Future Impact - December 15, 2023

When our fiscal year began in July, the Jewish Federation’s focus was to address the multitude of opportunities identified from our recent Community Study. Our Jewish community now numbers over 56,000, we live all over the metro area, there are tremendous financial and mental health needs, and more. The Jewish Federation created “impact teams” to develop recommendations to address the multitude of opportunities and challenges based on the study. (More on that below.)


Everything changed on October 7.


Our hearts and attention turned to the current war between Israel and Hamas. First, the Jewish Federation brought our community together in solidarity. We immediately organized an Israel Emergency Fund that has now raised $2.1 million with every dollar already providing trauma and financial support in Israel. And now, we are leading the local fight against antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiments. 


Our strength is our collective power! 


Now, we MUST focus on our local community. Our annual campaign is the “engine” that enables the Jewish Federation and community to respond to world events like the attacks on October 7. Our Jewish communal infrastructure – locally and in Israel – was already in place and ready to go. We are here 365 days a year to fight antisemitism and to help secure our community. With your generous gift to the annual campaign, you ensure that every day we are prepared for tomorrow.


Together, with your generosity, we will meet the needs of today and the demands of tomorrow. We will stand in solidarity with Israel and fight hate here in Portland. We will keep our community safe. We will educate our youth, care for the elderly, and ensure a strong Jewish future. This is only possible because of YOU and your critical support.


As we approach the end of the calendar year, if you have yet to do so, please make your commitment to the 2024 Campaign for Community Needs (payment is not due until December 2024). For those who can take advantage of year-end tax savings, feel free to pay before the end of the calendar year.


Thank you for your compassion, caring, and past generosity. Your ongoing support for our Jewish community is needed now, more than ever. With your campaign commitment, our community will remain strong today, tomorrow, and years into the future. I look forward to to your support. 




As I mentioned above, despite everything else going on with the Israel-Hamas war and issues of antisemitism, our work continues to map the next steps guided by our Community Study completed last June. Greater Portland now has a foundation of concrete data upon which to build a stronger, more vibrant, more integrated, and connected Jewish community for community members to engage in for the first time or more deeply than ever. The best way forward is TOGETHER.


To that end, we have assembled seven “Impact Teams” to dive deeper into the high priority/high value areas suggested/indicated by the study results and recommendations. Each team has been meeting to learn more about their priority area and develop a list of thoughtful recommendations for tactics/programs/resources to effect future impact in our community.


Recommendations will be reviewed by a steering committee, understanding that some will be funded and others may not. We will balance ambition with realism.


These are the initial priority areas (over time others may be identified.)


  • Mental Health—34% of households require mental health services


  • Jewish Literacy throughout the lifespan -- 21% of Jewish adults are not confident enough in their Jewish knowledge to attend community events. 12% of eligible children are in a Jewish ECE program. 17% of Jewish K-12 students are enrolled in some form of formal Jewish education. 36% in K-12 attend a Jewish day/overnight camp, 33% attend non-Jewish camps.


  • Jewish Engagement/Gatherings – People are searching for avenues to meet Jews in traditional and non-traditional Jewish spaces.


  • Israel Engagement -- 46% of Jewish adults are emotionally attached to Israel. Only 26% identify as Zionists. 65% consider it important for Israel to be a Jewish state but only 43% believe Israel lives up to its values with respect to human rights.


  • Broaden/Expand Geographic Distribution of Programs & Services -- 29% of people say traffic/location makes it difficult to attend Jewish community events.


  • Volunteerism/Activism/Social Justice -- 47% of adults volunteered, yet only 19% volunteered for or with a Jewish organization.


  • Jewish Poverty -- 26% of Jewish households say either they cannot make ends meet or are just managing to make ends meet. 21% of people say expense is a barrier to participation in Jewish community.


We will update the community as we move forward in the process. To say the least, we are excited by this opportunity for our community to think and be different, especially based on the data from the Community Study.


A few quick notes:


  • Kudos to our Finance Committee, Chief Financial Officer, Ben Winkleblack, and Finance Assistant, Julie Alferez, for again making sure we have clean audit. We take our finance and accounting systems very seriously and are grateful for the excellent work being done. Nothing is more important than your trust in the work we do and how we manage your contributions.


  • Sign-up for our weekly Wednesday webinar series and hear voices on the ground in Israel. The presenters to date have been remarkable. This past week we heard from a survivor from Kibbutz Be’eri – recording hereNext week we will hear from the folks at Israel Story podcast, often called “the Israeli ‘This American Life.’” Register here.


  • Listen here to the latest Jewish Review podcast. Host Rockne Roll explores the onslaught of antisemitism with Bob Horenstein and Rachel Nelson from the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland. This is the first of a two-part series on antisemitism.


  • Our Next Gen division is kicking off the new year with L’Chaim and Laughter, a young adult evening of comedy and cocktails featuring the Sklar Brothers on January 3 at 7:00 p.m. at the Eastside Jewish Commons. This event is in partnership of Federation’s PDX Cross Collaboration Committee, a representation of our Jewish organizations in the young adult space currently including CBI’s Jews Next Dor, Greater Portland Hillel, Moishe House, MOTS, Neveh Shalom, One Table, and Portland Jewish Connection. The event marks the first official Next Gen event of 2024 and a new collaboration of engagement for our young adult community. It’s going to be an amazing evening -- register here.


Shabbat shalom. And for those students and families (even some in Portland who will leave early) have a safe and wonderful winter break.


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