Your Daily Phil: Connecting HBCU students with Hillel + AJC launches incubator to fight antisemitism

Good Tuesday morning!

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) is launching an incubator program that will give up to $10,000 in seed funding to young American Jews with ideas for combating antisemitism locally, nationally or online, Meggie Wyschogrod Fredman, director of AJC’s young leadership department, told eJewishPhilanthropy.

“Jews are threatened in America, around the world, and facing a growing vehemence online,” Fredman said. “Addressing Jew-hatred calls for bold change and big ideas driven by us, the rising generation of Jews.”

Called “Disrupt Antisemitism,” the incubator will be led by a group of young professionals from the worlds of business and technology who will pick the winning proposals.

The Jewish Welfare Board (JWB) Jewish Chaplains Council visited Jewish communities in the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in July, Rabbi Irv Elson, director of the council, told eJewishPhilanthropy.

There are about 1,000 Jews, represented by the Association of Gulf Jewish Communities, in the region. Since the adoption of the Abraham Accords established diplomatic relations between the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Israel in 2020, the community has been able to live openly as Jews.

The purpose of the visit was to initiate a relationship between the JWB, which trains and supports Jewish military chaplains and operates under the auspices of the JCC Association of North America, and the local communities. “The question was, how can we help the community, and how can they and we help our service members? Some are stationed there, some are passing through,” Elson said.

The possibility that the JCC Association, of which the JWB is a part, might also play a role in the development of Jewish communities in the region was another reason for the trip, Elson said.

“We are very excited to collaborate with him,” said Alex Peterfreund, a businessman and lay leader in Dubai’s Jewish community, of Elson. “We would like to build a Jewish community that is not only prayers but also kosher food and programs for children. All the help in the world is welcome.”

CAMPUS CONNECTION

New dialogue program aims to connect students at HBCUs with Hillel members

Courtesy

John Eaves’s idea for a Black-Jewish student dialogue program in Georgia was fueled by both excitement and anxiety, he told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Helen Chernikoff. Excitement because the 2020 election of Democrats Raphael Warnock, a Black pastor, and Jon Ossoff, a Jewish filmmaker and journalist, to the U.S. Senate had inspired both communities in the state, and anxiety because he perceived antisemitism on the rise, and African-Americans’ voting rights under attack.
 
A need for advocates: As a member of both communities, Eaves had noticed that, despite a shared desire to elect both Warnock and Ossoff, many in Georgia’s Black and Jewish communities were not actively working together toward that goal as much as he would have liked. Building relationships between young people seemed like a reasonable way to start working toward a future in which the two groups support each other, he decided. “Racism is a cousin of antisemitism,” he said. “Antisemitism is rising on college campuses. Jews need advocates.” The result is the PLOT Institute, which stands for “Political Leaders of Tomorrow,” a program that will bring students from HBCUs together with Hillel members for conversation and study; it will launch after the High Holidays.
 
A beautiful backstory: The first series of gatherings will evoke the inspiring history of Black-Jewish cooperation, such as Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel’s support of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement, but also include a module of “Courageous Conversations” in which students will work through their misconceptions about each other, Eaves said. The program is supported by the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta’s Propel grants program, which provides seed funding for early-stage projects that “meet a significant community need,” said Russel Gottschalk, the federation’s director of innovation. Eaves is the grandson of a Jamaican immigrant who converted to Judaism, and said his background makes him uniquely able to bring Blacks and Jews together.
 
The patriarch: “My grandfather was the one who shaped the family,” he said, adding, “I can navigate pretty easily between Jewish audiences and Black audiences.” His grandmother, who worked as a housecleaner, sacrificed jobs when asked to work on Shabbat. Eaves didn’t play football on Friday nights in high school, which is a tradition in the Deep South, and struggled to help other Black people understand why he wasn’t celebrating Christmas. Eaves is an active member of The Temple, Atlanta’s historic Reform synagogue, which he praises for its blend of social activism and spirituality.
 
Read the full article here.

