Your Daily Phil: The new Charleston, S.C. rabbi stuck overseas + United Hatzalah meets Silicon Valley
Good Thursday morning!
Eli Beer, founder of United Hatzalah of Israel, Israel’s volunteer emergency medical services organization, visited the headquarters of Salesforce, the software company founded by philanthropist Marc Benioff, in San Francisco yesterday. Beer noted that his group uses Salesforce’s software to track its work and communicate with donors.
“I live thousands of miles away in Israel and I traveled 16 hours to get here,” Beer told eJewishPhilanthropy. “I met the greatest people who really care about the humanity of Israel, the women and men who make Israel so incredible.”
Beer also met with donors in a private meeting in nearby Atherton, Calif., organized by Hatzalah’s new Northern California board of advisors. Beer discussed Hatzalah’s web-based technology, which ensures that a widely dispersed network of first responders is available around the clock and quickly able to reach people who need their help.
The Atherton event also launched Hatzalah’s partnership with Congregation Beth Jacob in Redwood City, Calif., which will involve fundraising for the organization, a visit to Hatzalah headquarters by synagogue delegations and future meetings between Hatzalah personnel and synagogue members.
The Jewish refugee resettlement agency HIAS is working with partners at seven new sites for a total of 24 sites across the country to prepare housing, health care and employment services for more than 3,000 Afghan refugees, HIAS CEO Mark Hetfield told eJewishPhilanthropy.
“We try to get the heads of the family employed and self-sufficient as soon as possible,” said Hetfield, adding that the agency is working under time pressure because the United States government is eager to move the 54,000 Afghans in the country off the military bases where they are currently living, such as Fort McCoy in Wisconsin.
HIAS receives $2,275 per person from the government to start the resettlement process. The new sites are in Miami; Niagara Falls, N.Y.; North Port, Fla.; Portland, Maine; Skokie, Ill; Tucson, Ariz., and Tulsa, Okla.
The new rabbi in Charleston, South Carolina is stuck in Gibraltar
Just like any newly hired rabbi, Sholom Mimran of the Orthodox Congregation Dor Tikvah in Charleston, S.C., is spending his first few weeks meeting with congregants and colleagues and speaking from the pulpit. Only Mimran is conducting his duties from Gibraltar, the tiny British territory at the southern tip of Spain where he has been studying and serving as a rabbi for the past seven years. Due to difficulties in obtaining a U.S. visa, Mimran has been forced to begin his tenure from afar. Having visited Charleston as a candidate for the job, he knows the seemingly disparate communities have a lot in common, Mimran told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Helen Chernikoff.
Surprising similarities: “They’re both open and welcoming places where all the Jews work together,” Mimran said. America, however, is not quite as open — especially in the second year of a global pandemic. “Americans don’t know how hard it is to get into America,” he said. Dor Tikvah, which hired Mimran right before Rosh Hashanah, was planning to bring him into the country on a religious visa, but synagogue leaders learned that would necessitate an official site visit, and could take almost two years. Now the plan is for the Orthodox Union to sponsor the rabbi, with his arrival expected by February. In the meantime, he has made YouTube his pulpit, given congregants his WhatsApp number, held virtual meetings about kashrut and the burial society and is waiting patiently.
A calming presence: “I have never seen him angry or upset in all the years I’ve known him, and he deals with teenagers and other stressful situations all the time,” said Benjamin Hassan, an artist who is Mimran’s student at the Gibraltar kollel, an institute of advanced Jewish study that focuses on Talmud. Mimran, 28, was born in Gateshead, a city in North East England that’s known for its yeshivas and flourishing haredi community. The oldest of 16 children, he studied in those yeshivas, including the world-famous Gateshead Yeshiva, and at Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem. At age 21, he married, and conceived a plan to complete his rabbinical studies at the kollel in Gibraltar.
Wearing many hats: Gibraltar’s Jewish community of 750 people, which dates to the mid-1700s, boasts Jewish day schools and four synagogues. The kollel drew Mimran because he knew that even as a student, he would be given a lot of responsibility in such a small community: “I wanted to be able to do as much toward becoming a rabbi as I could.” When he arrived in Gibraltar, one of the community’s leaders told Mimran that hopefully he would “get something done,” a directive he took to heart. In addition to his rabbinical studies, he helped manage the kollel; taught Jewish law and other topics; and made himself available to the community, including one Passover eve when he spent three hours in Hassan’s kitchen to avert a potential kashrut disaster, Hassan said.
