News in Brief Oct. 28, 2020

PHOTO:  Jelani Memory, CEO of A Kids Book About series and author of A Kids Book About Racism will lead a 90-minute online professional development program for educators.

JFCS sees more emergency aid requests
Between Oct. 1 and 21, Jewish Family & Child Service received 90 new requests for emergency aid. On average, JFCS has processed about 30 payments for 15-20 clients per month (some clients receive two payments such as a utility bill and rental assistance). 
To cope with the sudden increase, JFCS has limited its online portal to 25 new intakes per month. JFCS uses the portal to collect demographic information for all new clients and to get required consent forms signed. Many of the new requests are from outside thh Jewish community.
“We will continue to prioritize referrals from our Jewish community partners,” says JFCS Emergency Aid Program Manager Caitlin DeBoer. She urges congregations and Jewish agencies to contact her directly if a client or member needs emergency financial assistance. Individuals with an urgent request may also contact her.
“For urgent requests, I would recommend calling our direct line (503-226-7079, ext. 134),” she says. “The 25-person cap only applies to our online portal. We can re-open the portal on a case-by-case basis as needed.”
The local Jewish community’s COVID-19 Emergency Campaign provided the initial funds to help individuals and families weather the economic storm triggered by the pandemic. Additional contributions have expanded that effort. This year 115 people have received financial assistance, with rent and food being the two biggest requests. The next-largest request is utility assistance.
JFCS plans to get more staff to help process the waitlist from the 90 people who have come in since Oct. 1. “I anticipate we will be able to work through those requests and take an additional 25 per month going forward,” says Caitlin. “That number may change in the future once we get caught up with the waitlist.” 
For assistance, contact JFCS Emergency Aid Program Manager Caitlin DeBoer at 503-226-7079, ext. 134, or by email at

MJCC expands after-school options
The Mittleman Jewish Community Center has expanded its after-school options for students in kindergarten through fifth grade.
The MJCC has weekly fall after-school camps that run 3-6 pm, Monday-Friday. The camps provide a break for parents and a safe social interaction for children with games, arts, crafts and sports. Upcoming camp weeks are Nov. 2-6, Nov. 9-13, Nov. 16-20, Nov. 23-25* and Nov. 30-Dec. 4. Registration must be completed by noon Friday of the preceding week; space is extremely limited. Weekly cost is $158 or $135 for members. *The Thanksgiving three-day week (Nov. 23-25) cost is $95 or $81 for members.
The MJCC also presents two Mad Science programs beginning Oct. 29. Camps will meet on Thursday afternoons. Wonders of the World for 5- and 6-year-olds will be 3:15-4 pm through Dec. 3. Planes, Cranes and Automobiles for children ages 5-10 will be 4:15-5 pm through Dec. 10.  
For registration or more information on any of the programs, visit

Abraham Accords topic of Nov. 16 Israel360
The 2020-21 monthly Israel360 events, which focus on historical, cultural and political aspects of Israel, will continue Nov. 16 with a Zoom program “Abraham Accords – Israel Signs Peace Agreement with the UAE and Declaration of Peace with Bahrain.”
On Sept. 11, 2020, Israel and Bahrain announced their intention to establish full diplomatic relations, just a number of weeks after Israel and the UAE announced their intention to sign a peace treaty. On Sept. 15, 2020, a peace agreement between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain was signed in a formal ceremony in Washington. Together with the United States, Israel, the UAE and Bahrain further signed the trilateral Abraham Accords Declaration.
On Nov. 16 at 7 pm, join a Zoom program to discuss the implications of the Abraham Accords with Matan Zamir, Israel’s deputy counsel general to the Pacific Northwest.
Zamir has been a member of Israel’s Foreign Service since 2011, previously serving as the deputy chief of mission at the Israeli Consulates to Mumbai (2013-2015) and to New England (2015-2018). He served in the Israeli Defense Forces from 2000 to 2003 and was honored for his service and received the President’s medal of excellence for Israel’s 55th Independence Day. 
 The presentation is cosponsored by Neveh Shalom Israel360 and The Jewish Federation of Greater Portland. 
Preregistration (click here) is required. For more information on the series, Lisa Marie Lynch at, visit or call 503-246-8831.

