Your Daily Phil: U.S. Jewish leaders respond to campus protests

Good Wednesday morning.

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on the Israeli mentorship program Perach’s wartime struggles, and feature an opinion piece by Robert Lichtman proposing a model for greater federation-foundation collaboration. Also in this newsletter: David M. ShribmanRabbi Menachem Creditor and Sheryl Sandberg. We’ll start with the Jewish community’s response to the ongoing anti-Israel protests on college campuses.

Universities from coast to coast saw major anti-Israel demonstrations over the Passover holiday — several of them violent — with protest leaders on several campuses drawing notable concessions from administrators, particularly as it relates to divesting the institutions’ investments from firms that do significant business in Israel, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

The demonstrations and campus administrators’ responses to them have prompted an outcry from American Jewish leaders.

“We will not accept conditions that are so fraught for Jewish students that they rightfully fear attending classes or going to the library on campus,” American Jewish Committee CEO Ted Deutch said in a press conference with other Jewish leaders in New York City on Friday. “We will not accept approaching the safety of Jewish students in a way that is different than that applied to every other group on campus. And, finally, we will not accept a world that is afraid to specifically call out and condemn antisemitism.”

At the press conference, Adam Lehman, president and CEO of Hillel International, added: “Jewish students, and all students, deserve better. We gathered today at Columbia to insist that administrators demonstrate moral clarity and take decisive action that differentiates between free speech and harassing threats of violence.”

Speaking on MSNBC last week, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt called the groups leading the protests — namely Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace — the “campus proxies” of Iran, a comparison that rankled some progressive Jewish leaders. Bend the Arc’s CEO, Jamie Beran, said that Greenblatt “defamed Jewish people who have a different perspective than [him].”

While major American Jewish groups were generally unified in their horror at the violent rhetoric and overt antisemitism on display at many demonstrations, there were divisions over how best to respond to the protests. Though many groups have called for law enforcement to intervene, others — including J Street and Bend the Arc — have said that using force to break up the protests is inappropriate.

Northwestern University’s president, Michael Schill, agreed to allow students to weigh in on university investments and to continue protesting until the end of classes on June 1 so long as tents are removed. The university also pledged additional funding to programs supporting Muslim students and Palestinian faculty, and to build a campus house for Muslim students, reports Gabby Deutch for eJP’s sister publication Jewish Insider.

Local Jewish leaders and national organizations decried Schill’s deal with the protesters as capitulation and a betrayal. “The overwhelming majority of your Jewish students, faculty, staff, and alumni… trusted an institution you lead and considered it home. You have violated that trust,” the Jewish United Fund — Chicago’s Jewish federation, which also oversees Northwestern Hillel — wrote in a letter to Schill. “You certainly heard and acted generously towards those with loud, at times hateful voices. The lack of any reassuring message to our community has also been heard loud and clear.”

The ADL, StandWithUs and the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law joined together to call for Schill’s resignation after the agreement was announced.

“For days, protestors openly mocked and violated Northwestern’s codes of conduct and policies by erecting an encampment in which they fanned the flames of antisemitism and wreaked havoc on the entire university community,” the groups said in a statement. “Rather than hold them accountable – as he pledged he would – President Schill gave them a seat at the table and normalized their hatred against Jewish students.”

After criticism mounted from Jewish leaders and stakeholders, Schill released a video Tuesday evening defending the agreement while also condemning antisemitism. “I am proud of our community for achieving what has been a challenge across the country: a sustainable de-escalated path forward, one that prioritizes safety, safety for all of our students, for all of our Jewish students, for all of our Muslims students, all of our students,” Schill said. “This agreement reduces the risk of escalation which we have seen at so many of our peer institutions.”

Brown University’s leadership also reached a deal with a similar group of activists who had set up an encampment on the Providence, R.I., campus, agreeing to not punish those involved in any way and — more significantly — to have the Brown Corporation, the university’s governing body, vote on divestment from Israeli companies in October. The Corporation will also meet with representatives of the Brown Divest Coalition this month. 

The text of the agreement and a letter sent from Brown President Christina H. Paxson to the university community made no mention of Jewish and Israeli students or about antisemitism.


Israeli mentorship program Perach navigates wartime challenges as it marks 50 years of service

Perach mentors speak at Haifa University, in an undated photograph.
Perach mentors speak at Haifa University, in an undated photograph.

Since 1973, the nonprofit Perach, which pairs university student “mentors” with elementary school-age “mentees” from disadvantaged backgrounds, has built a prestigious program based on the power of one-to-one tutorship. But that connection was tested as never before after the terror attacks of Oct. 7, reports Judith Sudilovsky for eJewishPhilanthropy.

