Celebration All Around

I hope you enjoyed your 4th of July holiday. We are certainly fortunate to live in this great country. Especially as we watch the turmoil unfold in Egypt and other parts of the world.

This past week, the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland ended its current fiscal year. From all accounts it was a very positive year for our community.

  • Our annual campaign showed an increase in both dollars and number of donors. We were presented with a wonderful $100,000 challenge grant by an anonymous first-time donor. This grant encouraged people to increase their annual campaign commitment by 10% – it was amazing the number of people who met the match. Thank you to all of our donors – your support is never taken for granted and you truly do make an impact on Jewish Portland. And a special thank you to our Campaign leadership, especially Campaign Chairs Kim Rosenberg and Andrew Berlinberg.

  • One of our most important roles (and most challenging) is the distribution of our campaign funds raised. As I often say, it is not about the money, it is about what the money does. Due to our campaign success, we not only allocated more funds to our ten local partner agencies, we also provided additional resources for social services to Jewish communities around the world. More people will have access to vital services…more families will have financial assistance for their children to participate in Jewish day school, Jewish summer camp, and teen trips to Israel…our community is connected to more projects in Israel…and we were able to fund many new initiatives.

Under the leadership of Charlene Zidell and Simon Gottheiner, Chair and Co-Chair respectively of the Allocations Committee, our community process of distributing funds continues to evolve. Last year, the committee challenged itself to seek a different balance in how dollars were allocated. They made significant changes. And this year they continued on that path. In the end, when combining dollars allocated through the committee’s process and those directed by the Federation’s governing board, we are making an enormous impact on many areas of our community. Our allocations pool was divided:

Social Services – 29%
Outreach/Jewish Identity-Building initiatives – 26%
Social and Cultural Programs – 16%
Israel and Overseas Support – 16%
Formal Jewish Education – 13%

One important note is that just three years ago our community was spending only 12% of our funds on outreach and Jewish identity building initiatives. We recognize that with a growing community and lower affiliation rates, we need to do more to engage people in Jewish life. We are doing that and will continue to focus on that in the years ahead.


  • Beyond our continued allocations to past recipients, the Jewish Federation is also embarking on several new initiatives that we believe will make a difference in our Jewish community going forward.

First, we are excited to be the 5th community in North America to participate in GrapeVine. This unique “app” will provide you with greater access to all Jewish activities in Portland. GrapeVineseeks to be for the Jewish community what Amazon has done for books: suggests books you might like based on prior purchase history and friends’ purchases, and offers loyalty rewards points and discount coupons in order to encourage re-use. You will be able to navigate your own Jewish journey by getting connected with the right opportunities, programs, articles, and people that meet your interests and life stage at the right point in time. Also, organizations will be able to place their opportunities in front of a wider audience of potential target participants than can be accomplished on their own. And, perhaps most importantly, each program can track the impact it had on the participants’ long term Jewish identity and activity. More to come in the weeks and months ahead.

In addition, we have launched the Portland Mitzvah Network…set aside funds for smaller Jewish organizations to request for special programs and initiatives…have funds available for more Israel programming here in Portland…and were fortunate to receive a $35,000 grant for special eastside programs and initiatives.

Because of your generosity and support – we can do more to make a greater impact on our entire Jewish community.

  • For the upcoming year, Federation is looking at ways to increase participation in Jewish identity building initiatives, including potential incentive grants for families to send their children to Jewish pre-schools and additional grants for children attending Jewish overnight camp. We are also looking at potential collaboration opportunities, as well as ways to consolidate some of the core costs within the Jewish community.​

Due to space limitations, this is only a small snapshot of what we have accomplished. Our Annual Report in August will illuminate much of what we have accomplished, and I will share more in the near future.

These are exciting times and I am privileged to serve our community! On behalf of the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland, thank you for your continued support. We have accomplished a great deal in our 93-year history, yet with the rapid changes in American and world Jewry, we have much more work to be done.

The United States of America just celebrated its 237th birthday. We truly do live in a great country. Let’s also not forget that we live in an incredible Jewish community here in Portland. Thank you for making it what it is today…and what it can be for generations to come.



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