Your Daily Phil: Yad Sarah airlift brings vital medical gear to Israel

Good Friday morning.

For less-distracted reading over the weekend, browse this week’s edition of The Weekly Print, a curated print-friendly PDF featuring a selection of recent eJewishPhilanthropyJewish Insider and The Circuit stories, including: Hadassah opens new rehab center 4 months early as war stresses existing facilities; Sefaria to integrate AI into its text library by mid-2024; Gallant: Odds of war on the northern front are significant; Biden’s pro-Israel stance boosts his standing in Pennsylvania; The former hostages using data to help Oct. 7 victims; JChef offers kosher meal kits for the busy consumerPrint the latest edition here.

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on a stand-up comedy benefit for the Sheba Medical Center and the Koby Mandell Foundation, and we feature an opinion piece by Ilana Gleicher-Bloom about using the beit midrash study model for Israel education. Also in this newsletter: Omri KupersteinWilliam Daroff and Argentinian President Javier Milei. We’ll start with a new emergency airlift by the medical nonprofit Yad Sarah bringing vital equipment to Israel. Shabbat shalom!

A plane carrying hundreds of vitally needed mobile oxygen generators and rehabilitation equipment touched down in Israel this week to help the Yad Sarah medical nonprofit replenish its stores as attacks on container ships in the Red Sea have limited sea routes, the organization told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

In addition to the first flight that landed in the early hours of Tuesday morning, dozens of planes are scheduled to land in Israel in the coming weeks as part of an airlift effort dubbed “Operation Breath of Life,” which has received significant financial support from the Jewish Federations of North America, according to Yad Sarah, which is best known for providing free loans of medical and rehabilitative home-care equipment. 

Since Oct. 7, Yad Sarah has been scrambling to provide such equipment to the nearly 200,000 Israeli who were displaced by the fighting — in most cases leaving their medical equipment behind — and to the thousands of people who were injured in the initial attacks and the hundreds of soldiers, and a smaller number of civilians, who have sustained physical wounds in the four months of war, Moshe Cohen, the nonprofit’s CEO, told eJP.

In the first three months of war alone, Yad Sarah said it lended a full year’s worth of inventory. “The organization has extended support to over 13,000 Israelis directly impacted by the war by providing essential medical services, housing and equipment loans,” Yad Sarah said in a statement.

In order to keep up with the growing demand, in the first weeks of the war the organization ordered $3.81 million worth of “additional emergency equipment” from around the world, notably Europe and Asia, Cohen said.

As the Houthi rebels in Yemen began attacking container ships traveling through the Red Sea, it has become increasingly difficult for Yad Sarah — as well as hospitals and other organizations — to import goods by sea. As this equipment is critically needed, that left Yad Sarah with no other choice but to bring it in by air, a far costlier venture, Cohen said.

So earlier this week we sent a plane — with the generosity of the [Jewish Federations of North America] — to bring over the first five containers of equipment,” Cohen told eJP on Friday.

The Houthi attacks significantly delayed the delivery of 64 containers of critically needed medical supplies by three to five months, according to the organization. “There’s still a lot more equipment that needs to be brought over,” Cohen said.

Read the full report here.

DARK HUMOR

Laughing through the pain — and fundraising — gives a ‘Comedy Hug’ to Israeli hospital, Koby Mandell Foundation

Comedian Wendy Liebman performs on stage at the ‘A Comedy Hug for Healing’ benefit at The Laugh Factory in Hollywood, Calif., on Feb. 5, 2024.

Jewish identity, antisemitic chants and Israeli town names were among the subjects skewered for a good cause at “A Comedy Hug for Healing,” a stand-up comedy show at Hollywood’s famous Laugh Factory this week to benefit an Israeli hospital and the Koby Mandell Foundation, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Esther D. Kustanowitz from the event.

More than money: Participating comedians asked about their participation responded, predictably, with jokes — but followed by a sincerity chaser. “It’s an amazing night when you can get people in Hollywood to care about something besides their careers,” Brian Kiley, who wrote Conan O’Brien’s monologues for 27 years, told eJP. “I was there just to network and advance my career,” Kira Soltanovich quipped, before adding, “Anything to help our people, I’m always for.” The benefit raised $25,000 for the Koby Mandell Foundation and the Sheba Medical Center outside Tel Aviv, Rob Kutner, the event’s co-producer and a comedy writer and author, told eJP. 

