Good Mood and Chuckles

I am in a GREAT mood! How about those Atlanta Falcons?! Yes, I was born in Atlanta and continue to cheer for my Falcons. This is the team’s 50th anniversary since joining the NFL and only their second time in the Super Bowl (sadly, they were embarrassed against the Denver Broncos). I hope they can do better against the Patriots a week from Sunday.

Today is the United Nations designated International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On January 27, 1945, the Soviet army liberated Auschwitz. Here is a poignant article by David Harris of the American Jewish Committee and the World Jewish Congress created the #weremember campaign. Plus, Yad Vashem created a mini-site marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day, featuring a variety of resources, including online exhibitionseducational resources and their Facebook campaign, the IRemember Wall.

Last Sunday 25 young adults and Jewish communal professionals met for the challenge-identification stage of our Hackathon (to be held on May 21). This motivated and visionary group of young people began discussions about the challenges and opportunities present in our outreach to and engagement with young adults. I joined them for a small part of the program, and came away impressed by the depth of the conversations and their true desire to make things better.

The day’s agenda was filled with networking, goal setting, design thinking concepts (explained later), and a brainstorming session to develop the “challenge” to pose at the Hackathon. They were there to have a solutions-oriented conversation. People were focused on how we connect with young adults, recognizing that there are different stages in people lives (post-college, single, dating, married/partnered, married with children, etc.). We tend to do a good job of one-off events, yet we want long-term involvement with the Jewish community.

So, what is “design thinking?” It is really focused on the end-user and his/her experience. As I learned, it is moving through a process of inspiration (framing the challenge) to ideation (brainstorming and idea shaping) to implementation (experiment…learn…repeat). On May 21, we expect 200+ young adults to come out for the Community Hackathon (generously funded by the Covenant Foundation and PresenTense) and help to design solutions for involving more young adults in Jewish life. If you wish to participate, please contact Rachel Rothstein Nelson.

I want to welcome and introduce you to Timna Rockman, a very dynamic and engaging young Israeli woman here until May 31 to speak to students, faculty and administration in public, private, Jewish day and supplementary schools (primarily age 14 and older) about “real” life in Israel. She is also willing to speak to civic organizations and adult groups. Timna’s stay is funded by the Jewish Federation.  

As a teenager, Timna was involved in the Tzofim – the Israeli scouts. Later, she took on a leadership role with Tzofim and managed over 500 younger Israeli scouts. After high school, Timna served in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as an infantry commander training recruits about military conduct and the IDF ethical code. Following her army service, Timna received her B.A. in Jewish History from Ben Gurion University.

We would love to arrange for Timna to come speak to as many students and as many classes as possible at local schools. If you are interested, or think your child’s school would be, please email her at or follow her on Facebook.
With elections concluded at all levels of government, here is an important opportunity for you to get involved with our state officials. The Oregon legislature, which convenes in February, is facing a $1.8 billion deficit that could impact funding for vital human service programs our community cares deeply about. Our Jewish Community Relations Council has been busy meeting with leaders from both parties advocating against cuts to these services and is also one of the lead organizers of Interfaith Advocacy Day on February 7 in Salem. This is an excellent opportunity for YOU to join with the other faith advocates in learning about the issues and making our voices heard at the State Capitol. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to participate – register here

Earlier this week we learned of the passing of Mary Tyler Moore. Her two most famous shows, The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show were both part of my youth. She was incredibly talented and quite funny, plus a passionate advocate for diabetes research.

At the same time, it was reported that on May 21, after 146 years, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, “the Greatest Show on Earth,” will end its historic run. I grew up going to the circus and my father made sure to go every year. Plus, I fondly recall while living in Baltimore, the circus would arrive at the train station and then walk the performers and animals about a mile down my street to get to the arena. It was fun to get so close. But, I know many people have strong beliefs about how the circus animals and talent were treated. Yet, over the 146 years the show entertained millions and millions of people worldwide. One contributing factor to its attendance drop was the fact that the circus no longer had its elephants perform. 

So, what is the “connection” between the two? One of the funniest episodes (and a personal favorite) of The Mary Tyler Moore Show was called "Chuckles Bites the Dust." The basic premise is that news anchor Ted Baxter is hired as the grand marshal for a circus parade, but is ordered by Lou Grant to turn down the "honor." Ted is upset and learns that Chuckles the Clown was asked in his place. Tragedy strikes during the circus parade – enjoy this hilarious 25 minute episode.

Shabbat shalom.



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