Your Daily Phil: U.S. giving to Israel, before and after Oct. 7

Good Friday morning.  

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 eJewishPhilanthropy and Jewish Insider stories, including: The Orthodox shul that’s attracting a young crowd, especially post-Oct. 7 — along with major investors; David Magerman: ‘We need to shift our focus to those Jews who want to leave Egypt, cross the sea and come into Israel’; Matan Adelson’s hoop dreams for Hapoel Jerusalem; No more bridges left to burn in Jewish Westchester. Print the latest edition here.

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on Rabbi Irina Gritsevskaya’s upcoming trip to Ukraine’s Conservative Jewish community. We feature an opinion piece by Daphne Lazar Price about women supporting women (except for when they don’t), and one by Robert Lichtman encouraging Jewish professionals to dream big. Also in this newsletter: Michael BloombergTheodore Levin and Sarah Levin. We’ll start with an academic view of American Jewish giving to Israel. Shabbat shalom!

How unprecedented, really, was the unprecedented level of donations to Israel by American Jews following the Oct. 7 terror attacks and what does it mean for the future of American Jewish giving to Israel?

These were the two main questions raised yesterday in a webinar organized by Tel Aviv University’s Institute for Law and Philanthropy and the Ruderman Family Foundation, in which four experts in the field discussed their recent research and thoughts about the current situation, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

Hanna Shaul Bar Nissim, a deputy director of the Ruderman Family Foundation and a visiting scholar at Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, said it was too soon to tell if the rise in American Jewish giving to Israel would continue, as a trend, into the future. “We need to give it some time. It’s [only] been eight months,” she said.

Yet Bar Nissim added that while “time will tell” how the Oct. 7 attacks would affect Jewish giving in the long term, she was convinced that Jewish donors would continue to help the Jewish people, as they have in previous modern crises. “I don’t think using the words unprecedented or extraordinary [is correct regarding Oct. 7],” she said. “The Jewish community has always come together for the Jewish people during crisis… here we’re seeing another wonderful important example of coming together.”

Theodore Sasson, a professor of Jewish studies at Middlebury College and a current Ruderman scholar-in-residence at Tel Aviv’s Institute for National Security Studies, noted the trend of Jewish donors shifting away from giving to large Jewish communal institutions and toward direct donations to Israeli causes through “American friends of” organizations, which had benefits and drawbacks.

Sasson noted that after Oct. 7, this trend appeared to reverse, with the Jewish Federations of North America Israel Emergency Campaign raising and distributing vast amounts of money. “In the last year we’ve seen a tremendous contribution by that collective system, the JFNA fundraising system, which raised during the wartime crisis $850 million, and it’s donated about half of that sum already to hundreds of Israeli nonprofit organizations,” Sasson said.

The answers to most of the questions raised by the panelists about what the future holds for American Jewish giving to Israel post-Oct. 7 were, generally, that more time was needed to research them — a response that did not sit well with at least some of the approximately 50 attendees, nearly all of them professionals in the Jewish philanthropic industry. 

Ronit Segelman, a philanthropic adviser who has worked for a variety of Israeli nonprofits, fumed at the “wait-and-see” approach that she felt the panelists were advocating. Segelman called for experts in the field to instead be at the forefront, calling for changes in the dynamics of American Jewish giving to Israel. 

“I feel very frustrated with the ‘OK, we have to wait and see,’” she said. “No, I’m asking, what is the takeaway for Jewish philanthropy leaders? What should we do differently?” 

Joseph Hyman, the president of the Center for Entrepreneurial Jewish Philanthropy, noted the unprecedented time we were in philanthropically, pushed back on the notion that it would take years before academics could reach conclusions about post-Oct. 7 giving. 

“People’s reaction time is much faster than ever before,” Hyman said. “By the second week of the war, people were giving away $1 million, half-a-million dollars. There was an initial jerk reaction like we’ve never seen… I don’t think we have to wait two, three, four years to see the trend. I think that a study that looks over the course of the year, which takes us from Oct. 7 till the end of this year, will show us information that in the past might have taken two or three years to evolve.”

Read the full report here.


