Your Daily Phil: Worthy of Love helps L.A.’s unhoused + Chabad rabbis in Morocco

Good Wednesday morning!

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on a gathering of Chabad rabbis from far-flung communities, and feature an op-ed from Robert Lichtman. Also in this newsletter: Doug Emhoff, Deborah S. Meyer and Jonathan Shmidt Chapman. We’ll start with a profile of a Los Angeles-based organization working with the city’s homeless population. 

The White House is facing pressure from left-wing groups to avoid including the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliancedefinition of antisemitism in its forthcoming national antisemitism strategy.

Since it began 10 years ago, Worthy of Love has put on parties and events for over 10,000 children experiencing homelessness and their families in Los Angeles. It is now looking to expand to not only offer its participants a one-time experience but also to help lift them out of poverty permanently, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Esther Kustanowitz.

“When you close your eyes and you say ‘homeless,’ I think of a man on the street. But now that I’ve done this work for 10 years, I don’t just see a man, I see a mom and three kids whose dad died and they have nowhere to go. Or their mom has cancer,” Mary “Mandie” Davis, founder of Worthy of Love, told eJP.

Davis started WoL in 2013 with then-boyfriend (now-husband) Ari Kadin when she was both volunteering in the Skid Row area of downtown Los Angeles and in the process of converting to Judaism. She said she felt a calling to braid those two life experiences together, to represent Judaism while helping out in shelters and on the street. Her plan was to throw monthly birthday parties for unhoused children who were living on Skid Row. At the events, kids with birthdays in the same month received gifts, cake, a dance party and activities with themes ranging from science to superheroes.

Actor and neuroscientist Mayim Bialik, a WoL board member and one of its 2,400 volunteers, donned a sloth mascot’s costume at last August’s party, and circulated among the kids, watching as their faces lit up with joy, she told eJP. “The parties are an experience many of them will never [otherwise] get to have, to be in that kind of environment, with a mascot that’s there to hug them and high-five them, and it was incredible to be able to do that somewhat anonymously,” said Bialik, whose own children regularly accompany her to WoL parties.

Davis expanded WoL in 2022, adding another program, Mama’s Challahs, to enable families experiencing homelessness to bake bread together, and leave with a loaf of fresh bread and a recipe booklet, “to bake the world a better place,” as Davis put it. So far, 14 Mama’s Challahs sessions have taken place across three greater L.A. locations — OBKLA, Hope Gardens in Sylmar and Salvation Army in Westwood.

The next goal is to open a brick-and-mortar bakery as a social enterprise where Davis can hire women who live in poverty and give them the opportunity to make their own livelihood. Davis said she is now working on raising the funds needed to both rent a suitable location and hire the necessary personnel, including a head baker.

“I do personally see Worthy of Love through a deeply Jewish context,” Anne Hromadka Greenwald, of AMH Advisory, who consulted with the organization on its strategic plan. The process of giving work to women who need it, she added, has its roots in the rungs of the ladder of tzedakah as articulated by Maimonides, particularly “the idea that one of the greatest things you could do is actually give someone a job, and not just a job, but a skill set that they can then use way beyond you.”

Read the full story here.

Fez Fete

Chabad rabbis for a conference in Fez, Morocco, on May 16, 2023. (Avi Winner-Merkos 302/

Dozens of Chabad rabbis and rebbetzins gathered in Morocco this week for a semiannual gathering of emissaries from small communities across the Middle East, Africa and Europe to share experiences, to swap tips and, more generally, to form relationships with other people struggling with the same challenges, participants told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

All around the world: “This is an excellent opportunity for rabbis from different regions to come together and discuss ways to strengthen the Jewish community in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East,” Rabbi Levi Banon of Chabad in Morocco said at the start of the conference. The gathering was attended by Chabad emissaries representing small communities from nearly 40 countries, from Angola to the Canary Islands to Finland, Mauritius, Nigeria, Uganda and the United Arab Emirates. “It’s rabbis and rebbetzins, shluchim and shluchot (emissaries) who live in small communities that don’t have much jewish infrastructure,” Rabbi Mendy Chitrik, the Istanbul-based head of Turkey’s Ashkenazi community and the chairman of the Alliance of Rabbis in Islamic States, which he formed in 2019, told eJP. He jokingly categorized the participants as “anyone who does not have a kosher grocery store in town and has to shlep in suitcases of food.”

