Your Daily Phil: The social services needs in Surfside + The Slifka Inclusion Initiative


 Good Tuesday morning!

The need for both grief counseling and housing is becoming more acute in Surfside, Fla., where 150 people remain missing under the rubble of Champlain Towers South, the condo tower that collapsed early Thursday morning, Michelle Labgold, chief planning officer of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, told eJewishPhilanthropy.

“If the search teams switch to recovery mode instead of rescue mode, the pain will be even more intense,” she said, referring to the distinction made by search teams when they focus more on retrieving human remains than in trying to save those who might still be alive. The confirmed death toll now stands at 11.

The federation and other human services agencies are connecting survivors and the families of potential victims with licensed therapists trained to work in trauma situations, in addition to chaplains and other clergy, she said. “Those who are displaced, even if physically they are relatively unharmed, they’re psychologically impacted,” she said. “They need to rebuild their lives.”

The American Red Cross is providing displaced residents with a week’s stay in a hotel, but they will need more permanent housing soon, as will those who have decided to vacate a building in the same complex that is still standing, but is similar to the downed tower in construction, materials and age.


Rabbi Jill Jacobs, leader of T’ruah, is getting a title change

T’ruah CEO Jill Jacobs

Under Rabbi Jill Jacobs, who took the helm of social justice organization T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights in 2011, the group’s staff has grown from fewer than four people to 20; its annual budget is now $2 million, up from $500,000. In response to this growth, in addition to broader trends in the nonprofit sector, T’ruah’s board will announce today that Jacobs’s title will change to CEO from executive director, she told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Helen Chernikoff. “CEO just better reflects what my job actually is,” she said.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Helen Chernikoff: Why did the board feel the need to change your title?

Jill Jacobs: This is the way the nonprofit world is moving. Larger organizations are making the assertion that the people who run nonprofits are doing the same kinds of jobs, and dealing with the same kinds of challenges, as people who are running businesses: It’s not a different or lesser job to be leading a nonprofit than it is to be leading a for-profit business. And it’s more common for men to take the title of CEO, so it’s important for organizations run by women to make this change, too. 

HC: Coronavirus restrictions are easing as vaccination rates rise. President Joe Biden has been in office almost six months. Does this moment feel significant to you in any way?

JJ: It does feel like this is a moment in which we can breathe. We had four years when we never knew when we woke up in the morning whether we would have to react to a cruel policy position that came out on Twitter at 5 a.m. And then because of the global pandemic, we had to pivot in ways we hadn’t imagined. We have been working on new strategic priorities for the next five years and we’ll be ready to start talking about those with the world in the fall.

Read the full interview here.


A madrichim program grounded in resilience


“A year ago, I sat in the makeshift office that I had set up in the corner of my bedroom. I was trying to focus on how to support our madrichim (teen classroom assistants) in the coming year. At the same time, I was worried about my own children, who were facing a summer with no camp, and possibly a year of virtual school,” writes Alison Lobron, a synagogue inclusion and program development coordinator, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Resilience: “When I work with madrichim, I often feel a tension that needs to be bridged. On the one hand, the teens are ‘employees,’ and their function is to support students. Teens who participate in the madrichim program should feel accountable to uphold all their responsibilities as teachers. On the other hand, they should also feel nurtured and cared for by synagogue staff. This second part felt even more important now than in the past… For both my own teenagers and the teens I supervise, I predicted that building up resilience would be key.”

Finding clarity: “Many synagogue religious school programs utilize the strengths and talents of their community’s teens to support student learning. In the year that just passed, I used the framework of resilience to find clarity in the tension between our teens as religious school employees and our teens as synagogue members. Yes, our teens need to take their responsibilities seriously, but our responsibility to them comes first. In a year when many of them experienced loss, isolation, and many disappointments, I wanted them to feel good about their participation in our program.” 

Read the full piece here.


The Slifka Day School inclusion initiative: Why it matters and how it is making a difference


“While most Jewish day schools share the vision that all their students should reach their full potential, too often, these schools are not equipped to meet the needs of children who experience significant learning challenges, emotional and behavioral disorders, or physical and developmental disabilities,” writes educator Miriam Rosalyn Diamond in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Program launch: “In 2017, the [Alfred and Gilda Slifka Foundation] partnered with Boston’s Combined Jewish Philanthropies and Gateways: Access to Jewish Education to launch the Slifka Inclusion Initiative, a decade-long program to support Jewish day schools in Greater Boston in creating and implementing a sustainable, replicable model of inclusive education for students with significant learning challenges.”

Pilot programs: “A Slifka Inclusion Initiative grant has helped [two pilot] schools hire additional personnel, acquire classroom materials, and provide teacher and staff training to carry out these goals of inclusion. Unlike in many stand-alone programs where students with substantial learning needs are largely separated from typical learners, the Slifka Initiative aims for the so-called ‘Slifka students’ to be included in conventional classrooms, learning alongside other students as much as possible.”

