Your Daily Phil: UJA-Federation of N.Y. funds flowing to war-torn Israel

Good Tuesday morning.

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on the Wexner Foundation cutting ties with Harvard University over the institution’s responses to the Oct. 7 terror attacks, and feature an opinion piece from Maya Bernstein and Rabba Sara Hurwitz about leadership during times of crisis. Also in this newsletter: Wadea Al-Fayoume, Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove and President Joe Biden. We’ll start with UJA-Federation of New York beginning to distribute large emergency grants to groups in Israel.

UJA-Federation of New York has begun distributing $22 million in emergency grants to Israeli nonprofits and initiatives in the wake of the Oct. 7 massacres and ensuing war, the organization announced on Monday, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

This represents a major round of fund distribution, with grants being issued to a wide variety of organizations and causes, from mental health organizations to volunteering efforts and aid to Israelis directly affected by the war. Itzik Shmuli, the head of the federation’s Israel office, told eJP that these initial grants are only the beginning and that UJA-Federation of New York already plans to significantly increase the size of some of its grants.

“These grants cover the most pressing needs across affected communities including procuring new hospital equipment, mobilizing mental health counselors, providing cash grants for victims of terror, aiding thousands of displaced residents from southern Israel, and helping so many cope with displacement and grief,” Eric Goldstein, the federation’s CEO, said in a statement.

Roughly a third of the grants — $7.2 million — will go toward direct assistance to communities and residents of southern Israel, mainly to their local governments. Some regional councils of towns closest to the Gaza border who were hardest hit by last Saturday’s attacks will receive up to $700,000, while others will receive $300,000.

Shmuli told eJP that his message to local governments in the affected areas is: “We are here, whatever you need. I’m your first phone call.”

“The needs are immense, immense. The local authorities are taking on a lot more responsibility than they would by the book,” he said. “There are some who say it is unprecedented.”

The rest of the grants are split between support for the organizations providing relief to the victims of the attacks, their families and to displaced Israelis. This includes: psychological trauma organizations, hospitals, emergency response services, groups organizing and mobilizing volunteers, financial support for terror victims through the Jewish Agency for Israel, support for soldiers and initiatives benefiting Arab and Bedouin Israelis.

“In every place that the cursed terrorists tried to damage, we will be there,” Shmuli said.

Read the full report here.


Illustrative. A gate sits locked on Quincy Street at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., on Dec. 16, 2013. (Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

The Wexner Foundation announced on Monday that it is cutting ties with Harvard University over “the dismal failure of Harvard’s leadership to take a clear and unequivocal stand against the barbaric murders of innocent Israeli civilians by terrorists last Saturday,” reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen.

No shared values: Signed by the Ohio-based Wexner Foundation’s president, Rabbi B. Elka Abrahamson, Director General in Israel Ra’anan Avital and chairs Abigail and Leslie Wexner, the letter urges Harvard’s administration to express support for Israel and unequivocally condemn the Hamas terror group. “In the absence of this clear moral stand, we have determined that the Harvard Kennedy School and The Wexner Foundation are no longer compatible partners,” the organization’s leadership wrote. “Our core values and those of Harvard no longer align. HKS is no longer a place where Israeli leaders can go to develop the necessary skills to address the very real political and societal challenges they face.”

No longer safe: Jeremy Burton, executive director of Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, told eJP that “this last week has been clarifying regarding the moral compass of academia in America and whether spaces like HKS are still safe for Israeli and Jewish students. And, the Israelis and Jews who are closest to HKS and in the longest partnership are saying it’s not safe for them anymore.”

Read the full report here.


How to lead in times of terror

woman in yellow shirt speaks into a handheld microphone
Yeshivat Maharat Director of Leadership Education Maya Bernstein. (Courtesy/Yeshivat Maharat)

“How do you provide authority — the protection, direction and order — and identify the technical challenges people can tackle effectively during a time of crisis?” write Maya Bernstein, director of leadership education at Yeshivat Maharat, and Rabba Sara Hurwitz, co-founder and president of the women’s seminary in New York, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

From panicked to present: “In normal circumstances, leadership involves pushing people out of their comfort zones, challenging them towards a ‘productive zone of disequilibrium.’ In times of crisis and terror, leadership involves loosening the paralytic grip of fear — calming people and reducing stress, but not so much that they avoid or ignore the reality around them. Instead of being agitated towards the productive zone of disequilibrium, people need their panic to be alleviated; at the same time, they also need to be kept in a space in which they feel pain and witness and name the evil and horror.”