Natural growth: Chitrik, who has been based in Turkey since 2003, said the number of participants from these small communities has increased dramatically in the past few years, from 20 members at the first conference in 2017 to approximately 50 this year. He credited this growth to two main factors: One, the fact that many of the posts in cities and countries with larger communities are already filled, meaning new emissaries have to look for farther flung locales. And two, the Abraham Accords, which made both made it easier for communities to spring up and also increased the need for communities as more Jews traveled and settled in majority Muslim countries.

Don’t forget the Joint: The gathering marked almost 75 years of Chabad activities in Morocco. In 1950, the then-newly appointed Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson sent Chabad’s first emissaries to Morocco. During that decade, working with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Chabad established a network of yeshivas in Morocco and generally helped support Jewish life in the country. The families of those emissaries were invited to attend the conference to mark the occasion.

Read the full article here.


Donors love dead Jews: That could be a good thing for Jewish education


“A random scan of Jewish federation websites confirms that most of them lead the messaging on their landing pages with themes focusing on combating antisemitism and building up security. Appeals from federations, as well as the traditional and newly emerging defenders of the Jews, call for funds to fight antisemitism. Donors are responding, as they should,” writes Robert Lichtman, a former federation professional, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Crisis fundraising: “Donors respond to dead Jews and fundraisers know it. Fundraisers also know that there are other compelling Jewish causes that require urgent and increased funding, but nothing mobilizes donors like a crisis… Except if the crisis is about Jewish education.”

All talk, no cash: “Jewish community leaders acknowledge — in their heads, in their hearts and in public pronouncements — that the future of our people relies upon enduring and increasing communal investment in Jewish education. But aside from baseline investment (mostly stagnant or shrinking allocations to Jewish day schools), and symbolic, even if that much, investment (funding for supplemental schools, Hillels and Jewish summer camps), the public posturing about the essential importance of Jewish education does not translate into the significant financial support required. Every once in a while we will witness a philanthropic flash, a large infusion of funds into a local education initiative. These investments, rather than reflective of a systemic communal commitment, are virtually all made by individuals or by family foundations. And even when a proclamation encouraging support of Jewish education is offered from the institutional Jewish community, the donor response pales in comparison to when its passions are ignited by the prospect of dead Jews.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Using the Internet for Good: In The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Rasheeda Childress looks at data showing the success of GoFundMe campaigns and how that can benefit other fundraising efforts. “A new report sheds light on best practices for charities raising money online with such information as which social-media site has the highest conversion rate and how to turn first-time donors into recurring supporters. It also offers data on something nonprofits have long wondered about: crowdfunding campaigns for individuals on GoFundMe… The report found that GoFundMe campaigns shared more than six times in the first few days are three times as likely to raise more donations than those shared less often. Traditional nonprofit fundraisers should apply this information when crafting their own online campaigns, says Michelle Boggs, executive nonprofit industry adviser for Classy. ‘It goes back to the urgency that inherently is built into a GoFundMe campaign,’ Boggs says. ‘Oftentimes, it’s built around a disaster or a timely event. I think traditional nonprofits can take some of that and think of ways to drive more urgency, especially when it comes to that peer-to-peer fundraising.’” [ChronicleofPhilanthropy]

Around the Web

Nonprofit employment has grown by one-third over the past 15 years, far outpacing growth in other areas of the job market. Those positions tend to be concentrated in Washington, D.C., and the Northeast, according to Census Bureau data…

American Jewish University in Los Angeles announced that the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies will be moving to a new location near the Pico-Robertson neighborhood. Renovations are in the planning process and the school is expected to occupy the new space in early to mid-2024…

More than 400 Haredi Jews gathered in London Tuesday to protest plans for data to be collected on students who are home-schooled…

