News in Brief: Second fire at Chabad investigated


Second fire damages Chabad House

A second fire was reported at the Chabad Center for Jewish Life on Southwest Vermont Street at around 2:45 am Wednesday (Aug. 19). This second fire in less than a week is under investigation. The ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) is assisting Portland Police and Fire with the investigation.  ATF provides investigative support when a “house of worship” has a significant fire incident, like the second fire.  

Updates will be added here as they are known.

The first  fire broke out about 10:30 pm, Friday, Aug. 14, in the upper floor of the SW Portland Chabad House. It was apparently caused by an electrical issue .

After the first fire, a statement at reports: No one was in the building at the time, and due to COVID the Torah scrolls had been removed from the premises a few months back.
We are grateful to Portland Fire & Rescue who responded quickly.
Thank G-d the fire did not spread beyond the interior of the upstairs floor.
Between the fire damage on the third floor and the water which came through, the damage is nevertheless significant.
We are grateful to the many that checked in with us and offered support. We are just getting on this after Shabbat and will keep you posted.

The second fire caused extensive damage.

After the second fire, Chabad shared the following: “Our mission is to spread the love of our Creator, love of Torah and love of our fellows. We are committed to doubling and redoubling our efforts to do so.”

Donations can be made at

David Molko retires after 20 years at JFCS
After serving in a variety of roles during a 20-year career at Jewish Family & Child Service, David Molko, LCSW, retired June 30, 2020, as senior outreach clinician with a focus on seniors and older adults.
Though he is no longer on staff, he has continued to do some contract work for JFCS, and he has a small private practice in which he sees clients via Zoom.
David joined JFCS in a split role – reorganizing the financial aid department and as a staff therapist. Through all his many roles, he has always spent at least part of his time as a therapist. He also served as manager of senior services, which included Holocaust survivor programs and support services for Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities. For about 10 years, he supervised students from Portland State University serving internships at JFCS. 
Announcing David’s retirement, JFCS noted: “David has been an integral part of JFCS for the past 20 years and has made an indelible mark on our agency and community. We’re excited to share that David will be continuing to work with JFCS on special projects and are grateful for all of his many contributions over the years.”
David says he is proud of the relationship he helped develop and maintain with Cedar Sinai Park’s Rose Schnitzer Manor.
“I still oversee their scholarship program,” says David, adding that program for long-time RSM residents is very unusual among assisted-living communities. “It has provided 47 or 48 families the opportunity to stay in their apartments at Rose Schnitzer even when their money was running out.” 
When the worldwide pandemic ends, David plans to resume the support group he ran for RSM residents “pre-COVID.”
“David Molko has been a blessing to Cedar Sinai Park residents and staff for decades,” says CSP Executive Director Kimberly Fuson. “He connects deeply and authentically with clients and has been a wealth of support to our social work staff and administration. We are so pleased that David will continue his work with Cedar Sinai Park as part of his ‘retirement’ plan.”

National/local collaboration aids out-of-work Jewish community professionals
Jewish Federations of North America in collaboration with local federations and the JPRO Network have created a platform of support for furloughed or laid-off employees from Jewish community organizations.
Rise,, is a digital landing pad to provide financial, emotional and career resources to help out-of-work Jewish community professionals.
Nationally, about one in five Jewish community professionals have been laid off or furloughed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Though Portland has not been hit as hard as some areas of the country, the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland is partnering in the effort.
“We are fortunate that our community infrastructure has been able to maintain our staff at most of our Jewish organizations,” says JFGP President and CEO Marc Blattner. “We recognize there have been layoffs, but our organizations are poised to bring people back as programs resume.”
The Rise landing pad features options for financial support with links to international Jewish free loan associations and Jewish family service agencies. In Portland, connect with Jewish Free Loan at or 503-892-7417; or get help from JFCS Emergency Aid – contact
Rise’s Resilience Building page includes links to mindfulness meditation, peer-to-peer discussion groups, and subsidized sessions for emotional and spiritual support. The Career Support page includes links to skills-based training classes, job openings and career coaches.