Laughing now: The audience members included the 15 members of the latest cohort of the Jewish Writers Initiative’s Digital Storytellers Lab, who were not only looking to chuckle but to grapple with the question of how to be creative, and even funny, at a time of ongoing tragedy for the Jewish people. “As a Jewish creative, it meant so much to experience the ‘Comedy Hug’ at the Laugh Factory right now,” said former Angeleno Chari Pere, a cartoonist and creative director who now lives in New Jersey and a JWI fellow in town for cohort meetings. She told eJP that the fellows had spent the afternoon prior to the show discussing the challenges of producing Jewish-themed content in a post-Oct. 7 world, with antisemitism running rampant. Pere called the event, and the involvement of both Jewish comics and non-Jewish comics, “inspiring and desperately needed.”

Read the full report here.

IMPACTFUL STORIES

When it comes to Israel education, turn to the beit midrash

Courtesy/Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies/eJP archives

“In a world that feels like it’s growing more polarized by the day, we need leaders and educators who can navigate conversations that include a wide range of perspectives. The alternative is to silence the voices we disagree with, creating more and more micro communities and echo chambers,” writes Ilana Gleicher-Bloom, director of experiential education at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Model for dealing with mahloket: “Our beit midrash is full of Jews from across the religious, cultural and political spectrum, and we are proud to be a home for everyone. In fact, we already have a model for what Israel education should look like, or at least its starting point — and that is the havruta learning we do in the beit midrash. For centuries, Jewish people have been studying and analyzing and arguing about our texts together, in partnership, in havruta. When you study Torah in havruta, you take turns listening to each other. You hear someone else’s opinion, and then you respond. You learn to see someone else’s perspective, which in turn helps you sharpen your own ideas. In havruta, you will disagree — and those disagreements will not only not break your partnership, but they will help enrich your understanding of Torah.”

Opportunities for educators: “To this end, Pardes is launching a new iteration of our Pardes Experiential Educators Program that includes a strong focus on learning how to appropriately, productively and constructively facilitate charged conversations in a charged world… Students in this program will learn in the beit midrash, becoming Jewish text and havruta practitioners, while also learning and practicing how to lead and facilitate experiential learning — and how to empower healthy discussion about Jewish texts and rituals, and about Israel. Additionally, after seeing how critical the need has become, we are offering a special track for people who specifically want to specialize in Israel education: the new Pardes Israel Education Fellows.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

53 Days in Hell: The Wall Street Journal’s Chao Deng and Anat Peled interview Tamar Metzger and other Israelis kidnapped by Hamas on Oct. 7, detailing the experiences of the more than 250 people taken captive in the initial attacks, roughly half of whom have been released. “Tamar was in shock when she was shoved into a vehicle with other hostages on Oct. 7. Her face was bruised and blood ran down her legs from falling off a motorbike earlier. Suddenly she heard a female whisper next to her. ‘Tammy, I’m with you. Don’t be afraid.’ It was her friend Nili Margalit. Tamar had known the 41-year-old nurse since she was born on the kibbutz… As they descended underground, the muddy path was barely visible in the dark. Tamar was a longtime smoker and had asthma and high blood pressure. She held on to the back of Nili’s pants to keep up. She was barefoot—her slippers had fallen off earlier… At some point, Tamar’s feet were so numb she couldn’t feel the ground. ‘Go, go, go,’ their kidnappers kept saying… They soon realized they needed a way to pass the time. Alex Dancyg, a 75-year-old scholar at Yad Vashem, Israel’s main Holocaust memorial, began to give lectures about his studies. Alex had been born in Poland after the war, but his sister was a Holocaust survivor. That history was painful to hear. Some in the group pleaded for him to change the subject.” [WSJ]

Building Relationships: In The Jerusalem Post, Omri Kuperstein, the coordinator of the Jewish Agency Campus Israel Fellows, argues that his organization is laying the groundwork for a better relationship between college students and Israel. “Israel Fellows are, in essence, on reserve duty for the Jewish people at this time of surging antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiments. They maintain an authentic and engaging Israeli presence on campus, and connect students with Judaism and Israel. They are substituting education for ignorance, and they create a safe space for people to be openly and publicly Jewish. Thus, they give students a chance to develop a personal relationship with Israelis and learn what Israel is all about… Once you form a relationship, you cannot possibly hate someone you love… Of course, the current war will trigger increased hatred of ‘the other.’ But at the same time, Israel Fellows are witnessing Jewish and non-Jewish students alike coming out of the woodwork and showing interest in understanding Israel for the first time. It is not an easy path, and the numbers show that we have a very long way before students can feel safe while publicly being Zionists. However, Israel Fellows have been planting the seeds by relationship-building efforts to ensure the long-term vision of the program’s fruition: a long-lasting relationship with Israel.” [JPost]

