It Is About Community - October 9, 2020

This has been a wonderous week. I was able to sleep in my sukkah every night (with my dogs) and really felt at peace under the moonlit skies. I also thought I would share this cute meme from my colleagues in Houston:
We have officially launched our 2021 Campaign for Community Needs. For 100 years we have been the central fundraising organization for our Jewish community. And, as you can imagine, the needs today are greater than ever.
From the beginning of this pandemic, our Jewish Federation…your Jewish Federation…has led this Jewish community. We are making sure our most vulnerable are taken care of and our treasured Jewish institutions will get through this.
At times like this we need you. We need your partnership. We need your support. We need your generosity. The stakes are high. The challenges are great. We will be successful together. We need you. Our community needs all of us. Make your gift today by clicking here.
During the past few months, my colleagues and I have been thinking a lot about the community we want to see when we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. It is your philanthropy that will support the evolutionary change in our Jewish community, just as reasons for giving change over time.
My grandparents and parents gave money to the Jewish community because it was expected of them – “tradition and obligation” were the motivator. Now, two generations later, newer and younger donors may be more interested in outcomes and how dollars are utilized to benefit others. Plus, many focus their philanthropy narrowly into areas of interest and may not view the importance of supporting the Jewish community at-large.
At the same time, our Jewish community “business” models are changing. We can no longer assume that people want to belong, or some might say, “pay a Jewish tax” for communal involvement. Instead of paying to belong to the community, people began to pay for the services they need at a given time: synagogue, JCC, Jewish preschool, Hebrew school, adult education, summer camp, eldercare, and everything in between. Unlike the older models of community support where everyone gave at their capacity for the benefit of all, we have entered a more transactional mode.
With the pandemic, and our inability to be together and share Jewish experiences in-person, I sense a desire to return to our roots -- the valuable sense of being a part of the Jewish community. Not in regard to paying membership dues. Not in regard to affiliation with an institution. And, not focused on one’s family individual needs in the community. It is about something more – a Jewish community that supports a full Jewish life and lifecycle for a diverse and vibrant community.
As a colleague recently shared, “This is our opportunity to remember what it feels like to support people -- not things; community -- not services; and to build the strong ties that will support us for the coming generation."
We hope you will join us in this pursuit! Make your gift today by clicking here.
This past Tuesday evening, the Jewish Federation’s Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), along with the Portland Chapter of the NAACP, Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education and several other community groups, sponsored a program, “Uncovering the Hidden History of Anti-Black Racism in Oregon.” Hundreds of people listened to activist, author, and Portland State University assistant professor Walidah Imarisha, whose informative presentation explained the exclusionary nature of the original state constitution, the emergence, and influence of the KKK in Oregon in the 1920s, and the harm gentrification imposed on the local Black community, especially from the 1940s on. You can watch the program here (scroll down webpage for video).
This was the first in a series of virtual programs on the history of discrimination in Oregon. Next, on October 12 at 5:30 p.m., is “Healing and Reconciliation: The Hidden History of Anti-Native American Discrimination in Oregon.” You can register for the program here. I hope you will join us.
Ever get an email out of the blue that touches you greatly? Yoram Preminger, a tour guide in Israel who I have known for 25 years contacted me earlier this week. I had not been in touch with him since February (he was to be one of our guides on the Centennial Trip to Israel). He shared with me the challenges in Israel with the pandemic and basically being out of work for seven months. But then his words touched me deeply.
In 2002, for my parents 36th wedding anniversary, my family paid for them to go on a two-week trip to Israel. It was their first and only time in Israel – and Yoram was their private guide. My parents adored him and he could not have treated them better.
Yoram shared that he found a recipe my father (who owned a Jewish deli much of my childhood ) had given him for his warm gefilte fish/potatoes/carrots “stew.” He shared that the last time he made it was the week after my parents left Israel 18 years ago. He wrote, “I made it today and it was really hard not to finish the entire pot all at once. DELICOUS!!! So of course it made me think of him, your mom, you, and I just had to write this note.” It brought a smile and tears to my eyes.
Shabbat shalom and enjoy the Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah holidays. As we complete each book of the Torah, it is customary to repeat the words "Chazak, chazak, v'nitchazeik." These words can be translated as “Be strong, be strong, and we will strengthen each other.” As we celebrate the completion of the annual reading of the Torah, let us strengthen each other and our Jewish community.
Marc N. Blattner
President and CEO


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