Happy Times in the Month of Adar

Adar is the happiest, most joyous month of the Hebrew calendar. In fact, its motto is “When Adar comes, joy is increased.” The abundance of joy in Adar is primarily due to the holiday of Purim falling within the month. Purim commemorates the courageous effort of Esther to save the Jewish people from a genocidal plot by the wicked Haman. Although Purim is next week, there is no reason we cannot celebrate now many of our recent achievements.

On Monday night, I attended the Jewish Federation’s Women’s Philanthropy IMPACT event with 300 women. It was a beautiful evening Co-Chaired by Evelyn Maizels, Robyn Spring, and Kathy Davis-Weiner. The theme, “Ripples of Hope/Waves of Change,” was evident throughout the night with many community “veterans” and many newcomers in attendance.

Portland’s own, Rabbi Shawn Fields-Meyer, provided a moving and inspiring talk about how we are all role models for one another. Rabbi Fields-Meyer challenged the audience to think about how their actions may impact others to act using Queen Esther as her example. We each have people who are true inspirations in our life based on their words and deeds, yet in most cases those people may never know the impact they have on you. Therefore, realize that in some way we become part of “someone else’s story” and how they live their lives -- so always be a positive role model for others.

Also, at the event, Lauren Shleifer Goldstein shared her reflections about the Portland Jewish community and her recent trip to Israel with the Jewish Federation. Lauren talked about when she came home, her young son, Jack, asked, “Mommy, did you help a lot of people over there?” Lauren shared stories of her visits to two programs our Jewish Federation funds in Israel (Neve Michael Youth Village and the playground at the Goldstein Youth Village). She also mentioned the impact our local communal agencies have had on her, including the Portland Jewish Academy, where her children attend, and Cedar Sinai Park, where her relatives have been cared for and where she met her husband.

Although I do not believe he receives my weekly email -- Jack, I want you to know that your mommy not only helped the people in Israel, but she helps Jewish people every day here in Portland and around the world. Be proud of her! I have no doubt, as Rabbi Fields-Meyer said, her actions are an inspiration to you.

To close the evening, Women’s Philanthropy (WP) Chair, Michelle Caplan, shared her vision for a more inclusive approach to women’s giving and her desire for input to enhance WP going forward. Feel free to share your thoughts – we value them.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that this was the first kosher community event ever held at The Nines Hotel. Although not an official policy of the Jewish Federation, it is important for our large community events to be kosher so we are inclusive of all members of our Jewish community. We appreciate the efforts of Oregon Kosher and the hotel in making this possible.

On an important separate note, after years of effort by the Jewish Federation’s Community Relations Committee, in consultation with many of our elected officials, HB 4110 -- which strongly encourages the Oregon Investment Council to divest from multinational energy companies operating in Iran -- passed in the Oregon Senate by a vote of 26-2 with two not voting. It passed in the House ten days earlier by a vote of 57-0. We have every expectation that Governor Kitzhaber will sign this important bill. We are grateful to Rep. Mitch Greenlick, the bill’s chief sponsor, Senator Ginny Burdick, who led the cause in the Senate, and State Treasurer Ted Wheeler for their commitment. This will make Oregon one of over 20 states to pass such legislation.

One of Federation’s Community Impact Grant projects is a study of the “east side Jewish community.” We have been working with DHM Research and representatives from various Jewish communal institutions to develop an appropriate market survey. If you live on the east side, please participate in the survey by clicking here.

Two important things you can do to help maximize the number of responses (to date we have received over 280 surveys as we strive to get over 500):

1.    Fill out the survey if you live on the east side of Portland. If you do not live there, you are still welcome to provide your thoughts and responses.

2.    Spread the word by sharing the link (via email, FacebookTwitter, word of mouth) with anyone you know living on the east side. It is one thing to “connect” with people we do know in our Jewish community; it is another to reach those we do not know. You can be that resource.

Finally, mazel tov to PJ library on its 5th anniversary in Portland. Started with the foresight of the Oregon Jewish Community Foundation, and currently managed by the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland (with our partners the MJCC, PJA, and OJCF) over 1,400 children to date have received free monthly Jewish children’s books. This is an incredible achievement! We are fast approaching our capacity of 1,000 children currently receiving books, yet we hope to extend the eligible age beyond age 6 and expand the number of subscriptions.

I have written before how much I love the PJ Library program. It is an incredible way to create Jewish “family time,” as well as engage people through a variety of outreach and educational initiatives. We are grateful to the Harold Grinspoon Foundation and our local funders for making this incredible program possible.

May the month of Adar continue to be one of joy and happiness for all of us. We truly have so much to celebrate in our community.

Chag Purim Sameach (Happy Purim) next week and enjoy the reading of the Megillat Esther.

Shabbat shalom.



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