A Passport to Jewish Portland

With the crazy news from the Olympics and the Presidential election campaign driving the headlines, we should not forget the relentless flooding that has devastated southern Louisiana.The images we’ve seen are devastating following 6,900,000,000,000 gallons of rainfall in one week. The destruction is widespread, with at least 40,000 homes damaged and more than 75,000 people impactedincluding members of the local Jewish community. The area has mobilized the largest sheltering and feeding effort (estimates indicate more than one million meals need to be served over the next few weeks) since 2012’s Superstorm Sandy.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Portland continues to raise funds to support the Jewish Federation of Greater Baton Rouge as they meet urgent needs. Please join many others and make a contribution to help the people of Louisiana (please note in comment line it is for Louisiana Flood Relief).100% of your donation to will go to Louisiana Flood Relief.

Two weeks ago, I participated in a meeting with 22 Jewish professionals representing 14 local Jewish organizations, each of which provides some type of young adult engagement. As you will recall, young adults are one of our new priority life stages at Jewish Federation. We want to collaborate with organizations and individuals to create and enhance meaningful gateways and connections for young adults in our community.

At the meeting, we discussed many challenges in engaging young adults, including: their time availability, cost, location of programs, the balance between their desire for deep relationship building and the execution of “successful” events, and the culture of non-affiliation among millennials.

Our common objective is to find ways to connect with this segment of the community and for these young people to feel more engaged and to be actively involved. Here are two new exciting collaborative initiatives for young Jewish adults in Portland:

Passport to Jewish Portland

Passport to Jewish Portland is a new communal initiative that provides young adults (ages 22-30) with a membership to a participating synagogue, the Mittleman Jewish Community Center, Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education and a subscription to Oregon Jewish Life magazine for one year at the cost of $360. Organizations and synagogues have come together to lower the cost barrier to affiliation. You will soon see plenty of promotional materials, but if you already know of any young adults who may be interested, please have them contact Caron Blau Rothstein or click here.


Portland was just selected as one of three Jewish communities for the inaugural year of the PresenTense Community Hackathon program.  The Jewish Federation will be the local convener and looks forward to working with community partners to make this a successful endeavor. PresenTense will provide $15,000 in seed funding, as well as ongoing training and support throughout the year. Portland was selected along with Vancouver, BC and San Diego as the initial pilot communities -- notice, all west coast! More to come!

We are excited to build upon the strengths of existing programs for young adults in our community. These include synagogue groups, Moishe House, young adult giving circle at the OJCF, PDX MOTs, and Federation’s own Pathways mentoring program. The Federation is exploring further systemic ways we can support young adults and those organizations programming for this population.

A Beautiful Story

B’nai B’rith Camp shared a story about an 18 year-old counselor and long-time camper who recently celebrated her bat mitzvah at camp. When she was 8, her parents asked if she wanted to start Hebrew/supplementary school.  Her reply was “no,” and since the family was not observant, they chose not to pursue Hebrew school for her.  Over the years, her Jewish identity and love for Judaism grew as she came to BB Camp summer after summer.

At the start of this summer, she decided that she wanted a bat mitzvah while working at BB Camp.  She studied with the Chizuk Fellow (a Rabbinical student) all summer.  At the final Shabbat of the 2016 camp season, this young lady helped lead Shabbat services and was called to the Torah.  Her family flew in from California to share in the experience. 

When she finished her Torah portion, she literally jumped up with joy with the biggest smile on her face. Tears filled everyone’s eyes as this young woman embraced her Judaism – all due to her BB Camp experiences.  What a shining example of the impact Jewish overnight camping can have on our children and even the staff.

On a sad note, our community lost an eshet chayil,woman of valor, with the passing of Goldie Stampfer (z”l), beloved wife of Rabbi Joshua Stampfer for 72 years as well as mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. I did not know Goldie well as her health was already in decline when I came to Portland, but whenever I would meet Rabbi Stampfer at his home, I often had the chance to say hello.

In one of my early conversations with Rabbi Stampfer, I learned that Goldie was from Atlanta, a community I worked in and where I attended college. While at the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, the community celebrated the Federation’s 100th anniversary and produced a magnificent “coffee table” history book of the Atlanta Jewish community. I brought the book over to the Stampfer home and watched Rabbi flip through the pages with Goldie. You could see her “light up” as she recognized many of the names and faces. I was truly touched by that experience.

Our thoughts go out to the entire Stampfer family. May they all be comforted with all mourners of Zion and may Goldie’s memory be for a blessing.

Shabbat shalom.


PS -- Stop by the Jewish Federation booth atSunday Parkways SE  – We along with friends from the MJCC will be in Laurelhurst Park. Look forward to seeing you there.


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