Your Daily Phil: Yom Kippur in Ian’s wake + A new Masa course on navigating campus

Good Monday morning!

In today’s Your Daily Phil, we look at how communities in Hurricane Ian’s path plan to observe Yom Kippur and feature an op-ed by Masa’s Amy Weinreb and Sarah Mali on preparing gap-year students to discuss Israel on campus. Also in this newsletter: Rabbi Avi Olitzky, NYT’s Sarah Wildman, Arthur Blank, Edward Avedisian, Jacki Altman, Judah Samet and Novak Djokovic. We’ll start by looking at the Jewish response to Ian, as well as backlash to an anti-Zionist measure from student groups at UC Berkeley Law. 

Jewish organizations have mobilized in response to Hurricane Ian, which as of this morning has left at least 83 people dead in Florida and the Carolinas and more than 600,000 still without power since it made landfall in the United States last week.

The Jewish Federations of North America launched a hurricane relief fund, though it has yet to set an overall financial goal as it is still assessing the damage. Local Chabads are raising money for the relief effort, and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which does not provide aid in the United States, is assessing international needs for assistance. The NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are also donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

A recent decision by a coalition of nine groups at The University of California, Berkeley Law School to bar events with Zionist speakers has sparked a backlash.

The ban, which was enacted in late August, includes an endorsement of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or BDS, against Israel, and continues, “in the interest of protecting the safety and welfare of Palestinian students on campus [the organizations] will not invite speakers that have expressed and continued to hold views or host/sponsor/promote events in support of Zionism.” Debate on campus over the ban had died down recently, according to Jewish Insider.

The document received renewed attention over the weekend after Ken Marcus, the founder of the Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, which advocates for Jewish and pro-Israel students, wrote in an op-ed in the Jewish Journal in Los Angeles that the measure amounted to creating “Jewish-free zones” in light of data showing that the vast majority of Jews feel an affinity with Israel.

“Now anti-Zionist groups target Jewish Americans directly,” Marcus wrote. “Zionism is an integral aspect of the identity of many Jews. Its derogation is analogous, in this way, to other forms of hate and bigotry.”

Others have echoed his argument, with the Anti-Defamation League calling the student groups’ measure “discriminatory and antisemitic.” Berkeley Law Students for Justice in Palestine, which spearheaded the measure, did not respond to a request for comment on Marcus’ op-ed but wrote in an August Instagram post that the ban is a way of “exercis[ing] democracy” and is “absolutely a tenable action.”

When the measure was adopted, Berkeley Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky wrote in an email to students that while he believes the exclusionary policy constitutes protected free speech, “It is troubling to broadly exclude a particular viewpoint from being expressed… Indeed, taken literally, this would mean that I could not be invited to speak because I support the existence of Israel, though I condemn many of its policies.”

He toldJ.The Jewish News of Northern Californiathat the policy would likely also apply to “90 percent or more of our Jewish students” and is “seen by many students as antisemitic.” That same week, the Jewish Students Association at Berkeley Law issued a statement saying the ban “will disproportionately silence Jewish voices on campus.”

But Chemerinsky has also objected to Marcus’ op-ed, calling it “a grossly misleading picture of what happened at Berkeley Law” in an essay in TheDaily Beast, adding, “no group has violated the Law School’s policy and excluded a speaker on account of being Jewish or holding particular views about Israel. Such conduct, of course, would be subject to sanctions.”


How Jewish communities in Hurricane Ian’s path are observing the High Holidays

Rabbi Yosef Konikov rescuing a boy and his dog from a flooded house in Kissimmee, south of Orlando.


The day after Hurricane Ian hit his neighborhood in Kissimmee, Fla., just south of Orlando, Rabbi Yosef Konikov found himself atop the back of a stranger’s jeep with a local lifeguard, driving the car through more than five feet of water to rescue a family stuck in their flooded house. They managed to bring the parents, two young children and their dog to safety before it got dark, reports Daniela Cohen for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Hurricane and holidays: The hurricane has put rabbis in an especially difficult position as they protect themselves and their communities in the midst of the High Holidays. Some evacuation orders came on Rosh Hashanah, when some communities were not using phones or electricity. Now, as the region confronts the loss and damage wrought by the storm, Yom Kippur, which begins tomorrow night, is fast approaching.

Helping the stranded: Congregations have been using the days between the two holidays to stay in touch and help those in need. Rabbi Yitzchok Minkowicz of Fort Myers, Fla., told eJP that being stuck in the hard-hit city was “probably a good thing because we have to help people.” He has been using the Chabad, which is a relatively newer building on a higher elevation, to shelter 50 people, from babies to those in their 90s.

Read the full story here.


Can I bring my authentic relationship with Israel to campus?

Courtesy of Masa Israeli Journey

“It is well-documented that Jewish students who have participated in Masa gap-year programs arrive at college with positive emotions, images and memories of their recent Israel journey. But, given the current climate, we can’t stop there. How does the Israel narrative of Masa gap-year alumni travel with alumni when they actually start college? The answer: Poorly,” write Amy Weinreb and Sarah Mali of Masa Israel Journey, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Campus culture: “It is not only that they immediately confront a different reality: the politicization of Israel, anti-Zionist hostilities, micro-aggressions, boycotts, protests, uncomfortable class assignments and subtle and blatant forms of antisemitism. Campus culture also contradicts what they know about Israel on a personal level, shaking their attachment to Israel (whatever that may be) and often their Jewish identity, too. They don’t know what to say or what to do.”

