Your Daily Phil: When health issues prevent fasting + Why stories matter with donors
Good Friday morning!
The Nonprofit Security Grant Program Improvement Act sailed through the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee this week — but with a lower funding proposal for the program than was agreed upon in the House.
The House version of the bill proposed providing $500 million for the program annually — far exceeding the $360 million funding goal that Jewish community groups and advocates for the program on the Hill had been targeting for 2023.
The version of the bill that passed the Senate committee this week brought the proposed funding level down to $360 million, in line with proposals from appropriators in both chambers for 2023 funding.
Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), who chairs the Homeland Security Committee, told Jewish Insider that the proposed funding level was pared down because “there were some folks who weren’t willing to do the full amount.”
“It was just what we needed to do to get support to get it out of our committee,” he continued. The bill passed through the committee by a voice vote as part of a package of numerous other pieces of legislation. The bill passed the House at the $500 million level by a vote of 288 to 129, with all Democrats voting in favor.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), the ranking member of the committee, said during the Wednesday meeting that the Senate version of the bill also included an amendment that would allow nonprofits to receive support and technical assistance to apply for the program. Small organizations without grant-writing staff and experience have historically struggled to apply.
Elana Broitman, the senior vice president for public affairs at The Jewish Federations of North America, said that the House proposal “leaves flexibility for future growth should it become necessary,” but praised the Senate action on the bill. “The $360 million figure is a strong authorization level that is a clear signal of support for the funding level in the appropriations bills, for which we have strongly advocated,” she said.
The group helping those who can’t fast to find meaning
For Sarah Osborne, Jewish fast days were trying. She wanted to fulfill the mitzvah, but the long hours without food and water led to some health scares. Things shifted after she spoke with a supportive clergy member who told her: “Your mitzvah is to eat.” This gave Osborne, who lives in suburban Washington, the reassurance she needed to protect her health by eating on fast days, but left her feeling disconnected from her community and religious meaning. To support other Jews in her position, and to bring meaning to eating on fast days, Osborne launched A Mitzvah to Eat in December 2021, Daniela Cohen reports for eJewishPhilanthropy.
Available resources: A Mitzvah to Eat provides accessible content that is available year-round, such as answers to frequently asked questions as well as prayers the group created that didn’t previously exist for eating on minor fast days like the 17th of Tammuz (which was in mid-July) and Tisha B’Av (which begins on Saturday at sundown). The initiative has already gained 500 followers between its Facebook and Instagram pages.
Ending stigma: Osborne wants to dispel the perception in the Jewish community that needing to eat on fast days is “very uncommon” unless you have a severe condition, such as an eating disorder. In fact, she says, there are many different reasons people may be unable to fast, reasons they may prefer to keep private. This could include being prone to fainting, balance issues caused by a stroke, trauma or other physical and mental health conditions. People receive “years and years and years of the messaging that eating and drinking is forbidden without … [asking] who is it forbidden for?” she told eJP.
PARSHA PHIL: DEVARIM
Stories speak to souls
“It is a fundamental principle of Torah interpretation that every word of Scripture is meaningful, and not even one letter is there in vain. Over the millennia, our Sages have derived tremendous meaning from even the most seemingly insignificant turn of phrase or tiny grammatical hint,” writes Rabbi Adam Greenwald, senior rabbi of Congregation B’nai Israel in Orange County, Calif., in a Parsha Phil opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
Brevity is the soul of Torah: “Some of the Torah’s best-known stories and laws are delivered in an incredibly terse style — employing the barest number of words and leaving us with huge, unanswered questions: What did Sarah say when Abraham took their son to sacrifice? Who exactly was Jacob wrestling with all night long? Could you be a bit more explicit about whether the whole boiling a kid in its mother’s milk thing really means I can’t have chicken parmigiana? So, when we start the Book of Deuteronomy this week, we might be slightly surprised. The Torah, which begins in Genesis by telling the story of the creation of, well, everything in just 34 verses, will now spend 34 chapters retelling us stories that we’ve already heard before.”
Weaving experience into story: “Yet, as the Rabbis liked to say: ‘Why did God create humanity? Because God loves stories.’ Storytelling is one of the most primal and profound things that our species does. From the first myths spun around ancient fires to the never-ending torrent of content coming at us 24/7 today, there’s nothing more human than taking our experiences and weaving them into tales to be shared again and again.”
Mourn the past, but build a better future (Tisha B’Av 5782)
“I thought about Tisha B’Av recently, as I stood in Jerusalem’s Davidson Archeological Park (thank you, William Davidson Foundation!). There, you can walk on the very street that Jews used, 2,000 years ago, to ascend to the Temple of Jerusalem. You can see the remnants of the stairs that led to the Temple entrance though Robinson’s Arch, the oldest overpass in the world, and most poignantly, you can see the stones from the Temple compound that Roman soldiers threw onto the street below as they destroyed the holy site,” writes Andrés Spokoiny, president and CEO of the Jewish Funders Network, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
Magical spell: “All that is incredibly emotional and magical. For a minute, I felt a sort of cosmic nostalgia, as though I could be myself climbing onto the Temple Mount with thousands of pilgrims from all corners of ancient Judea. But as I continued with my revelry, I must admit that the magic broke somehow. Do I really want to see how animals are sacrificed and the high priest sprinkles their blood on the altar? Do I really believe that God demands offers of incense? I mean, I love a good barbecue, but do I really want my faith to be celebrated that way?”
