Your Daily Phil: With pride and precautions, communities ready for Hanukkah

Good Thursday morning.

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on Jewish communities’ preparations for Hanukkah and a $200 million commitment to the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism. We feature an opinion piece by Laura Herman and Deirdre Munley about the support staff in managerial roles need to succeed. Also in this newsletter: Mia Leimberg, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro and Rabbi Kenneth Brander. We’ll start with UJA-Federation of New York raising $45 million at its Wall Street gala. Happy Hanukkah!

Israel’s war against Hamas was front and center at UJA-Federation of New York’s annual Wall Street Dinner on Monday at the Marriott Marquis in Manhattan. But the ripple effects of the war — the frightening rise of antisemitism in the U.S., and in New York in particular — were also felt at the record-setting gala fundraiser, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen

“We have our own war here in the U.S.,” Marc Rowan, chair of the UJA board and CEO of Apollo Global Management, said in an address to more than 1,600 financial professionals, who collectively pledged $45 million for UJA’s annual campaign to support a wide network of nonprofits – almost 50% more than its previous record in 2021.  

“It’s very clear that we need the power of organizations like UJA to amplify our impact and accomplish the kind of meaningful work UJA is doing right now,” said Rowan, who has made headlines for his criticism of how his alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, has responded to antisemitism on campus.

Since the Oct. 7 terrorist attack in Israel, the UJA Israel Emergency Fund has raised $156 million, with $75 million raised from the Wall Street community, according to the federation.

Eric Goldstein, CEO of UJA-Federation of New York, told the audience about his recent trip to Israel. “I spent this recent trip meeting with many of our partners on the ground – all leading players in crafting the next stage of Israel’s civilian emergency response. And everywhere I went across Israel, people were immensely grateful for UJA’s immediate mobilization and significant support,” he said. 

Read the full report here.


Jewish communities prepare for Hanukkah events in the shadow of rising antisemitism, war in Israel

Rabbi Mordechai Kanelsky, Bris Avrohom executive director, speaks during a menorah lighting at the World Trade Center Oculus in New York City on Dec 06, 2023.
Rabbi Mordechai Kanelsky, Bris Avrohom executive director, speaks during a menorah lighting at the World Trade Center Oculus in New York City on Dec. 06, 2023. Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

As American Jewish communities prepare for Hanukkah, which starts tonight at sundown, Jewish leaders note the significance of the Festival of Lights during a dark time — two months after Hamas’ deadly rampage in Israel and amid a global rise in antisemitism to levels not seen in at least a generation. Community leaders, who are ramping up security measures, told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen that many will use Hanukkah festivities as a way to show the world that, despite those precautions, they are not afraid. 

Pride and precautions: “We are responding to tragedy and death with love and joy,” Max Moline, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia’s director of community engagement, told eJP, noting that his organization has five different events planned throughout the week across the area, “all designed to bring people together, showcase the strength of the community and really give people the opportunity to connect; light the candles, eat food, sing songs and just be together.” But unlike in past years, he noted, all events will take place indoors and attendees will be required to register in advance as a security precaution.

‘In Their Light’: The Jewish Agency for Israel is encouraging those celebrating Hanukkah to spotlight a victim of Oct. 7 on each of the eight nights of the holiday, by using the organization’s “In Their Light” kit. The kit contains eight stories of people injured or killed during Hamas’ attack, as well as two empty cards so people can add their own heroes. In North America, hundreds of shlichim will distribute them along with over 3,000 packs of candles that were ordered from a factory in Sderot, a town that suffered extensive attacks on Oct. 7 and throughout the war and has largely been evacuated.

Read the full report here.


Robert Kraft, Rales family pledge $200 million to Foundation to Combat Antisemitism

Robert Kraft speaks at the Hillel International Israel Summit. Courtesy

New England Patriots owner and philanthropist Robert Kraft and the Norman R. Rales and Ruth Rales Foundation have each pledged $100 million toward Kraft’s Foundation to Combat Antisemitism (FCAS), which Kraft said will sustain the organization into the future, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

Readying for battle: “Fighting this hate will be the most meaningful and fulfilling action of my life and I am humbled and grateful to have the partnership of Joshua Rales and the Rales Foundation as we do it together,” Kraft said in a statement. Rales, the president and trustee of his parents’ foundation, said he was supporting the organization because “the values that my parents cherished are now under threat… A tough battle lies ahead, and our hope is that others will be inspired to join us to stand up against antisemitism and all forms of hate.”

Five focuses: FCAS said it will use the $200 million commitment to: use social media to get its message out to more people; run additional television ads; operate a command center to monitor social media; do outreach to other organizations and communities; and organize “convenings,” particularly for people in sports.


