Good Thursday morning!
The Jewish environmental group Hazon has signed on as the first Jewish participant in the Faith Plans Programme, an initiative to organize religious communities in response to the Oct. 4 statement issued by Pope Francis, faith leaders and scientists calling for urgent measures on climate change, a Hazon spokesperson told eJewishPhilanthropy. Two Jewish groups, the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life and the American Jewish Congress, signed the pope’s statement and helped write it.
The Faith Plans Programme is led by FaithInvest, a nonprofit membership association for faith groups that are investors and owners of assets, and the World Wildlife Fund’s Beliefs and Values Programme, in which the WWF engages supporters by connecting its conservation efforts to people’s spirituality and beliefs.
Hazon and the other groups, such as the World Evangelical Alliance, that have signed on as participants will try to help other groups commit to faith action plans, which could include such measures as divesting from fossil fuels, planting trees and creating greener forms of transportation for pilgrimages, which are among the world’s biggest travel events.
“By partnering with the Faith Plans Programme, we are able to elevate our work to an international stage while simultaneously learning from and supporting new partners across many faith backgrounds,” Hazon said.
The plans will be announced in June 2022 at the Stockholm+50 meeting, to be held by the United Nations General Assembly to mark the 50th anniversary of a U.N. conference on the environment.
PASSING THE TORCH
The founder of the Center for Israel Education taps a mentee and colleague as his replacement
The Center for Israel Education (CIE) has appointed former day school leader Adam Shapiro as its new president, replacing founding president Kenneth Stein, who will become the organization’s chief content officer, Stein told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Helen Chernikoff. The center’s core mission of creating educational materials will not change, Shapiro said, adding that he will focus on gaining wider digital distribution for that content, and on securing funding for the organization.
A long-standing relationship: “I’m not a millennial. I’m not in Gen-Z,” said Stein, a professor who has taught contemporary Middle Eastern history at Emory University since 1977. “So bringing in someone who’s 35 years younger than I am makes all the sense in the world. It’s our reach that’s the major target.” Shapiro and Stein have known each other since Shapiro, who graduated from Emory in 2001, visited the school as a teenager to help decide where he wanted to attend college. Shapiro was most recently the head of the Golda Och Academy in West Orange, N.J., where he created a course on the history of modern Israel using CIE sources that became a study-abroad program in Israel. When Stein founded CIE in 2008 to create resources, workshops and presentations about the modern State of Israel for students, educators and adult learners, he invited Shapiro to join the board.
Internet-fueled growth: Initially, CIE saw itself mainly as a creator of curriculum and a trainer of teachers. A day school initiative brings CIE materials into schools and helps train teachers to use them. The center’s growth on the internet, however, has broadened Stein’s vision of its audience. “We started with educators, then started serving students, young adults, rabbis and then people on the internet,” he said. “We’re probably doing more work now with the general public than we’ve done with any other group.” Israel education was a new field in 2008, which was also the year Anne Lanski founded the Chicago-based iCenter with support from the Gilo Foundation, the Jim Joseph Foundation, the Marcus Foundation and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies. The funders had noted the disconnectedness of American Jewry to Israel and the sometimes disconnected nature of Israel curricula and envisioned a field of Israel education with a shared philosophy around Jewish identity and standards of practice, according to a 2018 iCenter impact study.
Caring for clergy while they care for us
“A year ago, I wrote an article for eJP about clergy pain. I spoke about the experiences of empty sanctuaries, Zoom fatigue, funerals with no mourners, Viddui over the phone and the quiet desperation of needing to uplift communities when you yourself are simply spent. None of us expected to be here again this year,” writes Betsy S. Stone, an adjunct faculty member at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
Learnings: “In my work with rabbis over the past 18 months across North America, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned that they are resourceful and giving. I’ve learned that they may be incredibly sad, often despairing. I’ve learned how creative they may be. I’ve learned how often they feel unappreciated. I’ve learned that they are willing to share with their colleagues. And I’ve learned that many of them feel like they are alone and unsupported. The relationship between rabbi and congregation is a sacred partnership – a mutual experience of support and challenge. We expect our clergy to push us to grow and to help us grieve. But what can they expect from us?”
Pushed to the limit: “Our Jewish professionals are spent. I know what you’re thinking. We’re all spent. And that’s true. Everything I’m saying here applies to all of us. I think we could focus on doctors, nurses, teachers, federation staff, therapists and grocery workers. But I want you to know the hours I’ve listened to clergy in tears. I’ve heard stories of clergy undermined by congregational leadership – through neglect, public criticism and disrespect. Others tell of micromanagement or intrusions into their personal lives. We may be reaching a point where too many clergy are giving up, want out.”
