Galaxies Far Far Away - July 22, 2022

You do not have to be a fan of the television show, The Big Bang Theory, to be fascinated by the incredible pictures coming from the James Webb Telescope. On July 12, the first five scientific images taken by the telescope were released to the public. The details are amazing and carry news about the early universe, the birth and death of stars, the collision of galaxies, and the atmospheres of planets not in our solar system.
The telescope is 100 times more powerful than the Hubble Telescope and has already traveled one million miles from earth with a mission to peer out (that is, to look back) at the moment when the first stars turned on and cleared away limitless clouds of primordial gas. The photos we are seeing are actually pictures of those galaxies as they were 13.6 billion years ago
I am no NASA scientist, but as I understand it, the universe is so large that it takes light an incredible amount of time to cross it. Some of those galaxies may have been eaten by a black hole by now. Some may have collided with neighboring galaxies and changed their structure. The telescope is showing us a snapshot of how the cosmos was long before humans ever looked up at the night sky and named the stars. The Earth is only 4.5 billion years old. We are seeing an extremely small corner of the sky when it was roughly 3 times older than our world.
It is important to understand when looking at the photos that while there are a few interloper stars in the photo, nearly every dot in the image is a galaxy. For a sense of scale, if you could hold a grain of sand at arm’s length up to the sky, that spec is the size of the view. It is one minuscule sliver of our universe, filled with thousands of galaxies, each with billions or trillions of star systems in each of those with its own planets. How amazing!!!
Readers of the first book of the Torah, Bereshit — Genesis — learn about a time when the universe was tohu vavohu — when all was formless and dark — and there is a strong chance that the Webb Telescope will show us the very moment when something happened and then there was light. Maybe we will see that moment of creation? Who/what made that moment happen is for you to decide. 
As we enjoy the beautiful summer months, here are several important happenings:
Eugene -- “Track Town USA,” has been hosting the World Athletics Championships, the first time an American city has ever hosted the event. Quite an accomplishment and the stadium looks great on TV! At the same time, Israel is hosting the 21st Maccabiah Games, the world’s largest Jewish athletic competition and the third largest athletic competition in the world. The Games take place every four years.
We should be very excited because we have three people with Portland connections at the Games. Glen Coblens is serving as the Head Coach of Team USA Men's Over 45 Basketball Team. Jodi Berris won a silver medal with the USA Women’s Ice Hockey Team. And Portland Winterhawks (of the Western Hockey League) defenseman, Josh Moris, is serving as captain of Canada’s U18 Junior Ice Hockey Team who will be playing in the gold medal game. What a great opportunity for them all.
Support the Ukrainian Refugee Fund! As of today, we are less than $6,000 from our goal of $150,000. Before the refugees begin to arrive, it is incumbent upon the community to have financial resources available to provide housing, transportation, food, counseling, job training, and legal assistance. Please consider donating to this important effort by clicking here or sending a check to JFGP, 9900 SW Greenburg Road, Suite 220, Tigard, OR 97223.
For the past eleven years, the Jewish Federation has sponsored a team for Hood to CoastWe are in need of one female runner and two volunteers to help during the race. Volunteer shifts are anywhere from Mt. Hood to Seaside, along the route with 4-5 hour shifts through the day and night August 26-27. Click here if interested. 
Please join the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education (OJMCHE), the Jewish Federation, and various community partners at two special August events. Whether you are new to Portland or simply interested in connecting with community members your age, we invite you to join Adjunct Curator for Special Exhibitions Bruce Guenther and OJMCHE Director Judy Margles for a tour of Turning Inward, JUDY CHICAGO, From the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation followed by a reception on OJMCHE’s stunning rooftop patio. Tickets for each event are $10.
Community Members Ages 45 and Under: August 4, 2022, at 5:30 p.m. This event is co-hosted by the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland, Moishe House, Moishe Pod WestPDX, OneTable, and OJMCHE. Register here.
Community Members Ages 45+: August 23, 2022, at 11:00 a.m. This event is co-hosted by the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland, the Mittleman Jewish Community Center, and OJMCHE. Register here 
The Jewish Federation’s Women’s Philanthropy is proud to sponsor Dignity Grows, which provides monthly personal and menstrual hygiene products to women, girls, and individuals who menstruate, who cannot afford them. In fact, 1 in 4 menstruators in the United States lack the financial resources to purchase basic menstrual hygiene necessities, also known as “period poverty.” To date, over 1500 totes have been distributed to community partners.
Dignity Grows is sponsoring its Red Tent Event on Sunday, August 28 at 7:00 p.m. at Congregation Neveh Shalom. Your registration will fill Dignity Grows totes with a month’s supply of hygiene and period necessities for those in need. Registration is $10 – the cost of one tote -- register here. 
Do not forget to sign-up for the Centennial Trip to Israel, scheduled for March 20-28, 2023. Join us in Israel as we celebrate Israel’s 75th. Spaces are filling fast! You will not find a better price -- $3,600 for adults and $2,500 for children ages 5-17. This will be a trip of a lifetime and we hope you will join us. Click here for more information.
Shabbat shalom.


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