Who are the Jewish LGBT households and how involved are they in their Jewish identity?
“It is challenging to develop a reliable profile of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and other) Jews in the U.S.. While the American LGBT community has seen considerable legal and social progress in recent years, discrimination and social stigma remain and the social climate has made it difficult to rely on honest responses to surveys, polls and even the U.S. Census,” write professors Harriet Hartman and Ira M. Sheskin in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
Background: “The first gay and lesbian Jewish organization in the world was the Jewish Gay and Lesbian Group formed in London in 1972, followed by gay and lesbian synagogues in Los Angeles and New York. Today, an annual world congress encompasses representatives of Jewish gay and lesbian organizations from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Mexico, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the U.S., and a virtual resource center at the Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation centralizes information for Jewish LGBT, including a number of local and national organizations set up for this community. The 2020 American Jewish Year Bookidentities six national Jewish organizations with an LGBT mission (A Wider Bridge, Eshel, Keshet, Linke Fligl, the National Union of Jewish Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer and Questioning Students and The World Congress: Keshet Ga’avah).”
Community studies: “Over the past two decades, more than 20 Jewish community studies have inquired as to whether a household includes a person with LGBT status. Depending on the community, anywhere from 1% to 11% of households indicated the presence of an LGBT adult, with the highest percentages in Houston and Broward (Fla.), and the largest number in San Francisco. Based on data from seven of the more recent Jewish community studies conducted from 2014-2018, and compared to non-LGBT households, LGBT households are younger, have more household members and more workers, are less likely to live as married couples or with minor children, have lower incomes than their counterparts among non-LGBT households (holding age constant) and have a lower home ownership rate.”
Why it’s a win for all: The Jewish Teen Funder Collaborative’s new home at JFNA
“In 2013, the Jim Joseph Foundation wanted to understand and address the perpetual problem of teens dropping out of Jewish life following b’nai mitzvah. The Foundation posed some big questions to itself and to researchers it commissioned to understand the challenge. How could the Jewish community engage more – and more diverse – post-b’nai mitzvah teens in Jewish experiences that add meaning and value to their lives? How could we strengthen connections to and among Jewish teens that give them a sense of belonging?” write Sara Allen, executive director of the Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Funder Collaborative, and Aaron Saxe, a senior program officer at the Jim Joseph Foundation in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
Collaborative beginnings: “After uncovering some potential answers, the Foundation began working with 10 local and five national funders to create 10 teen initiatives in communities across the U.S. Together, these funders and initiatives formed the Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Funder Collaborative, with the common goal to develop and invest in local engagement opportunities to create high-quality, relevant and sustainable Jewish education and engagement experiences.”
Transition: “We challenged the initiatives to think about their own sustainability, which helped us to develop a plan for the Collaborative’s sustainability too. Some funder collaboratives rightfully come and go; this one warranted continuing in a permanent institutional home. With this in mind, the Jewish Teen Funder Collaborative is now entering an important new stage with a permanent home at The Jewish Federations of North America.”