Men must hold each other accountable over the disrespect of women
“How often have we men joked with each other at the expense of women, laughing it off as no big deal? How often have we heard a male coworker interrupt and speak over women as if they are invisible?” asks David Cohen, manager of strategic advancement at Shalom Bayit in Berkeley, Calif., in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
Jewish orgs, too: “How often have we shrugged it off because we weren’t the instigator, or forgotten about it because we didn’t deem it significant?… This also happens in the Jewish organizations we love and support. That our organizational leaders and boards allow this to go on is unacceptable. It is time for men to change that culture of silence… We hesitate to name or believe allegations of abuse when the perpetrator is our friend or colleague or an esteemed community leader. That should not let them off the hook.”
Taking responsibility: “A report from Leading Edge, a think tank that conducts research on Jewish organizations, showed that 70 percent of the Jewish professional workforce is female but 70 percent of the leadership is male. No wonder we still have a problem. Men are usually the perpetrators of sexual harassment. In heterosexual relationships, 90 percent of domestic violence is perpetrated by men. Those numbers suggest clearly that men need to take responsibility for change. Asking those questions about our own behaviors — then holding ourselves and each other to a standard of respectful behavior in accordance with our Jewish values — is both a Jewish imperative and the real meaning of mensch.”
High-priority item: “It seems simple: Men need to treat women with respect. We must believe women when they seek help or support in the face of sexual harassment or domestic abuse. Perhaps most importantly, men must step to the plate and speak out publicly. For any meaningful sea change to occur, a multitude of men — including the most prominent and powerful — need to make this a priority. By doing so, we can choose to be on the right side of history.”
Ties That Bind: While social distancing is essential to combat the spread of COVID-19, it’s also important to acknowledge and try to mitigate the damage the practice wreaks on social bonds, writes Ilana Horwitz, who holds a chair in the study of contemporary Jewish life at Tulane University, in The Conversation. A study she conducted of low-income Jewish parents in the Philadelphia area, some of whom were involved in the Jewish community, revealed that those who had those connections were able to receive much-needed help as a result. As the pandemic persists, those relationships are weakening due to a lack of physical interaction. “If human interactions are hindered for long periods of time, social capital could break down,” Horwitz concludes. “This could profoundly unravel the social ties that bind Americans together and motivate them to transcend their self-interests to help others.” [Conversation]
Drop In The Bucket: Philanthropic giving to the cause of marine conservation has doubled in the past 10 years, but at $1.2 billion in 2020, it’s still not enough to mitigate climate change and heal the world’s oceans, reports Jennifer Roche in InsidePhilanthropy. The increased giving is coming from foundations that have long been interested in the issue, such as the Packard Foundation and Japan’s Nippon Foundation, and new donors including Bloomberg Philanthropies and Benioff Ocean Initiative. “To have doubled the amount of resources going into ocean work is really a tremendous, exciting feat that I expect to continue,” said Meg Caldwell of the Packard Foundation, “despite the fact that it’s still not enough.” [InsidePhilanthropy]
Word on the Street
Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis announced 190 grants totaling $9 million through two Lilly Endowment 2021 clergy renewal programs that help congregations support their pastors by providing funding for a respite from ministerial duties and a period of extended reflection and renewal… The Center for Social Impact Strategy at the University of Pennsylvania launched the Executive Program in Faith and Social Impact… A traveling exhibition about the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg opened at the New York Historical Society… After 30 years as the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s director of pan-European programming, Mario Izocvich is leaving the organization to focus on his consultancy practice…
Pic of the Day
On Monday, third-grade students from Lehrman Community Day School in Miami Beach, Fla., practiced their Hebrew letters during a lesson that combined Hebrew and Jewish studies with art.
Co-founder and chief growth officer at Riseup Israel, Tamara Harel-Cohen…
Atlanta-area resident, Allan Nelkin… President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin… Senior advisor to the chairman of the Genesis Prize Foundation, Jill Smith… Director of security at the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County, Ron Vosatka… Founder and chair of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights, Kenneth L. Marcus… President of Detroit’s Imperial Management and a board member of the William Davidson Foundation, Eli Saulson… Creator, host and producer of “Extra Virgin” on the Cooking Channel, Gabriele Corcos… Rabbi of Temple Emanu-El in Closter, N.J., Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner… Political fundraiser and strategist, Arie Lipnick… Member of the Knesset for the Shas party, Michael Malchieli… Director of the leadership institute at AIPAC, Natalie Lascar Lefkowitz… Executive director at the Israel Action Network and AVP for public affairs at The Jewish Federations of North America, Adam Teitelbaum… CEO of Holbrook, N.Y.-based MW Impressions, Daniel Mael… Executive assistant and event planner at itrek, Tayla Harris… Senior editor for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum magazine, Barbara E. Martinez… Director of strategic initiatives and partnerships at Charidy, Samuel Schear… President of Kam Global Strategies, Laura Kam…
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