Nostalgia: “The word ‘nostalgia’ comes from the Greek ‘nostos’ (return) and ‘algos’ (pain). We yearn to return, but we know that a return is impossible, and hence the pain of a lost place and a lost time. But there’s something sweet about nostalgia too, because it allows a certain connection with the past without really needing to go back to it, something that, deep inside, we may not want … And that may be because the healthy attitude towards pain and suffering is letting ourselves be transformed by it, and hopefully emerge on the other side of grief as better versions of ourselves.”
Over Heard’s Pledge: A pledge is not a donation, “regardless of the amount of money being discussed,” Lisa Z. Greer writes in Philanthropy451, in a piece inspired by testimony in the Amber Heard vs. Johnny Depp trial; Heard claimed that her 2016 $7 million divorce settlement was going to be donated to charity, split between the ACLU and Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (CHLA): “One can pledge a donation, but that pledge is — well — a promise to make the payment. It seems proper to assume that the pledge will be paid in the very near future. Sometimes the pledge is to convey that part of the gift will be paid immediately, but the balance will be paid over time (just like payment terms in the for-profit world.) When a donor pledges a donation — and insists on press releases and fawning accolades related to the donation — the nonprofit has no reason to think that the money won’t come in. But pledge money isn’t cash, and most nonprofits will hold off on actually spending that money until the funds arrive. However, when that gift is in the public eye (in a major way), the NPO [nonprofit organization] will be thinking about and discussing how that donation, when it comes in, will be turned into impact.” [Philanthropy451]
Teens Seeing Philanthropy: The Milwaukee Teen Philanthropy Board chose local grant recipients and are now doing site visits with those grantees, to see philanthropy in action, Ellen Braunstein reports in The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle: “‘It’s a perfect opportunity to find new ways to help people through decisions on how to allocate funds,’ said Bennett Friedman, a junior at Nicolet High School…Levi Stein, executive director of The Friendship Circle of Wisconsin, is impressed with the board, which allocated $4,900 to his organization. ‘It’s a beautiful program. Nowadays, a lot of grown-ups struggle with understanding what it means to give and what it means to be a true philanthropist. Teaching them at a young age will really help train their minds to think at those levels.’ ‘Normally in the past we’ve allocated funding to these organizations. I think it’s important that teens get to know the organization inside and out to really understand where their funding is going and the difference they’ve made with their dollars’ [said Jennifer Saber, the Federation coordinator of the Teen Philanthropy Board.]” [JewishChronicle]
Word on the Street
The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy is launching an online doctorate in philanthropic leadership (PhilD), the first professional, doctoral-level leadership degree in the field…
After disastrous flooding in the St. Louis region, the Jewish Fund for Human Needs responded to calls for help from two local organizations: TheLittle Bit Foundation and ArchCity Defenders, who were contending with flooding damage…
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and the New York Philharmonic announced a $50 million gift from Joe Tsai and Clara Wu Tsai in support of construction of the new David Geffen Hall…
The Jack Martin Fund has committed $3.5 million to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City to establish a child and adolescent imaging center…
Indianapolis real estate developer and philanthropist Robert “Bob” Borns died. He founded, and with his wife Sandra, were the main benefactors of the Borns Jewish Studies Program at Indiana University…
Melissa Bank, a novelist who wrote flawed, funny Jewish heroines searching for love and fulfillment, died at 61; the Los Angeles Times once said she was “like John Cheever, but funnier…”
Larry Josephson, who had a 50-year career as a radio producer and host, died at 83. He hosted two series focused specifically on the Jewish community: “Only in America: The Story of American Jews,” and “What Is Judaism?”…
Pic of the Day
Assuta Ashdod Medical Center, south of Tel Aviv, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday for a new pediatric playroom. The light-filled playroom, made possible by Brooklyn-based Toys for Simcha, features a lounging area, video game corner, reading library, foosball table, play kitchen, toys and tech for toddlers to teens.