50 years: Founded in April 1973, right before the Yom Kippur War, Perach, which is Hebrew for “flower” as well as the acronym of “proyekt chonchot,” or “tutoring project,” is based on a model of providing scholarships for university students who volunteer as mentors to mostly elementary school-aged students from Israel’s geographical and social periphery, to Jews and Arabs, religious and secular children from all over the country.

Everyone wins: Over five decades, Perach has had more than 800,000 higher education students participate in the program and more than 2 million people in Israel directly or indirectly affected by the program either as mentees, parents or teachers, he said. “[The mentors] receive a scholarship, yes, but more important is for them to get a lifetime experience about what Israeli society is,” the program’s director, Alon Galron, told eJP. “Most mentors come from middle class or upper-class families, and this may be their first introduction into the backyard of their country. It is more than just receiving money. It is receiving life experiences if they are to be future leaders of this country.”

Just get through: For now Galron said Perach is focused on how to complete the current year of mentoring, when in June normally mentors and mentees stay in touch with each other even at the end of the program, but now they don’t necessarily live in the same city and informal meet-ups may not be an option. “How do you say goodbye to a child who has been through turmoil and has come to rely on you for eight months?” he said. “Professionally it is the right thing to do, but how to do it is something we are grappling with right now.”

Read the full report here.


Forever is far away, but new paradigms and eternal wisdom can guide us there

Pic Snipe/Adobe Stock

“Federations do an often magnificent and sometimes heroic job of supporting the programs offered by agencies, synagogues, other organizations and the federations themselves, but that support depends year-to-year on the results of annual campaigns. An off-year could cripple any of these programs; a longer-term downturn could be fatal to several of them,” writes Robert Lichtman in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Role of community foundations: “Endowed gifts through a Jewish community foundation enable that community to go forward with increased confidence in the financial stability of the programs that make communities vibrant. In addition to appreciating their role in supporting baseline annual funding, federations value this support because they increasingly find themselves in a continually evolving environment — one that demands immediate responses to urgent situations, often requiring the siphoning of money and resources away from other commitments.”

Better together: “Foundations, which are designed to focus on a longer-term future, find themselves increasingly called upon to supplement annual funding that is not keeping pace with growing needs, and while they may use their high beams to look further down the road, their vision stretches only slightly ahead of federations’ right now. It may be time to bring federations and foundations closer together — or closer still in communities where they already enjoy mutual and reciprocal responsibilities… Federations and foundations will need to engage in cooperative fundraising, progressing toward a collaborative allocations/grants process (in cases where that is not already occurring) that shifts the emphasis away from the source of the funds to the purpose of the funding.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Learning Opportunity: A recent study found that while San Francisco’s Tipping Point Community failed to reach its goal halving chronic homelessness in five years, the $100 million project offers lessons for other philanthropy-government collaborations, reports Maria Di Mento in The Chronicle of Philanthropy. “Specifically, the study illuminates how hard it is for philanthropy to fix a big and seemingly intractable problem like homelessness in a relatively short period, especially if there isn’t sufficient collaboration with municipal government. While the 2017-2022 Chronic Homelessness Initiative helped build housing for the homeless, the program couldn’t keep pace with the number of people becoming homeless and flowing into the system just as others were getting housed. The Covid-19 pandemic brought unexpected challenges as well. Tipping Point CEO Sam Cobbs says his nonprofit overlooked the importance of focusing on broad systems that work to prevent or stop homelessness before it starts, and miscalculated what it would take to build positive relationships with the city’s government agencies.” [ChronicleofPhilanthropy]

A Different Time: In The Atlantic, David M. Shribman shares a letter written by his uncle en route to the Pacific Theater that recalls a version of the college experience that sounds bygone and aspirational in the midst of today’s campus conflicts. “Philip Alvan Shribman, a recent graduate of Dartmouth and just a month away from his 22nd birthday, was not worldly but understood that he had been thrust into a world conflict that was more than a contest of arms… He was a quiet young man, taciturn in the old New England way, but he had much to say in this letter, written from the precipice of battle to a brother on the precipice of adulthood… ‘What you’ll learn in college won’t be worth a God-damned,’ Phil told Dick. ‘But you’ll learn a way of life perhaps — a way to get on with people — an appreciation perhaps for just one thing: music, art, a book — all of this is bound to be unconscious learning — it’s part of a liberal education in the broad sense of the term… If you went to a trade school you’d have one thing you could do & know — & you’d miss the whole world of beauty,’ he went on. ‘In a liberal school you know “nothing”  — & are “fitted for nothing” when you get out. Yet you’ll have a fortune of broad outlook — of appreciation for people & beauty that money won’t buy — You can always learn to be a mechanic or a pill mixer etc.,’ but it’s only when you’re of college age ‘that you can learn that life has beauty & fineness.’ Afterward, it’s all ‘struggle, war: economic if not actual—Don’t give up the idea & ideals of a liberal school — they’re too precious — too rare — too important.’” [The Atlantic]

