Your Daily Phil: Where East and West Jerusalem meet — in song

Good Tuesday morning and Happy New Year!

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on how a new nonprofit is using artificial intelligence to combat antisemitism online, and feature an opinion piece by Sarah Mali about on North American philanthropy’s evolving role in supporting Israel. Also in this issue: Jacob Millner, Sir Gerald Ronson and Nelson Peltz. We’ll start with the U.S. tour of the leaders of the Jerusalem Youth Chorus.

With Israel and Hamas at war, the existing fissures between Israelis and Palestinians have widened into chasms, as both face a future fueled by pain, resentment and loss. But through the Jerusalem Youth Chorus, teens from East and West Jerusalem who would have ordinarily had few, if any, points of overlap are gathering around music, building relationships and community across difference, JYC founder Micah Hendler told a group of approximately 40 people at a fundraiser last month in Beverly Hills, Calif., reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Esther D. Kustanowitz.

Through those relationships, Hendler said, chorus members get “a window into understanding each other’s realities, seeing the world through each other’s eyes, and then collectively raising their voices for a different, better, more inclusive, just, equal and peaceful future for their city and their nations.”

L.A.-based philanthropists Joshua and Lisa Greer hosted “Voices of Hope and Determination,” a gathering aimed at raising awareness of and support for the chorus. 

The chorus, which was formed in 2012, had been scheduled for a U.S. tour before the Oct. 7 terror attacks and would have involved approximately 30 singers. As the chorus members were unable to come because of the situation in Israel, Hendler and the chorus’ executive director, Amer Abu Arqub, were instead the main event at a series of evenings in major cities — Los Angeles was preceded by Washington, D.C., Chicago, New York City and followed by Boston —  with more talking than singing, sharing their origin stories and perspectives on this fusion of music-making and bridge-building. 

“Singing is one of the few human activities that actually releases oxytocin [known as the trust hormone] in the brain,” Hendler told eJP ahead of the event. “We are actually neurologically programmed to trust people more when we sing together. And so the fundamental sort of container-building that the chorus uses is that vehicle of establishing some trust and commonality.” 

Read the full report here.

ONLINE ANTISEMITISM

New nonprofit tracks online antisemitism using artificial intelligence tools

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.
The CyberWell team. Courtesy/CyberWell

One of the newest companies monitoring antisemitism online is CyberWell, an AI-backed nonprofit that’s home to the first open source database of anti-Jewish digital hate. CyberWell’s executive director and founder, Tal-Or Cohen Montemayor, started the company about 18 months ago after growing increasingly concerned by the rapid migration of conspiracy theories and “violent antisemitism” from darker internet channels to mainstream social media. “It’s very difficult to be Jewish openly online today,” Cohen Montemayor told Tori Bergel for eJewishPhilanthropy’s sister publication Jewish Insider last month. “We’re experiencing an unprecedented wave of hate.”

Nearly double: The company reported an 86% rise in content “highly likely to be antisemitic” across all platforms post-Oct. 7. CyberWell monitors for antisemitism in both English and Arabic, using the 11 categories detailed in the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism to determine a positive incident. Of the five main social media platforms CyberWell operates within — Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, YouTube and X, formerly known as Twitter — Facebook saw the highest rise in antisemitism after Oct. 7, with a 193% increase while X increased by 81% (although Cohen Montemayor described X as having a “higher level of baseline antisemitism because they don’t remove hate speech.”)

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

SHIFTING GEARS

From hero to host: The role of North American philanthropy in moving Israel forward

Illustration by Rosy Ziegler from Pixabay

“In those first moments and weeks [after Oct. 7], we needed what the anthropologists Margaret Wheatley and Debbie Frieze call ‘heroic leadership,’” writes Sarah Mali, director general of the Jewish Federations of Canada, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Into the fray: “Heroic leadership assumes that we are somewhat in control, that we can fix things — or at least help fix things. I love this type of leadership for its sense of clarity and cohesion. It is unequivocal, umbilical and immediate.”

