Greater Than The Doer - August 25, 2023

When I grew up, the end of summer was Labor Day (officially it ends September 23). Children went back to school and white shoes were off limits. Times have changed. Area schools start next week (I wish all the students and teachers a safe and fulfilling year) and white shoes seem to be okay year-round.


It is also the beginning of the Jewish Federation’s 2024 Campaign for Community Needs. We are honored to have Leslie Beard and Jack Birnbach serve as our Campaign Co-Chairs. Here is a beautiful article from this week’s Jewish Review about how they developed their passion for Jewish life.


To prepare for the campaign, we held a campaign volunteer training. Three past Jewish Federation Campaign Chairs: Priscilla Kostiner, Steven Kahn, and Mark Zeitzer provided their insights on the best ways to have a “Jewish conversation” with potential donors.


For many of us, the prospect of asking for money conjures discomfort and fear of rejection. Think how easy it is to ignore the dinnertime phone solicitation or rip up the direct mail fundraising letter, yet most dread being the one to actually ask others for charitable contributions?


A colleague once shared, "Tzedakah is a part of our collective Jewish history -- 'equal in value to all the other commandments combined.' Perhaps tzedakah is viewed so highly because it encapsulates so many integral Jewish values -- loving your neighbor, respecting others, repairing the world, and performing righteous acts. But what about the critical job of the asker? Do we consider the vital and inspiring role of the tzedakah collector? How is the act of asking someone for money a sacred Jewish experience?"


The first tractate of the Babylonian Talmud, Bava Batra, deals extensively with the matters of charity. In it contains the following phrase, “She/He who causes others to do good is greater than the doer.”


If a person convinces another person to give, her/his reward is greater than when giving personally. When you ask someone for tzedakah, you give them an opportunity to perform a mitzvah that they may not have done on their own. You are leading them to perform a righteous act and helping to change the world. Some argue the donor should actually thank them for asking!


Thank you to all our campaign volunteers -- they are community members like you -- for believing in the work of the Jewish Federation and for being willing to call on others to participate in our community’s campaign! Asking is both an honor and a privilege.


When you are contacted for the 2024 Campaign for Community Needs -- please respond positively and generously -- and even say thank you! The volunteers are not asking for themselves -- they are asking on behalf of our Jewish community. They are doing a beautiful mitzvah.


As part of our campaign efforts, we have two great fall events:


  • JuJu Chang is the Women’s IMPACT speaker on November 16. JuJu is an Emmy Award-winning co-anchor of ABC News Nightline. A Jew by choice, JuJu will share her personal journey to Judaism and Jewish identity and will discuss the historical parallels between Asian hate and antisemitism.


  • Fran Drescherwho played the lovable “Miss Fine” on the hit TV series, The Nanny, will be our “Spotlight” community campaign event speaker on December 2. Fran currently serves as president of 160,000-member SAG-AFTRA labor union and is the founder of the Cancer Schmancer Movement.


A few quick highlights and things to look for:


  • For those who missed it last weekend, you can watch Mindy Zeitzer, Chair of the Board, and myself on KGW’s Straight TalkWe had the opportunity to share insights from the Community Study.


  • We are excited to announce our Family Mission to IsraelAugust 6-16, 2024. There are only 180 spots available and as of now we are almost half-way there! It is still early and hope you will consider bringing your family with us. Add your name to the interested list.


  • Mazel tov on the formal dedication of the new Chabad Torah Center on NE 9th Avenue. The Chabad Torah Center serves as the hub for Maimonides Jewish Day School and Chabad of Northeast Portland and also provides Jewish opportunities and services to people of all ages located in Portland’s inner eastside.


  • I had the opportunity to attend (and sit next to several Israel trip participants) the Portland premiere of the new movie, Goldastarring Helen Mirren. The movie focuses exclusively on Prime Minister Golda Meir’s leadership during the Yom Kippur War. In the movie, she is portrayed as the “steady hand” as compared to the military people around her. As one movie reviewer wrote, “The movie is a compelling case of how good leaders bear not only the weight of monumental decisions, but also the fallout." It is worth seeing.



  • Jewish Family and Child Service is doing a virtual “Disability Empowerment Hour” on August 30 at 1:00 p.m. This is a roundtable discussion with JFCS professionals for our disabled community and their allies to share their thoughts and needs. Make your voices heard! Click here to register and to receive the Zoom link.


  • Dr. Rick Hodes will be speaking in the evenings of September 11 (at Mittleman Jewish Community Center) and September 12 (at Eastside Jewish Commons). Dr. Hodes is a true Jewish hero. He was in charge of the health care of all Ethiopian immigrants to Israel from late 1990 until 2016, about 1% of the Israeli population. He also participated in Operation Solomon, the historic airlift of over 14,000 Ethiopians to Israel in 36 hours. Today, Dr. Hodes directs JDC’s non-sectarian medical programs, including cardiac care and treatment of spine disease. He has been inducted into the Medical Mission Hall of Fame and has been selected a “CNN Hero.” You can register here.


More information is coming over the next few weeks but mark your calendars now.


Shabbat shalom.


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