Historian, Nazi hunter and director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, Efraim Zuroff…
FRIDAY: Former New York State senator for 34 years, now of counsel at Ruskin Moscou Faltischek, Manfred Ohrenstein… Chairman of Delphi Capital Management, Robert Rosenkranz… Israel’s ambassador to France, Yael German… Author of many nonfiction books, including The Portable Curmudgeon, Zen to Go and Advice to Writers, Jon Winokur… Banker, once known as “Austria’s woman on Wall Street,” Sonja Kohn… Former Soviet Refusenik, he served as speaker of the Knesset for seven years, Yuli-Yoel Edelstein… Intellectual property and entertainment attorney based in Ithaca, N.Y., Howard Leib… Member of the British House of Lords, Baron Jonathan Andrew Kestenbaum… Songwriter, author, political columnist and noted baseball memorabilia collector, Seth Swirsky… Murray Huberfeld… Chair of the department of Jewish history at Baltimore’s Beth Tfiloh Dahan High School, Neil Rubin… Actor who starred in “Weekend at Bernie’s,” Jonathan Elihu Silverman… President at ConservAmerica, Jeffrey Kupfer… Former member of the Knesset for the Kulanu party, Roy Folkman… Director of the Center for Middle East Policy at The Brookings Institution, Natan Sachs… Investment and foundation manager at Denver-based Race Street Management and a board member of JFNA, Cintra Pollack… SVP of government and public affairs at the Wireless Infrastructure Association, Matt Mandel… Chairman of The New York Times Company, Arthur Gregg (A.G.) Sulzberger… Member of the comedy duo Jake and Amir, Jacob Penn Cooper Hurwitz… Longtime member of the Israeli national soccer team, Gil Vermouth… Lead strategic designer at BCG Digital Ventures, Lila Cohn… Product engineer at Platform[dot]sh, Abby Milberg… J.D. candidate in the 2023 class at Harvard Law School, Michael E. Snow… State affairs advisor at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions, Lisa Geller… Leslie Saunders…
SATURDAY: Century City-based partner at the Jaffe Family Law Group, Daniel J. Jaffe… E-sports executive and casino owner, he is a three-time winner of the World Series of Poker, Lyle Berman… Founder and spiritual leader of The Elijah Minyan in San Diego, Wayne Dosick… Professor emerita and former dean at Bar Ilan University, Malka Elisheva Schaps… Austrian businessman Martin Schlaff… Former state treasurer of Virginia and then Virginia secretary of finance, Jody Moses Wagner… Distinguished fellow at George Washington University, former under secretary of state for public diplomacy, Tara D. Sonenshine… Professor of psychiatry at the George Washington University Medical Center, Alan J. Lipman… Israeli diplomat Alon Pinkas… NASA astronaut who spent 198 days on the International Space Station during 2008, he brought bagels from his family’s bagel store in Montreal into space on his first mission into orbit, Gregory Chamitoff… Co-chair of Gibson Dunn’s white-collar practice group, Joel M. Cohen… Famed computer hacker, now a computer security consultant, Kevin Mitnick... VP of public affairs and strategic communications at the American Council on Education, Jonathan Riskind… SVP of the Jewish Council of Public Affairs, Melanie Roth Gorelick… Vice chair of the board of directors at the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, Susie Sorkin… Television and radio sports anchor on ESPN and ABC, Mike Greenberg… Chief economist at The Burning Glass Institute, Gad Levanon…. Boxing commentator and co-host of ESPN’s “This Just In,” Yiddish speaking Max Kellerman… Co-founder and former CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick… E-sports executive and casino owner, he is a three-time winner of the World Series of Poker, Lyle Berman… Actress, director and screenwriter, Soleil Moon Frye… PR consultant, Jeffrey Lerner… Chief creative and culture officer at an eponymous firm, Rachel Gogel… Winner of two gold medals in swimming at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Garrett Weber-Gale… Legislative director for Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA-33), Corey A. Jacobson… Senior producer at 10% Happier, Jessica I. Goldberg… Reporter at the Ouray County Plaindealer in Ridgway, Colo., Elizabeth Teitz… School safety activist and former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Hunter Pollack…
SUNDAY: Brooklyn resident, Esther Holler… Counsel at Mayer Brown, previously U.S. trade representative and U.S. secretary of commerce, Michael “Mickey” Kantor... Co-founder of the world-wide chain of Hard Rock Café, his father founded the Morton’s Steakhouse chain, Peter Morton… Retired lieutenant general in the Israeli Air Force, he also served as chief of staff of the IDF, Dan Halutz… Former PR director for the New York Yankees and author of more than 20 books, Marty Appel… President of private equity firm Palisades Associates, Greg Rosenbaum… Jonathan Pollard… Spiritual leader of Agudas Israel of St. Louis, Rabbi Menachem Greenblatt… Founder and CEO of the Cayton Children’s Museum in Santa Monica, Esther Netter… CEO at Capital Camps & Retreat Center, Havi Arbeter Goldscher… National political reporter at Axios covering both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, Jonathan Swan… Public address announcer for MLB’s Oakland Athletics, Amelia Schimmel… Catcher in the Miami Marlins organization, he batted .350 with two home runs for Team Israel at the 2020 Olympics, Ryan Lavarnway… Co-founder and CEO of ShopDrop and group product manager at Cerebral, Estee Goldschmidt… Goalkeeper for Real Salt Lake in Major League Soccer, Zac MacMath… Founder of Love for the Elderly, Jacob Cramer… Scott Harrison…
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