PDX Cross Collaboration launches with "L'Chaim and Laughter" Jan. 3 at EJC


The Jewish Review

Portland’s newest young Jewish adult community development group is taking flight with laughter.
PDX Cross-Collaboration will host “L’Chaim and Laughter” with The Sklar Brothers Wednesday, Jan. 3 at 7 pm at the Eastside Jewish Commons in Portland. The event serves as a public kickoff for the Collaboration, a group of 11 Portland-area groups focused on serving younger Jewish adults. 
“We meet monthly to share and collaborate about our events and what we’re doing for young adults in our community,” explained Laura Jeser, Associate Campaign and Engagement Officer for the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland and organizer of PDX Cross Collaboration. “As we know, [young adults] are a significant percentage of the adults in our Jewish community, but the least represented as far as attending events and their involvement in organized Jewish life.”
The Collaboration includes Congregation Beth Israel’s Jews Next Dor, Moishe House, MOTs (Members of the Tribe), Congregation Neveh Shalom, OneTable, Greater Portland Hillel and Portland Jewish Connection.
Young adult engagement has been a focus for Jeser since she joined the Federation’s staff earlier this year. As she met with organizations around town, the need for an opportunity to coordinate efforts, exchange ideas and highlight one another’s work became a priority. The process grew organically; a meeting for one group included another, another was looped in from there, and a broader coalition started to form.
“The idea is that we share and we see the particulars that are amazing about each individual organization, promote each other and help each other out,” Jeser said. “We want everyone to have their own spaces where they feel comfortable, where they get to fully express whatever Jewish life means to them.”
The Sklar Brothers, Randy and Jason, have appeared on a variety of television shows in addition to their own podcast, “Sklarbro Country,” which ran until 2017. They’ve also produced and starred in a number of streaming video series, winning a pair of Streamy Awards for their work. Jeser, who has a background in comedy, recalled seeing them perform while she was active on the stand-up circuit. When she saw that the brothers were playing a show at Portland’s Helium Comedy Club, she reached out about the possibility of an additional performance at EJC.
“They were great,” she recalls of seeing them perform, “and they have such an amazing following. They get the Jewish community. It’s nice to have that connection and that relatability, which is what you want when you go to a Jewish comedy show.”
Hors d’oeuvres and cocktails will be served. 
In addition to serving as a public launch opportunity and a chance to connect organizations with potential constituents, L’Chaim and Laughter serves as an early example of the kind of benefits the Collaboration can provide. A number of groups were plotting comedy-focused programs in the coming weeks and months, but instead of offering different, smaller, possible overlapping events, they’ve come together to put on one big show. 
“I think that the energy was out there to have this kind of comedy experience,” Jeser said. “We’ve definitely been through a lot of difficult months, a lot of hardships and negativity. I think people just kind of need to find the space to be with community and people need to laugh. That’s still important.”
Tickets are $36 and available at jewishportland.regfox.com/lchaim-and-laughter. 


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