Educators' program looks at racism, genocide
On Nov. 11, a 90-minute online professional development program for educators will feature Jelani Memory, CEO of A Kids Book About series and author of A Kids Book About Racism. The program is free and attendees receive free e-book copies of that book as well as A Kids Book About Empathy and A Kids Book About Shame
Jelani will talk about how he and the authors he works with approach writing about and discussing challenging and complex topics with kids as young as 5.
Hosted by the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education, the program will also explore how these books can be used to address Senate Bill 664 (Oregon’s Holocaust and Genocide mandate).
“SB664 requires teachers to address the history of discrimination within Oregon,” says OJMCHE Director of Education Amanda Coven. “Given that Oregon’s constitution explicitly stated (until 2002, when it was removed) that Black people were excluded from residing or owning property within the state, teachers must address a variety of topics such as racism beginning at a young age. Learning about racism comes with big emotions such as guilt, shame and empathy. The three books … provide elementary teachers an opportunity to introduce complex topics, and the reactions students may feel, in an age-appropriate way.”
The program will be on Zoom from 10 to 11:30 am. Two PDUs are available. For questions, contact
To receive the Zoom link, register at

PJA launches Junior Garden Club
Portland Jewish Academy has launched a Junior Garden Club. In mid-October, six fourth-graders and four fifth-graders came out to the PJA garden with their masks and gardening gloves on to help bring this growing space and learning community back to life. Participants weeded and pulled old summer plants and planted seeds. Each student took home a little harvest bucket for dinner. 
Fourth-grader Abbi says, “You might get a bit dirty, but that’s a part of garden club. They let me harvest whatever food I wanted that was in the flower bed. And I met a few new people that were not in my grade.”  
Fifth-grader Mason joined the club because he wanted to be with his friends and is hoping for more opportunities to be together at school. “I feel like school should go back because this was so safe and fun,” he says. “I also got good vegetables that we cooked.” 
Members will continue to get their hands dirty while planting fall crops together.

TechfestNW goes virtual Dec. 2-4

The annual TechfestNW conference was planned for April 2020. In the wake of COVID-19, the in-person conference had to be canceled. 

TechfestNW returns as a virtual conference Dec. 2-4, 2020.
This year’s virtual conference will feature informative panels and discussions on the business challenges and opportunities that our world is facing. Confirmed speakers include Tom Gruber, Roger McNamee, Tami Newcombe, Stephanie Lampkin and Cheryl Campos.
TechfestNW features Main Stage speakers, PitchfestNW (more than 70 start-ups will pitch to a panel of VC judges), social networking and a virtual expo. The Jewish Federation of Greater Portland is one of many cosponsors of the fest. Details on Israeli start-ups and speakers will be available soon.
Early bird tickets are $15 and all proceeds go to nonprofits that work to make innovation and technology more accessible: GirlsBuild, The Blueprint Foundation and Outside the Frame.
For early bird tickets, click here.

AJC surveys compare Jewish, public views of anti-Semitism

On Oct. 26, 2020, two years after the massacre of 11 Jews inside the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, the American Jewish Committee released AJC’s first-ever State of Anti- Semitism in America Report. 
The report reveals deep anxiety among American Jews and a disturbing lack of awareness among the general public of the severity of anti-Semitism in the United States:
• Nearly half of all Americans do not know what anti-Semitism is, with one in four (25 percent) saying they have heard of it but don’t know what it means, and an astounding one in five (21 percent) saying they have never heard the word.
• More than four out of every five Jewish respondents (82 percent) say anti-Semitism has increased over the past five years, compared to only 43 percent of U.S. adults who say the same.
• More than one in three American Jews (37 percent) say they have been victims of anti-Semitism over the past five years. Nearly one in three (31 percent) say they have avoided certain places or events out of concern for their safety.
The report also discusses the importance of Holocaust education, which was mandated for Oregon students beginning this school year. Three-quarters of U.S. adults (76 percent) report they know a lot (37 percent) or something (38 percent) about the Holocaust, while 24 percent say they don’t know much or know nothing at all. In contrast, 84 percent of American Jews know a lot about the Holocaust, and 15 percent say they know at least something. Teaching about the Holocaust is viewed as important by both groups, though to differing degrees; 91 percent of American Jews and 68 percent of U.S. adults say it is very important to teach middle and high school students the history of the Holocaust.
For the full results, along with expert analysis, visit




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