Your Daily Phil: The story of Bikey McBikeface + Previewing Prizmah’s conference

Good Friday morning!

In today’s Your Daily Phil, we report on a curiously named emergency vehicle in Jerusalem, and feature a column by Y.U.’s Erica Brown on the weekly Torah portion. Also in this newsletter: Rabbi Pesach LernerStephen L. Rosedale, Rebecca Goodman and Vera Vladimirsky. We’ll start with a look at trends ahead of Prizmah’s biennial conference.

For less-distracted reading over the weekend, browse this week’s edition of The Weekly Print, a curated print-friendly PDF featuring a selection of recent eJP and Jewish Insider stories, including: How Hady Amr represents Biden to the Palestinians; Nachman Shai’s goodbye; Inside Israel and Jordan’s new bid to rehabilitate the Jordan River; A hip-hop artist in the Holy Land; British TV judge Rob Rinder’s crowded docket; A Jewish nonprofit is changing the way a Florida city responds to 911 calls; and How an emergency vehicle in Jerusalem came to be known as ‘Bikey McBikeface.’Print the latest edition here.

The third page of the annual enrollment study conducted by Prizmah features a box with a light blue background and bold white type, informing readers that from last school year to this one, among the 136 Jewish day schools surveyed, enrollment grew 0%.

This, said Prizmah CEO Paul Bernstein, is actually good news.

What that goose egg means, Bernstein told eJewishPhilanthropy, is that day schools are maintaining the gains they achieved during the pandemic, when students streamed into Jewish schools that were largely meeting in person when many other schools were largely not.

Furthermore, he said, it means that as inflation rose during the early part of 2022, when students had to enroll, parents still opted to pay another year of tuition and sign their kids up again. In the two years before this one, enrollment had risen 2% and 3%, respectively. The survey found that 72% of new students who enrolled because of the pandemic in the fall of 2020 were still in Jewish day schools at the beginning of the current school year, two years later.

“In the early part of the millennium, really accelerating after 2008, declining enrollment in day schools and yeshivas outside of the Haredi sector had been the annual feature, and that’s what led to quite a lot of pessimism,” Bernstein told eJP.

“We might have actually expected some shrinkage and just a little bit of a rebound as people normalized during this period, when we were emerging from COVID,” he added. “So the fact that we had stable enrollment this year is very much a win.”

That approach is buoying Bernstein as he heads into Prizmah’s three-day biennial conference, which begins on Sunday in Denver. More than 1,000 people will be attending this year, including some 100 lay leaders and philanthropists. Prizmah is an umbrella group that provides services such as curricular guidance and teacher and administrator training and networking, and serves schools that range from Orthodox to Conservative to Reform, as well as community and pluralist schools. Haredi schools are generally not affiliated with the network.

The conference’s theme is “creative spirit,” and the featured speaker is positive psychology lecturer Tal Ben-Shahar. Participants at the conference will be discussing topics including Israel education, mental health and wellness. Bernstein also hopes the conference is an opportunity for day school employees and stakeholders to figure out how to capitalize on the sector’s achievements during the COVID era.

“We’re now looking at the world in a very different way,” he said. “This isn’t just a one-year blip.”

Read the full story here.

a bike by any other name

Bikey McBikeface on the streets of Jerusalem.
Bikey McBikeface on the streets of Jerusalem.

The Israeli emergency response organization United Hatzalah has a fleet of more than 1,000 ambucycles, or mopeds outfitted with emergency lifesaving equipment. Most of the ambucycles, which the organization uses to respond to some 2,000 calls per day, were donated in honor of people or milestone events. But only one of those ambucycles has an official name: Bikey McBikeface, reports Melanie Lidman for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Remembering a friend: Bikey McBikeface took to the road in 2017, the donation organized by a group of friends in honor of Yoni Jesner, a Scottish 19-year-old who was killed in a terror attack in Tel Aviv in 2002. Jesner had dreamed of being a doctor, and was always running around helping people, so it seemed fitting to donate an ambucycle in his name, said his friend, Binyamin Casper.  “Yoni was a huge jokester, one of the funniest guys I knew,” he told eJP. “This was a great shtick very much up Yoni’s alley.”

A unique moniker: “Usually the donors choose the dedication, and they dedicate it in honor of family members, loved ones, people who passed, bar mitzvahs or weddings,” explained Raphael Poch, an EMT volunteer and the international media spokesperson for United Hatzalah. “Many bikes have interesting dedications, and we have numerous bikes [dedicated] in honor of terror victims,” said Poch. But he’s unaware of another ambucycle that has both a dedication and an official name. “This was a very unique instance where the bike was given a name,” he said.

End of the road: Bikey McBikeface’s journey may soon be coming to an end. United Hatzalah ambucycles generally last for about five years, up to a maximum of seven years, before they are retired, and Bikey McBikeface is already six years old. The bike recently came to prominence when a Jerusalem resident posted a photo of the bike on Facebook with a humorous imagined conversation about the origins of its name. “The ambucycle encapsulated a lot of Yoni in one shot: his spirit, his desire to help people in life, and his humor, which I think brought out a lot of creativity and humor and generosity from others,” Casper said.