Rabbi Irina Gritsevskaya heads to Ukraine to bolster a community that is functioning but weakened by a war with no end in sight

A woman with shoulder length brown hair and glasses wearing a light blue collared shirt and dark smiles faintly
Rabbi Irina Gritsevskaya has returned to Ukraine from Israel several times since the beginning of the war. Itai Nadav/Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies

When Rabbi Irina Gritsevskaya makes a trip to Ukraine, she aims to get a lot done. This time, when she flies from Israel to Ukraine on Saturday night, she’ll oversee a teachers seminar, the graduation of a new group of kashrut supervisors (mashgichei kashrut), a training course for prayer leaders and — with help from two other rabbis flying in for the occasion to make up a beit din — the conversion of four people. After that, Gritsevskaya, who serves as executive director of Midreshet Schechter in addition to her work with the Ukrainian Conservative/Masorti community, will fly back to Israel for a few weeks before returning to Ukraine in mid-July to oversee the movement’s two-week summer camp for some 150 kids — the longest and biggest camp it’s ever run, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross

Leadership shortage: “The [Ukrainian Masorti] communities are functioning, fully functioning under such extreme circumstances,” Gritsevskaya told eJewishPhilanthropy this week ahead of her trip. “On the other hand, it’s very hard, morally, for the people. I think the level of distress is very high, because it’s hard to live without hope. I think as Israelis we understand it more than anyone else.” Following the mass exodus of Ukrainians from the country with the start of the war in February 2022, the local communities have been dealing with a leadership shortage as “many strong families, strong people left,” said Gritsevskaya. The teacher seminar that she is overseeing this month, which will take place over a Shabbat near Chernivtsi, is part of the effort to address that shortage, providing educational and leadership tools to lay leaders in the communities. 

More, but not enough: Gritsevskaya will return to Israel on July 1, only to go back to Ukraine two-and-a-half  weeks later for the movement’s summer camp. The theme of this year’s camp will be the “well of strength” and finding resilience from Jewish history and tradition, she said. With new donations and partnerships, Gritsevskaya said she was able to run the camp for two weeks, from July 24 to Aug. 7, which is three days longer than 2023 and open it to 150 kids (30 more than last year — and “and we still have a waiting list!” she added.

Talk about unity: Getting misty-eyed, Gritsevskaya reflected on the current moment in Jewish history, when there is such broad support for both Israel and Ukrainian Jewry, likening it to the rallies for Soviet Jewry in the 1970s. “It’s like a romantic time of Judaism, when all the Jews around the world worked together in order to help the Jews in the Soviet Union to ‘Let my people go,’” she said. “There is such a unification and feeling of solidarity among the Jews, to the Jews in Ukraine and to the Jews in Israel… I wish we would talk about those situations when we are amazingly united and we manage to solve things,” she said.

Read the full report here.


May these moments multiply

JOFA Executive Director Daphne Lazar Price addresses the SRE Network Convening at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City on June 4, 2024. Courtesy/SRE Network

“As the executive director of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, supporting women and creating infrastructures that support women is what I do. To say that I know something about bumpy roads –  barriers, obstacles, and sky-high mechitzas — is somewhat of an understatement,” writes Daphne Lazar Price in an abridged version of her remarks from the recent SRE Network Convening in New York City, which she shared exclusively for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Real talk: “Advocacy groups — from feminists to child welfare activists to those combating sex trafficking — have all but ignored what happened in the homes and on the streets and at the Nova music festival on Oct. 7. And they continue to ignore the plight of the hostages. The second anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision that stripped away women’s universal rights to access abortion care is nearly upon us, and for all of the abortion access reproductive justice advocates who wept and mourned and rallied at that time, how dare they sit silent now. There are women hostages who are likely in varying stages of pregnancy after being raped. They have completely lost their bodily autonomy. To the activists who can’t find space in their hearts, and to everyone in this room: It doesn’t matter to me how you feel about the conflict and what you think might be a solution to peace. Rapists are not freedom fighters and rape is not resistance. And the hostages must be returned now.”

A source of inspiration: “[T]hese days, it can feel very lonely to be a Jewish person. It can be lonelier to be a Jewish woman, and lonelier still to be a Jewish Orthodox woman, where not only is our voice discounted by Jewish people on the right and on the left, but too often we don’t even get a seat at the table. So to be able to come back here, to bear witness, to share with you, to be surrounded by so many incredible leaders who are so invested in supporting women, and supporting the women who support women, leaves me eternally grateful, inspired and breathless… I want to add the blessing ‘ken yirbu’ – that please, let these moments multiply. Let there be more women brave enough to lead, let there be more women leaders brave enough to step out of line. And let there be more spaces where women who support other women are recognized for their tireless efforts.”

Read the full piece here.


