Your Daily Phil: Where Jewish funding for Ukraine has gone + Strengthening American democracy
Good Tuesday morning!
In the three months since Russia invaded Ukraine, Jewish organizations have sought to leverage their familiarity and infrastructure in Eastern Europe to help refugees. Now, as the weather gets warmer and the war grinds on, an organization is once again turning to a Jewish specialty to help Ukrainian children: summer camp.
Mosaic United, an initiative focused on Jewish identity and connection to Israel that’s partially funded by the Israeli government, is dedicating $1 million to send some 1,500 to 2,000 Ukrainian Jewish child refugees to Jewish day, overnight and family camps in the countries that have absorbed them. The funding will pay for the campers’ room, board and programming at a rate of $40 to $75 per camper per day, depending on the type of camp.
“Experiential education is really the DNA of our mandate,” Elisheva Kupferman, Mosaic’s chief strategy officer, told eJewishPhilanthropy. “There are Jews who are far from home, who are at various resettlement stages. Summer camps are a really effective tool that the Jewish community has in its arsenal to create that sense of belonging and sense of home.”
Kupferman understands that summer camp might not be attractive to families who were just uprooted from their homes — for some, she said, “there’s no way parents who are refugees are going to let their kids go away from them for two weeks.” But she hopes that refugees in countries that have given them a more secure footing, like Germany, may welcome the respite of camp.
Mosaic is requesting proposals from camps of all Jewish denominations and sizes, and is requiring the camps that apply to have Russian or Ukrainian speakers on staff. The request for proposals doesn’t include requirements for social and emotional care of the refugees, though Kupferman says that Mosaic will ensure such care is present during the evaluation process. Ukrainian campers may be integrated into the existing camp curriculum or form their own group, depending on the camp.
“Most of the organizations we’ve spoken to have the capacity to add social services,” Kupferman said. “I don’t think we would fund two refugees to tag onto a bunk or group of 40 Belgian Jews. That doesn’t sound like something that we want to be behind.”
Where federation funding for Ukraine has gone
Jewish federations have allocated approximately $48 million in aid to Ukraine in the first three months of the war, according to a document breaking down federation funding, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Ben Sales.
The numbers: Federations have raised $60 million — around $25 million of which has been allocated via The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA). About $23 million has been allocated directly by local federations. More than $20 million 0f JFNA’s allocations has gone to refugee aid — $13 million to housing, food, medicine, clothing and other humanitarian aid, and $7 million to operations, security and transportation. Fifty thousand Jewish refugees have left Ukraine.
What’s next: As the outflow of refugees has slowed, JFNA expects to turn its attention to assisting Jews in Russia and Belarus, and rebuilding Ukraine. “There’s a very strong sense of nationalist pride in terms of the Ukrainian response [to Russia’s invasion],” JFNA CEO Eric Fingerhut told eJP. “So I hear a lot from Ukrainians who have left about the desire to go back.”
Defending solidarity missions: One type of travel Fingerhut stood by are solidarity missions to the border by rabbis and other American Jewish leaders, despite aid workers’ recommendations that only those with knowledge of the language and culture, or other specialized skills, travel to volunteer. “We continue to believe that they are in fact useful and that they give our community leaders a real understanding of what’s happening so they can go back and assist the rest of their community in knowing how best they can respond,” he said.
Read the full story here.
A clear path to strengthen American democracy
“Increasing toxic polarization, erosion of trust in and commitment to democratic norms and institutions, concerted efforts to subvert elections, and an alarming rise in extremism and political violence threaten the democratic system that — for all its limitations — has enabled dramatic improvements in the rights and lives of its citizens for nearly 250 years,” writes Aaron Dorfman, executive director of A More Perfect Union, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
Jews have thrived in America: “In many ways, the need for dedicated Jewish work to support American democracy is self-evident, both for the sake of democracy and for the sake of the Jewish community. Jews — and Jewish life — have thrived in America to a greater extent than we have in any other diasporic context in the last 2,000 years. And that’s equally true for the observant and the secular, for Jewish Democrats and Jewish Republicans, for the deeply engaged and the unaffiliated.”
A broad-based coalition is needed: “Faith-based leadership matters in the political life of America. That was true in the context of abolition, civil rights and fights for religious freedom, and it remains true today. American Jews cannot, of course, preserve American democracy on our own. But protecting and strengthening American democracy is going to take a broad-based coalition, and the American Jewish community has an obligation to play our part and, potentially, to model an approach that can inspire other communities — faith-based and otherwise — with whom we share this country.”