Around the Web

A bipartisan group of 20 House members called for the “the highest possible funding” in 2025 for the Never Again Education Act, which provides resources for Holocaust education through the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

World Central Kitchen resumed its operations in Gaza weeks after an Israeli strike killed seven of its workers; in a Washington Post op-ed, founder José Andrés explains the decision to return to the enclave…

Yad Vashem, the U.K.’s Association for Jewish Refugees and the British Board of Deputies denounced a decision by London’s Royal Parks to cover a Holocaust memorial at Hyde Park with a tarp ahead of an anti-Israel protest over the weekend…

Jewish Insider interviews Ofir Akunis, the incoming Israeli consul-general in New York, who will arrive in the United States later this week…

Daniel Schulman was hired as the next executive director of the Jewish Museum Milwaukee. He will succeed Patti Sherman-Cisler, who is retiring after nine years leading the museum…

The Chronicle of Philanthropy investigates who has benefited from the “mega gifts” to subsidize university tuition…

Rabbi Menachem Creditor said he “vehemently object[s]” to his song, “Olam Chesed Yibaneh” (“A world of grace will be built”), being sung at anti-Israel demonstrations…

The Wall Street Journal offers a list of the five best books on philanthropyTuxedo Park, George Eastman, Titan, Reclaiming the American Dream and The Warden

The Republican Jewish Coalition said it will back “credible” primary challengers to Republicans who voted against last month’s Israel funding bill…

The Atlantic reports on the challenges facing PEN America — including the decision not to hold its annual conference following a series of speaker cancelations — as it faces criticism for its refusal to accuse Israel of genocide…

Variety talks to comedian Amy Schumer about her rise to fame and the responses she’s gotten for her support for Israel since Oct. 7…

Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus interviews Sheryl Sandberg about her new documentary, “Screams Before Silence,” about the sexual violence that took place on Oct. 7…

Paul Auster, author of The New York Trilogydied at 77…

Pic of the Day


People walk through a “Vida Sana” (healthy lifestyle) farmers market-style distribution event in Los Angeles’ Pico-Union community last month, in which they can “shop” for fresh produce, pantry staples and other essential goods.

The weekly event was organized by the Pico Union Project, which operates out of Los Angeles’ Sinai Temple, the city’s oldest synagogue.


Annie Liebovitz smiles
Screenshot/Jewish Broadcasting Service

Retired national director of the Anti-Defamation League, now national director emeritus, Abraham Henry Foxman

Progressive political activist, literary and political journalist, Larry Bensky… Assistant professor at Yeshiva University and editor emeritus of Tradition journal, Rabbi Shalom Carmy… Deborah Chin… Boston-area actor, David Alan Ross… Brigadier-general (reserves) and former chief medical officer in the IDF, he was also a member of the Knesset for 10 years, Aryeh Eldad… Of counsel at D.C.-based Sandler Reiff where he specializes in redistricting law, Jeffrey M. Wice… Former member of the U.S. House of Representatives (D-CO) from 2007 until 2023, Edwin George “Ed” Perlmutter… Israeli entrepreneur and software engineer, founder and CEO of Conduit, Israel’s first billion-dollar internet company, Ronen Shilo… Austrian-Israeli singer-songwriter, Timna Brauer… Real estate entrepreneur, he is a co-founder of the Israeli American Leadership Council (IAC) and supporter of FIDF, Eli Tene… Member of the board of governors of the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester, Rina F. Chessin… Member of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, David R. Karger… Israeli judoka, she is a member of the International Olympic Committee and the head of the merchandise division of Paramount Israel, Yael Arad… Majority leader of the Washington State Senate, he is a co-owner of minor league baseball’s Spokane Indians, Andrew Swire “Andy” Billig… Senior attorney in the Newark office of Eckert Seamans, Laura E. Fein… Political columnist at New York magazine since 2011, Jonathan Chait… Radio personality and voice-over artist, Gina Grad… Attorney and co-founder of I Am a Voter, a nonpartisan civic engagement organization, Mandana Rebecca Dayani… D.C.-based political reporter, Ben Jacobs… Senior video journalist covering investigative and national news for The Washington PostJonathan Gerberg… Member of the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova, Marina Tauber… Operations manager at GrowthSpace, Jenny Feuer… Principal at Forward Global, Omri Rahmil… Photographer and digital media editor at the Jewish Women’s Archive, Hannah Altman… Sam Zieve-Cohen