Historic Partnerships

Tragedy struck Charleston, South Carolina on Wednesday night when a horrific hate crime ended with nine people killed at the Emanuel AME Church. We applaud the authorities’ vigorous efforts that captured the suspected perpetrator, and expect that all appropriate resources will be marshaled in pursuit of justice. Hate violence has no place in our society.

We extend our heartfelt prayers to the families of all the victims. May their memories be for a blessing.

What a historic week for our community! Many of you may have already heard the exciting news…but it bears repeating:

On June 11th, Jewish Family & Child Service (JFCS), joined Cedar Sinai Park’s (CSP) family of social service organizations. This consolidation secured the future for additional human services to the entire Portland Metro community.  With the addition of JFCS, the CSP family of organizations will be able to provide a greater range of services, including social services, counseling and case management.

The leadership of the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland played a financial and coordinating role in this effort. JFCS and CSP will keep their separate nonprofit identities and tax-exempt status, and each will continue to rely on community support and funding. 

“JFCS has long cooperated with CSP on programs with a strong impact on our community. We’re thrilled we now can join with CSP, and strengthen and deepen our mission, expand our reach, our effectiveness and the services we offer the community,” said Les Soltesz, chairman of the JFCS Board of Directors.

“We are pleased to see our collaboration become even closer through this consolidation,” said Lance Steinberg, chairman of the CSP Board of Directors. “We will achieve more than efficiency. We will create new opportunities to serve the community and to creatively respond to emerging needs.”

Both organizations have long provided high-quality social services to some of the most vulnerable residents of metropolitan Portland. For example, CSP recently established Kehillah House to care for young adults with disabilities and opened Sinai In-Home Care for those in need of in-home assistance to remain independent. The addition of JFCS will expand the continuum of care to families, children, adults and elders.

“We welcome JFCS into the CSP family,” said David Fuks, CEO of CSP. “Our history of cooperation now provides us the opportunity to create new ways to serve those in need. Our future is bright as we move forward together.”

As part of the Cedar Sinai family, both agencies are committed to a shared core of Jewish values that inspire and guide them to serve people in need, regardless of religious affiliation. 

As mentioned above, the Jewish Federation played a role in the development of this new structure. To make it possible, the Jewish Federation was asked by both organizations to maintain their 2014 allocation funding for the next year and to cover legal and consulting fees. The Federation Board was unanimous in its immediate support to help make this happen and to ease their transition when it was first broached late in 2014. 

Although the Jewish Federation played its role, it was truly the exceptional and forward-thinking leadership of these two great organizations that made it possible. Kudos to the volunteer and professional leadership of each organization for doing their due diligence, thinking through the various machinations, looking at all the financial implications, and for making the transition happen. All the credit goes to these two organizations for ensuring a stronger future for seamless social services in our community.  

Many of you will recall our Jewish Portland Tomorrow effort. Its focus is to seek ways to enhance service delivery while finding greater efficiencies within our Jewish community. This new partnership between Cedar Sinai Park and Jewish Family and Child Service exemplifies the foundational principles of this concept. We should also acknowledge the successful merger last year of the Oregon Jewish Museum and the Oregon Holocaust Resource Center into the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education (which is going strong), as well as the Oregon Area Jewish Committee joining the Jewish Federation, expanding the important work of community outreach and advocacy within our Jewish Community Relations Council. More of these mergers and collaborations will happen in the future. It is inevitable. As our community’s needs grow, our strength is in mindful partnerships that foresee and adapt to an ever-changing landscape to deliver vital services and meaningful experiences.  

The strength, vitality, and sustainability of our Jewish community are of great importance to the Jewish Federation.  David Bornstein wrote in his book, Social Entrepreneurship: What Everyone Needs to Know, “The idea of sustainability can be considered in two ways: the sustainability of an institution and the sustainability of ideas and values. The way we speak about sustainability usually refers to individual institutions. This is limiting. It is like speaking about the lives of trees rather than the lives of forests. Both are important, but just as trees fall and are absorbed into the ground, institutions go through cycles of growth and decay. Some find ways to renew themselves; some die off. In thinking about sustainability, it is key to focus on the forests.”

To the credit of the organizations mentioned (and others), they are thinking about the forest – social service needs in total, educating the broader community about the Holocaust and Jewish culture, and strengthening intergroup relations. These new organizational structures are not about maintaining institutions. Instead, their primary focus is on Jewish ideas and values that will guide our work for generations to come. Let’s continue to look forward to Jewish Portland tomorrow.

Shabbat shalom.



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