Get Networking: While the word might be primarily associated with job searches, networking is a valuable vehicle for current and future leaders regardless of their job status, CFO and lecturer Steven Wasserman advises in Forbes. “Networking is an effective learning tool, which provides a way to gather information, obtain advice and support, share information, and generate ideas… Networkers should frame the purpose of their meeting request as seeking advice on a topic that the contact person has experience with. Networkers should follow this practice even if they are networking solely for job leads. People are happy to accept advice-oriented meetings, in part, because people are happy to share their thoughts… Make the meeting request manageable and convenient — [a]sk for a 15-minute Zoom or Teams call. A short meeting is not a big inconvenience for most people. If a networking meeting does occur, the meeting will normally last more than 15 minutes. Pre-COVID, the common ask was 15 minutes for a cup of coffee at the contacted person’s office. In the future, networking meetings may return to in person meetings and networkers should dust off their coffee loyalty cards!” [Forbes]

Around the Web

William Daroff, CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizationstold The Jerusalem Post that while he is deeply concerned about threats of antisemitism, his organization “is more united than I have ever seen in my lifetime”… 

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency examines how American Jewish organization split — with each other and with their past policies — over the immigration issue in the Senate’s latest Israel aid bill, which failed to pass…

Cases of sexual and domestic violence have been reported at the hotels housing displaced Israelis, a problem that experts anticipated due to the heightened stress and close quarters…

In The Atlantic, Palestinian-American activist Ahmed Fouad Alkhatib argues for the international community to rapidly develop an alternative to Hamas to lead Gaza or risk the terrorist group’s return to power…

The personal details of hundreds of Australian Jews who work in the arts and academia were released by a local group of anti-Israel activists

Online matchmaking has ramped up in Israel since the Oct. 7 terror attacks…

A study conducted before the Oct. 7 attacks found that British Jews said they were more attached to Israel than their American counterparts (73% compared to 58%), but that Jewish support for Zionism was slipping in the United Kingdom…

Meta removed the Facebook and Instagram accounts of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei because of repeated violations of their terms of service…

The Texas A&M University Board of Regents voted to shut down the school’s Qatar campus in 2028. A spokesperson for the university categorically denied that the move was connected to a report by the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy that insinuated improper relationship between the institution and the Qatari government…

Dick Waterman, a blues music promoter, manager and photographer, died last month at 88…

Si Spiegel, a Jewish World War II fighter pilot who became the king of artificial Christmas treesdied last month at 99…

Pic of the Day



Over 50,000 people attend the traditional Birkat Kohanim (Priestly Blessing) at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City today, during Chol Hamoed (the intermediary days) of Sukkot.
Rafi Ben Hakoon/ KKL – JNF

Argentinian President Javier Milei poses with Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael – Jewish National Fund Chairwoman Ifat Ovadia-Luski after planting a tree in the organization’s Grove of Nations in Jerusalem on Wednesday, making him the first foreign leader to participate in this tradition since war broke out in Israel on Oct. 7.

Birthdays

Annie Liebovitz smiles
Alice Verguiero/Abraji/Wikimedia

ProPublica’s editor-in-chief, Stephen Engelberg, celebrates his birthday on Sunday… 

FRIDAY: Grammy Award-winning songwriter, Barry Mann… Singer-songwriter in the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Carole King… Professor of economics at Columbia University, Nobel laureate in 2001, former SVP and chief economist of the World Bank, Joseph Stiglitz… Three-time Tony Award and three-time Emmy Award-winning actress, Judith Light… Professor of history and modern Jewish studies at UCSD, Deborah Hertz… Israeli singer, Shimi Tavori… Former governor of Virginia, chair of the DNC, chair of two Clinton presidential campaigns, Terry McAuliffe, aka “The Macher,”… Creator of the HBO series “The Wire” and NBC’s series “Homicide: Life on the Street,” David Simon… Theoretical physics professor at Columbia University, Brian Greene… Isaac Lieberman… Managing director with the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, he was the lieutenant governor and then attorney general of Delaware, Matthew P. Denn… Play-by-play announcer for ESPN’s men’s college basketball and for the Toronto Blue Jays, Dan Shulman… British broadcasting executive who is currently chief content officer at the U.K.’s Channel 4, Ian Katz… President of the U.S. education portfolio at the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthopies, Julie Mikuta… Assistant adjunct professor of journalism at UCLA, Abigail Helaine (“Abbe”) Goldman… Managing director of Tiedemann Wealth Management, Jeffrey L. Zlot… Charleston, S.C., resident, Ellen Miriam Brandwein… Actress, Margarita Levieva… Member of the Minnesota State Senate, Jeremy R. Miller… Director of public policy and strategy for Christians United for Israel Action Fund, Boris Zilberman… Director of development for Ben-Gurion University, Jason Pressberg… Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Benjamin R. Waxman… Principal of Blue Zone Partners, Thomas Szold… Brazilian chess grandmaster, André Diamant… Director at Real Chemistry, Carly Abenstein… Israeli judoka, he competed for Israel at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Baruch Shmailov… Offensive tackle for the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, Jake Curhan… 

