Catching Up

Sadly, I've spent the past few weeks writing about saftey and security needs in our Jewish community. Please attend a Town Hall Meeting at the Mittleman Jewish Community Center on Tuesday, April 4th at 6:30 p.m. This will be a community conversation and panel discussion focusing on the spiritual, emotional, and political response to the issues facing the Jewish community. This program is free and open to everyone.  

It has been a while since I have updated the community on a whole range of issues and opportunities. This week I thought I would catch up on a few things happening at the Jewish Federation, around our Jewish community, and the Jewish world.

•The Jewish Federation’s Annual Campaign has raised in excess of $3.2 million! We still have several months left in the campaign. If you have yet to do so, please help meet our community’s needs by making your contribution today. 

•We need your help again this year to ensure that everyone can celebrate Passover this year.  Passover4all helps the many in our area who struggle each year to celebrate Passover, one of the most cherished holidays on the Jewish calendar. For some, getting the items needed for the Passover seder is difficult, if not impossible. A gift to Passover4all will provide food boxes to local people in need for the holiday.  Please consider helping families with a donation of $36 or more which provides kosher chicken, eggs, matzah, gefilte fish, potatoes, and wine.  With your generous contributions (our goal is to raise $5,000 in just ten days) , we will get food boxes to 120 individuals and families throughout the Portland and SW Washington areas through the combined efforts of Congregation Kesser Israel, Jewish Family & Child Service, and the Jewish Federation.

•Our Jewish Free Loan of Greater Portland program made two new loans this past week, including our first $4,000 loan (the maximum amount someone can request). We are delighted to have this program for our community for “life’s ups and downs.” We have made eleven loans to date, four of them just in the past month. Loans are available for a diverse range of needs from moving expenses to tuition to home repair. For more information on how to apply or donate to support our interest-free loan program visit us online.

•Our community is blessed to have many kosher food options (including meat) at grocery stores, including the Safeway on Barbur Boulevard and Trader Joe’s. We have also been working with New Seasons as they wish to be more supportive of their Jewish clientele.

For the last several years, Jewish Federation has had a tabling time combined with a holiday-related tasting around Rosh HaShanah, Chanukah & Passover. In addition, our Director of Community Engagement, Caron Blau Rothstein, has met with the staff of Raleigh Hills and other New Seasons locations to train them about how they can better serve the Jewish community around these key holiday times. Just last week Caron “shopped” the Raleigh Hills Passover section to provide feedback about the items and their placement. We hope this helps Jews across Portland access food they need in celebration of our beautiful Jewish holidays.

•Last September, our Portland Area Jewish Educator’s (PAJE) group offered Yom Limmud, a day of learning for over 70 educators in our community. This Sunday, twenty educators will continue their learning with two important sessions focusing on autism and anxiety in the classroom and classroom management through a Jewish lens. Our Jewish preschool educators will be able to receive credit towards their licensure by participating in this program. The Jewish Federation is proud to convene our local Jewish educators and provide continuing professional development opportunities.

•Last June, seven members of the Greater Portland LGBTQ+ community went on a national Federation-sponsored mission to Israel. Since their return, the Jewish Federation has helped convene volunteer and professional leaders in our Jewish community to work together on issues of LGBTQ+ inclusion and participation in the Jewish community.

We are delighted that plans are being made to create an entire weekend of activities centered around the Pride Festival June 16-18. Many Jewish organizations will be hosting Friday night Shabbat dinners. Saturday night will be a party for Queer Jews. And, Sunday everyone will come together to march in the Portland Pride Festival parade. Stay tuned for more details.

•I am pleased that the construction of our new community mikvah continues to move forward. Unfortunately we have had some delays due to weather, but we are excited that in about two months it will open. We will share more as we get closer and are delighted to be bringing another mikvah to our community.

•Many of us I hope were following the Cinderella story of Team Israel at the World Baseball Classic. Israel stunned the baseball world by opening the tournament with four straight victories, including beating Cuba, South Korea, Taiwan, and the Netherlands. Israel, the lowest-ranked team to qualify for the tournament (this was their first time) dropped its last two games (including to powerhouse Japan) in the second round and will unfortunately not advance to the semifinals next week.

Most of the players are American Jews, among them several former major leaguers and current minor leaguers. World Baseball Classic rules state that players who are eligible for citizenship of a country may play on its team.

•This past week, Intel announced it will buy Mobileye, the Israeli collision avoidance company based on technology developed by Hebrew University Sachs Professor of Computer Science Amnon Shashua. You can read more about this historic deal for an Israeli tech company in The New York TimesFortuneFinancial Times and Techcrunch.

Our community has the Oregon-Israel Business Alliance (OIBA) focused on connecting Oregon-based business to Israeli counterparts, and vice-versa. The OIBA works with business professionals, governmental officials, universities, and economic development agencies to expand business and economic relations between the State of Oregon and Israel. 

There is always a lot going on in our Jewish community. Make sure you check-out the Community Calendar to see all the events and participate in those of meaning to you.

Shabbat shalom.



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