Your Daily Phil: What are the makeup and needs of today’s Jewish families?

Good Wednesday morning.

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on Harvard University President Claudine Gay’s resignation. We feature an opinion piece by Dana Levinson Steiner about the concerns of young Jewish leaders in Latin America; and one by Yoni Heilman, written from the front lines of the ground offensive in Gaza. Also in this issue: Lt. Alex HamiltonJames and Marilyn Simons and Ann Gonski. We’ll start with a new study being conducted by Rosov Consulting on Jewish families.

With the Jewish family becoming increasingly diverse and Jewish identity increasingly fluid, a leading Jewish researcher is trying to figure out how the rich tapestry of Jewish family life is being woven today, reports Jay Deitcher for eJewishPhilanthropy.

“There are lots of assumptions about, ‘This is what it’s like as a person of color in the Jewish community. This is what it’s like for somebody who is economically challenged in the Jewish community,’” Alex Pomson, principal and managing director of Rosov Consulting, told eJP.

Funded by Crown Family Philanthropies, the Harold Grinspoon Foundation and the Jim Joseph Foundation and conducted by Rosov Consulting, the new study of Jewish families is qualitative, looking at the experiences and needs of diverse families within the Jewish community.

“We really want to better understand, [to] hear people’s voices, to hear their own lived realities at this moment,” Pomson said. “Where is the ‘Jewish’ in their lives, and to what extent is it in their lives, and in what ways do they understand what it means to be Jewish?”

The first part of the study is a literature review, which was released in November, and the second involves gathering information from 40 focus groups made up of 182 individuals from 45 states. Participants were recruited with the help of Jewish federations, Honeymoon Israel, 18Doors, Keshet and PJ Library. Interim findings will be released next month, with the full study being published in early summer 2024.

Read the full report here.


Rabbi Dina Brawer, executive director of the U.K.-based World Jewish Relief’s American branch, speaks at the Clinton Global Initiative in September 2023.
Claudine Gay. Photo by Erin Clark/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Following the abrupt resignation on Tuesday of Harvard President Claudine Gay, the focus for Jewish leaders turned to whether her move would have wider implications for the fight against antisemitism at the Ivy League university, reports Gabby Deutch for eJewishPhilanthropy’s sister publication Jewish Insider.  

Left unsaid: In December, the university’s governing body pledged its support for Gay; but in long statements emailed to the Harvard community on Tuesday, neither Gay nor the Harvard Corporation, the school’s governing body, explained what had changed over the university’s winter break, and why Gay was now leaving her post. Their messages did not mention the explosion of antisemitic incidents at Harvard since Oct. 7 under Gay’s leadership.

Problem unsolved: “The problems at Harvard have been years, if not decades, in the making,” Jeremy Burton, CEO of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, told Jewish Insider on Tuesday. “Whatever your opinion about Gay’s decision to step aside and how that came about, we would be doing ourselves a disservice if we pretend that this in any way moves us closer to resolving the root problems with the campus environment at Harvard.”

Donor dilemma: Jewish donors aren’t convinced that the change in leadership is reason enough for them to rethink their decision to withhold donations from Harvard. Yossi Sagol, an Israeli businessman who attended Harvard Business School, told eJP in October that he was considering withholding a donation to Harvard. A spokesperson for Sagol Holdings told JI on Tuesday that Sagol “is waiting to see the actions of the university, and will not have a decision until then.” 

Read the full report here and sign up for Jewish Insider’s Daily Kickoff here.


Young Jewish leaders in Latin America are seeking a voice

Stained glass window at the Sinagoga del Círculo Israelita de Santiago in Santiago, Chile. Photo by José Zalaquett/X.

