Your Daily Phil: The next COVID relief bill and the Jewish community

Good Friday morning!

The hedge fund manager whose bet against a chain of gaming shops was targeted by individual investors who organize in online spaces inflected with antisemitism is also a philanthropist who gives to U.S. military families and a variety of Jewish causes.

The campaign against Gabe Plotkin’s Melvin Capital began when he announced a short sale — essentially, a bet that a company’s stock price will fall — of GameStop. Investors who congregate on a Reddit forum and a Discord server under the name “WallStreetBets” whipped up enthusiasm for GameStop shares by sowing hatred for the fund, generating a spike in the share price that almost destroyed Melvin Capital. Hedge fund giant Steven Cohen of Point72, a mentor of Plotkin’s, stepped in, along with Ken Griffin’s Citadel, to help bail him out.

WallStreetBets describes itself as “Like 4chan found a Bloomberg terminal illness.” 4chan is a message board known for its antisemitism. Discord has banned the group for “hateful and discriminatory content.”

In October, Plotkin joined the board of Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation, which provides scholarships to children who lost a parent in the line of duty. The Gabriel and Yaara Plotkin Family Foundation also made a donation of $100,000 to the Wounded Warrior Foundation in 2018, according to its most recent available tax filing. Eight of the foundation’s 11 gifts went to Jewish groups, including Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, Park East Day School on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and Chabad of Southampton.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters today that Democratic representatives will start moving their blueprint for coronavirus relief as soon as next week, in the latest in a series of increasingly strong signals that Democrats will use their slim Senate majority to push the bill through without Republican cooperation.

Sigh of relief

Jewish advocates working to ensure the next COVID relief bill assists the community

Courtesy Camp Wise via Facebook

The release by President Joe Biden of his plan for the next COVID-19 relief package has triggered a surge of lobbying by everyone with a financial or political interest in the bill. eJewishPhilanthropy’s Helen Chernikoff talked with Jewish and nonprofit leaders about their effortsto build on what they achieved in the last relief package, passed in December.

Drill down: In addition to signing onto a letter spearheaded by the National Council of Nonprofits outlining broad goals for the bill, the Orthodox Union and the Jewish Federations of North America are advocating for specific programs and policies. The proposal touted by the Biden administration calls for $100 million for both K-12 education and higher education, and the Orthodox Union is focused on trying to earmark some of that pot for Jewish K-12 schools, said Nathan Diament, executive director of the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center. In December, when the last package was passed, the group and its allies successfully lobbied to designate $2.75 billion of the $50 billion pot for K-12 schools specifically to non-public schools. That money pays for COVID-related expenses, like masks and distance-learning equipment. “That removes the politics of pitting public against non-public schools. Either it’s spent to help non-public schools or it’s not spent,” Diament said.

Simplifying the process: The Jewish Federations of North America and its allies are also trying to help nonprofits work more easily with the Small Business Administration, the federal agency that runs the process of forgiving Payroll Protection Program loans granted in previous relief packages, said Elana Broitman, the senior vice-president of public affairs. The forms, Broitman notes, are complicated, and many nonprofits are finding it difficult to complete them. In addition, the forms don’t adequately recognize the differences between the business models of charities compared with for-profit companies.

Survivor outreach: Another goal of JFNA’s is the expansion of a $5 million-a-year program that helps Holocaust survivors by helping caregivers understand the ways in which their traumatic experiences can exacerbate current health problems. The isolation of quarantine has been especially traumatic for this group, Broitman said, echoing a recent Washington Post report that found that Holocaust survivors living in Israel suffered higher rates of post-traumatic stress in the last year than the general population. The Jewish Federations of North America plans to emphasize this program on its “Virtual Mission” next week, a digital version of the organization’s annual event that sees thousands of participants meet with legislators in Washington, D.C.

Read the full story here.


Putting the develop in development and the raising into fundraising 

Heather Paque | Pixabay

Kerry Leaf, a board engagement and development professional for the URJ, shares thoughts on development and fundraising.

Questions: Where does develop fit into development? And where does raising fit into fundraising? Kerry goes on to present actionable steps that can be implemented including raising awareness, developing a cadre of champions and developing both training guides and a communications guide.

Conclusion: In this first quarter of 2021, possibilities are endless. We have a sacred responsibility and privilege to develop a culture of philanthropy, to raise the importance of our goals, and to offer our donors a sense of fulfillment and liberation.

