Even MORE Happy Campers

The Jewish Federation of Greater Portland’s Annual Campaign has raised over $2 million in just 45 days! Thank you to those of you who have already made your commitment. If you have yet to do so, please click here and give generously. Remember, all new gifts and increases of 10% or more will be matched dollar for dollar.

And, please join me and hundreds of others for Super Sunday, our annual community phone-a-thon on Sunday, December 8. Click here to volunteer – and make an incredible difference.


There continues to be a great deal of discussion about the recent Pew Study report on the American Jewish community. The Jewish community is becoming less religious and we are seeing greater assimilation. Multiple studies have found that the following three experiences have the greatest impact on bucking these trends and strengthening one’s Jewish identity – Jewish day schools, Jewish overnight camp, and Israel experiences.

The Jewish Federation currently provides over $200,000 in financial assistance to our community’s three Jewish day schools. The Federation system is a major partner in funding Birthright Israel, and our community provides in excess of $30,000 annually for teens to go to Israel. And, we allocated $40,000 to support Oregon’s own B’nai B’rith Camp for this fiscal year.

We recognize our Jewish community must do even more!

I am proud to announce that the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland, in partnership with the Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC), has made a commitment to provide over $300,000 in incentive grants for children who wish to attend ANY approved Jewish overnight camp over the next four years.

FJC is the national organization dedicated to nonprofit Jewish overnight camping and access to vibrant Jewish experiences for campers. In 2006, FJC initiated a pilot program called the Campership Incentive Program – now called One Happy Camper – due to the generosity of an anonymous donor. The program was created with the singular mission of increasing the number of children benefiting from the transformative experience of Jewish summer camp. Aimed at attracting new campers, the program provides financial incentives – typically $1,000 – to first-time campers to motivate parents to choose Jewish summer camp over other summer options.

FJC provides matching grants to our Federation to finance the One Happy Camper program. The formula begins as a one-to-one match in the first two years of the program and recedes thereafter. Our Federation will operate and fund the program independently starting the fourth year.

The program in Portland will begin on December 1, 2013. This year, the Jewish Federation will provide 60-75 incentive grants for first-time campers from the Greater Portland area. These grants will be $1,000 for children attending camp for 19+ days or $700 for children attending camp for 12-18 days. It is very simple to do – enroll in an overnight Jewish camp and visit www.onehappycamper.org to fill out the online application. The Jewish Federation will take care of the rest. Any questions, please contact Bob Horenstein at 503-245-6219 or bob@jewishportland.org.

It is important to note that the national One Happy Camper program does not provide incentive grants to children who attend Jewish day schools. The Jewish Federation’s Board of Directors recognizes that day school families also benefit from the overnight Jewish camp experience so an additional $10,000 in incentive grants are available to day school students attending Jewish overnight camp for the first time.

The Jewish Federation is expanding first-time camp opportunities to as many children as possible. We are following the lead of B’nai B’rith Camp which has generously provided incentive grants for many years.

To learn more about your camp options, attend the Jewish Camp Fair at the MJCC on Sunday, January 12, 2014, or in the interim click here to explore camp options coast to coast. We believe that more children experiencing Jewish overnight camp will build a more positive Jewish future! And this is just one way your annual campaign contribution makes a difference!


Earlier in the week we saw the devastation left by Typhoon Haiyan. As we do with most natural disasters, Federation opened a “mailbox” for contributions. Our partner, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee is already on the ground and you can read more about their efforts.

You may not know about the Jewish connection to the Philippines. Alan Gill, CEO of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), shared the following…Seven decades ago, a Philippine president, a globetrotting Jewish family named Frieder and the JDC saved the lives of more than 1,000 Jews who otherwise would have almost certainly died in the Holocaust.

Thanks to their initiative, these refugees were issued rare travel certificates to the Asian country to work as skilled laborers in the Frieders’ cigar factories in Manila though in reality, few of them had any experience in the industry whatsoever. The audacious operation is the subject of the recently released documentary “Rescue in the Philippines.”

At the time that Manuel Quezon admitted Jews to his country, the Filipino president made what seems today like a remarkably prescient statement, “The people of the Philippines will have in the future every reason to be glad that when the time of need came, their country was willing to extend a welcome hand.”

We recalled this moment in history last week when we began watching coverage of the super typhoon Haiyan the strongest storm in recorded history as it barreled toward the Philippines. In anticipation of the impact, JDC’s disaster relief and development staff assembled a contingency plan that went into full effect once news emerged of the death and destruction wrought by Haiyan.

As part of our ongoing response to the typhoon, JDC will ship critically important food, shelter, and hygiene and medical supplies as well as ensure the provision of water and sanitation items and shelter support through its partners, the Afya Foundation and Catholic Relief Services. JDC’s advance team of disaster relief experts are in the Philippines assessing damage and needs while consulting with our local/international partners and the Filipino Jewish community to ensure maximum impact for storm survivors.

These efforts now come full circle, especially for one member of the JDC team arriving in the Philippines later this week, Danny Pins. Pins’ mother and grandparents were among the German Jews who fled to the Philippines to seek safe haven in 1938.

Today, in the wake of one of the worst storms in history, with perhaps more than 10,000 dead and hundreds of thousands homeless, we are fully committed to fulfilling President Quezon’s prophecy and returning the favor to the Filipino people. Not just because we are Jews, the heirs to this nation’s life-saving actions, but because we firmly believe in mutual responsibility and the idea that each individual life is valuable beyond measure.

Shabbat shalom.


PS – As I mentioned last week, look for the exciting launch of GrapeVine on Monday. You will receive an email inviting you to participate. Take the 3-5 minutes to register (it is very easy!) and be on your way to even greater involvement in our Jewish community.


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