Your Daily Phil: Trybal Gatherings’ ‘summer camp for grownups’


 Good Friday morning!

Google and Tel Aviv University have launched a three-year program to address social, economic and environmental challenges through research based in artificial intelligence.

Rabbi Joel Pitkowsky was the Jewish participant in last night’s USDA Interfaith Ramadan Fellowship Celebration last night, speaking in his capacity as treasurer of the board of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger

“We must lean into the fellowship we find at this table in breaking the Ramadan fast, because confronting hunger’s root causes depends on our collective action,” Pitkowsky said.

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), which has been working in India to support its Jewish community since the 1950s, is supplying ventilators made in Israel to hospitals in Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

The Jewish Funders Network will celebrate the end of the pandemic by holding “The Israel Ideas Festival” in Tel Aviv on Oct. 25-27, which will explore the long-term implications of COVID-19 and the opportunities the Abraham Accords are generating for Israel. 


‘Summer camp for grownups’ gets big funding boost

Trybal Gatherings

Bahareh Aghajani’s Iranian immigrant parents didn’t know Jewish summer camp was an option for their daughter when she was growing up in Southern California in the early 2000s. So in 2019, when Aghajani saw a mention in the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles’ newsletter about Trybal Gathering, also known as “Jewish summer camp for grownups,” near L.A., she was sufficiently intrigued. “It looked amazing on the website, but it was even more fun in person,” said Aghajani, a lawyer. “It felt Jewish. We did Shabbat; everyone dressed in white for dinner. [Jewishness] was woven throughout.” Founded about five years ago by Carine Warsawski, Trybal Gatherings recently received what she calls a “transformative” $1.5 million in funding from the Marcus Foundation over the next two years. The gift will be used to grow Trybal Gatherings’ staff and explore new locations. The donation is five times the amount of any grant Warsawski has ever received. “We’d been talking to [the Marcus Foundation] for a while,” Warsawski told eJewishPhilanthropy. “But I wanted to keep my expectations in check. When I got the phone call I kind of slid off the couch. They told me to just let it sink in.”

Becoming an entrepreneur: Raised in the Boston area, Warsawski attended the Union for Reform Judaism’s (URJ) Camp Eisner and studied in Israel as a high school student. She attended Bates College in Maine, and then worked for such organizations as Authentic Israel and the URJ’s Israel programs department. She won a Wexner graduate fellowship to fund an MBA at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business, and assumed she would return to the Israel travel field, but felt inspired by Israeli entrepreneurs to start her own venture. In her second year of business school, in 2016, she wrote a survey asking millennials what they wanted in Jewish programming, and a former boss agreed to disseminate it for her. From the responses, and from the focus groups with federations in Atlanta and Los Angeles that followed, Warsawski learned that they wanted experiences of between three to five days, within three hours of home, and that they were open to both Jewish and non-Jewish participants. The next year, she held the first Trybal Gathering at Camp Eisner; seven more had been held by the time the pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 season.

Jewish glitter: The gatherings offer camp classics like color war, in which teams assigned a color compete in various games, and bonfires — with the possible bonus of a spiritual or romantic experience. “People are deciding between a weekend in Cancun or Coachella or this Trybal experience,” Warsawski said. “We take sexy experiences in the secular space and make them Jewish. Everything feels a little bit more Jewish afterwards. We add in this Jewish glitter to people’s everyday life.” Archie Gottesman, the co-founder of Jewish outreach organization JewBelong, is an admirer of Trybal Gatherings. JewBelong is known for its use of polished, witty marketing campaigns that aim to reach people who might not otherwise be interested in Judaism. She said Trybal Gatherings has struck a nice balance in its Jewish content, which is substantial, but not heavy-handed. “We love Trybal’s approach to making people feel welcome wherever they are with their Judaism, with their lives, and yes, with their cocktails!” Gottesman said.

Read the full article here.

Building bridges

Is global Jewish service fit enough to survive?


“This past week, the spotlight was on volunteers and giving, as North America celebrated National Volunteer Week. This annual event was particularly significant this year, as it called attention to the countless Americans who have stepped up to serve those negatively impacted by COVID-19 and its economic fallout,” writes Dyonna Ginsburg in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Pre-COVID: “Until recently, many of OLAM’s partner organizations ran global service programs. Before the pandemic, they engaged nearly 2,500 volunteers in overseas experiences each year.”

Full-stop: “Last March, however, their work came to a screeching halt. The cessation of international travel, coupled with the unique logistical challenges and ethical dilemmas of working in countries with exceptionally weak healthcare systems, forced our partners to recall overseas volunteers and freeze in-person service programs for the indefinite future.”