Wake up and start dreaming

KTSDESIGN/Getty Images

“Since Oct. 7, we have been embroiled in a historic, consequential struggle. Like the political climate at the time of Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, the Jewish community today is in more turmoil than it has been since World War II,” writes Robert Lichtman in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

A messaging maelstrom: “[W]e are bombarded, super-saturated, with thousands of calls to action, followed by thousands of reports of reaction to our actions, followed by thousands of opinions echoing what can only be described as a blend of courage and rage, laced with hope. There is literally no end to the messages from everywhere — social media, websites, direct mail, print media and everyday conversation — telling us what we should do and the dire, irreparable, catastrophic consequences if we do not do it. These directives flow from everywhere: Shabbat tables, rabbinic pulpits, federation boardrooms and organizational meetings. They keep coming. The scary scenarios play nonstop.” 

Make no mistake: “At the same time — perhaps paradoxically, or maybe it makes complete sense — we hear about evidence of people who long ago seemed to have walked away from the Jewish community and are now coming back… I imagine that some who are welcoming people back into their organizations may feel a small sense of vindication. They may believe that they have provided what people needed all along. We should think more than twice before reinvesting large doses of hope and money and trusting that the same programs, organizational structures and notions about ‘affiliation’ and ‘membership’ that characterized Jewish communal life for decades can capture and maintain the imaginations of people who are now emerging, seeking new or renewed engagement with the Jewish community and searching for meaningful, relevant personal and communal Jewish experiences.”

Enough nightmare mode: “We need visions that are out of reach today to strive towards. We have them, there’s no doubt that we do, but they are being suffocated by the recurring nightmares that we are compounding, one upon the other — which, to be honest, serve more to frighten than to enlighten us and are perhaps becoming counterproductive. Assemble those who are the dreamers. Literally. Settle them in a DreamLab where they will have the data and the resources to experiment, and the permission to fail. Allow them to shed the armor of gloom. Enable them to wade into joy, to submit themselves to the pleasant imagination of a future that they envision and create for us and with us.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Failing the Causes That Fuel You: Impatience and willingness to settle for small victories are hamstringing the effectiveness of activists in the U.S., writes Sarah Isgur in The New York Times. “Activists are why we have the Civil Rights Acts and the Voting Rights Act. Seatbelt laws that swept the country. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. The assault weapons ban in 1994. Campaign finance reform in 2002. In other words, motivated members of the public are largely responsible for some of our country’s most significant legislation. But in recent years, activists seem to have become more impulsive and impatient, demanding swift action on big problems without the kind of compromise and incremental work that creates real and lasting change… The fact that many activists are content with fleeting executive actions is unforgivable. These actions are often worse than getting nothing at all. At least getting nothing would keep the pressure on Congress. Getting nothing would bring more and more people to help push against the closed doors. But when activists declare victory — however hollow — they give permission for everyone to move on. They let Congress off the hook. They give the president credit where none is due. And they fail at their most important job, which is to force lasting change for the people who need it most.” [NYTimes]

Around the Web

The Reform movement’s Hebrew Union College changed its long-standing policy barring admission to its rabbinical school for people who have a partner who is not Jewish; instead students will have to pledge to raise their children “exclusively as Jews”…

Women of Reform Judaism has updated its membership policies to accept anyone “who identifies as female, nonbinary or gender fluid”…

Dorot, which focuses on addressing loneliness among older adults, announced major budget cuts and plans to terminate approximately 10% of its staff… 

The Shubert Foundation awarded $40 million in unrestricted grants to 653 not-for-profit theaters, dance companies, academic theater training programs and related organizations across the United States…

The New York Times looks at the difficult choices facing French Jews ahead of the country’s elections next month, which are likely to feature a run-off between two extreme parties, amid a severe spike in antisemitism in the country…

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has donated approximately $20 million to President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign…

The Detroit Jewish News profiles Theodore Levin, a Jewish attorney at the turn of the 20th century who rose to prominence with legal fights against antisemitism and anti-immigrant sentiment…

In Time, actor Ben Stiller reflects on the rise in antisemitism following the Oct. 7 terror attacks and expresses his support for Israel while calling for an end to the war in Gaza…

East Brunswick, N.J., Public Schools released the findings of an independent report that found no malice or intention when a district yearbook swapped in a photo of Muslim students for the school’s Jewish student union and omitted the names of the school’s Jewish leaders…

The Washington Post interviews residents of the Mississippi town where three Freedom Riders, including Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, were killed 60 years ago today…

In The Jerusalem PostSarah Levin, the executive director of Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa (JIMENA), argues for expanding antisemitism education to include the experiences of Jews in Muslim countries, not just on the Holocaust in Europe…

