10 Years !!!
Hard for me to believe that next Tuesday, September 1, will be my 10th anniversary (!) as President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland. To say that I am honored to serve in this role would be an understatement. I am proud of our volunteer leadership, our professional team, and what we have accomplished over the past decade.
When I interviewed for this position, I told the search committee that Portland could be the “test market for Jewish America.” This community was neither too large (New York, Los Angeles) nor too small (Santa Fe, Birmingham) to try new things. And we have done just that! Like every organization, we have had hits and a few misses, but I do believe we have helped provide more Jewish experiences to more community members -- for the better. Here are some examples of what we have done these past 10 years:
There is so much more we have achieved, but space does not allow for it.
I want to make it very clear – this is not about me. This is about these four constants that enable the Jewish Federation to thrive for over 100 years:
I am grateful to the incredible Chairs of the Board I have worked with – Gersham Goldstein (z”l), Michael Weiner, David Forman, Ed Tonkin, and currently Lauren Goldstein -- as well as the helpful wisdom and support of past chairs, rabbis, colleagues, community members, and, of course, my family.
In this job, you quickly realize you are not perfect. And, our work at the Jewish Federation may not meet the needs or interests of everyone in our Jewish community. Trust me, people let me know. I can only emphatically state that we are making the best decisions we can and putting 110% of our effort into building a Jewish community that will inspire our children and grandchildren.
Beyond the pride I have in these past ten years, this is also my 500th Marc’s Remarks. It is truly a labor of love for me to write late Thursday night and share my thoughts with you each Friday morning at 9:00 a.m.. I am grateful for the (positive/critical) comments and feedback I receive each week. Thank you for reading.
Let me close with this. Emory University, my alma mater, recently installed a new president. In his email to parents and alumni he wrote:
“President Jimmy Carter (who is actively engaged with Emory), in his inaugural address in January 1977 said, ‘We must adjust to changing times and still hold to unchanging principles.’ There is no more succinct and relevant call to action for the challenges we face today than those 12 words. The line itself comes from President Carter’s high school teacher, Julia Coleman. In quoting her, President Carter recognized the limitless opportunities we have in the opening moments of the biggest speech of his life.”
For 100 years, the Jewish Federation and our community have adapted to the changing Jewish demographics and dynamics while still holding on to our core Jewish beliefs, love of Israel, and the imperative that all Jews are responsible one for another. THANK YOU for welcoming me, granting me the opportunity to serve in this role, making this Jewish community what it is today, and I look forward to partnering with you in the years ahead.
Marc N. Blattner
President and CEO