Your Daily Phil: Yachad’s new approach to disabilities referral services + Rethinking how to rebuild after COVID

Good Monday morning!

Duke University’s Chabad Fleishman House — named for Joel Fleishman, a professor of law and founding director of the university’s Sanford School of Public Policy — officially opened its doors on Sunday morning to Jewish undergraduates.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington is seeing major donors maintain the high levels of giving inspired by the coronavirus pandemic while shifting gifts toward related human services needs, the federation’s CEO, Gil Preuss, told eJewishPhilanthropy. In 2020, the federation raised about $43 million, and the 2021 figure will be roughly the same, he said.

He cited the $1.25 million raised by a recent Jewish anti-poverty initiative — the federation’s first in-person event since the pandemic hit. The gala, held by the federation’s real estate division, honored Robert P. Kogod, the real estate developer known for his support of D.C.-area educational and cultural institutions in addition to Jewish causes.

“These people giving to anti-poverty efforts were the ones who a year before had supported our COVID response,” Preuss said.

A fundraiser to aid the Afghan refugee resettlement programrun by Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area also raised $650,000, which was $400,000 more than the federation had expected based on prior campaigns for struggling groups. The first $600,000 came from 14 donors, while the community contributed $50,000.


OU’s Yachad launches a new phone referral service for people with disabilities


As a longtime administrator in the field of disability services, Avrohom Adler had gotten countless phone calls from people in the Jewish community seeking a service provider either on their own behalf, or for a family member or friend. He would do what he could to help them, but his inability to know the outcome nagged at him. Spurred by those experiences, he’s created a database, under the auspices of the Orthodox Union’s (OU) Yachad division, that aims to provide a central address for high-quality referrals, Adler told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Helen Chernikoff.

A diverse database: “This has been something that I personally have been thinking about for 10 years,” said Adler, Yachad’s international director. “Any organization that provides supports for people with disabilities deals with this. You try to do your best, but there’s no way to follow up.” Called REACH, the service will initially serve the New York region, although Yachad, which means “together,” plans to expand it to cover the United States. It will offer recommendations for government-funded programs, educational institutions, social and recreational programs, therapists, lawyers, advocates and social workers. Yachad draws on the entire Jewish community in compiling its database, in addition to non-sectarian organizations, such as JCCs, the Rebecca School, located in Manhattan, and Brooklyn’s Strivright/Auditory Oral School of New York. 

A dedicated staff: “This is not a Yachad network,” Adler said of REACH. “This belongs to the community.” REACH’s director spent a year researching the community’s offerings in order to create the database. Licensed professionals will train a team to operate it and to work with the families, Adler said. Founded in 1983, Yachad operates in the United States, Canada and Israel. Adler estimates that Yachad programs serve about 1,000 people annually. No one organization can serve every person or every need, Adler said — hence the database. He said the team that created the service is “most proud” of the technology, because it will help mitigate the natural human bias of the staff member answering the call. Employees of Yachad, Adler said by way of example, might feel inclined — even unconsciously — to refer callers to a Yachad program over another. REACH’s software will generate the referrals after the staffer enters the caller’s information into the system. 

Read the full article here.


Lessons from the Second City: Rethinking rebuilding


“On Oct. 8, 1871, a fire broke out in Patrick and Catherine O’Leary’s barn on the southwest side of Chicago. It soon spread to envelop the entire city… The destruction was devastating, but it’s the rebuilding of the city that has drawn our attention today. While some rushed to rebuild Chicago the way it had been, others set out to realize a new vision for what Chicago could become. The ‘Great Rebuilding’ was a bold effort to construct a new urban center,” write Rabbi Avi Katz Orlow and Stefan Teodosic, who describe themselves as “two Jewish camp guys at heart,” in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropyone that uses the Chicago experience to draw parallels to the post-COVID Jewish community.

Second City: “Accomplishing these things required alignment amongst organizations and partnerships between government, companies, investors and philanthropists. In short order, boosters needed to communicate this opportunity with all stakeholders, including citizens, to move forward on these fresh, transformational ideas for a safer, nicer and more resilient Second City. This new metropolis would become the home to big businesses, innovative buildings and a new style of architecture.” 

Great Rebuilding: “It has been 150 years, but where is the Jewish community today? We have been dealing with COVID-19 and its variants for over 19 months. Having just finished the holidays, we look forward to the work ahead of us in 5782. In many ways the embers are still smoldering. Are we going to rebuild our community the way it was, or are we going to set out a grand revision for our communities’ ‘Great Rebuilding’? What lessons can we learn from Chicago?”

Sustainable change: “While Chicago focused on its buildings, we need to evolve our organizational architecture. How will we rethink our finances, human resources, technology, marketing and communications, governance and training of our professionals and board members? How will we rebuild our communities while prioritizing the mental, emotional, social and spiritual health of individuals?”

Read the full piece here.


A strategic reset for Jewish community relations and advocacy


“Do we dig in our heels with progressives [over Israel] because it used to make sense, or do we pivot and develop new partnerships and strategies that reflect our community’s interests today?” asks David Bernstein, founder of the Jewish Institute for Liberal Values, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy. 