A new report from a Stanford University committee focused on addressing antisemitism and anti-Israel bias determined that antisemitism is “widespread and pernicious” at the elite Palo Alto, Calif., school… 

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office dropped charges against nearly all of the anti-Israel protesters arrested after taking over a Columbia University building earlier this year, citing a lack of evidence to pursue the charges…

Three Columbia University administrators were placed on leave following a report that they exchanged text messages mocking and dismissing concerns about antisemitism on campus…

Pic of the Day


HaShomer HaChadash, an Israeli nonprofit dedicated to promoting food independence and agricultural prosperity in Israel, was honored with this year’s President’s Volunteer Award at a ceremony on Wednesday at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem. From left: Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin, chair of the selection committee; Israeli President Isaac Herzog; Michael Eisenberg, chairman of HaShomer HaChadash; On Rifman, founder and deputy CEO of HaShomer HaChadash; Yoel Zilberman, CEO and founder of HaShomer HaChadash; and First Lady of Israel Michal Herzog.

“How sorely we need your light at this time,” President Herzog said in his remarks. “Especially now, when so many rush to judge, when there’s a lack of listening to one another, and making personal attacks rather than addressing the issues at hand, when social media is used irresponsibly, just to slander — when all these have become a real plague on the nation — we provide an answer, here and now. You all come from different places, you all live in different places — before the war, and even now, you all have different views and beliefs, but you all volunteered! You came and gave of yourselves for the sake of others during this difficult, even terrible, time that has befallen and continues to befall us. For this — your giving, volunteering, and mobilizing during our hardest time — we award you today with the Presidential Award for Volunteerism.” 


Jonathan S. Lavine, co-managing partner and chief investment officer of Bain Capital Credit
Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Executive vice president and general manager of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, Howie Roseman, celebrates his birthday on Sunday… 

FRIDAY: Emeritus professor of chemistry at the University of Chicago, more recently a prominent researcher, speaker and writer on issues related to the Holocaust in Latvia, Edward Anders… Former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Marjorie Margolies… Investment banker, he was previously the U.S. ambassador to El Salvador, Charles L. Glazer… Philanthropist, she is vice-chair of the Museum of Jewish Heritage, Ingeborg Hanna Rennert… British businessman, co-founder with his brother Charles of advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, appointed to the House of Lords in 1996, Baron Maurice Saatchi… U.K. cabinet minister in both the Thatcher and Major governments, Sir Malcolm Leslie Rifkind… Retired creditors rights attorney in the Chicago-area, David Stephen Miller… Retired managing editor and writer at the Washington Post for 33 years, now chief editor at The Reis Group, Peter Perl… Member of the Knesset for the Yesh Atid party since 2013, Mickey Levy… Susan Gutman… CEO of Amir Development Company in Beverly Hills, Keenan L. Wolens… Punk rock singer and songwriter, known as the Gangsta Rabbi, Steve Lieberman… Washington Institute distinguished fellow and adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins SAIS, David Makovsky… Chief communications officer at Minerva University, he is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author, David L. Marcus… Co-founder and executive editor of AxiosMike Allen… National education policy reporter for the Washington PostLaura Meckler… General manager for podcasts at Tablet Studios, Tanya Rebecca Singer… Actor, singer and entrepreneur known for his work on Broadway, television, film and concerts, Aaron Scott Lazar… Journalist and author, Abigail Krauser Shrier… Public affairs consultant based in Manhattan, Sam Nunberg… Co-founder and CEO of Kaggle, a data science platform acquired by Google in 2017, Anthony Goldbloom… Former member of the Knesset where she was the first ever Druze woman, she then became a Jewish Agency shlicha to Washington, Gadeer Kamal Mreeh… Director of film publicity at Netflix, Jacqueline (Jackie) Berkowitz… Chief of staff to the chairman and CEO at Saban Capital Group, Amitai Raziel… Israeli classical pianist, Boris Giltburg… Executive director at Hunter Hillel, Merav Fine Braun… Editor for the global programming team at CNN, Madeleine Morgenstern… Singer-songwriter known as Jeryko, Yaniv Hoffman… Singer-songwriter and actor, known by his mononym Max, Maxwell George Schneider