Equalizing Concern: Harvard’s community must show concern and support for all marginalized groups on campus, including Jews, student Shira Hoffer writes in Harvard Political Review: “My friends are constantly alerting me to a civil or human rights violation worthy of our attention, or circulating a fundraising opportunity which merits our support. Notably, there is not always an obvious connection between their identities and the causes they champion. There is some incredible activism going on, but to my dismay, after this hostage situation [at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, in January], I counted exactly zero non-Jews posting in support of my people, and I felt like the story fell out of the news cycle as quickly as it arrived. Why doesn’t this activism extend to us?…These past few weeks have been troubling for me as a Jewish person on campus committed both to my identity and to the ideas of free speech and the right to protest. While I did not — and do not — intend to address Israel Apartheid Week, the carving of a swastika at Currier House this month needs coverage. It is shameful that The Crimson did not find this newsworthy enough to cover, and that this incident did not inspire campus-wide outrage.” [HarvardPoliticalReview]
Cheesecake and Gun Buybacks: Responding to gun violence nationwide and an uptick in violent crime in New York, Junior’s Restaurant — known mostly for its cheesecake — hosted a gun buyback event in Brooklyn, Julia Gergely writesin the New York Jewish Week: “[Third-generation owner Alan] Rosen donated $20,000 in funds for the rewards; they offered $200 and an iPad for working assault rifles and handguns, and $25 for airguns. Rosen said he considered the buyback a success. ‘There’s now 69 less guns on the street,’ he said. He also said he was touched by the small differences he felt the event made in the community and in individuals’ lives — a grandmother who was able to finally, and safely, get rid of her grandson’s gun; a young boy who turned in his toy gun because he realized it was harmful. (He was paid $20, Rosen said.) ‘It was worth all the money,’ he said of the buyback event. ‘It may not be the most efficient way to solve gun violence issues, but it’s what I can do right now.’” [NYJewishWeek]
Word on the Street
WIZO Australia President Paulette Cherny is stepping down from her role at the end of this month…
Rachel Levy was named executive director of the Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut…
United Way of New York City appointed Grace C. Bonilla president and CEO, effective at the end of July…
The George Washington University announced a $3.5 million gift from alumnus and faculty member Jeffrey S. Akmanand his husband, Steven Mazzola, in support of student research…
The Westchester Index, an initiative of the Westchester Community Foundation, has launched. The interactive website has customizable data and analysis, focused on equity, that the New York-based community can use to examine disparities and develop solutions…
Past chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Richard Berenson Stone died at 78…
Pic of the Day
As summer camp season approaches, 20 song leaders gathered over the Memorial Day weekend for several days of song, spirit, networking and training at the LEV (Lift Every Voice) song-leader training at Camps Airy and Louise in western Maryland. Created in partnership with the Association of Independent Jewish Camps, BBYO and Jewish Day Camp Network, the seminar provided immersive training in song leading for pluralistic Jewish summer camps and youth groups throughout North America.
Israeli actress, singer and dancer, she played a Mossad agent in the espionage TV series “Tehran,” Liraz Charhi…
Investment advisor working at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, Alfred Phillip Stern… Owner of one of the nation’s largest privately held industrial empires, Ira Leon Rennert… Professor at Yale University and the 2018 winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, William Dawbney Nordhaus… Food critic at Vogue magazine since 1989 and judge on “Iron Chef America” he is the author of the 1996 award-winning book The Man Who Ate Everything, Jeffrey Steingarten… Founder and retired CEO of the Democratic Leadership Council, Alvin “Al” From… Author, political pundit and a correspondent for HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” Bernie Goldberg… Comedian, actress and TV producer, Susie Essman… Founder and chairman of the Katz Group of Companies with operations in the pharmacy, sports (including the Edmonton Oilers), entertainment and real estate sectors, Daryl Katz… Reality television personality, best known for “The Millionaire Matchmaker” on Bravo TV, Patti Stanger… Jerusalem-born founder, chairman and CEO of CyberArk Software, Alon Nisim Cohen… Entrepreneur, best known as the co-founder of CryptoLogic, Andrew Rivkin… Former Democratic mayor of Annapolis, Md., now director of policy at Shell Recharge, Joshua Jackson “Josh” Cohen… Assistant director of community outreach at the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, Melissa York… Author of the “Money Stuff” column at Bloomberg Opinion, Matthew S. Levine… Freelance writer in Brooklyn, Sara Trappler Spielman… Attorney and NYT-best-selling author of the Mara Dyer and Shaw Confessions series, Michelle Hodkin… Head of public policy and regulatory affairs at Zoox, a robotics startup based in Silicon Valley, Bert Eli Kaufman… Program director at public mobility firm Via in Tel Aviv, Zoe Goldfarb… Stephanie Oreck Weiss… Chief revenue officer at Grid, Brad E. Bosserman… Senior rabbi and executive director of Jewish life at D.C.’s Sixth & I, Aaron Potek… NYC-based politics editor for BuzzFeed News, Matt Berman… Amital Isaac… Brad Goldstein… Basketball player in Israel’s Premier League, Spencer Weisz…
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