“[T]he moment has arrived for Latin American Jewish communities to have the deeply important conversations — however difficult — about transforming their organizations to ensure a sustainable future,” writes Dana Levinson Steiner, director of ACCESS Global at the American Jewish Committee, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Impressions from the field: “Although the Latin American Jewish community is 750,000 strong, many emerging leaders don’t see a future for themselves at home. Young Jews are leaving their communities for professional or personal opportunities — and they don’t come back. We’re working to reverse this trend, and are encouraging Latin American Jewish institutions to embrace and fully integrate young professionals into their leadership infrastructure. Responsibility also lies with our talented and highly motivated emerging leaders, for whom the legendary proclamation by the late New York Rep. Shirley Chisholm applies: ‘If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.’”

A new team: “[T]alented emerging leaders joined me to announce the creation of a Latin America ACCESS Advisory Board, which will advise the American Jewish Committee about key issues that affect their Jewish communities and build a network of emerging leaders to share ideas, initiatives and support. These board members hail from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Mexico, Panama and Peru. They represent not only the future of our Jewish communities, but the present as well.”

Read the full piece here.


What is your ‘mission impact’?

The author near the Gaza border. Photo by Yoni Heilman

“During normal times, I am the CEO of TAMID Group, a nonprofit forging lasting connections to Israel for the next generation of business leaders. For the last 87 days, however, I have been on the front lines of the war against Hamas as a member of the operations team commanding the 5th infantry brigade of the IDF,” writes Yoni Heilman in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

In this together: “I am increasingly aware of how much my colleagues are fighting on the front lines as well — that our paths are not divergent but parallel. Like a driver on one of two tracks separated by a thin wall of forest, I keep getting glimpses of them through the trees, keeping pace, eyes forward… We are a small organization punching far above our weight. In the midst of a literal war in Israel and a war of morals in the West, we are seeing TAMID members rise to the occasion to a degree we never could have imagined.”

Make your difference: “To those who use their financial resources to effect change in the world: This is your moment. Now is the time to be clear on what impact you want to have, to identify those who can produce results, and to fuel them through meaningful philanthropic investments and partnerships.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

No Going Back: In The New York Times, Ruti Munder describes her relationship with the Gaza Strip, in the aftermath of the Six-Day War and now after having been held hostage there by Hamas. “Not long after [Israel’s victory in 1967], I found myself on the back of a tractor with a group of my friends from the kibbutz, driving across the invisible border to the beautiful beach in Khan Younis… On Oct. 7, masked Hamas gunmen burst into the bomb shelter inside my home and kidnapped me; my daughter, Keren; and my grandson, Ohad. My husband, Abraham, was knocked out trying to stop the screaming men from entering the safe room and was taken away separately from us. He is still in captivity, his condition unknown. Hamas also killed my son, Roy, as he tried to defend Nir Oz. Later that day I was back in Khan Younis, 56 years after my trip to the beach… I do not pretend to know what will happen in the years to come… What I do know is that I will not go to Gaza a third time. Perhaps one day Israelis will again take a trip to the beach in Gaza or host merchants over coffee at their homes. I hope our two peoples can finally live in peace, side by side. And I know that if Hamas remains in power, that will never happen.” [NYTimes]

Galas Ain’t Enough: In the Financial Times, Cristina Ruiz interviews philanthropy adviser Leslie Ramos about how to encourage donors to fund the arts. “Museums and galleries in Britain often fail to establish a proper relationship with potential philanthropists, Ramos writes, and ask them for funds too early and too often; they do not adequately thank those who do give and instead risk harassing them with their incessant requests for more. They are not successfully broadening their donor base, relying instead on the same handful of generous supporters. Museums need to remember that ‘nobody is obliged to give,’ she says… Ramos believes finding committed donors who care about an organisation’s objectives is even more important than any tax breaks on offer for donating to charities. ‘Tax incentives make a difference but what I have found in my data and also in my own experience working with people is that they are not necessarily as relevant as one would think.’ What matters more is a sense of civic duty, peer pressure and a desire for social status, Ramos says.” [FT]

Around the Web

Stars and Stripes profiles chaplain Lt. Alex Hamilton, a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary, who recently arrived at the Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan, home of the 7th Fleet, as its first rabbi in 33 years…

The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy pulled an article about the psychological toll of the Oct. 7 terror attacks from the latest issue of its magazine out of concerns that it would spark a backlash….