First steps: “The first step in realizing the Slifka Inclusion Initiative’s vision was to offer professional development for teachers and staff at the pilot schools to prepare them to be more effective in designing and delivering lessons to diverse learners. To put this training into action, each school’s ‘inclusion facilitator’ and classroom teachers would work alongside a cohort of school support staff, including speech, reading, and math specialists, some of whom were hired with Slifka Inclusion Initiative grant funding.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

? Mission Shift: In Inside Philanthropy, Connie Matthiesen interviews Gislaine Ngounou, interim CEO of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, who led the foundation as it examined its direction and committed to making racial equity and justice the centerpiece of its mission after she took the helm last June. In practical terms, the foundation is funding organizations that are replacing zero-tolerance discipline with support for students and replacing police officers with social services. “Public education is a cornerstone of democracy, but it is also connected to all types of other injustices,” Ngounou said. “Nellie Mae can’t fund it all, so we need to be very intentional and strategic and combine forces with others to get this work done.” [InsidePhilanthropy]

? Unequal Access: Writing in Stanford Social Innovation Review, Beth Bafford and Patrick Davis suggest that the unequal distribution of the Paycheck Protection Program reveals the degree to which private banking has ceased to operate as a resource for small businesses since the 2008 recession. The government has turned to community development financial institutions in order to deliver loans to hard-to-reach small business owners, and the next step is to expand their capacity, Bafford and Davis state. “For small U.S. businesses, the COVID-19 crisis was the tip of the iceberg. Beneath the surface lies a financial system that has long denied access to quality, affordable financial products to millions of Americans and thousands of communities across the country.” [SSIR]

Private Business: Bill and Melinda Gates’ divorce lays bare their diverging interests in both philanthropy and private investment, which they handle through their LLCs — vehicles that can be used to fund philanthropy, but also political donations, report Sophie Alexander and Ben Steverman in Bloomberg. Melinda Gates’ 90-person incubation and investment firm, Pivotal Ventures, focuses on gender equality, while Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy employs about 100 people specializing in climate change mitigation. “Depending whom you ask, LLCs are either an innovative tool in the toolbox of the world’s best philanthropists, or a major step backward in terms of transparency,” Alexander and Steverman write. [Bloomberg]

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Word on the Street

The Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael) spent more on its fundraising efforts in 2020 than it actually raised in donations, its draft financial statement for the year reveals… After 20 years of leadership, Andrew Getraer will be stepping down as executive director of Rutgers Hillel, effective July 1… Limmud FSU International Foundation named Natasha Chechik executive director… Elan Kramer has joined the Maimonides Fund as an associate program officer… Children seeking sanctuary in Britain before the Holocaust were refused the lifeline of the Kindertransport if they were thought to have disabilities or looked too Jewish, say researchers… EnerJew Gratitude Museum, a virtual, interactive and immersive exhibition that features stories of the Righteous among the Nations, recently launched… The Jewish Healthcare Foundation, The John A. Hartford Foundation and the Henry L. Hillman Foundation invested just under $1 million to pilot a new program among skilled nursing facilities, local health systems, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania State University… A report from Independent Sector finds the recovery of the U.S. nonprofit sector remained slow and uneven in the first quarter of 2021…

Pic of the Day


Attendees gather for the opening night concert at the 30th annual Krakow Jewish Culture Festival over the weekend.



President and dean of Phoenix-based Valley Beit Midrash, he is also the founder and president of Uri L’Tzedek, Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz… 

Member of the UK’s House of Lords, Baroness Sally Ralea Rosengarten Greengross… Baltimore area gastroenterologist, Marshall Bedine, M.D…. Stand-up comedian and actor, he has appeared in 40 episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Richard Philip Lewis… Chairman of Carnival Corporation and owner of the NBA’s Miami Heat, Micky Arison… Dean of Yeshivas Brisk in Jerusalem, Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Soloveitchik… Former assistant surgeon general of the U.S. and deputy assistant secretary of HHS for women’s health, Susan Jane Blumenthal, M.D… SVP and counsel at Columbus, Ohio-based L Brands for almost 30 years, now a consultant, Bruce A. Soll… CEO of three firms: Aliya Marketing Group, BH Solar and PPE Centers, Joshua Karlin… Israeli actress, screenwriter, playwright and film director, Hanna Azoulay-Hasfari… Attorney General of Israel, Avichai Mandelblit… Screenwriter, director and producer, he has won nine Emmy Awards for his work on AMC’s “Mad Men” and HBO’s “The Sopranos,” Matthew Hoffman Weiner… Senior rabbi of Toronto’s Beth Tzedec Congregation, Rabbi Steven C. Wernick… Theatre, film and television screenwriter, his credits include the 2017 film Wonder Woman, Allan Heinberg… Israeli political consultant and former chief of staff to then Prime Minister Netanyahu, Ari Harow… Film and television director and writer, known for writing and directing the films Obvious Child and Landline, Gillian Robespierre… Former member of the UK’s Parliament for the Labour party, Ruth Smeeth… Israeli actor and male model, Yehuda Levi… Principal at Sard Verbinnen, Andrew Duberstein… Consultant, facilitator, trainer and coach for mission-driven organizations and leaders, Nanette R. Fridman
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