April Showers Bring May Flowers, May 1, 2020

The saying “April showers bring May flowers” as we know it today originated in 1557, in the form of a short poem by Thomas Tusser. The poem can be found in the April section of a collection of his writings titled, “A Hundred Good Points of Husbandry.” The poem goes as follows:
Sweet April showers
Do spring May flowers
Many believe Mr. Tusser got the phrase from the General Prologue of Geoffrey Chaucer’s (yes, everyone’s favorite in school) The Canterbury Tales:
Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
When in April the sweet showers fall
That pierce March’s drought to the root and all
And bathed every vein in liquor that has power
To generate therein and sire the flower;
Although Chaucer speaks of April in relation to March rather than May, it is obvious Tusser took the line from him.
Fortunately, we had very little rain this month, and, perhaps that will bring more "flowers." In many ways, the lack of rain made this difficult pandemic situation better because we could go outside and enjoy the fresh air and not be confined in our homes. Can you imagine if it was a typical rainy April?
April showers bring May flowers” is a reminder that even the most unpleasant of things, normally the heavy rains of April, but for today, the pandemic, can lead to more enjoyable things -- in this case, potentially more openness in what we are able to do. The poem is a lesson in patience – and that is what we must have as our medical and political leaders inform us of when "things will open up" during these uncertain times. I know I look forward to enjoying those "May flowers."
Our COVID-19 community crisis campaign continues to grow, yet the pace of grant requests from Jewish organizations are increasing at a faster pace. Every contribution at this time makes a difference and we hope you will make your own gift.
Yesterday, our COVID-19 crisis campaign grants committee allocated an additional $156,076 to 12 organizations (some had previously received funding). Grants were awarded to the following:
  • As the Spirit Moves Us (Portland’s Unshul) received $1,800 for loss of revenue
  • Cedar Sinai Park received an additional $33,333 to purchase personal protection equipment (PPE) for medical personnel and residents
  • Chabad of Northeast Portland received $3,000 for payroll support, rent support, and loss of revenue
  • Chabad at Reed College received $2,500 for payroll support and loss of revenue
  • Chabad of Southern Oregon received $3,600 for payroll support and loss of revenue
  • Congregation Ahavath Achim received $3,600 for payroll support
  • Congregation Kesser Israel received $10,000 for payroll support, loss of revenue, and cemetery maintenance
  • Congregation P’nai Or received $1,500 for loss of revenue
  • Congregation Shaarie Torah received $15,000 for loss of rental income from a pre-school tenant
  • Greater Portland Hillel received $10,000 for payroll support, rent support, and loss of program funding
  • Jewish Family and Child Service received an additional $66,743 for emergency financial assistance and mental health support
  • Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education received another $5,000 for payroll support
To date, we have granted $525,900 in funds to 28 different Jewish organizations in our community. It is our goal to have these funds last through at least June 30 to help support organizations, so more grants to come.
In addition to this communal support, 16 community organizations have now received almost $5.7 million in SBA loans (that can become grants) from the federal Paycheck Protection Program. These funds are a true blessing.
On Tuesday, community leaders participated in a call with Billy J. Williams, U.S. Attorney in Oregon, along with several of his colleagues. We had an important and productive discussion on ways to prevent and report anti-Semitic activities. Mr. Williams and his team could not have been more attentive to our community's needs.
I hope many of you had the opportunity to watch the special celebration of Israel's 72nd birthday. If you missed it, click here to watch the video (go to 1:00:12 to hear the Platt Brothers sing Ahavat Olam -- it is worth it).
This past Wednesday we held our second in our Weekly Wednesday Update series with six Jewish agency executive directors discussing challenges at their organizations. It was an informative discussion that showcased the resiliency of our Jewish community. For those unable to join us, you can watch a recording of the presentation here.
We have several future Wednesday programs lined up that we hope are of interest to you:
  • Wednesday, May 6 at 4:00 p.m. we will have the opportunity to speak with United States Senator Jeff Merkley. Register here.
  • Wednesday, May 13 at 1:00 p.m. we will have the opportunity to speak with United States Senator Ron Wyden.
More are being scheduled.
The Jewish Federation is starting a Young Adult Book ClubThose in their 20s and 30s are invited to join weekly Zoom discussions (starting on May 7) on Susan Jane Gilman’s novel, The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street. The story intertwines the rise of a female ice cream mogul with an immigrant’s story, the American Jewish desire to assimilate, women's rights issues, poverty, world wars, McCarthyism, the youth movement of the '60s, and more. Register here.
I want to acknowledge the passing of Albert (Al) Mendlovitz (z"l), former nursing home administrator at the Robison Home. He was 89 years old. You can watch the memorial service and shiva this Sunday from 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon by clicking here (password is shiva). May his memory be for a blessing.
Finally, we will be hosting another community-wide “Unity Shabbat” candle lighting on Friday, May 8 at 7:30 p.m. in honor of all mothers in our community. Join us! The last one was beautiful (and perhaps we can break our own world record!) Click here to register.
These virtual events and more can be found on our community calendar as we welcome May flowers.
Shabbat shalom.


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