GOLD STANDARD

Alaska and the Holocaust: An unknown story

Xavier Laine/Getty Images

“Like many of you, I spent many hours this week in front of the TV watching the Olympics. In my house, our favorite sports are women’s gymnastics and women’s swimming, in large part because my wife, Liz, was a competitive swimmer for many years. My interest in the Olympics notched up even further when Lydia Jacoby, age 17, unexpectedly won the Gold in the 100m women’s breaststroke. Watching her hometown fans celebrate, literally jumping for joy was the icing on the cake. For just a moment, all the complexities of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics disappeared. It was the best buzzer beater high school victory I ever saw and I have seen a lot of them,” writes Rabbi Lance Sussman of Congregation Keneseth Israel in Elkins Park, Pa., in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
 
Hometown: “I wondered for a moment, given her last name, if Lydia was Jewish or of Jewish descent. There is even a branch of my own family with the surname of Jacoby. I could not find anything definitive but one article published by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency strongly suggested the family is associated with the Methodist Church. ‘OK,’ I said to myself, ‘while I am looking things up (a constant for me), I should continue to read about Seward, Alaska, where she grew up.’”
 
Slattery Report: Then, as unexpected as Jacoby’s first place victory, I struck historic gold! In 1938, just two weeks after Kristallnacht, the United States Department of State released the Slattery Report, named after Undersecretary of State Harry A. Slattery. Secretary of State Harold Ickes had previously toured the territory of Alaska with several possibilities in mind: improve Alaskan security against the Japanese, further develop the economy of Alaska and, finally, find a place of refuge for German and Austrian Jews hoping to escape Europe.”
 
No go: “But it didn’t happen. Among American Jews, only the Labor Zionists supported it. Rabbi Stephen Wise, president of the American Jewish Congress and the leading American Jewish spokesman of the day, declared that the Slattery Plan would give people the ‘wrong and hurtful’ idea that ‘Jews were taking over some part of the country for settlement.’ Numerous antisemites went further and called the plan a ‘Trojan Horse’ which would allow Jewish Marxists to sneak into the country.”
 
Read the full piece here.

REMOVING BARRIERS

What one Hillel learned from 2020’s Burning Man & scholarly research

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“Dare I say that the most dedicated young adult, hipster community interrupted by the pandemic were the ‘Burners,’ members of the Burning Man community,” writes educator and nonprofit professional Bradley Caro Cook in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
 
Better than Zoom: “Their vision is to bring experiences to people in grand, awe-inspiring, and joyful ways that lift the human spirit, address social problems and inspire a sense of culture, community, and civic engagement. It’s tough to fill their vision when in a pandemic. When Burning Man was ‘canceled’ for 2020, the Burners found another way. They created better than Zoom online gathering technologies to recreate the Burning Man experience.”
 
Hillel too: “So too, did I find that Hillel directors needed to go beyond Zoom. One such Hillel director, knowing that his constituency needed something hipper, fresher, and newer than their boring online classes, put together a student task force to find the ‘latest and greatest’.”
 
The challenge: “Our essential question: How might we create a gathering of current students and alumni that connected them in a meaningful way both professionally and to Israel, which could be a future for our hybrid programs transitioning into in-person programs for the coming year?”
 
Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Sustaining Grants: The Duluth-based Northland Foundation has made 13 grants to local Native American groups, including such projects as a therapy program that uses traditional arts and crafts to help heal addiction; a billboard that features a Native medical student and money to create a digital library of Ojigwe elders’ stories, reportsDan Kraker for Minnesota Public Radio. The new initiative, called “Maada’ookiing,” which means “distribution” in the Ojibwe language, awards grants to individuals instead of nonprofits. “It’s in recognition that we have a lot of people who give on a regular basis,” said LeAnn Littlewolf, a member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and a senior program officer for the foundation. “And a lot of times they might have limited resources themselves, but they see a need in our community and they just pick up and they just start doing something.” [MPR]
 