PJA’s Generational Photography course a hit
Portland Jewish Academy offered a summer photography course to grandparent/grandchild pairs. The three-session online course was taught by PJA faculty member Benjamin Foote, who teaches middle-school Jewish studies and photography electives. 
“In the Torah, the first thing created was Light. Photographers use light to create artistic images, so there’s something very Jewish and spiritual about photography,” says Foote. “Learning together is also a great way for families to connect across generations, especially when they can’t be together in the ways we’re all used to.”  
“PJA has been expanding grandparent programming over the past three school years,” says Saul Korin, director of donor engagement and philanthropy at PJA.  “Following a survey of grandparents, one of the biggest interests was opportunities to learn with grandkids. In the age of Covid-19 and distance learning, we knew this would be a great offering.” 
The Zoom format and intergenerational nature of the class have brought together an eclectic mix,” Foote says. “We’ve got folks here in Portland, some in California, North Carolina, all over, all sharing images they’ve taken during the week between sessions. Some have been taking photos for decades with fancy cameras, some are lower-school kids with an iPad. Everyone is sharing their images, photo tips, helping each other with technology; it’s a really nice learning community.”

OJMCHE adds staff to grow digital education
Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education has expanded its education team with the addition of Andrew Duden, who fills a new, critical role at the museum. 
As the Education Specialist for Digital Learning, Andrew works closely with Education Manager Amanda Solomon to develop the content and implementation strategy for the launch and growth of the museum’s new remote learning initiative. The new initiative will bring the museum and its lessons to students and the community all over Oregon and beyond.
“I value OJMCHE’s commitment to challenge students to resist indifference and discrimination in order to create a more just and inclusive world,” says Andrew. “This is why I am a history teacher, and it is why the preservation and illumination of history remains a critical component of our humanity.”
Andrew has an extensive teaching career, most recently as a history teacher at Lake Oswego High School, and is a writer, musician and recording artist. He spent two years teaching history and as a semi-professional musician in El Salvador. 
“Within those two years, I came to see my humble place as part of a broader humanity not as an abstraction, but in practical, mundane details of day-to-day living,” says Andrew. “As a result, I developed a kinship with Salvadorans. And that experience deepened my sense of urgency to teach from a position of shared humanity, kinship and compassion. I hope those life lessons transfer well into my educational work at the museum.”
With Andrew’s addition to the team, OJMCHE plans robust educational online programming this fall. Visit

Kesser Israel offers High Holiday resources
Given the unprecedented times we are in, Congregation Kesser Israel is planning a number of new and dynamic resources that will help people observe the High Holidays at home. 
Rabbi Kenneth Brodkin emphasizes that things are fluid and in-person options are subject to change depending on the state of the pandemic.

"During these difficult times, many of our congregants will be observing the Yamim Nora’im (Days of Awe) at home," says Rabbi Brodkin. "In light of that, Kesser is looking forward to being there for people in a variety of dynamic ways including resources that will guide and inspire people through home observance of the Chagim. We also would love to hear from you and learn more about how we can best be of support during this time."
To help people observe the holidays at home, Kesser will offer: Home Tefila/Prayer Guide, High Holiday Reader, and online videos on “how to” observe the holidays. Kesser is also coordinating multiple opportunities for outdoor shofar blowings on Rosh Hashana (second day). Weekday virtual services and virtual sermons and classes are also available.
In addition, Kesser Israel is currently planning to coordinate live services for up to 50 people in an outdoor tent at the Kesser site. Please bear in mind that given the pandemic, plans remain subject to change. 

For the latest up-to-date information about the Kesser High Holiday offerings, visit or email Kesser Israel Operations Manager Shannon Katz at to join Kesser’s weekly email or WhatsApp Chat. 

BBYO recruits teens for Voice Your Vote

BBYO has launched the Voice Your Vote Campaign for the 2020 election. 
Rebecca Kahn, daughter of Portlanders Steven and Wendy Kahn, helped launch the national program. Rebecca is the Associate Regional Director of Jewish Enrichment in the Ohio Northern Region BBYO.
“I, along with a small team of BBYO staff, am managing, training and motivating the BBYO Field Organizers Corps, who will be responsible for registering voters, pledging voters, working the pools, promoting deadlines, running events and educating teens about voting,” says Rebecca. “It is open to any and all Jewish teens to participate in.”
This fall, Jewish teens across the United States will go all out ahead of the U.S. election by registering their friends and networks (Jewish and all others) to vote, volunteering to ensure there are no barriers to voting for anyone, attending events to learn about today’s issues, and having fun participating in, while also protecting, our democracy. 
“We’re looking for hundreds of enthusiastic teens to join the BBYO Field Organizing Corps to work together through Nov. 3 in school districts, communities and states across the country,” says Rebecca.
Through the BBYO platform, teens can register voters, confirm that voters have plans to vote, request mail-in ballots, sign up to work the polls (to ensure a safe and fair election for all), attend exclusive election events, and access tools and information. For more information on Voice Your Vote, visit:


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