Your Daily Phil: The Tulsa synagogue resettling Afghan refugees + Making your organization more welcoming

Good Wednesday morning!

The field of Jewish disability services and inclusion will receive access today to an unprecedented cache of data about disability and employment in the form of three new studies: from RespectAbility, an advocacy group; Leading Edge, a leadership consulting organization; and the Network of Jewish Human Services Agencies (NJHSA) at a panel hosted by the Jewish Funders Network, said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, Respectability’s president.

“I don’t know of any larger studies on disability before, or three studies at once,” Laszlo Mizrahi said. “It’s a big deal.” The research initiatives reflect increased philanthropic interest in the issue, she said.

Early foundation supporters included the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation and the Schwartz Foundation. The Ruderman Family Foundation announced in September 2020 that it was seeking a new signature issue after almost two decades of work on disability. Today, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies is a key funder, as is the Diane and Guilford Glazer Foundation.


A Tulsa, Okla., congregation has become an official refugee resettlement agency


Rabbi Dan Kaiman is an evangelist for small-town Jewish life. He grew up in one, and now serves as the spiritual leader of Congregation B’nai Emunah in Tulsa, Okla., where congregants gather to pray, learn and smoke meat for a monthly deli pop-up. Even in a small Jewish community, a synagogue has the opportunity to serve its congregants and its community in an unexpected way: as a refugee resettlement agency, Kaiman told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Helen Chernikoff.

Surrogate family: B’nai Emunah is scheduled to receive its first refugees — an Afghan family of four — Wednesday evening. “Imagine you are moving to a place and you have a cousin who lives there. We are the cousins,” Kaiman said, noting that while the congregation has leased a warehouse to store donated furniture and other goods, the synagogue itself is also serving that function. “We’re building a plane as we’re flying it,” he said. In early October, the congregation became an official resettlement agency, credentialed by the State Department and affiliated with HIAS, the Jewish organization that supports and coordinates local agencies like B’nai Emunah. No synagogue has played that role in two decades, said Alicia Wrenn, HIAS’s senior director for resettlement and integration.

A need for more hands: B’nai Emunah had been a longtime supporter of Catholic Charities of Eastern Oklahoma, which was the only official resettlement agency in the area. When Joe Biden was elected president, Catholic Charities suggested that B’nai Emunah become a second agency, given the likelihood that the Biden administration would raise the number of refugees allowed in the country and increase the need for such services. The synagogue asked HIAS to support its application, which heard B’nai Emunah’s proposal as a courtesy until they realized that the synagogue had the requisite experience and expertise due to their prior work with Catholic Charities.

A synagogue steps up: “None of us sitting here in D.C. or New York knew much about Tulsa, and we weren’t going to entertain a partnership because it’s a very long process and we don’t do this lightly,” Wrenn said. “But they weren’t going to take ‘no’ for an answer.” HIAS’s usual affiliates are Jewish social services agencies. B’nai Emunah will help settle about 50 Afghan refugees between now and the middle of February, which means supplying housing, outfitting the housing with essentials and helping each individual access basic services, whether that’s education, medical care or job training. The director of the program and a social worker have their offices in the synagogue. The State Department allocates a certain amount of money per refugee, and the agency must fundraise to meet any additional needs, which Kaiman is prepared to do, Wrenn said. 

Read the full article here.


Is your organization really warm and welcoming?


“Have you ever felt like you didn’t fit in at a Jewish communal event or, worse, been told by someone that they couldn’t, or wouldn’t, accommodate you in a Jewish space? Have you ever read on a synagogue’s website that they are ‘warm and welcoming,’ only to show up for services and be greeted with silent stares?” asks Miriam Steinberg-Egeth in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

New book: “This week, my co-editor, Warren Hoffman, and I, have released a new volume of essays called Warm and Welcoming: How the Jewish Community Can Become Truly Diverse and Inclusive in the 21st Century. We have experienced and heard about some of the best and worst that Jewish institutions across the country represent, and we have listened to hundreds of stories from Jews who have looked for a community to call their own, only to find insurmountable challenges to being genuinely welcomed as their whole selves.” 

Shared stories and strategies: “This book tackles institutionalized biases and barriers to inclusion in Jewish institutions through chapters from a variety of experts on a range of topics impacting the Jewish community today. The book offers not only stories and context about the issues facing Jews of all backgrounds, but, more importantly, provides practical and concrete advice that institutions can implement right away to change how they engage with diverse populations. If you’ve ever wondered, even for a moment, if you’re living up to your organization’s goals of serving and reaching those you want to serve and reach, this book is for you.”

Read the full piece here.


Ally: Upstander. Partner. Advocate. We must train them. Now.

Twitter/Simon Wiesenthal Center

“In early January 2019, I sat in the homes of three Jewish teenagers from Atlanta to engage them in a deep discussion with the goal of creating a portrait of them: their self-schema, their Jewish identity and the intersection of those. It was during that time that I first learned not only how rampant Jew hatred (aka antisemitism) was in their casual encounters – in school and on social media – but that it had made them quite apathetic to doing anything about it,” writes educator Robyn Faintich in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Apathy: “Because the teens I was profiling were considered ‘under-engaged’ in Jewish life, I turned the line of questioning related to encountering antisemitism to the 15+ Jewish teens (ninth, 10th and 11th graders) that I was teaching in a local weekly Reform supplemental education setting. Not only did this group confirm the prevalence of Hitler jokes online and swastika graffiti littering their schools, but they also corroborated the shrug of indifference and the ultimate apathy. I was stunned. Was this apathy due to our failure as Jewish adults and educators to instill in them the need to speak up and speak out against any form of anti-Jewish sentiment? Was the apathy due to a lack of skills we had given them to use their voices? Was this apathy something that the next generation of Jews was prone to due to a time distance from the Shoah (Holocaust) and a lack of personal connection to this critical event in Jewish history?”