Today: “One year later, some of OLAM’s global service partners are beginning to gingerly reintroduce volunteers to the field. But, with coronavirus infections exceeding 300,000 in India a day and new variants being reported across the African continent, it will be a long time before any of them will be able to resume full operations.”

Read the full piece here.


Screen time or scream time?


“How can our children become computer literate if they don’t have time to ‘play’ on the screen? How can our children learn derech eretz, to problem solve and to play, if they only watch others play on screen and do not play themselves?” writes Rabbi Deborah Bock Schuldenfrei in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Scream time: “It is the battle of the moment. No child psychologist, educator, rabbi and certainly NO parent feels good about their conclusions or suggestions about this matter. In my own home, my husband and I refer to it as ‘scream time.’ It is impossible. Sometimes, the more the kids scream, the more we feel pressured and say, ‘Yes, take 15 more minutes’ or ‘No, you don’t need to get off.’ And we know that MORE screen time leads to MORE screams!”

Parental anxiety: “When we think about what is at our children’s fingertips at any given moment, it should feel like a serious responsibility that they are connected to the internet. Would we drop them off in London, and say to them, ;Okay, you have two hours, just try to stay SAFE’? And the worst part is that brain science proves that all of the games they love the most stimulate their pleasure and reward centers to want to repeat the actions again and again. Parents are in my office telling me, as if I don’t realize, that the effect screens have on children seems like addiction.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

?? Then v. Now: In the Chronicle of Philanthropy, legal scholar Roger Colinvaux shares his opinion of the donor disclosure case Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta, which he says could be the nonprofit version of Citizens United v. FEC, the Supreme Court case that removed restrictions on corporate funding in politics. Colinvaux rejects American for Prosperity Foundation’s claim that their situation in California is similar to one in which Alabama demanded the member list of the state’s NAACP chapter, pointing out that NAACP members in the Jim Crow-era South were in major danger. “If the Supreme Court agrees that California’s rule ‘significantly burdens’ First Amendment rights, this will cast doubt on key federal laws that ensure the transparency of all the nation’s nonprofits,” Colinvaux writes.  [ChroniclePhilanthropy]

? Hidden Benefits: There’s a strong business case to be made for providing childcare to employees, and executives should use the ebbing of the pandemic as an opportunity to consider the benefit as both a competitive advantage and a way to foster retention, urgeJamie J. Ladge, Alisa Lincoln, Alicia Sasser Modestino and Addie Swartz in the Harvard Business Review. A national survey of 2,500 working parents conducted by the authors revealed that almost 20% had to leave work or cut their hours due to a lack of childcare. “The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the previously invisible (or forgotten) link between child care and the economy. It is the lifeline for women to stay employed,” they conclude. [HBR]

? Summer School: Educators expressed a range of preferences as to what they think should be emphasized in summertime training, but many are requesting help supporting students’ mental health upon their post-pandemic return to the classroom, reports Elizabeth Heubeck in Education Week. Some said that school systems need to relax their focus on testing, and instead foster a broader understanding of both students and their teachers as complicated human beings. One school district in Alabama typified this tension: Professional development will concentrate on new curricula and preparing for the ACT, and the state is also discussing funding for mental health resources. “All of us, including myself, want a break this summer,” said Adam Clemons, a high school principal in that district. “If anyone is like, ‘I just need a break,’ we are totally understanding of that.” [EducationWeek]

? Reality Check: Even as the number of donor-advised funds (DAF) doubled between 2017 and 2019, the size of the average DAF account fell by about a third, which means both that the vehicles are increasingly popular among donors who are not extremely wealthy, notes Elizabeth Palla in Philanthropy Daily. Staff must gain an understanding of how they work and which donors favor them and then update their own databases and procedures accordingly, Palla says: “If you want your nonprofit’s development program to be in a competitive position in the coming years, you need to be thinking about DAFs. Ignorance is not bliss in this arena. [Philanthropy Daily]

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Word on the Street

Rabbi Yitzchok (Itchie) Lowenbraun, the national director of  the Association for Jewish Outreach Programs, has died… Shepard “Shep” Englander has been named chief executive officer of The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee… Last night, the Jewish Women’s Foundation of  New York named its 2021 Collective… The U.K.-based Association of Charitable Foundations released the “Funder Collaboration Toolkit”… Jerusalem-based investment platform OurCrowd reports partnering with the Gulf countries “is allowing Israel to penetrate markets we’ve never dreamed of in Southeast Asia and around the broader Islamic world”…

Pic of the Day

Photograph by Liz Ligon. © Lawrence Weiner.

Lawrence Weiner’s “ALL THE STARS IN THE SKY HAVE THE SAME FACE,” 2011-2020, installation currently on view at The Jewish Museum in New York.


