As we approach the end of the calendar year, please make your tax deductible contribution/payment. (To pay by check -- 9900 SW Greenburg Road, Suite 220, Tigard, OR 97223 -- must be postmarked by December 31.) I am proud that our Jewish Federation has the highest payment rate on pledges of any in the country.
In addition, you can also make your pledge to the Jewish Federation’s 2023 Campaign for Community Needs. Payment on these pledges is not due until December 2023. Every gift makes a difference. Please give generously.
I am unsure if 2022 was a year that went by quickly or not. Either way, here are some things to remember (in chronological order) from this past year:
- Covid continues, but organizations are operating close to normal.
- Colleyville synagogue hostage crisis.
- Russian invasion of Ukraine. Our Jewish community immediately responded and raised $450,000 for humanitarian aid. We raised an additional $150,000 to support refugees who come to Portland. We have already helped several families with more arriving in mid-January.
- Our Federation’s Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), in partnership with the Vancouver Avenue First Baptist Church, participated in an inspiring Civil Rights Trip to Atlanta, Selma, Montgomery, and Birmingham.
- Lauren Goldstein concluded her three-year term as Board Chair, and we welcomed Mindy Zeitzer as our new Board Chair.
- The Department of Homeland Security and FEMA provided five Jewish organizations in the State of Oregon $813,423 to enhance and upgrade their security infrastructure.
- Hurricane Fiona ravaged through Puerto Rico and Hurricane Ian devastated the Gulf Coast of Florida.
- The Jewish Federation held its Gala to belatedly celebrate its 100th anniversary. It was the Federation’s first in-person large event since the pandemic.
- The Jewish Federation launched its first Community Study since 2008. The field research will be completed next month and results shared with the community in May 2023. Once again, if you received the survey via email (check your spam folder) or via phone call/text, please take the time to respond.
- Our community celebrated the 5th anniversary of Rachel’s Well Community Mikvah.
- The fifth Israeli election in two years, Benjamin Netanyahu was installed as the new Prime Minister along with his coalition.
Speaking of the new Israeli government, we will hold a webinar on Wednesday, January 4 at 10:00 am. This briefing will feature Israel Democracy Institute President Yohanan Plesner. Register here.
We have scheduled a second webinar on Thursday, January 12 at
8:00 am on understanding the LGBTQ+ landscape in Israel today, addressing the implications of the coalition’s inclusion of outspoken opponents of LGBTQ+ rights. Register here.
Last June, I shared my gratitude for the professional teams at the Jewish Federation and across the community. The work these individuals do on behalf of the Jewish community should not go unnoticed.
Recently, a community member asked me when will I celebrate the incredible volunteer leaders in Greater Portland? I shared that it was my intention to do just that – this week.
Today, I am focusing on those volunteers serving on Jewish organizational boards and committees. (At a later date I will discuss the impact the hundreds who give so much time and energy to do hands-on volunteer work.)
To serve on any non-profit board is special. Board members are the fiduciaries who steer our Jewish organizations towards a sustainable future by adopting sound, ethical, and legal governance, as well as by making sure the organization has adequate resources to advance its mission. Board members provide foresight, oversight, and insight. They are, in many ways, the unsung heroes of our Jewish community. Our work cannot be done without your leadership and commitment!
The board of directors of a nonprofit has three primary legal duties:
- Duty of Care: Take care of the nonprofit by ensuring prudent use of all assets, including facility, people, and good will;
- Duty of Loyalty: Ensure that a nonprofit's activities and transactions are, first and foremost, advancing its mission; make decisions that are in the best interest of the nonprofit.
- Duty of Obedience: Ensure that the nonprofit obeys applicable laws and regulations; follows its own bylaws; and that the nonprofit adheres to its stated corporate purposes/mission.
Board members also play very significant roles providing guidance to the organization’s culture, strategic focus, effectiveness, and financial sustainability, as well as serving as ambassadors and advocates.
In addition, most of our Jewish organizations have committees (not solely made up of members of the Board). Like boards, these committees engage people from across the community, do incredible amounts of work, and have important decision-making responsibilities. Plus, committees are excellent entry points for involvement and a wonderful way to learn about the inner workings of an organization.
One observation I would like to share as we enter the new year is the challenge of finding people interested in serving on boards and committees. In the “old days” it was considered an honor and privilege. Today, I am unsure if people feel that way. That saddens me.
I do believe people are interested in serving. However, the comments I often hear are “I am too busy” or "Why me? There are so many other people you can ask." First, I believe people were just as busy with work, children, etc. 10, 20, and 30 years ago. People found, better yet, made the time, to serve the community. And if you are being asked, it is after much discussion and for all the right reasons.
At the same time, I acknowledge the significant role families play in giving people the time and space to do this special work. Like most things in life, it is a partnership.
Our organizations need talented people – young people and “veterans” alike -- serving in these important roles. Therefore, in the new year, I hope that if asked or interested you will strongly consider the important role you can play in shaping that organization and our community as a whole.
To all those currently serving – yasher koach and thank you -- may you continue to provide your wisdom so our Jewish communal organizations go from strength to strength. And for those who are asked, see the honor and opportunity and say yes. It will be a most worthwhile, meaningful, and rewarding experience to see your good work and decisions in action.
Shabbat shalom and warmest wishes to you and your family for a healthy and happy secular new year.
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