Supporting managers when they need it most

Image by Joseph Mucira from Pixabay

“Even in ‘ordinary’ times, most nonprofit managers work without sufficient training, resources or tools for their roles,” write JPro’s director of programs Laura Herman and chief strategy officer Deirdre Munley in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Data speaks volumes: “The newly released Leading Edge report ‘State of the Jewish Workplace 2023,’ using data collected months prior to the Oct. 7 attacks, found only 59% of managers and 56% of managers of managers report having a reasonable workload. Even more concerning is that less than 40% of employees in these two groups feel that there are enough people in their organization to do the needed work. This data demonstrates how our field’s managers felt in spring 2023. What about now?”

How to help: “Supporting managers — both by teaching them skills they can implement to work more effectively, and by connecting them to management-level peers to lessen isolation and tap into problem-solving networks — has been a key priority for JPro for over two years. Yet the data demonstrates that there is much more work to be done, and it will take continued commitment at all levels  — from funders, leaders and managers themselves — to ensure that excellence in management becomes our new baseline.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Modern-Day Miracles: In an opinion piece in the Times of Israel, Rabbi Kenneth Brander, rosh yeshiva of Ohr Torah Stone, shares the new things he will be celebrating when he blesses his Hannukah candles this year. “This year, I am celebrating the miracle of solidarity. Grassroots efforts have popped up overnight like nothing Israel has ever seen. Meals have been distributed, people have been welcomed into homes, and thousands of reservists, 130% of those called up, have reported for duty… Our collective resolve in the face of the horrors is nothing short of miraculous, and a reminder of what we are capable of when we band together. And I am celebrating the miracle of heroism. In the face of the horrors of October 7th, so many heroes have risen to defend our brethren. I carry with me the memory of Ohr Torah Stone alumnus Elhanan Kalmanson z”l, who drove with his brother and nephew to Be’eri on the morning of October 7 on their own and managed to rescue dozens of victims. I am thinking of Aner Elyakim Shapiro z”l, who protected a packed public bomb shelter by throwing the hand grenades that terrorists had tossed inside back out and finally falling on the last one to absorb the impact to protect others… And I am celebrating this state, and what it means to live in the Jewish homeland in the 21st century. Even in the wake of the largest pogrom since the Holocaust, we cannot lose sight of our good fortune.” [TOI]

Lessons From Hanukkah: Arynne Wexler reveals in an opinion piece in Tablet why she generally hates Hannukah — at least as it is celebrated today — and why we should bring the holiday back to its roots, particularly during this turbulent time for world Jewry. “A minor holiday in Israel, Hanukkah is often the one holiday celebrated by secular Jews in the diaspora. This could be a great thing, except that this story of resilience and faith has been boiled down to a materialistic echo of Christmas. We’ve completely lost sight of its ikar, its essence… Above all, the story of the Maccabees is one of defiance and anti-assimilation. It’s about hard-as-nails Jews who fight for survival… The argument here is not that we should all be black hats; I myself am far from frum. But it is to contend that we like to convince ourselves it’s acceptable to give up on the very things that make us Jewish in order to survive… The victory of Hanukkah was rooted in the understanding that it takes standing up for the small things in order to protect the big ones. You can’t win a war if you don’t know who you are or give away pieces of yourself. We frequently take for granted what holds us together. This is the lesson of Hanukkah — and to drain this holiday of its real meaning is a tragedy.” [Tablet]

Take Your Time: In an opinion piece in the Jerusalem Post, Faith Leener and Rabbi Leon Morris write that the complexities of the world, like the complexities of Jewish texts, call for the opposite of the skimming, “too long, didn’t read” attitude prevalent today. “Now more than ever, we at Pardes are inspired by the art of Jewish debate, mahloket l’shem shamayim, often translated as ‘argument for the sake of heaven.’ Thoughtful, complex, and non-binary thinking requires us to read carefully and with a posture of openness to understanding another point of view. It is needed on campuses where young Jewish students feel unequipped in the face of growing antisemitism, it is needed on (or in response to) TikTok and Instagram where the majority of people under 25 get their news in 60-second segments — and it is needed in our own hearts, as we watch the news unfold all around us. We must acknowledge that long texts that carry complexity and layers are not written with the intent of being read in two-minute spurts with mundane distractions and digital notifications happening all around us.” [JPost]

Around the Web

Israeli teenager Mia Leimberg, who was released by Hamas last week after nearly two months in captivity, was interviewed by Reuters yesterday and described her time as a hostage alongside her mother, Gabriela, and smuggling her dog, Bella, in with her to Gaza. “She was a huge help to me. She kept me busy. She was moral support,” Mia said…

Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro condemned the president of the University of Pennsylvania, Liz Magill, for failing to “speak and act with moral clarity” in Congress this week when she — and the presidents of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — refused to state that calls for genocide violated their school’s codes of conduct…