SATURDAY: A leading securities, corporate and M&A attorney, he is a founding partner of the law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, Martin Lipton… Former D.C.-based VP of Israel Aerospace Industries, Marvin Klemow… Jerusalem-born 2009 winner of the Nobel Prize for chemistry, she is the director of a research center at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Ada Yonath… Retired U.K. judge, who chaired high-profile hearings on ethics in the media, prompted by the 2011 News of the World phone hacking affair, Sir Brian Henry Leveson… Winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize for physics, he is a professor at Brown University, J. Michael Kosterlitz… Justice on Israel’s Supreme Court until 2014, she was previously the Israeli State Prosecutor for eight years, Edna Arbel… U.S. senator (D-MA), Elizabeth Warren… Member of the California State Assembly until 2022, now a judge on the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Richard Hershel Bloom… Partner at Shibolet & Co., one of Israel’s largest corporate law firms, Yoram Raved… AIPAC director for Greater Washington, Deborah Adler… Chair of the kindergarten and pre-K division of Bowman Ashe Elementary in Miami, Fla., Cynthia Rosenbluth Huss… Past President of the UJA-Federation of New York, Alisa Robbins Doctoroff… Member of Congress since 2001 (D-CA), now running for a U.S. Senate seat, Adam Schiff… Former member of the Knesset for the Hatnuah and Zionist Union parties, Robert Tiviaev… Creator of the Android operating system which he sold to Google, Andy Rubin… Member of the Knesset for the Likud party, now serving as deputy prime minister and minister of justice, Yariv Gideon Levin… Senior vice president at Red Banyan PR, Kelcey Kintner… Writer, director and film producer, he is a two-time Israeli Academy Award-winner and the founder of Hey Jude Productions, Dani Menkin… Program director at the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Rafi Rone… Senior correspondent and columnist for Haaretz and author of a biography of PM Benjamin Netanyahu, Anshel Pfeffer… Israeli jazz vocalist and composer, Julia Feldman… COO of TR Capital Management, Ahron Rosenthal… Retired MLB second baseman, he played for Team Israel at the 2020 Summer Olympics and managed the team at the 2023 World Baseball Classic, Ian Kinsler… Russian-Israeli Internet entrepreneur, co-founder of Russia’s largest social network VK and Selectel network centers, Lev Binzumovich Leviev… Baltimore-based endodontist, Jeffrey H. Gardyn, DDS… Israeli Muay Thai kick boxing champion, Ilya Grad… Israeli-born basketball player with 11 NBA seasons, Omri Casspi… Former outfielder for Team Israel in the 2016 World Baseball Classic qualifier round, now a real estate investor in Nashville, Rhett Wiseman

SUNDAY: Professor emeritus of medicine and health-care policy at Harvard, he was previously president of Brandeis University and Massachusetts General Hospital, Samuel O. Thier, M.D…. Real estate developer and co-founder of Tishman Speyer, Jerry Speyer… Associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Justice Clarence Thomas… Senior adviser at Eurasia Group and author of 22 books on foreign affairs, global politics and travel, Robert D. Kaplan… Novelist and journalist, Roy Hoffman… Los Angeles-based socialite, restaurateur and breast cancer fundraiser, Lilly Tartikoff Karatz… Klezmer expert, violinist, composer, filmmaker, writer, photographer and playwright, Yale Strom… Senior director of health policy at the National Consumers League, Robin Strongin… President of the Harrington Discovery Institute at Case Western Reserve, Dr. Jonathan Solomon Stamler… Sports memorabilia marketer, in 2009 his firm sold all of the seats, signs and lockers from the old Yankee Stadium, Brandon Steiner… Former member of the Pennsylvania State Senate until 2020, now president of Cannabis GPO, Daylin Leach… Former teacher for 19 years at Golda Och Academy in West Orange, N.J., Stephanie Z. Bonder… Israeli-American professor, journalist and filmmaker, Boaz Dvir… Film and television actress, her Hebrew name is Bat-Sheva, Selma Blair Beitner… President of D1 Capital Partners and former deputy director of the White House National Economic Council, Jeremy Katz… Founder of Innovation Africa, which uses Israeli solar technology to bring electricity and solar-powered water pumps to impoverished African villages, Sivan Borowich-Ya’ari… Actress and comedian, best known for playing Dr. Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz on CBS’s sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” Melissa Rauch… Actress, singer and model, Marielle Jaffe… Former executive assistant to the director of international affairs at Jerusalem’s City of David, Gila Bublick… Ethiopian-born Israeli model who won the title of Miss Israel in 2013, Yityish Aynaw… Senior director of major gifts at OneTable, Ely Benhamo… Business development and marketing official at Indagare, Josh Lauder