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

?A Warm Welcome: The Jews of Color Initiative in Berkeley is working to help raise awareness about the community’s diversity and ensure that all Jews feel included in Jewish spaces like synagogues. [InsidePhilanthropy]

??Election Integrity: Foundation support helped provide over 500,000 poll workers —  the most recent manifestation of a philanthropic interest in democracy that’s been growing in the past 10 years. [ChronicleOfPhilanthropy]

?Shadow Side: The granddaughter of a Lithuanian says those who revere him as a hero  for resisting the Soviets must also recognize that he was a Nazi. [NYTimes]

?Big Gifts: Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan have committed $350 million to criminal justice reform in an overhaul of their Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which will also shift some of its advocacy work to outside groups. [Recode]

Community Comms

New Venture: A first-of-its-kind loneliness reduction program will begin in the coming months in Tel Aviv-Jaffa.

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

Word on the Street

The Argentinian heirs of Emma Frankenbacher are being compensated by the German government for the forced sale of two Franz Liszt scores before her death in Thereisenstadt concentration camp… Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in Manhattan has co-sponsored a letter, signed by 120 houses of worship, that urges Gov. Andrew Cuomo to give New York’s prisoners vaccine priority… The Frances Bunzl Family Trust of Atlanta has made a gift of $5.6 million, to be divided equally between the Jewish Federation and Jewish Family and Career Services…

Pic of the Day


As part of its annual Big Bold Jewish Climate Fest, Hazon is celebrating the goats — this is Ella — at its Isabella Freedman Jewsh Retreat Center.



Swimmer for Israel at the 2016 Summer Olympics, she has won 17 medals including 12 gold at the Maccabiah Games, Andrea (Andi) Murez turns 29…

Friday: Rabbi, mohel and public speaker, Rabbi Paysach Krohn turns 76… President of Libitzky Property Companies, Moses S. Libitzky turns 74… Regional director in the Houston office of the American Jewish Committee, Randall Czarlinsky turns 67… Former executive director of Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, Larry Greenfield turns 59… Executive director of the Westchester Jewish Council, Elliot Forchheimer turns 59… Senior writer for JCCs of North America, a.k.a. Jane the Writer, Jane E. Herman turns 58… Actress known for her role as Amy MacDougall-Barone on the TV sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, Monica Horan turns 58… Chief customer officer at, he is the founder of multiple tech firms, Sam Lawrence turns 51… VP of government relations and public policy operations at the American Hospital Association, Robyn Cooke Bash turns 49… Senior director and global head of the NYC-based Tembo Group, Denielle Sachs turns 44… Associate at Booz Allen Hamilton, Yasha Moz turns 36… 

Saturday: Chairman of The Cordish Companies, David S. Cordish turns 81… Artist, she paints brightly colored Biblical narratives based upon her Torah study, Barbara “Willy” Mendes turns 73… Teacher and national community leader, Judith Friedman Rosen turns 69… AVP of corporate outreach and development at the Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation in New Hyde Park, New York, Linda Scacco turns 67… CEO of Jewish National Fund, Russell F. Robinson turns 65… Managing partner of lobbying and law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Richard B. Benenson turns 53… Rabbi, spokesman and director of public relations for the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, Zalman Shmotkin turns 52… Publicist, manager and socialite, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Grubman turns 50… Executive director of Middle East Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Joshua M. Kram turns 42… Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives since 2015, Lee Zeldin turns 41… Israeli actor, director, writer and television presenter, Michael Aloni turns 37… CEO at Harvesting Media, Eli Langer turns 35… Strategic advisor at School Mint, Eric Scott Lavin turns 34… Senior consultant in the tech sector for Deloitte Israel, Max Delahanty turns 32… Associate at Blue Wolf Capital Partners, Jared Isenstein turns 29… Administrative assistant at AIPAC, Alexa Smith

Sunday: Cardiologist and the co-inventor of the automatic implantable cardioverter defibrillator, Morton M. Mower, M.D. turns 88… Former assistant U.S. solicitor general, now a private attorney with an active Supreme Court practice focused on religious liberty issues, Nathan Lewin turns 85… Associate professor emeritus of Talmud and rabbinics at the Jewish Theological Seminary, Mayer Elya Rabinowitz turns 82… Founder of social change organizations in Israel to promote peace, he was chief rabbi of Norway while also serving as a member of Knesset, Michael Melchior turns 67… Founder and CEO of MWWPR, Michael W. Kempner turns 63… Co-founder, chairman and CEO of Meridian Capital Group, Ralph Herzka turns 59… Fourth-generation real estate developer, he is a founding partner of Redbrick LMD, Louis Myerberg Dubin turns 58… CEO of City Cast, he was previously CEO of Atlas Obscura and Slate, David Plotz turns 51… Managing director of BerlinRosen’s New York office, Michael Rabinowitz-Gold turns 43… Director of ecosystem engagement at MassChallenge, Clara Scheinmann turns 30… Director at NYC’s 25madison and interim head of revenue and strategy at Limelight, Grant Silow