Current events: “So why am I writing about this now, in the fall of 2021? Because there was a recent major incident going on in one of the Atlanta suburban school districts (just miles from my home) that needs more attention. Swastikas and the words “Heil Hitler” were found in September in bathrooms at Pope and Lassiter High Schools. The acts occurred during the Jewish High Holy Days.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Early Returns: In the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Dan Parks takes a first swing at answering a question that’s been asked for months: Will the philanthropic sector retain pandemic-related changes made to grantmaking practices, such as more unrestricted funding and simplified reporting requirements? A new study of nearly 300 grantmakers indicates that almost all of the funders are sustaining at least some of the changes, while about 20% of grantmakers are sustaining all of them. “Most foundation leaders have experienced a shift in how they work and their mind-set for the work,” said Ellie Buteau, vice president for research at the Center for Effective Philanthropy, which produced the study. “The data definitely points to change.” [ChroniclePhilanthropy]

The Good Book: While previous research has established that religious Americans are give more to charity than the general public, a report from the American Bible Society affirms that this dynamic held true during the pandemic, writes Jack Fowler in Philanthropy Daily. These givers tend to fit a consistent profile: They tend to be older, married and educated, and to practice their faith by reading the Bible and attending church. “While Scripture engagement doesn’t explain all aspects of generosity, those who regularly read the Bible and actively practice their faith tend to be more generous than those who do not,” said John Farquhar Plake, Director of Ministry Intelligence for American Bible Society. [PhilanthropyDaily]

Community Comms

Apply for the 2022 cohort of the Certificate in Jewish Leadership, presented by Spertus Institute in partnership with Northwestern University.

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

Word on the Street

New research from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI), funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, found that between May 2020 and May 2021, both single women and married/partnered couples gave less to charity compared to before the pandemic and compared to single men. This trend differs from previous research from WPI and others, which has consistently shown that single women and couples are more likely to give than similarly situated single men… Education, religious and public-society benefit organizations attracted the most donor-advised fund grant dollars between 2014 and 2018, according to a report from the Giving USA Foundation and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI… A gift from George S. Blumenthal to the National Museum of American Jewish Historyhas provided the museum the opportunity to release a virtual tour of its core exhibit… The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, in collaboration with the American Heart Association, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, and the John TempletonRita Allen and Walder foundations, announced grants totaling $12.1 million in support of early career faculty at U.S. medical schools… Israel’s Council for Higher Education approved the Tel Aviv Online MBA program at the Coller School of Management at Tel Aviv University, the first time the council has approved an entirely online degree taught by a research university, with no requirements for on-campus presence… Bristol and Warwick universities were named as the universities with the most antisemitic incidents in the U.K. during the last academic year… An 86-year-old great-grandmother has been crowned “Miss Holocaust Survivor” in an Israeli beauty pageant designed to honor women who endured the horrors of the Nazi genocide… JCC Global, in partnership with the Israel Association of Community Centers and supported by a grant from The Jewish Agency, will bring together more than 40 Jewish communities from 15 countries to hold joint Hanukkah candle lighting events online and in person…

Pic of the Day

Wilderness Torah

As part of Wilderness Torah’s B’naiture youth program in California’s Santa Cruz Mountains, sixth and seventh graders explore themes of darkness and intuition related to the month of Kislev and their journey of initiation. B’naiture supports the transition from childhood to adolescence through mentorship, deep nature connection and Jewish wisdom.


AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Philanthropist and director of the William Davidson Foundation, Karen W. Davidson… 
U.S. senator (R-OK), Jim Inhofe… Rabbi of Agudath Israel of Baltimore and the rabbinic administrator of the Star-K supervision service, Rabbi Moshe Heinemann… Original creator and producer of “Saturday Night Live,” Lorne Michaels (born Lorne Lipowitz)… Global editorial director of the Huffington Post Media Group, his bar mitzvah was at Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh, Howard Fineman… Editor-at-large for Washingtonian Magazine and author of a biography of Bernie Sanders, Harry Jaffe… Director, writer and producer, Jon Avnet… CEO at the Partnership for American Democracy, Diana Aviv… Warehouse logistics manager at NPC Global, Daniel Gastaldi… Nonfiction author and journalist, Gary M. Pomerantz… Attorney and business executive, he played on the South African national teams in both cricket and field hockey, Mandy Yachad… U.S. senator (R-PA), Pat Toomey… Director of the Domestic Policy Council in the Biden administration, Susan Rice… “The Travelling Rabbi” of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies who serves 11 sub-Saharan countries, Moshe Silberhaft… Former U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, Suzan Gail Davidson LeVine… Executive editor and Washington bureau chief of Talking Points MemoDavid Kurtz… Segment producer at HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” Michele Tasoff… Partner in Seven Letter, a DC-based public affairs firm, Ralph Posner… Director of human resilience at Apeiron ZOH, Michael Ostrolenk… President of NBC News, Noah Oppenheim… Executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, previously Kamala Harris’s national security advisor, Halie Soifer… Partner at AKPD Message and Media, Isaac Baker… Retired baseball player for the Milwaukee Brewers, NL Rookie of the Year, five time NL All-Star and NL MVP in 2011, Ryan Braun… NFL fullback for six seasons with the Tampa Bay Bucs and New Orleans Saints, he has since earned an MBA from Wharton, Erik Lorig… Former Tel Aviv-based, now NY-based reporter for The Wall Street JournalFelicia Schwartz… Mortgage lender, Zecharya “Zack” Teichman… Executive director of the Israel Summit at Harvard, Aidan Golub
Email to have your birthday included.