Strategic communication: “There is a kind of formula for what people need to hear during times of crisis and terror. President Joe Biden’s phenomenal speech in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Israel utilized this framework, so we will draw upon his words to illustrate its effectiveness.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

A Moment for Reflection: The details of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried’s alleged malfeasance became public knowledge during his trial, but the trial also drew renewed attention to his philanthropic giving, writes the editorial board of the Washington Post. “Mr. Bankman-Fried was an outspoken supporter of effective altruism, a quasi-utilitarian philanthropic movement premised on maximizing the positive impact an individual might have on the world in their lifetime. More specifically, he told customers and the public at large that he was ‘earning to give’ — that the vast sums he acquired were always destined for charity. … Mr. Bankman-Fried’s trial is a moment to reflect on where he — and the people who celebrated his version of philanthropy — should have asked more questions. Mr. Bankman-Fried appears to have used effective altruism as a cover, running an allegedly fraudulent business in service of a goal that, in light of his alleged ethical corner-cutting, he was unlikely ever to meet. Philanthropy — or hints that it might occur at some point down the line — cannot be used as justification for dishonest or exploitative business practices.” [WashPost]

Where’s the Beef: From the Good Food Institute to the Bezos Earth Fund, writes Eden Stiffman for The Chronicle of Philanthropy, moral and environmental concerns have driven the philanthropic community to financially support the development and promotion of “alt meat”: plant-based meat, dairy and egg substitutes as well as lab-grown products made from actual animal cells. The production process has yet to become significantly greener than that of the traditional meat industry, but there is more worry still that all this faux fare won’t become a real competitor without bolstered private assistance. “While support from global governments doubled in the past year, the $635 million contributed in 2022 is a far cry from what may be required. Modeling by the management consultancy McKinsey & Company for ClimateWorks Foundation and the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, projects that if alternative proteins are to reach 50% of market share by 2050, governments will need to invest $4.4 billion annually in research and development and $5.7 billion annually in private sector incentives.” [ChronicleofPhilanthropy]

Around the Web

President Joe Biden will visit Israel on Wednesday for a one-day trip in a show of solidarity, where he will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials. He will also stop in Jordan to meet Jordanian, Egyptian and Palestinian leaders…

SafeSource Direct and the American Medical Manufacturers Association donated 60,000 nitrile gloves and 24,000 face masks to Israel’s ZAKA emergency response service, which has been collecting the bodies of the victims of the Oct. 7 massacres…

The Jewish Federations of North America launched a new solidarity campaign encouraging people to wear a “blue ribbons for Israel” to express their support for the 199 people being held hostage and their families…

U.K. Jewish groups are protesting the BBC over its editorial policy of not referring to Hamas members as terrorists…

American Jewish organizations of all types have condemned the murder of a 6-year-old Palestinian-American boy,Wadea Al-Fayoume, and stabbing of his mother, Hanaan Shahin, who was seriously injured. The Jewish Council for Public Affairs, writing in a letter on behalf of 118 national and local Jewish organizations, called the slaying “despicable” and stressed its opposition to all forms of bigotry, and Agudath Israel of America said it was “horrified” by the “heinous crime,” which has been tied to the war between Israel and Hamas…

Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove of the Park Avenue Synagogue in Manhattan raised $18 million, which was donated to the UJA-Federation of New York

The Republican Jewish Coalition will co-host the upcoming Republican presidential debate, which is scheduled for Nov. 8…

Margot Polivy, a high school physical education teacher turned lawyer who fought for equality of women in college sports, died earlier this month at 85…

Pic of the Day

An Israeli woman folds and sorts clothing that has been collected for people displaced by the war between Israel and the Hamas terror group in a community center in the central Israeli city of Beit Shemesh yesterday.
Leon Neal/Getty Images

An Israeli woman folds and sorts clothing that has been collected for people displaced by the war between Israel and the Hamas terror group in a community center in the central Israeli city of Beit Shemesh yesterday. Similar collection operations are taking place in cities and towns across the country, following last Saturday’s massacres in southern Israel and the ensuing war, as well as increasing attacks on Israeli communities along the border with Lebanon.



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