The next stage: “This period of heroic philanthropic leadership is drawing to a close as the most acute period of crisis draws to a close (barring the outbreak of a full-out war in the north, Heaven forbid). The marathon for Israel’s survival and recovery, however, has only just begun… In this mid- to long-term phase of recovery and rebirth, the philanthropic community should set its hero cape aside and begin to act as leaders who are, to continue using Wheatley and Frieze’s language, hosts.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Invest in Intergroup Relations: In the Jewish Journal, former Bay Area JCRC exec Rabbi Doug Kahn and American Jewish affairs scholar Steven Windmueller urge against accepting the mantra that we Jews are, now and always, alone in the world. “The reality is not that the Jewish community is alone but that we are woefully outspent and understaffed in the intergroup relations arena. It is not that we have spent too much time building relationships; it’s that we have spent not nearly enough, particularly when our community’s detractors quickly fill the vacuum. We cannot expect potential allies to understand our attachment to Israel and the extent of our fears about the rise of antisemitism if we are not in sustained relationship with leaders of other diverse and often marginalized communities… As our community has become more professionalized, many grassroots connections have been lost and too often pro-Israel voices are absent from key community organizing tables… We call upon American Jewish philanthropists and foundations to embrace now the critical task of bridge-building beyond the Jewish community. It cannot be done without the vision, speed and level of investment that only they can help ensure.” [JJ]

From WhatsApp to Washington Politics: After selling his share of WhatsApp to Facebook for $19 billion in 2014, Ukrainian-American Jan Koum focused his philanthropy primarily on Zionist causes and maintained a relatively low profile — but that profile is rising since he became a major donor to Republican primary candidate Nikki Haley, writes Theodore Schleifer in Puck. “Key to Koum’s evolution is a close friend, Yasmin Lukatz, a Silicon Valley hyper-connector in the Israel community who is also, of course, the daughter of Miriam Adelson. Lukatz, I’m told, linked Koum with her mom in the first place, and facilitated a series of talks between Koum and the Adelson family about partisan politics, philanthropy, and Judaism. The Adelsons have been close to Trump, but they have also backed Haley’s political work over the years and are insisting on neutrality in the primary. Koum’s relationship with Haley, herself, has developed over the years principally through Jon Lerner, the candidate’s longtime pollster and senior aide, who has worked with Koum on philanthropic endeavors… Senior Republican operatives and fundraisers are already taking note, eyeing him as potentially the rightful heir to the Adelson mantle. ‘Is he idiosyncratic to Nikki, or is he a long-term, new donor to be reckoned with?’ said one Republican financier who has paid close attention to Koum.” [Puck]

Around the Web

The NBA’s other 29 owners voted unanimously to authorize Mark Cuban’s sale of the Dallas Mavericks to Miriam Adelson and her son-in-law, Patrick Dumont…

Jacob Millner, the national liaison to Jewish communal organizations and the associate director of political outreach at the American Jewish Committee, has been hired as the next executive director of the Jack Miller Family Foundation

The Lauder Business School in Vienna, which was founded by Ronald Laudercut ties with the Harvard Business School over the university’s response to antisemitism on campus. Last month, Len Blavatnik, a major Harvard donor, halted further gifts to the school on similar grounds…

Russian businessman Roman Abramovich is suing Bank Mizrahi Tefahot to unfreeze his account and allow him to make a $2.2 million donation to ZAKA…

Data analytics firm Palantir says it will hold a board meeting in Tel Aviv next week to show solidarity with Israel during the country’s war with Hamas…

A new study by the Abraham Initiatives, a coexistence group that tracks crime, found that 244 members of Israel’s Arab community were killed in 2023, more than twice as many as the year before…

Rob Derdiger, CEO of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternitypenned an opinion piece in the Jewish News Service about his organization’s work and struggles with campus Diversity, Equity and Inclusion offices…

The board of directors of the American Jewish University approved the sale of the Familian campus in Los Angeles to the Milken Community School, though the sale is not yet complete…

Daniel Rosen was named the next president of the American Jewish Congress. He succeeds his father, Jack Rosen

The computer chip company Nvidia and its employees are donating $15 million to Israeli nonprofits assisting people affected by the war, the largest-ever donation by the firm…

The International Association of Jewish Free Loans, along with 17 of its member agencies, is collectively providing over $3.4 million in interest-free loans to Israelis in light of the war… 

Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, heir to the L’Oréal beauty empire, recently became the first woman to have a net worth exceeding $100 billion…

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff is donating 282 acres of land to a Hawaii nonprofit to develop affordable housing…

British Jewish philanthropist Gerald Ronson, who founded the country’s Community Security Trustwas knighted on Friday…