Read the full story here.

the torah of leadership

Leading through darkness: Parshat Vayechi


“After decades of difficulty on the way to leadership greatness, Jacob breathes his last breath in this week’s parsha, Vayechi: ‘When Jacob finished his instructions to his sons, he drew his feet into the bed and, breathing his last, he was gathered to his kin’ (Genesis 49:33). Joseph, perhaps aware of all the lost years between them, was understandably bereft: ‘Joseph flung himself upon his father’s face and wept over him and kissed him’ (Gen. 50:1),” writes Erica Brown in her weekly column for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Jacob said what?: “But the real summation of Jacob’s last years emerges in a conversation he has, not with Joseph, but with Pharaoh in last week’s Torah reading. We’ve all participated in or witnessed unusual, almost inexplicable conversations that leave us baffled. This is one of the strangest conversations in all of Tanach. I’ve written about this conversation at length and am still bewildered by it every year.”

It’s not the years, it’s the mileage: “Jacob speaks to Pharaoh and tells this powerful leader and stranger of his woes. ‘Joseph then brought his father Jacob and presented him to Pharaoh, and Jacob greeted Pharaoh. Pharaoh asked Jacob, “How many are the years of your life?” And Jacob answered, “The years of my sojourn [on earth] are one hundred and thirty. Few and hard have been the years of my life, nor do they come up to the life spans of my ancestors during their sojourns.” Then Jacob bade Pharaoh farewell, and left Pharaoh’s presence’ (Gen. 47:7-10). Pharaoh asks an odd question about Jacob’s age. Jacob responds by telling Pharaoh something he never revealed to his sons. His life has been punishingly hard and is soon to be over. How Jacob knows this is never explained. After this upsetting download of misery, Pharaoh says nothing. He offers not a word of solace or consolation. Jacob then exits the scene. The story progresses with no further mention of the encounter.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

It’s Not the Great Resignation: Why are fundraisers in such short supply at nonprofits? The answer, Lisa Pilar Cowan and Michelle Flores write in The Chronicle of Philanthropy, is nonprofit leaders’ insistence on searching for “somebody who both understands their organization’s mission and ‘speaks the language’ of potential donors.” Instead, the authors propose, nonprofits need to think of fundraising as part of their work toward social change: “That would mean rethinking what fundraisers have the power to do: the relationships they cultivate and make space for, how they connect and build a community, and what the role of that community is in financing and realizing an organization’s mission. Stop competing and start collaborating. Imagine that, instead of vying with similar organizations for limited foundation dollars, we worked together as a community to invite grant makers into a relationship of trust and collective transformation. Imagine readjusting our relationships with individual donors to invite them into a movement that transforms the power they hold.” [ChronicleofPhilanthropy]

A Modest Proposal: 
What grant reviewers are looking for is not a secret, Stephanie Minor writes in NonProfitPRO: grant proposals should include consistent information told honestly, and the project being proposed should fit the goals of the foundation or other granting body. “Funders say that nonprofits should be truthful about their organizational challenges in grant narratives — even if there are issues, like budget deficits and leadership changes. Reviewers appreciate the truth and see through details that don’t add up. They want to know how you are handling difficulties, and may even give you an added boost if they know you are facing particular challenges…A grant proposal’s narrative, budget, timeline, and work samples or documentation should all relate to the same program and develop a cohesive story. For example, budgets that differ from the narrative or are incomplete drive funders crazy. ‘Too many times, I’ve reviewed applications where the narrative and the support materials tell contradictory stories,’ Ernest Disney-Britton, a former public grant funder in Indianapolis, said. ‘If the narrative describes your organization as committed to diversity, but your support materials tell a different story … it’s a problem.’” [NonProfitPRO]

Around the Web

Two members of the Jewish Agency for Israel’s board of governors, Rabbi Pesach Lerner and Stephen L. Rosedale, dissented from a letter signed by the Jewish Agency’s leadership that expressed “deep concern” about the government’s approach to religious issues and Israel-Diaspora relations. According to The Jerusalem Post, Lerner and Rosedale wrote that they and constituents they represent “share in the joy of the establishment of a strong national government.”

Tomer Marshall was named director of Sderot & the Otef Maof Tech Startup Accelerator at BDO accounting. He was previously CEO at education goal-setting app TribeEffects…

Rebecca Goodman was named director of Jewish community engagement at the Bay Area Jewish Community Relations Council. She was previously youth and family education director at Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley, Calif.…

Pic of the Day

“The Last Apartment,” a photograph by Ukrainian-Israeli artist Vera Vladimirsky, is part of an exhibition of Vladimirsky’s work now on view at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. In her work, Vladimirsky told Jewish Insider, she “wanted to visit all the places I called ‘home’ to reconstruct my story, to search for a sense of closure, and to find a meeting point between a few places in various moments in time.”


NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 12: Katie Couric visits the 92NY on September 12, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Santiago Felipe/Getty Images)

Former co-anchor of the “Today Show” on NBC for 15 years before going to CBS and becoming the first woman anchor of a nightly news broadcast, Katie Couric celebrates her birthday on Saturday… 

FRIDAY: Retired EVP and senior counsel of the Trump Organization, former advisor on “The Apprentice,” George H. Ross … Professor emeritus of chemistry at the University of Chicago since 1957, member of the Board of Governors at Tel Aviv University, Stuart A. Rice… Canadian businessman, author and philanthropist, Seymour Schulich… Philanthropist and co-founder of private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Henry R. Kravis… Chairman, president and CEO of Phibro Animal Health Corporation, Jack C. Bendheim… Yiddish-language author, journalist, playwright and lyricist, Boris Sandler… Attorney general of Oregon, Ellen Rosenblum… Interim provost and dean at Tennessee State University, he retired as a major in the IDF, Michael Harris… Retired television executive and political commentator, Mark E. Hyman… Former president and editor-in-chief of RewireJodi Lynn Jacobson… Member of the Ukrainian Parliament and president of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, Oleksandr Feldman… Daniel G. Slatopolsky… Founder of Pure California Beverages, Sarah Beth Rena Conner… Member of the Knesset for the Religious Zionist Party, Michal Miriam Waldiger… Actor, painter and fashion designer, a nephew of Ralph Lauren, Greg Lauren… Author of 12 spy fiction novels and four non-fiction books, Alex Berenson… President and CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage, Mat Ishbia… Founder and CEO at GTTFP Holdings and Jewish dating sites, Harei At and Jedding, Eli Ostreicher… Investigative reporter at WCCO/CBS in Minneapolis, both his parents are rabbis, Jonah P. Kaplan… Director of community engagement at CAMERA, Aviva Slomich Rosenschein… Philanthropic advisor at the Community Foundation for a Greater Richmond, Sarah Arenstein Levy… One of the youngest to ever sign a Major League Soccer contract at age 15, he is now a senior associate at Acacia Research, Zachary “Zach” Pfeffer… Head of business development at Goldman Sachs Investment Partners, Anna Phillips… Rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary, Aiden Pink

SATURDAY: U.S. District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Michigan, Judge Paul D. Borman… Pulitzer Prize-winning sports reporter, columnist and writer, Ira Berkow… Co-founder and publisher of Rolling Stone magazine and co-founder of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Jann Wenner… Scottsdale, Ariz., resident, Bruce Robert Dorfman… Retired president of the University of South Florida System, Judy Genshaft… Former Israeli minister of Jerusalem affairs and former chief rabbi of the IDF, Rafael “Rafi” Peretz… Former CEO of Glencore, Ivan Glasenberg… Dermatologist, cosmetic surgeon and real estate developer, Dr. Ezra Kest… Documentary filmmaker, Roberta Grossman… Heir to the Hyatt Hotel fortune, Anthony Pritzker… U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-SD)… U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)… Managing director and senior relationship manager at Bank of America, Zoya Raynes… Television and film actress and model, Lauren Cohan… Executive director of Keep Our Republic and author of Paths of the Righteous, Ari Mittleman… Concord, N.H.-based public affairs consultant, Holly Shulman… Assistant director at Hillel of Stanford University, Jeremy Ragent… Music director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Lahav Shani… Drummer and founding member of The Groggers, a pop punk band from Queens, Nechemia “Chemy” Soibelman… Reporter on Haredi and Knesset affairs for Walla News, Yaki Adamker… Author of four books and host of the history podcast “Noble Blood,” Dana Schwartz… National chair of Israel Policy Forum Atid and senior account executive at Vizio, Jonathan Kamel… Baseball pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles, the first Israeli player ever drafted by an MLB team, his great-uncle is Haim Saban, Dean Kremer

SUNDAY: Sociologist at the American Enterprise Institute, Charles Murray… Senior U.S. district judge for the Southern District of Florida, now on inactive status, Alan Stephen Gold… Classical pianist, Vladimir Feltsman… Founder and chief investment officer of Pzena Investment Management, Richard “Rich” Pzena… Deputy director general for Asia and the Pacific at Israel’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Rafael Harpaz… Co-founder and co-owner of Pizza Shuttle in Milwaukee, Mark Gold… Violinist and composer best known for her Klezmer music, Alicia Svigals… VP of wealth services at GCG Financial in Deerfield, IL, he was an NFL tight end for the Bears and Vikings, Brent Novoselsky… Founder and president of D.C.-based Professionals in the City, Michael Karlan… Attorney, patron of contemporary art, founder and CEO of lobbying firm Invariant, Heather Miller Podesta… Former state senator in Maine, Justin Loring Alfond… Singer-songwriter, musician, and actress, she was the lead singer and rhythm guitarist for the indie rock band Rilo Kiley, Jenny Lewis… Public policy program manager for Meta / Facebook, Avra Siegel… Creative director at Nashville-based Asurion, Ross M. Schneiderman… Actor, screenwriter and director, Sam Levinson