Feedback Makes Us Better

Long ago, someone told me that the greatest gift anyone can ever give you is honest and frank feedback. I must tell you that the most important professional feedback I have received since starting my job at the Jewish Federation came from Merritt Yoelin and Bobbie Fields. Without going into details, when they shared their thoughts with me, I recognized I had two ways to “hear” the message. I could discount their comments or truly take it to heart. Well, not only was I thankful they shared what they did, but moreover, it enabled me to grow and be a better professional. For that I will always be grateful.

Unfortunately, this past week our community lost Merritt, a wonderful leader and involved communal partner. Merritt was a unique individual who seemingly attended every communal event (for both joy and obligation), never sought the limelight, yet when called upon, took a leading role, including serving as president of Congregation Neveh Shalom and Jewish Family and Child Service, among other positions in numerous other organizations (including treasurer at the Jewish Federation).

As Alan Spinrad, managing partner of Samuels Yoelin, stated in the Portland Business Journal, “Merritt leaves behind an inspiring legacy of service – to his clients, his colleagues, his community, and his family.” His presence, smile, and wise counsel will be sorely missed.

May Merritt’s memory be for a blessing and the family comforted by the mourners of Zion.


I grew from the feedback shared by Merritt and Bobbie, and continue to learn each and every day. At the same time, Federation strives to serve our community as best it can. We can only do that with your assistance. Since the day I started my position here at Federation, I continue to welcome your feedback, comments and thoughts. Feel free to call me at 503-245-6482 or email me at at any time.

I think it is important to provide you with a quick update on the controversial ads on the sides of TriMet buses and trains. As I mentioned three weeks ago, there are currently ads featuring the headline “Palestinian Loss of Land” posted on several TriMet vehicles. By next week, you will see two response ads, one sponsored by a private individual in New York and the other by a national Jewish organization. Please note that the Jewish Federation is not involved with nor endorses either of these two new ads. At the same time, our Community Relations Committee is monitoring the situation.
Since this issue has garnered so much attention in the press, Drew Blevins, TriMet’s Director of Marketing and Customer Information, shared the following statement, “In the past, TriMet’s advertising policy has only allowed ads that were commercial in nature, defined by the promotion of goods or services. Non-commercial ads were not allowed, as we didn’t want to open our doors to all advertisements. A 2008 Multnomah County Circuit Court ruling concluded that our advertising policy could not limit the categories of advertising accepted. The Oregon Supreme Court is now reviewing that decision. TriMet has asked the Court to treat us like any other entrepreneurial advertising media and to allow us to make reasonable determinations as to the categories of advertising we will accept. While awaiting the Court’s decision, TriMet is in the unfortunate position of having to accept all advertising.

We acknowledge that ads like these, indeed, make things challenging for everyone. We began to permit advertising on TriMet buses and trains to create a source of revenue for the good of TriMet and our customers.

While TriMet supports our constitutions and the free speech they ensure, we recognize that our purpose is to unite our communities through transit. We are disappointed that the sides of our buses and trains have become a medium for divisive discussions, and we apologize to you. We hope that when the Oregon Supreme Court decides the case that we will once again be allowed to limit advertising to commercial goods and services.”

We will continue to keep you informed of any major developments.

The Jewish Federation is continuing its push for our Annual Campaign to raise $2.5 million by November 30. As I mentioned last week, our community is blessed to have an anonymous donor who will match all Annual Campaign increases of 10% or more and all new gifts for up to $100,000. Since we announced this exciting opportunity, I am delighted to say that almost every commitment since last week to our Annual Campaign has met or exceeded the challenge grant. I have shared this with the anonymous donor who is thrilled to see such a positive response. Now, if you have yet to do so, it is your opportunity to join hundreds of others in our community and make your increased commitment today by clicking here.

Finally, do not miss Federation’s Campaign Kick-Off Event on October 28 featuring Jerry Greenfield of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. Join over 425 people for what promises to be a fun evening where we will celebrate all that Jewish Portland has to offer.

Shabbat shalom.



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