Some 20 Jewish students from top U.S. universities came to Israel on a solidarity mission last week, where they also shared their experiences on American college campuses with Israelis…

The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous sent $325,500 to 93 “righteous gentiles” who rescued Jews during the Holocaust during the Christmas and New Year’s season…

Investor Nelson Peltz, who serves on the board of Unileverresigned from his position at the Simon Wiesenthal Center after the organization urged people not to buy Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, which is owned by Unilever…

The Geneva-based Global Fund issued $165 million in grants to Ukraine to combat tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS…

Since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war, 720 people have immigrated to Israel from North America, joining the 2,300 others who made aliyah in 2023 before Oct. 7…

Ned Goldberg, the longtime executive director of the Louisiana-based Jewish Children’s Regional Servicedied on Dec. 25 at 72…

Robert Potamkin, co-chair of the Potamkin Automotive Group who created the Potamkin Prize for Pick’s and Alzheimer’s Disease Researchdied on Nov. 30 at 77…

The New York Jewish Week published a belated obituary of Misha Avramoff, the co-director of Project Ezra, which works with elderly Jews on New York’s Lower East Side, who died last year at 83…

Former Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI), a founder of the Kohl’s department store chain, died last Wednesday at 88…

Peggy Downes Baskin, a California-based philanthropist and donor to the University of California Santa Cruz alongside her late husband, Jack Baskin, died last month at 93…

Harold Osher, a cardiologist, map collector and philanthropist from Maine, died on Dec. 23 at 99…

Pic of the Day

Courtesy/National Library of Israel

Children from the Kibbutz Or HaNer on the Gaza border and children from their temporary host school in Jerusalem, the Zalman Aran School, attend the launch of the National Library of Israel’s new bookmobile on Dec. 25. The cheery traveling children’s library — featuring “Ir-MEOW-hu the Library Cat” —  will visit centers for displaced communities located across the country, offering children access to fun activities and books galore.

Birthdays

Annie Liebovitz smiles
Mark Saggliocco/Getty Images for Showtime Networks

Past president of the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum, Alice M. Greenwald

Co-owner of The Wonderful Company which operates businesses including POM, Fiji Water, Teleflora, Wonderful Pistachios, Lynda Rae Resnick… Poet and past professor at Columbia, Princeton, Brooklyn College, Cooper Union and William Paterson University, David Shapiro… Founder and CEO of Boston-based investment firm, Weiss Asset Management, he is also an emeritus professor at Boston University, Andrew M. Weiss… Pulitzer Prize-winning ex-reporter for The New York Times, she went to jail to protect her source in the Valerie Plame matter, now an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute, Judith Miller… Long-time journalist for The New York Times, also author of two books including a memoir about fighting cancer, Joyce Wadler… Former executive director of the Western Publishing Association, Jane Silbering… Former prime minister of the Czech Republic and then minister of finance, Jan Fischer… CEO of Loews Corporation since 1999, James Tisch… Cantor at Agudath Achim Synagogue in Shreveport, La., Neil Schwartz… Commissioner of Israel’s Civil Service Commission, he is a congregational rabbi in Haifa, he was previously the president of Bar-Ilan University, Daniel Hershkowitz… Israel’s ambassador to Denmark until 2021, he was previously Israel’s ambassador to Sweden, Benny Dagan… Of counsel at Shulman Rogers, Anita J. Finkelstein… President of the D.C.-based S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, he was a member of Congress (D-FL) until 2010, Robert Wexler… Actress best known for her role in the 1990s television series “Beverly Hills, 90210,” in 2016 she was elected president of SAG-AFTRA trade union, Gabrielle Carteris… Former financial advisor at First Manhattan and then Ally, Julia Beth Rabinowitz… Justice on the Supreme Court of Israel since 2012, she was previously dean of Tel Aviv University’s law school, Daphne Barak-Erez… Executive director of The Charles Bronfman Prize, co-founder Momstamp and a co-founder of Ikar, Paulette Light… Writer, artist, baseball player and coach, he was the bullpen coach for Team Israel at the 2023 World Baseball Classic, Nate Fish… Film and television actress, Lauren Storm… VP of growth at the Consello Group, Elizabeth (Lizzie) Langer… Network analyst at the Atlanta Community Food Bank, Tandameshia “Kensi” Hastings