Israel Here We Come - March 17, 2023

Thank you to everyone who supported our Passover4All Campaign. We have surpassed our goal and many in our community will now be able to enjoy their Passover seder.


At the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland’s 2017 Annual Meeting, we announced plans for a Centennial Trip to Israel (in honor of the Federation's 100th anniversary). We set an audacious goal of bringing 500 people from Portland to Israel (the largest previous trip was 85). Funds were raised from many generous donors (THANK YOU!) to help incentivize people to come with reduced costs. In March 2020, we were ready to go with 400(!) people, including 100 children.


Then, one week before departure, the world shut down due to a fast-spreading new virus called Covid. No one knew what it would be and for how long. Sadly, we postponed the trip.


Once we knew how the world was evolving (vaccines, lower infection rates, Israel re-opening to tourism, etc.), we rescheduled the trip for March 20-28, 2023. I am excited to say that this Sunday, 200 people from Portland and Eugene (and a few other places) will be traveling to Israel to celebrate our community and Israel’s 75th anniversary.


The fact the trip is finally here brings so much joy and relief. We cannot wait to share with you what we see, experience, and learn while in Israel – especially during this interesting moment in time. We will post photos via social media, and the Jewish Review will have a special issue come out after our trip.


In Jewish tradition, the Tefilat Haderech (Traveler’s Prayer) — is a prayer said at the onset of a journey (others believe it should be said after departing the city limits). Nonetheless, it is customary to recite when one embarks on a long trip, regardless of the mode of transport. The prayer asks God to deliver the traveler safely, to protect them from any dangers or perils they may encounter along the way, and to return them in peace.


In honor of those going…


Traveler’s Prayer in English Translation


May it be Your will, Lord, our God, and the God of our ancestors, that You lead us toward peace, guide our footsteps toward peace, and make us reach our desired destination for life, gladness, and peace. May You rescue us from the hand of every foe, ambush along the way, and from all manner of punishments that assemble to come to earth. May You send blessing in our handiwork, and grant us grace, kindness, and mercy in Your eyes and in the eyes of all who see us. May You hear the sound of our humble request because You are God Who hears prayer requests. Blessed are You, Lord, Who hears prayer.


Traveler’s Prayer in Hebrew (courtesy of Sefaria)


יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְפָנֶיךָ יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ,

שֶׁתּוֹלִיכֵנוּ לְשָׁלוֹם וְתַצְעִידֵנוּ לְשָׁלוֹם וְתַדְרִיכֵנוּ לְשָׁלוֹם, וְתִסְמְכֵנוּ לְשָׁלוֹם,

וְתַגִּיעֵנוּ לִמְחוֹז חֶפְצֵנוּ לְחַיִּים וּלְשִׂמְחָה וּלְשָׁלוֹם.

אם דעתו לחזור מיד אומר וְתַחְזִירֵנוּ לְשָׁלוֹם

וְתַצִּילֵנוּ מִכַּף כָּל אוֹיֵב וְאוֹרֵב וְלִסְטִים וְחַיּוֹת רָעוֹת בַּדֶּרֶךְ,

וּמִכָּל מִינֵי פֻּרְעָנֻיּוֹת הַמִּתְרַגְּשׁוֹת לָבוֹא לָעוֹלָם,

וְתִתְּנֵנוּ לְחֵן וּלְחֶסֶד וּלְרַחֲמִים בְּעֵינֶיךָ וּבְעֵינֵי כָל רֹאֵינוּ,

כִּי אל שׁוֹמֵעַ תְּפִלָּה וְתַחֲנוּן אַתָּה.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה לפי נוסח ספרד יי שׁוֹמֵעַ תְּפִלָּה:


כִּי מַלְאָכָיו יְצַוֶּה לָךְ לִשְׁמָרְךָ בְּכָל דְרָכֶיךָ:

יי יִשְׁמָר צֵאתְךָ וּבוֹאֶךָ מֵעַתָּה וְעַד עוֹלָם:

וְיַעֲקֹב הָלַךְ לְדַרְכּוֹ וַיִּפְגְּעוּ בוֹ מַלְאֲכֵי אֱלֹהִים.

וַיֹּאמֶר יַעֲקֹב כַּאֲשֶׁר רָאָם ר”ת רפאל אוריאל מיכאל:

מַחֲנֵה אֱלֹהִים זֶה, וַיִּקְרָא שֵׁם הַמָּקוֹם הַהוּא מַחֲנָיִם.

יְבָרֶכְךָ יי וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ:

יָאֵר יי פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וִיחֻנֶּךָּ:

יִשָּׂא יי פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם:


Traveler’s Prayer in Transliteration


Y’hi ratzon milfanecha Adonai Eloheinu ve-lohei avoteinu she-tolichenu l’shalom v’tatz’idenu l’shalom, v’tism’chenu l’shalom, v’tadrichenu l’shalom, v’tagi’enu limchoz cheftzenu l’chayim ul’simha ul’shalom. V’tatzilenu mi-kaf kol oyev v’orev v’listim v’chayot ra-ot ba-derech, u-mi-kol min-ei pur’aniyot hamitrag’shot la-vo la-olam. V’tishlach b’racha b’chol ma’a’se yadeinu v’tit’neinu l’chen ul’chesed ul’rachamim b’einecha uv’einei kol ro-einu. V’tishma kol tachanuneinu ki el sho-me-ah t’fila v’tachanun ata. Baruch ata Adonai sho-me’a t’fila.


Last week’s Torah portion, Parashat Ki Tisa, one of my favorites, is famous for how Jews managed the census. The Israelites were commanded, wealthy or not, to each donate half a shekel to be counted. With the support of so many, we recently completed the field research for our own community census (in partnership with Brandeis University). I am pleased to share that the results will be formally announced on June 6 at the Jewish Federation’s 103rd Annual Meeting. Mark your calendar. Additional information sessions will follow and we will share all the details with the entire community.


Ki Tisa also illuminates many of the basic laws in Judaism. It discusses the Israelites receiving the Ten Commandments, as well as the laws pertaining to observing Shabbat, holidays, and kashrut (kosher). In addition, communal giving is once again highlighted.


Every year, the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland runs an annual campaign – not dissimilar from every other Jewish organization in Portland. The one difference is the funds we raise are focused on the Jewish community at large as the main beneficiary. In fact, over 50 Jewish organizations and programs are supported through your generosity. As of today, we need to raise only $500,000 by June 1 to meet our goal for this campaign year. We hope that everyone will be "counted" and participate.


If you have yet to make a gift to the 2023 Campaign for Community Needs, please do so now. Help us enrich Jewish life and have the greatest impact possible on our Jewish community. Your generosity will make a world of difference and maintain the tradition of our people – one half shekel at a time.


Shabbat shalom.



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