Yad Vashem and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum have also criticized the administrators…

The Associated Press spotlighted Hanukkah preparations in South Florida amid rising antisemitism and the war in Israel…

Carmiel Arbit and Dan Granot from the Anti-Defamation League were ranked as some of the top lobbyists of 2023 by The Hill

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Phoenix hired Amanda Garcia to fill the newly created position of associate director last month… 

Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown reinstated a member of the state’s hate crimes task force, who had been suspended over controversial social media posts that downplayed the Oct. 7 atrocities, after it was determined that the law that created the task force did not give him the legal right to remove members. One of the co-sponsors of the legislation that created the body has pledged to sponsor a new bill to grant Brown that power…

The Senate’s supplemental aid bill for Israel and other U.S. allies will include an unprecedented $1 billion in additional funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) first proposed the allocation last month…

A group of students at the Columbia University School of Social Work held a “teach-in” at the school yesterday, in which participants described Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacres as a “great feat,” despite the university saying the event would be canceled…

The Hamilton (Ontario) Jewish Federation cut ties with a local movie theater, which normally hosts its Jewish Film Festival, after it agreed to screen the controversial, anti-Zionist film “Israelism”…

The number of “exits” by Israeli tech firms — mergers and acquisitions or initial public offerings — dropped to the lowest level in a decade this year, apparently due to the political instability in Israel and the ongoing war with Hamas…

Manischewitz is teaming up with the Jewish genetic disease testing nonprofit JScreen in a new campaign aimed at college campuses to raise awareness about the importance of genetic testing before having children…

In The Chronicle of Philanthropy, columnist Craig Kennedy ponders if concerns that money from donor-advised funds are going to terror groups like Hamas may spur Congress to more closely regulate these accounts…

American screenwriter and film producer Norman Lear, who produced, wrote, created or developed over 100 shows, died at 101…

Pic of the Day

Photo by Amos Ben-Gershom

At yesterday’s opening ceremony for “6:29,” an exhibit at the Tel Aviv Expo in memory of those murdered at the Nova Festival on Oct. 7, President Isaac Herzog (center) and others gaze at a display featuring hundreds of pairs of shoes left behind at the site of the festival.

“There is not a single person in Israel whose heart does not miss a beat when the clock shows exactly 6:29 in the morning,” he said in his speech at the start of the event. “This hour is a fault line in time, a gaping wound for an entire people, an abyss that separates the world that preceeded it, and the days, the burning months, into which we have fallen since.”


Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images

Provost and interim dean of the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education at The Jewish Theological Seminary, Dr. Jeffrey Kress… 

Political activist and professor emeritus at MIT, Noam Chomsky… Author or editor of 40 books including the New York Times best-selling Chicken Soup for the Jewish SoulRabbi Dov Peretz Elkins… Actor, director and producer, Larry Hankin… Hedge fund manager, he is the co-founder of Taglit-Birthright Israel and the founder of Hebrew language charter schools in NYC, Michael Steinhardt… Professor of mathematics at Princeton University, Nicholas Michael Katz… Novelist, essayist and screenwriter, Susan Isaacs… Former Israeli Foreign Ministry legal advisor and then Israeli ambassador to Canada, now at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Ambassador Alan Baker… Chair emeritus of the Longmeadow, Mass., Democratic Town Committee, Candy Glazer… Director and vice chairman of Simon Property Group, Richard S. Sokolov… Past board chair and president of AIPAC, Lillian Pinkus… U.S. senator (R-ME), Susan Collins… Chairman of Loews Hotels and co-owner of the NFL’s New York Giants, Jonathan M. Tisch… Pamela Decker… Haifa-born composer and professor of music at Harvard, Chaya Czernowin… Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention throughout most of the Obama administration, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden… Teacher in the Elko County School District in the northeast portion of Nevada and leader of the local Jewish community, Shawn Welton-Lowe… Co-founder of Laurel Strategies, Dafna Tapiero… Director, producer, writer, actor and comedian, Jason Winer… President of baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs, Jed Hoyer… Leading actress in multiple television series including “Roswell” and “Unreal,” Shiri Appleby… Managing partner of NYC-based Capitol Consulting, Jeffrey Leb… Food critic for The New YorkerHannah Goldfield… President at America’s Frontier Fund, Jordan Blashek… Director of recruiting at NYC’s Mission Staffing, Jaime Leiman… Founder and CEO of Go Dash Dot, an active wear accessories brand, Hannah Fastov… Physician practicing in the U.K., Carine Moezinia… Digital marketing manager at Vida Shoes International, Hannah Vilinsky… VP and head of the startup division at the Israel Innovation Authority, Hanan Brand… Jeff Blum… Toby Lerner…