Primary strategy: “For more than a decade, the primary strategy of the Jewish community relations field has been to build ties to key non-Jewish segments on the political left deemed ‘fence-sitters’ on Israel. An influential report issued by the REUT Group, an Israeli think tank, in 2010 stated that ‘Israel and its allies should maintain thousands of personal relationships with political, financial, cultural, media and security-related elites.’ The report went on to say that ‘Israel should engage its critics, while isolating the delegitimizers.’”

Fence sitters: “Fence-sitters include, among others, segments of the African American community, mainline Protestants, Latinos and LGBTQ activists. The strategy had been to engage these groups on social justice issues that they — and many Jews — care about, and in the process influence their thinking on Jews and Israel.”

Strategic reset: “This strategy of engaging progressive activists, I am sorry to say, has largely failed. The attitudes toward Israel among progressives have markedly worsened in the past five years. And the prevailing ideological environment has become toxic and fundamentally illiberal. Aligning ourselves too closely with the progressive movement, especially insofar as such alignment requires conformity to its pieties and credos, gives succor to an ideology that will ultimately harm us. It’s time for the mainstream Jewish community to do a strategic reset.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Good Offices: The Cleveland Foundation is building a new, $22 million headquarters that will be roughly the same size as its current offices — but the foundation will share the building with area residents and organizations in its new location in the city’s MidTown neighborhood, writes Bradley Wong in a post on Independent Sector’s website. The foundation is trying to shift its approach into one of “doing with” rather than “doing for,” and the new space, which will include an art gallery, a cafe and indoor and outdoor meeting areas, is a symbol of that change. “We’re investing in a new way by building and sharing power,” says Lillian A. Kuri, the Cleveland Foundation’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “We hope to work with the many partners here as a long-term steward of the community’s vision.” [IndependentSector]

Latest Scam: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time when organizations dedicated to the work of eradicating the disease and supporting those affected by it have a better chance of raising needed funds — but the American Breast Cancer Coalition doesn’t deserve donor support, report Anna Massoglia and Roger Sollenberger in the Daily Beast. It’s one of several “scam PACs” that claim to have a lofty advocacy mission but instead plow their donations into shady telemarketing companies and other fundraising firms. “Scammers are clever and constantly moving. So it looks like the trajectory started as phony charities, who then decided they were better off operating as phony FEC groups, and now the latest transition — just in time for Halloween, I guess — is to be a phony PAC,” said Eric Friedman, head of Maryland’s Montgomery County Department of Consumer Protection, who investigates such groups. [DailyBeast]

Community Comms

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Word on the Street

Anchinalo Salomon is joining the Jerusalem Philanthropic Initiatives team as its director of policy and government… Spain initiated a campaign to track down the descendants of Hungarian Jews saved from the Nazis by a wartime diplomat dubbed the “Spanish Schindler”… The Jewish Funders Network’s peer interest group on the environment, The Green Funders’ Forum, will begin a five-part Zoom series for funders and foundation professionals, with “Climate Change 101 and the New Decision Makers” tomorrow… The U.K.’s Reform movement launched Kivunim, a national b’nei mitzvahprogram for small to medium-sized communities… The Ford Foundation announced the launch of a grantmaking program dedicated to advancing the rights of people with disabilities in the United States… University of Wisconsin–Madison alumni Jeff Levy and Marv Levy provided a $20 million lead gift in support of a new academic building in the College of Letters & Science…

Pic of the Day


Over 700 children who lost a parent to illness or other tragedy celebrated their bar and bat mitzvahs at a 4,000-person event held at the Superland amusement park in Rishon Lezion, Israel. The event was hosted by Bituach Leumi (Israel’s National Insurance Institute).



Founding partner and Washington correspondent for Puck NewsJulia Ioffe… 

Co-founder and former chairman of Qualcomm, Irwin M. Jacobs… Grammy Award-winning songwriter of over 150 hits, Cynthia Weil… Former mayor of Amsterdam and leader of the Dutch Labour Party, Marius Job Cohen… Linguist and a professor at the University of Chicago, Victor A. Friedman… Former U.S. ambassador to Morocco and president of the Coalition for a Safer Web, Marc Ginsberg… Professor of practice and counterterrorism studies at Capitol Technology University, Joshua B. Sinai, Ph.D…. Bakersfield, Calif.-based attorney focused on adoption and reproductive law, Marc D. Widelock… Television director, writer and producer, Chuck Lorre… President of the Economic Future Group, Jonathan Bernard Yoav Tasini… Award-winning illustrator and writer of books for children, Eugene Yelchin… Chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Gary Gensler… Retired this past summer after 20 years as the director at Rutgers Hillel, Andrew Getraer… President at Berman Capital Advisors, David Fisher… Professor and director of Jewish studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Steven Phillip Weitzman… Weather anchor for NBC 4 New York, David M. Price… Longtime sports host and reporter, Rachel Nichols… CEO of consulting firm Future Today Institute, Amy Lynn Webb… VP of administration and counsel at the American Enterprise Institute, Suzanne Gershowitz… Academy Award-winning screenwriter, Graham Moore… White House correspondent for The New York TimesAnnie Karni… Project manager at Moovit, Ayal Kellman… Popular Israeli singer, Idan Yaniv

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