Jewish mathematician and hedge-fund founder James Simons and his wife, Marilynmade the second-largest philanthropic donation of 2023, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy: They gave $500 million through their foundation to the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where he chaired the math department and she is an alum. Warren Buffet made the largest donation last year, giving 1.5 million shares of Berkshire Hathaway Class “B” stock — valued at $541.5 million — to the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) is facing additional federal charges alleging that he praised Qatar in exchange for expensive gifts…

Inside Philanthropy‘s senior editor Philip Rojc identified six areas that he believes philanthropy failed to adequately address in 2023: the opioid epidemic, suicide prevention, racial segregation, nuclear disarmament, cybersecurity and outdated philanthropy regulations…

Big Tech companies, including Meta and Google, have scaled back their diversity, equity and inclusion teams last year, marking a significant retreat from the field…

An Iowa federal judge blocked portions of a state law forbidding school libraries from carrying books depicting “sex acts,” in part because it would keep “non-fiction history books about the Holocaust” off school shelves, including Elie Wiesel’s “Night”…

Journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates is spearheading a new outfit, The Courage Fund, that will make awards to champions of sexual-violence prevention and support education and healing programs. He has already received a grant from the Ford Foundation and intends to raise $10 million for the fund…

Philanthropist and artist Harold Grinspoon donated a new sculpture, titled “Everest,” to West Springfield, Mass., in honor of the town’s 250th anniversary…

An Israeli soldier who was recently killed in battle in northern Gaza was identified as Amichai Oster, 24, the son of longtime Jewish Telegraphic Agency journalist, Marcy Oster… 

Ann Gonski, who led California’s Camp Tawonga for more than 20 years, died last month at 72…

Pic of the Day

Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

Nearly three months after Hamas’ Simchat Torah attack, multiple sukkahs like this one remain standing in the abandoned yards of kibbutz Kfar Aza. Hamas terrorists killed 60 individuals from the community and took 30 hostage on Oct. 7.


Annie Liebovitz smiles
Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

Former Treasury secretary under President Carter, CEO of Burroughs Corporation and Unisys, followed by 17 years as director of the Jewish Museum in Berlin, W. Michael Blumenthal… 

Computer scientist and computational theorist, he is a professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, Richard Manning Karp… Professor of medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, Kenneth Prager, M.D.… CNN legal analyst, he was formerly a Watergate prosecutor and later a member of the 9/11 Commission, Richard Ben-Veniste… Former legal affairs reporter at The New York Times and contributing editor at Vanity FairDavid Margolick… Scion of the eponymous vacuum cleaner company and tax attorney, he served as the U.S. Ambassador to Finland during the Obama administration, Bruce James Oreck… Professor of molecular biology and microbiology at Tufts University School of Medicine, Ralph R. Isberg… Justice of the Ontario Superior Court and former national president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, Edward M. Morgan… Italian actor and comedian, known professionally as Gioele Dix, David Ottolenghi… Director of the Year-in-Israel program at HUC-JIR, Reuven Greenvald… Former U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica, S. Fitzgerald Haney… Managing director and senior partner in the NYC office of the Boston Consulting Group, Neal Zuckerman… Senior correspondent for Kaiser Health News after 17 years at The Los Angeles Times, Noam Naftali Levey… Attorney in Minneapolis and former member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, Jeremy N. Kalin… President at Kiosite, LLC, Michael Novack… Founder and president of Golden Strategies, Jenna Golden… Executive director at Groundwork Action, Igor Volsky… Former child actor who starred in Home Alone 3 (1997), he is now a planning assistant for the City of Los Angeles, Alexander David Linz… Team leader at Tel Aviv-based EverC, Alana Aliza Herbst… Israeli basketball player on the Washington Wizards, he was a first-round pick in the 2020 NBA draft, Deni Avdija