Strike Up The Brand: Denise Lee Yohn, a branding expert, writes in Harvard Business Review about Facebook’s decision to rebrand itself as “Meta,” criticizing it as an example of a common mistake in such exercises — bad timing. The name change has been criticized for various reasons, but the big problem is that Facebook announced it prematurely, before making any substantive changes at the company or starting to implement a vision for the metaverse. “Many people refer to a brand as a promise; but a brand must be a promise delivered,” Yohn concludes. “With its rebranding effort, Facebook is making promises that it doesn’t seem able to deliver right now.” [HBR]
Money Isn’t Everything: In Inside Philanthropy, John Canady, CEO of the National Philanthropic Trust UK, uses the ongoing U.N. climate change conference in Glasgow, Scotland, as an opportunity to suggest a shift in how to evaluate philanthropy’s contributions to the global environmental effort. Dollar amounts are important, Canady acknowledges, and contributions from foundations and individuals are rising, but philanthropy is also helping to inspire global engagement with climate issues by grabbing headlines and coordinating networks of activists and experts who have solutions to offer. “By simply looking at donations to date, there is an unfair assumption that philanthropists only focus on traditional causes, such as education, the arts or cultural issues, and lack the acumen or appetite to pivot to the climate crisis,” Canady concludes. “I see more private funders thinking strategically about opportunities to integrate environmental initiatives into their programs.” [InsidePhilanthropy]
Thinking Long-Term: An organization that counsels entrepreneurs who want to become philanthropists has launched the Patient Philanthropy Fund (PPF), whose mission is to let its assets sit until a moment of true emergency, with $1 million from donors such as Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn, reports Sigal Samuel in Vox. The fund’s managers will be able to identify such a moment by a sharp spike in need or a drop in funding, according to Philip Trammell, the Oxford University economist whose work inspired PPF, and who says it’s important to also fund solutions to pressing problems. “Ultimately, my best-case scenario is that this just becomes a normal thing for people to do,” Trammell said. “It’s sort of just like, we’re all going to chip in a little bit for insurance.” [Vox]
Word on the Street
Following an all-night session, the Knesset passed Israel’s first budget in over three years, averting the prospect of immediate early elections… The Senate confirmed Tom Nides to be U.S. ambassador to Israel… A new partnership between Loyola Marymount University and the Academy for Jewish Religion California will bring Catholic and Jewish scholars together… The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports charitable giving to the largest U.S. nonprofits increased 3.7% in 2020 on a year-over-year basis, driven largely by the wealthiest donors… Following an appeal from a Holocaust survivor group, an Israeli court issued an injunction halting the auction of tattoo stamps used by Nazis on inmates of Auschwitz…
Pic of the Day
The autumn leaves are turning at the Pearlstone Conference & Retreat Center in Reisterstown, Md., which recently merged with Jewish environmental organization Hazon.
Recording artist, songwriter and entertainer known as Yoni Z, Yoni Zigelboum…
Former Israeli film director, actor and comedian who left the entertainment world to become a rabbi, Uri Zohar… Political scientist and consultant, Edward Luttwak… Chair of the House Budget Committee, he is Kentucky’s first Jewish congressman, John Yarmuth (D-KY)… Former IDF paratrooper, he served as the IDF’s chief of the general staff (1998-2002), minister of defense (2002-2006) and member of Knesset for the Kadima party (2006-2015), Lt. Gen. Shaul Mofaz… Uruguayan biologist, he served as mayor of Montevideo and then as a national cabinet minister, Ricardo Ehrlich… Professor of medicine at England’s University of Birmingham and a leading British authority on organ donation and transplantation, James M. Neuberger… Board member of Jewish Funders Network and a member of the board of governors of the Jewish Agency, Dorothy Tananbaum… Marketing and communications consultant, Robert L. Kern… Professor at the University of California San Francisco and winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize in Medicine, David Jay Julius… U.K. politician who served as a Conservative party Parliament member and cabinet minister, Richard Irwin Harrington… Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives since 2013, Kenneth I. Gordon… Former CEO and current distinguished fellow at the Hudson Institute, Ken Weinstein… Author, actress and television host, Annabelle Gurwitch… Professor of philosophy at Texas A&M University, Claire Elise Katz… Israeli screenwriter and film director, Eran Kolirin… Partner at Paragon Strategic Insights, Jeremy Chwat… Media columnist for The New York Times, Ben Smith… Director of reputation risk at McKinsey & Company, Max Gleischman… Opinion columnist at The Washington Post, Catherine Rampell… Founder and CEO at Denver-based Fresh Tape Media, Jared Kleinstein… Founder and CEO of a health organization working for early detection and prevention of cancer, Yael Cohen Braun… Deputy general counsel at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Addar Weintraub Levi… National administrative coordinator for Friends of ELNET, Randi Halperin… Former White House special representative for international negotiations, Avi Berkowitz… Israeli professional stock car racing driver, he is the first Israeli to compete in one of NASCAR’s top three touring series, Alon Day… Health care reporter for Politico New York, Amanda Eisenberg…
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