Heard at the Annual Meeting

This past Tuesday, the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland hosted its 97th Annual Meeting, generously sponsored by Bullard Law. It was an opportunity for Ed Tonkin (in his fun and lighthearted way), Chairman of the Board, and I to provide a year in review and expand on our community’s successes. We discussed:

• Local allocations for the year. I am pleased to share that we have three new funding partners: Portland Kollel, Chabad at NE, and Tivnu: Building Justice. In addition, we announced funding for various “life stage” initiatives focused on youth, teens, and young adults. 

• We shared the nine grants made to organizations in Israel via our Overseas Special Projects Committee, addressing such issues as sexual abuse, gay rights, and support for Ethiopians.

• Women’s Philanthropy just completed its first ever women’s giving circle process and made grants to five organizations focused on areas of social justice, women and girls, and Jewish continuity.

Further details on all of this will be shared next week and in our Annual Report coming out later this summer. 

As our campaign year comes to a close on June 30, we are $25,000 short of our stretch goal for the year. Currently, and amazingly, our campaign is up 7% over last year representing over $300,000 more to the total campaign. I am excited to announce that we have raised over $4.3 million – and we have an increase in the number of donors over last year. We are not, however, done. If you have yet to do so, please make your commitment here.

The Jewish Federation recognizes that donors today want to better measure the impact of their donations and how we are applying their contributions. We take nothing for granted and will continue to focus on four fundamental ideals:

1. Mission realization.
2. Efficiency.  
3. Transparency.
4. Accountability. 

In addition, we presented the Laurie Rogoway Outstanding Professional Award to Ben Winkleblack, Director of Finance at the Jewish Federation for the past 11 years.

Our guest speaker, Rabbi Jay Moses, Vice-President of the Wexner Foundation in Columbus, Ohio, provided incredible insights into the future of Jewish leadership. He outlined seven principles as follows:

Pluralism – Create an atmosphere of openness.
Curiosity – Never stop learning and thinking. You must push yourself and others beyond the obvious and not fall into the trap of “organizational habits.”
Joy and Humor – Leadership is a serious endeavor, but one must do it with playfulness and laughter.
Self-awareness – Start with an honest internal review of yourself. Practice active listening and emotional intelligence.
Optimism – There is the old adage, “Start worrying, details to follow.” We must fend off the temptation of past history and potential despair and gather limitless energy and passion for the future.
Patience – Organizational evolution takes time. Be mindful and bear the discomfort of change. In the end, good things will happen.
Humility – In leadership, one must set aside his/her ego. We must embrace our shortcomings and recognize we cannot always be right.

Rabbi Moses’ comments tied in beautifully with Rabbi David Kosak’s earlier invocation where he shared that in this week’s Torah portion the Jews are still walking through the wilderness. Rabbi Kosak spoke in direct terms about the condition of the Jewish community today with decreased affiliation, lower levels of religious connection, and challenges to all legacy Jewish institutions. Before we get “lost” in the wilderness, we must be open to exploring new opportunities while building on our past experiences.  

The annual LGBTQ Pride celebration and parade take place this weekend in Portland. The Jewish community is proud to host a range of activities happening to celebrate. And the entire Jewish community is invited to march together at the Parade!  

On Friday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. please join us at Cedar Sinai Park to decorate banners and make buttons for the parade. Later, join one of four organizations hosting Pride Shabbat on Friday evening: Congregation Beth Israel, Congregation Kol Ami, Congregation Neveh Shalom and Moishe House. Finally, we will join together Sunday morning to march together as a Jewish community. We will meet at 9:00 a.m. for a bagel breakfast at our meeting spot on Everett between Broadway and 8th. For more information, check out our website: www.jewishportland.org/pride or email Rachel Nelson.

I would be remiss if I did not mention my appreciation for the many positive comments we received about the 12-part Six Day War video series we shared. I am delighted so many watched the videos.

On a final note, late last week Adam West (z”l) passed away. I was a Batman junkie as a child watching reruns of their hit show from the 1960s. In fact, when my children were born I bought the DVD series of each of my favorite childhood TV shows (Land of the Lost, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, Superfriends, Rocky and Bullwinkle, H.R. Puff N’ Stuff) to share with them. I even bought the full Batman series, which you could not yet get in the United States and instead I ordered it from Canada.

I had the opportunity to meet Adam West as Batman in his full costume in 1976. You see, I was in second grade and won my school’s “smile contest,” which was held during “dental care awareness week.” I represented my school at the county championship and finished in 4th place. Batman, (yes, it was Adam West in costume), presented me with my prize – a small handheld transistor radio that I cherished for years until the Sony Walkman finally came out!

Shabbat Shalom and to all the dads out there, have a Happy Father’s Day.



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