PHOTO: After 30 years writing about the local Jewish community, I plan to embark on a new journey next summer – cycling, traveling, volunteering and gardening.
BY DEBORAH MOON
Thirty years ago today, Nov. 9, 1992, I joined the Jewish Review as staff writer.
Editor Paul Haist hired me based on my eight-year experience at a daily newspaper rather than for my Jewish knowledge. I accepted because it seemed like a good fit for the mother of two young Jewish boys.
For 30 years, I’ve had a firsthand view of the local Jewish community and have reaped the rewards of knowing all this community has to offer. Next summer, I intend to retire and embark on a new journey.
Looking back, it has been rewarding in so many ways – the friendships, the colleagues, the connections. I’ve worked with so many wonderful Federation colleagues – initially led by Charlie Schiffman, z”l, and now Marc Blattner – both mensches. I interviewed many other mensches in the community, including a trio of rabbis who shaped Portland early in the second half of the 20th century – Rabbi Joshua Stampfer, Rabbi Yonah Geller and Rabbi Emmanuel Rose, now all of blessed memory.
I discovered the Jewish programs and resources that helped my sons thrive. Both graduated from Portland Jewish Academy, enjoyed Mittleman Jewish Community Center camps and classes, and participated in youth groups including NCSY.
They found their first jobs at the MJCC, Camp Gan Israel and B’nai B’rith Camp. As they grew up, we all created a network of friends and support in Portland’s Jewish community. We attended b’nai mitzvah celebrations at most of the community’s synagogues, which have grown in number and size since we moved to town. As my sons have aged, I am pleased to see the community adding resources for young adults including Moishe House Portland, PDX Pathways, Moishe Pod-West PDX and OneTable.
I also had the pleasure of visiting Israel twice on Jewish Federation missions (with a third visit planned next March). The beauty of the country and people took my breath away. I was particularly touched by a visit to Neve Michael Youth Village and the support it provides for children whose families can no longer care for them.
In addition to those intangible rewards, I earned several awards during the 19 years I worked for the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland helping Paul produce the Jewish Review as a print newspaper. I earned several Simon Rockower Awards from the American Jewish Press Association for “Excellence in Jewish Journalism,” including one for a series on domestic violence in the Jewish community of which I am especially proud.
For my work organizing a Jewish genetic screening (at a time such screening was scarce) as a member of the Federation’s Young Women’s Division, I received the Song of Miriam Award. Jewish Family & Child Service’s TASK program honored me for my long-term support of its disability support services; I remember sitting at the meeting of parents that launched TASK as Treasuring and Accepting our Special Kids in the early 1990s. And I’ve been pleased to report on the group’s expanded role as Treasuring, Accepting, Supporting Kehillah (community).
When the Jewish Federation ceased publishing the Jewish Review in January 2012, I became editor of Oregon Jewish Life magazine. For seven years, I edited that Jewish lifestyle magazine learning more about the food, business and arts scenes in Oregon. I had fun interviewing celebrities including William Shatner, Ed Asner and Billy Crystal.
But in 2020, I returned to the Jewish Federation to relaunch the Jewish Review as an e-newspaper. Reimmersing in the organized Jewish community and helping connect people with all it has to offer has been so satisfying. I’ve heard from so many readers who are grateful to have the Jewish Review back.
When I retire next summer, I want to introduce a new editor to the joys of this community. I’m looking forward to the time I’ll have to cycle, travel, garden and volunteer, but I’ll miss the camaraderie and regular interactions with community members.