Happy new year!
Each new year, we take time to reflect on how we can be better people. We make resolutions to exercise more, lose weight, spend more time with family, etc. All are important and anything we can do to maximize those aspirations is a positive. I wish you great success in keeping to them.
With it being 2018 (20Chai), I thought of 18 things to look for/think about in the year ahead for our Jewish community:
• The Jewish Federation will be making an exciting announcement in April 2018 regarding its centennial year in 2020. Look for it!
• Famed investor, hedge fund manager and philanthropist Michael Steinhardt (one of the founders of Birthright Israel) famously said, “You are what you give to.” Meaning -- your philanthropic choices actually shape your values.
• The challenge for every community is having “courageous conversations.” Are we ready?
• More collaboration within the Jewish community will provide greater success.
• With President Trump’s proclamation that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, what will happen regarding the Palestinian-Israel peace process? I received multiple emails on both sides of the issue when I wrote about it several weeks ago.
• What impact will the new tax code have on philanthropy? Some are estimating that charitable donations will fall by almost $13 billion as a consequence of the tax bill. Please know that every gift and every dollar to the Jewish Federation makes an important impact on someone’s life.
• Will we continue to see a rise in hate crimes and anti-Semitism?
• For the first time this year, the Jewish Federation is proud to provide every teenager in our Jewish community 18% towards the cost of their experience in Israel. This is for current high school and gap year programs.
• How do we enroll more students in our Jewish educational programs – Jewish day schools, Jewish camps, Jewish pre-schools, Jewish youth groups, etc.?
• The Jewish Community Relations Council Intergroup Outreach Committee will begin a “dialogue” with individuals from the Latino community. They will also continue the work of the Interfaith Coalition for Dignity, with partners from other faith-based groups.
• With the population growth in Oregon and SW Washington, we also have a rise in the Jewish population. Our challenge is connecting with these people and showcasing all our Jewish community has to offer. We are a diverse and dispersed Jewish community.
• Studies show that people in their 30s and 40s have different attitudes about community, leadership, philanthropy, career and volunteering than previous generations. How can we adapt to engage these individuals in building Jewish life?
• Our new community mikvah is busy with traditional and contemporary immersions. We encourage everyone to experience and learn about the mikvah. Feel free to join us on January 21 for the grand opening.
• With issues of sexual harassment being discussed in both the Jewish and general community, the Jewish Federation, in partnership with Jewish organizations and synagogues throughout our community, is developing plans to educate and support community professionals, volunteer leaders and others to both respond to and prevent harassment and assault in our midst.
• People today seem more interested in results and impact than process.
• How can our community enhance the utilization of data, technology and social media to better connect, engage, and communicate with people?
• How do we truly evaluate the current offering of programs and services to best understand what we should/should not be doing?
• You will soon receive your ballot for Measure 101. Passage of Measure 101 is critical in helping people served by our community organizations like Cedar Sinai Park and Jewish Family and Child Service and is directly in line with our Jewish values of looking out for the most vulnerable among us.
We encourage you to vote “Yes” on Measure 101.
• Ensure 350,000 Oregonians continue to receive Medicaid coverage
• Raise $550 million over two years from temporary assessments on healthcare provider
• Secure an estimated $1.9 billion in federal matching funds for Oregon to ensure healthcare access
Thank you for joining us in the effort to pass this important measure; many lives depend on it. Please make sure you vote.
Let me close with some excellent “food for thought” for the new year. Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles recently wrote, “You may not believe in the teachings that shaped you. Nonetheless, they did shape you. As the generous person you have become is a boon to the world, you should want more to be like you. So support the places that will produce more Jews who will give. No one can force belief, but we can effectively cultivate values. If you are proud of who you have become, give others the same chance. Jewish schools, camps, synagogues, senior homes, JCCs, social service providers, Jewish museums, and federations all need support – not only for the good of Judaism, but for the good of the world.”
Shabbat shalom and may everyone have a wonderful and healthy 2018.