SATURDAY: CEO of Metromedia Company and a board member of Carnival Corporation, Stuart Subotnick… Rabbi in Vienna, Austria, in the 1980s, in Munich in the 1990s and in Berlin since 1997, Yitshak Ehrenberg… Swimmer who won seven gold medals at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Mark Spitz… CEO of the Walt Disney Company, Bob Iger… Miami-based philanthropist, Jayne Harris Abess… Host of CNBC’s “Mad Money,” James J. “Jim” Cramer… CEO emerita of D.C.-based Jewish Women International, Loribeth Weinstein… Ethiopian-born, former member of Knesset for the Likud party, he is an activist for the Falash Mura community, Avraham Neguise… Syndicated newspaper columnist for the Boston GlobeJeff Jacoby… Former NASA astronaut, famous for his mezuzah in the International Space Station, he is a consultant for Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Garrett Reisman… Member of the Maryland House of Delegates, Anne Kaiser… Director of development for Midwest growth initiatives at the Anti-Defamation League, Matthew Feldman… Executive director of Ohio Jewish Communities, Howie Beigelman… Israeli pop star and part of the duo “TYP” also known as The Young Professionals, Ivri Lider… Co-founder and principal at the bipartisan public policy firm Klein/Johnson Group, Israel “Izzy” Klein… Israeli rock musician, David “Dudu” Tassa… CEO at Citizen Data, she was a candidate for VPOTUS as the running mate of Evan McMullin in 2016, Mindy Finn… Director of marketing and communications at Greens Farms Academy, Michelle Levi… Partner in the Washington, DC office of Venable, Ariel S. Wolf… Manager of global sales operations at Sygnia, Avital Mannis Eyal… NFL quarterback, now a free agent, he was the 10th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Josh Rosen… Israeli singer, songwriter and dancer, Jonathan Ya’akov Mergui… 

SUNDAY: Los Angeles attorney, Shirley Cannon Munch… Journalist and author of a Passover Haggadah co-written with his late wife Cokie Roberts, Steven V. Roberts… NYC-based gastroenterologist, Julio Messer, M.D.… Former governor of Florida, John Ellis “Jeb” Bush… Former Knesset member for the Jewish Home, Likud and Ahi parties, Rabbi Eliyahu Michael “Eli” Ben-Dahan… Victorville, Calif., resident, Tricia Roth… Hospice and palliative care physician, Gary E. Applebaum, MD… Principal at Buck Global, LLC, Alan Vorchheimer… U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)… Admin and special project coordinator for Jewish Renewal programs at JDC, Debbie Halali… Founder and president of RAINN, Scott Berkowitz… Governor of Hawaii, Joshua Green… CEO at Baltimore-based real estate firm, Quest Management Group, Jason Reitberger… Elected as a member of the Broward County (Fla.) School Board in the months following the death of her 14-year-old daughter Alyssa at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, Lori Alhadeff… Executive producer of the broadcast team at Salesforce, Rob Hendin… Ilana Ozernoy… Executive at City Winery, he was also a pitcher for Team Israel in qualifying for the 2020 Olympics, Shlomo Lipetz… Tight end on the NFL’s Carolina Panthers for four seasons ending in 2006, Mike Seidman… Executive director of Merkos 302 at Chabad World Headquarters, Mendy Kotlarsky… Republican strategist and president of Somm Consulting, Evan Siegfried… VP of global healthcare banking at Bank of America, David Stern… Senior program director at WillowTree, Michelle Zar Beecham… Director of account management at PoliticoRachel Kosberg… Assistant general manager for MLB’s Baltimore Orioles, Eve Rosenbaum… M&A associate at Kirkland & Ellis, Alix Simnock… Associate attorney at EarthJustice and author of two books on origami, Scott Wasserman Stern… and his twin brother, a VP for Technicolor Political, Eric Wasserman Stern… Data scientist at CAST AI, Joy Neuberger Twersky… and her MasterChef brother, Yisroel Neuberger…