Post-gap-year pivot: “Masa has been engaging Gap Fellows with Israel since its establishment in 2004 by The Jewish Agency and the Israeli government. And over the past few years, Masa has seriously invested in direct Israel education. The Masa Israel Education Initiative teaches about Israel and its social, political and geopolitical challenges through tours and in-person encounters that highlight multiple narratives while managing to hold the complexity and the beauty of the Jewish state… Until now, Masa has yet to talk openly and, more importantly, prepare students in concrete ways for campus realities. We understand that just as Masa guides and empowers fellows through the educational processes of the year and supports the health and welfare of our fellows, we must take responsibility to prepare them for the post-gap-year pivot and think about solutions.”

Next step: “In that spirit, we have designed, and are launching a new course, ‘Next Step: Prepare for Campus.’ The course provides Masa fellows with knowledge about what campus life is like for Jews and makes them aware of the internal and external resources available to them so that they can both navigate and optimize campus life.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Making Change: For-profit businesses are often well-equipped to innovate, but nonprofits are rarely willing to do so, Avi Olitzky writes in the Minnesota Post. “Non-profit organizations should not engage in change agency for the sake of change. Instead, they should accept that innovation is necessary because everything in an organization’s orbit today is rapidly changing. If the organization does not change, it will become increasingly irrelevant to the point of closure. The biggest indicator of such irrelevance is when non-profit organizations find themselves in the business of being in business, instead of the business of serving their mission and goal. That is: ‘Let’s hold a fundraiser so we can keep the lights on. We need to keep the lights on so we can host our next fundraiser.’ The time is now for non-profits to buck the trend and engage in allostasis, innovating toward their next chapter.” [MinnesotaPost]

Being in the Moment: 
After a summer of health challenges for her daughter, Sarah Wildman tried to live in “the hyper present,” she writes in The New York Times against the backdrop of the High Holidays. “It wasn’t that I no longer worried about what might happen in a month, or two weeks, or next year; far from it. It was that I could only really focus on the minute I was in. After so many trips to intensive care, dashed plans and other disappointments, the future felt too full of uncertainty to sufficiently map out, and worrying just undermined moments that were calm. I began to focus, in a way I never had before, on this evening’s light, the feel of the sand today, the walk to the pier, the taste of the afternoon’s ice cream…before I let myself worry about work or dishes or even future travel, I try to just be. Just be here, I tell myself, like a self-help app, on repeat. This time of year is good for that.” [NYTimes]

Community Comms

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Word on the Street

Arthur Blank, who recently turned 80, will cap the milestone by breaking ground next month on a $15 million addition to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in downtown Atlanta. Two new buildings, which will be built flanking the current building, will provide space for new exhibits and additional educational projects.

Blank’s family foundation donations during the past year include a $200 million gift for a new Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta hospital, as well as a $50 million grant to the Shepherd Center, which treats brain and spinal cord injuries…

Boston University received a $100 million gift from alum Edward Avedisian in support of scholarships, endowed faculty chairs and research and teaching at the university’s medical school…

The Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County — which include the Natural History and William S. Hart museums and the La Brea Tar Pits — received 15 grants totaling more than $6.4 million in support of a range of projects focused on inclusion and community engagement…

Jacki Altman joined Repair the World as Miami city director. Previously, Altman managed the social justice teen fellowship at Miami’s Temple Beth Am…

Judah Samet, a Holocaust survivor who also survived the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, died at 84…

Pic of the Day

JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images

Serbia’s top-seed Novak Djokovic claimed his third title of 2022 and the 89th of his career with a straight-sets victory at the Tel Aviv Watergen Open on Sunday…


Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Actor since early childhood, he has almost 5 million YouTube subscribers, Noah Cameron Schnapp

Syndicated radio show host, Michael Medved… Senior advisor at FTI Consulting, she is a former five-term member of Congress, Allyson Young Schwartz (D-PA)… Professor of physics at Rutgers, he was named a MacArthur Genius Fellow in 1987, Daniel Friedan… Co-founder and owner of Covenant Wines, Jeff Morgan… Westport, Conn.-based holistic health coach, Orna Ster… Lisa Gordon Leff… Global head of music for Google/YouTube, Lyor Cohen… President of The Ferber Company, P. Shields Ferber, Jr.… Member of the Texas House of Representatives, Craig Goldman… Director of redevelopment at LivCor, a Blackstone Company, Daniel Marks Cohen… Art collector and dealer, who together with his father and brother are reputed to own $5 billion of art including over 1,000 pieces by Andy Warhol, David Mugrabi… Venture capitalist and talent agent whose clients include Madonna and U2, author of “Jews Who Rock,” Guy Oseary… Longtime congregational rabbi in New York and New Jersey and author of We’re Almost There, Rabbi Dovid M. Cohen… Member of the Knesset, Eli Cohen… Venture capitalist and political strategist, Bradley Tusk… Longtime guitarist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers and a 2012 inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Josh Klinghoffer… Executive director at the Jewish Book Council, Naomi Firestone-Teeter… Rabbi at The Altneu Synagogue in Manhattan, Benjamin Goldschmidt… International admin specialist and presidential management fellow at the Bureau of International Labor Affairs, Juan Gilces Coronel

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