The Israeli Foreign Ministry condemned a tweet by Elon Musk that compared George Soros to the supervillain Magneto, saying it had an “antisemitic aroma” and led to a “flood of antisemitic conspiracy theories on Twitter”…

The Warner Music Group/Blavatnik Family Foundation Social Justice Fund announced grants totaling $1.4 million in support of youth-led social justice efforts…

The Covenant Foundation announced that Deborah S. Meyer, the founding CEO of Moving Traditions, has become board chair of the foundation. She succeeds Cheryl R. Finkel, a 1999 Covenant Award recipient, who had held the position since 2016 and will remain on the board…

Separately, the Covenant Foundation announced Jonathan Shmidt Chapman as the inaugural Covenant Foundation Jewish Family Education Fellow. The fellowship was created in honor of Harlene Winnick Appelman z”l, former executive director of the foundation, who died in 2022…

Home Depot co-founder and philanthropist Bernie Marcus, who has made large donations to GOP causes over the years, said he was not yet endorsing any Republican presidential candidate and would decide whom to back “much later in the political process”…

The Boston Symphony Orchestra announced that Chad Smith will become the orchestra’s new president and CEO this fall. Smith is currently chief executive of the Los Angeles Philharmonic…

The John Templeton Foundation announced that Edna Adan Ismail is this year’s recipient of the Templeton Prize, awarded in recognition of her contributions to women’s health in her native Somaliland. The Templeton Prize, valued at more than $1 million, is one of the world’s largest annual individual awards. This year’s award is believed to be the largest international prize ever given to an individual African woman…

The Paley Center for Media announced the next program, to take place June 15, in its PaleyImpact series, “Media’s Role in Combating Antisemitism: Jewish Representation on Television.” The program will also examine recurring Jewish stereotypes and how to dismantle them…

Wings, a global network of philanthropy support and development organizations, released “Moving from Reflection to Action: a Guide on Transparency and Accountability for Philanthropic Organisations.” The guide was produced with the financial support of the European Union…

Pic of the Day

Courtesy/White House

Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff poses for a photograph with the Jewish staff of the White House yesterday in celebration of Jewish American Heritage Month, shortly before an event at the White House hosted by President Joe Biden.


JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images

Israeli judoka, he was the 2019 World Champion, Sagi Aharon Muki

President of the Philadelphia-based Honickman Foundation, Lynne Korman Honickman… Annapolis, Md., attorney, Robert M. Pollock… News anchor for 45 years at WPVI-TV (ABC Channel 6) in Philadelphia until he retired last year, known professionally as Jim Gardner, James Goldman… Canadian philanthropist and the first woman to serve as lieutenant governor of Nova Scotia, Myra Ava Freeman… Corporate and securities attorney at NYC’s Eilenberg & Krause, Sheldon Krause… Comedian, puppeteer and actor, Marc Weiner… Founder and president of ENS Resources, Eric Sapirstein… Host of “Marketplace Morning Report” on public radio, David Brancaccio… Author of the 2005 book Stars of David: Prominent Jews Talk About Being Jewish and a 2017 book about Jewish holidays, she is an honorary president of NYC’s Central Synagogue, Abigail Pogrebin… and her identical twin sister, Robin Pogrebin, reporter on the culture desk for The New York Times… Former general manager for corporate strategy at Microsoft, she was also an EVP at Hillel, Kinney Zalesne… CPA and founder of the Baltimore Hunger Project, it provides food packs for the weekend that are discretely slipped into over 1,700 poverty-stricken public school children’s backpacks each Friday, Lynne Berkowitz Kahn… Israeli author and playwright, Sarah Blau… Reporter for The New York Times covering campaigns and elections, Reid J. Epstein… Former member of Knesset, Stav Shaffir… Executive director of Informing Democracy, Jenna Ruth Lowenstein… Digital and social media strategist at AARP, Sarah Sonies… Senior writer at Microsoft’s Future of Work group, Rebecca Rose Nelson Kay… Program advisor to the education director at the Boston Jewish Education Program, Heather Renetzky… External communications representative at Apache Corporation, Katherine Keenan