LEAH JONES FROM CHICAGO via Wikimedia Commons

Israeli judoka, she was the first Israeli to win an Olympic medal when she won Silver at Barcelona in 1992, and head of the merchandise division of Viacom Israel, Yael Arad on Saturday…
FRIDAY: Rabbi, scholar and professor of Jewish studies at Yeshiva University, Saul J. Berman… Founder and CEO of Kansas City-based American Public Square, former US Ambassador to Portugal (2010-2013), Allan J. Katz… Brooklyn-based clinical social worker, Marsha S. Rimler… Psychologist, author of several children’s books and self-help books, and president of the Saban Family Foundation, Cheryl Saban… Israeli Supreme Court justice, previously Attorney General of Israel, Menachem “Meni” Mazuz… Partner in the communications and ad agency GMMB, former Obama campaign advisor, Jim Margolis… London-based international real estate investor and developer, Zak Gertler… Cartoonist and illustrator, Barry Blitt… Former commissioner at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Chai R. Feldblum… Professor of sociology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Eva Illouz… Founding VP of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security and diplomatic columnist, David M. Weinberg… New York City Councilman and candidate for borough president of Manhattan, Mark D. Levine… Senior director for U.S. Jewish grant-making at the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, David Rittberg… Head of federal and international affairs at Airbnb, Eric Feldman… National security advisor for U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Omri Ceren… Actress who plays Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot… Director of communications at The New York TimesAri Isaacman Bevacqua… Founder of Lubin Strategies, Nate Lubin… Communications director for Senator Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Rachel S. Cohen… Associate in the D.C office of Eversheds Sutherland, Daniel E. Wolman… Elementary school teacher at Broward County Public Schools, Jenna Luks… Assistant editor at The Wall Street JournalRachel B. Wolfe… Senior manager for NextGen at the World Jewish Congress, Yoni Hammerman… Operation lead at Israel’s Lightricks, Idan Megidish… Noam Aricha
SATURDAY: Former national director of the Anti-Defamation League and Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, Abraham Henry Foxman… Progressive political activist, Larry Bensky… Assistant professor of Bible and Jewish Philosophy at Yeshiva University and editor emeritus of Tradition, Rabbi Shalom Carmy… Boston area actor, David Alan Ross… Of counsel at DC-based Sandler Reiff and the executive director of the National Association of Jewish Legislators, Jeffrey M. Wice… Member of the U.S. House of Representatives (D-CO-7), Ed Perlmutter… Founder and CEO of Conduit / Como, Israel’s first billion-dollar internet company, Ronen Shilo… Real estate entrepreneur, co-founder of the Israeli American Leadership Council (IAC), Eli Tene… VP of the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester, Rina F. Chessin… Professor of computer science at MIT, David R. Karger… Member of the Washington State Senate where he currently serves as the Senate Majority Leader, he is a co-owner of minor league baseball’s Spokane Indians, Andy Billig… Associate in the Newark office of Eckert Seamans, Laura E. Fein… Director of responsible innovation at Facebook, Zvika Krieger… DC-based political reporter, Ben C. Jacobs… Video journalist at The Washington PostJonathan Gerberg… Presidential management fellow at the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Global Public Affairs, Omri Rahmil… Associate editor at Jewish InsiderSam Zieve Cohen

SUNDAY: Former Lord Chief Justice and President of the Courts of England and Wales, Baron Harry Kenneth Woolf... Professor of international relations and Middle Eastern studies at NYU’s Center for Global Affairs, Dr. Alon Ben-Meir… President of four radio stations in the Pacific Northwest, Alan Merril Gottlieb… Former member of the Texas Senate, Florence Shapiro… Former USAID contractor imprisoned by Cuba from 2009 to 2014, Alan Phillip Gross… Philanthropist and co-founder of private equity firm NCH Capital, George Rohr… Analyst at MSNBC, Rick Stengel… Assembly and candidate for NYC Comptroller, David Weprin… Former U.S. Secretary of Commerce, chairman of the private investment firm PSP Capital Partners, Penny Sue Pritzker… Partner at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, Jodi J. Schwartz… General in the IDF, he served as the Commander of the Israeli Navy (2011-2016), Ram Rothberg… Director of the Chabad Center in Bratislava, Slovakia, Rabbi Baruch Myers… Founder and CEO of Shutterstock, Jonathan E. Oringer… Deputy chief of staff to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, Stephen Schatz… DC-based CBS News correspondent, Julianna Goldman… Founder and president of ETS Advisory, Emily Tisch Sussman… J.D. candidate at Cardozo School of Law, Gabe Cahn… Director of development at Cornell Hillel, Susanna K. Cohen