New Teacher: In the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Eden Stiffman interviews Ashley Enrici, the inaugural environmental fellow at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, who will research and teach on the topic of the role philanthropy plays in addressing climate challenges. She started her career living in Indonesia to study how the Norwegian government was, as a donor, affecting forest governance, and shifted her focus to address a lack of understanding of private foundations’ impact on environmental activism and conservation. “We are facing a really critical moment with climate change and how humans care for the natural world,” Enrici said. “And these private foundations are in a really unique position to make a difference.” [ChroniclePhilanthropy]
 

Hard Stop: The Innovia Foundation in eastern Washington and northern Idaho has decided to no longer contribute to VDARE, a “far right anti-immigration group,” reports Tyler O’Neil in Fox News, but the foundation’s CEO, Shelly O’Quinn, says the decision has nothing to do with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) labeling of VDARE as a hate group. The SPLC’s labels do carry weight — Amazon uses it to screen charities for its “Smile” program — but O’Quinn insists that their methodology is flawed, although she happens to agree with them about VDARE. “This isn’t about prohibiting free speech or conservative values. This is about truly prohibiting funding towards organizations that are inciting violence against individuals,” O’Quinn said. [FoxNews]

Community Comms

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Word on the Street

New York University’s Stern School of Business announced a $50 million gift from alumnus Leonard N. Stern in support of undergraduate scholarships… The University of Missouri Trulaske College of Business has received a commitment of $5 million from Pinney Allen and family in support of student scholarships and programs… Philanthropy Together announced a two-year, $1 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to advance racial equity and social justice initiatives through giving circles… The NBA Foundation will give 22 grants totaling $6 million in support of efforts to create employment opportunities and drive greater economic empowerment for Black youth… A group of 22 Israeli students and professionals from University of Haifa’s Ruderman Program for American Jewish Studies are visiting the U.S. this week on a 10-day academic program… British welfare charities Kisharon and Langdon launched a study to see where resources of the two organizations can be combined… The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and Conservative movement partners have named the 2021 “Idea Generator – Visionary Awards” Winners… According to a new survey, 65% of the Israeli public support civil marriage…

Pic of the Day

YIVO Institute for Jewish Research

The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research announced a grant last week that will enable the organization to increase online access to the organization’s collection of records from Jewish aid societies. This image is from a scrapbook of United Brisker Relief, which sponsored a school in Belarus.

Birthdays

DIETER NAGL/AFP via Getty Images

Austrian journalist, writer and the current director of the Jewish Museum of Vienna, she was a founder of the German-language magazine Nu, devoted to Jewish politics and culture, Danielle Spera… 

CEO at Royal Health Services in Beverly Hills, Robert N. Feldman… Professor of biochemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Shimon Schuldiner… Founder and principal of Clipper Equity, David Bistricer… Former Governor of the South African Reserve Bank (2009-2014) and the first woman to hold the position, Gill Marcus… Conservative rabbi who serves as president of the Interfaith Alliance, Rabbi Jack Moline… Co-leader of the securities litigation practice at Weil, Gotshal & Manges and co-president of NYC’s Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, Joseph S. Allerhand… Certified registered nurse anesthetist for the US Department of Veterans Affairs, Edward Salkind… Member of the California State Senate, Steven Mitchell Glazer… Rabbi in the Har Nof neighborhood in Jerusalem and a leader of the Shas party, Rabbi David Yosef… Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives in Michigan’s 9th district since 2019, he succeeded his father, Sander Levin, to this seat, Andy Levin… Professor of physics and astronomy at Tel Aviv University, Yaron Oz… Former member of the Florida State Senate, Jeremy Ring… Chief military advocate general of the IDF, Sharon Afek… Regional chief technology officer in the South Texas office of Technologent, Jason P. Reyes… Senior development officer of the NYC-based Tikvah Fund, Eytan Sosnovich… Assistant director of social media at Penguin Random House, Sophie Vershbow… Lead market surveillance analyst at CME Group, Jacob Cohen
 
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