.’” [Town&Country]

Art Criticism: 
The documenta art festival, which features arts collectives from all over the world, was the center of controversy when it featured a work with clearly antisemitic images in Kassel, Germany, writes Siddhartha Mitter in The New York Times. “The work has been removed. But for Germany’s establishment, this Documenta is clearly over. A barrage of criticism from politicians and the media has proclaimed the whole exhibition a national embarrassment, called for greater state control of future editions and demanded the resignation of [festival director general Sabine] Schormann. The management has now announced that, artistic freedom notwithstanding, Ruangrupa [the Indonesian collective serving as 2022’s artistic director] must review the entire show for offensive content with support from the Anne Frank Center in Frankfurt — setting up a battle with artists…” [NYTimes]

Trust the Experts:
 A group of gender equity and reproductive justice funders “weren’t surprised” by the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, but wrote in Inside Philanthropy that “multiple philanthropic giving strategies” are now required to deepen investment in “the fight to protect abortion access and bodily autonomy,” among them to “give now, and with trust”: “Well-known national reproductive rights organizations will be flooded with resources and high-profile legal nonprofits will also get a boost in funding to fight these issues at the federal and local levels… . Consider giving locally and often to the abortion funds, practical support networks, independent abortion providers, and reproductive justice organizations in your cities and states. Trust that they have decades of experience working with abortion seekers, clinics and volunteers.”  [InsidePhilanthropy]

Community Comms

Be featured: Email us to inform the eJP readership of your upcoming event, job opening, or other communication.

Word on the Street

This year’s annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival, held on the National Mall in  Washington, D.C., spotlights the culture of the United Arab Emirates…

For the Sake of Argument, a new educational project led by Jewish educators Abi Dauber Sterne and Robbie Gringras, has been awarded $1.1 million by the Jim Joseph Foundation. In the first phase, the project will focus on how to engage with arguments about Israel, as a way of building connections to Israel and strengthening participants’ ability to accept diversity of opinion…

The Charles H. Revson Foundation awarded more than $900,000 to Jewish organizations, including $300,000 to the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America’s Muslim Leadership Initiative…

At a U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) donor conference last Thursday, donors pledged about $160 million to help Palestinian refugees…

Terry Mercer, a Canadian senator and an outspoken advocate for the charity sector, has retired…

Rabbi Len Muroff has been appointed rabbi at Temple Beth David in Temple City, Calif…

Naomi Korb Weiss was promoted to associate director of nonprofit effectiveness at TCC Group, a consulting group that collaborates with leaders to solve complex social problems…

The Annie E. Casey Foundation of Baltimore announced the launch of multiyear partnerships in Atlanta, Baltimore and Albuquerque to help youth develop job skills and enter the workforce…

Global leaders led by African heads of state have received commitments totaling $4 billion to accelerate progress against malaria and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) at the Kigali Summit on Malaria and NTDs. The pledges include $140 million over four years from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in support of new initiatives.…

Pic of the Day

Courtesy of the iCenter

Thirty-three students in The iCenter’s Graduate Degree in Israel Education Program at The George Washington University are completing an immersive eight-day seminar experience today in Israel.


eJP Archives

Co-founder of Taglit Birthright, the first chairman of the United Jewish Communities and former owner of MLB’s Montreal Expos, Charles Bronfman

Brooklyn resident Meyer Roth… Former member of both houses of the Pennsylvania legislature, Constance H. “Connie” Williams… Former commander of the Israeli Navy and head of the Shin Bet, Amihai “Ami” Ayalon… New Jersey resident Kenneth R. Blankfein… Democratic member of the Florida legislature, House of Representatives (2010-2018) and Senate (since 2018), Lori Berman… Managing director at Osprey Foundation, Louis Boorstin… and his twin brother, SVP at Albright Stonebridge Group, Robert O. Boorstin… British historian and award-winning author, he is a great-great-nephew of Sir Moses Montefiore, Simon Sebag Montefiore… Woodland Hills, Calif.-based accountant, Susan M. Feldman… Creator of multiple TV series including “Felicity,” “Alias,” “Lost” and “Fringe,” and director and producer of many films, Jeffrey Jacob “J.J.” Abrams… Gordon Gerstein… Reporter for The New York Times on the climate desk, Lisa Friedman… Member of the Knesset for the United Torah Judaism alliance, Yoel Yaakov Tessler… Senior fellow and director of constitutional studies at the Manhattan Institute, Ilya Shapiro… Israeli judoka, best known for his default victory at the 2004 Summer Olympics when his Iranian opponent refused to fight him, Ehud Vaks… Director of stakeholder advocacy at Ford Motor, Caroline Elisabeth Adler Morales… Executive talent partner at Greylock Partners, Holly Rose Faith… Associate at the Asia Group, Charles Dunst..

Email to have your birthday included.