Jealous I Am Not There - July 1, 2022

Here is an update on our community’s effort to resettle Ukrainian refugees. As mentioned last week, when refugees arrive, it is incumbent upon the community to have financial resources availableOur goal is to raise $150,000 by July 31. I am delighted to share that in just one week we have already raised $122,000, which includes a wonderful matching grant of $50,000 from The Stern Family. Thank you to everyone who has already donated. More dollars are needed for: Housing, transportation, food, counseling, job training, and legal assistance. Give generously by clicking here or send checks to JFGP, 9900 SW Greenburg Road, Suite 220, Tigard, OR 97223.
On Friday, May 27, 1994, I finished graduate school. It was an exciting moment in my life. Just five days later, I began my first job at the Jewish Federation in Baltimore. I was entering the workforce and hoped to change the Jewish world. But two weeks later, I was bummed. It was the first time in years that I was not packing my duffle bags and heading off to Jewish overnight camp. No seeing old friends or making new ones. No “Color War.” No Friday night Shabbat singing and dancing. Nothing – just going to my job.
For anyone who was a camper or had a family member who was a camper, you know how special Jewish overnight camp can be. Beyond the fun and great memories, it also shaped our Jewish identities.
Portland is fortunate to have three “local” Jewish overnight camps – B’nai B’rith CampCamp Solomon Schechter, and Camp Kesher. I was lucky enough to visit two of them this week.
On Sunday, I attended B’nai B’rith Camp’s dedication of the beautiful new Zidell Fieldhouse. In fact, the entire camp has seemingly been “rebuilt” following the completion of BB Camp’s Second Century Campaign. I know how excited they were to begin welcoming a record number of campers this summer.
During the dedication, Irv Potter, Chairman of the B’nai B’rith Men’s Camp Association, shared the familiar Jewish folktale about a first century rabbi, Honi the Circle Maker. Honi sees a man 70 years of age planting a carob tree and asks the old man: “How long does it take for this tree to bear fruit?” The man replied: “Seventy years.” Honi then asked him: “Are you certain that you will live another seventy years?” The man replied: “I have enjoyed the fruit of carob trees in the world, which my forefathers planted for me, so I, too, plant these for my children.”
The new fieldhouse was opening 50 years after the original Samuel J. Zidell Memorial Hall (known to campers as the Ulam Godol) was dedicated at the camp. As Irv looked at the Zidell family, including Sam’s great-great grandchildren (one who will be attending BB Camp this summer), he reinforced our responsibility to continue to plant seeds so our grandchildren can enjoy the fruits of our generation’s efforts.
This is not only true at BB Camp, but also at Camp Solomon Schechter, where generations of children have enjoyed their summers.
On Wednesday, I drove to Olympia, Washington to participate in Israel Day at Camp Solomon Schechter. It was a terrific visit as the campers had just arrived a few days before and were already actively engaged in a wide array of programming. While there, kids were in the lake, doing arts and crafts, playing soccer, running around -- all the things one would expect. The facilities look terrific, including the “challenge course,” which I am too afraid to go on. Most of all – smiles and joy were in abundance as everyone was having a great time.
Every camp has its own unique traditions. But there is one universal tradition at all camps -- complaints about the food (despite most children eating plenty and enjoying it). Well, in honor of Israel Day, the chef made an Israeli style lunch that included the most delicious schnitzel I ever had. I should have brought home leftovers.
With both BB Camp and Camp Solomon Schechter in full swing, I wish all the children and incredible camp staff a most wonderful, enjoyable, and healthy summer. You all deserve it. Plus, having eaten at both camps, the kids will be in for a yummy summer. I am just jealous I do not get to join you.
I would be remiss if I did not mention some important Israel news.
  • The Centennial Trip to Israel is set for March 20-28, 2023. Join us in Israel as we celebrate Israel’s 75th. Limited spaces are available at the subsidized cost of $3600 for adults and $2500 for children ages 5-17. Click here for more information.
  • The 24th Knesset voted to disperse yesterday morning in a 92-0 vote and will hold the next election on November 1 (fifth election in three and a half years). In the interim, Yair Lapid will serve as Israel's 14th Prime Minister. We will all be watching to see who leads the next coalition government.
  • Unilever, the parent company of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, announced on Wednesday that it reached an agreement with the Israel-based manufacturer of the ice cream products to continue selling in Israel and the West Bank. You will recall I wrote about this last year when Ben & Jerry’s announced in July 2021 (two months after last year’s Gaza conflict) that it would cease sales of its products in what it referred to as “Occupied Palestinian Territory,” triggering a number of states with laws prohibiting the boycott of Israeli products to begin the process of divesting from Unilever. Under the new arrangement, Unilever will sell its interests in Israel to Avi Zinger, whose company has manufactured and distributed Ben & Jerry’s in Israel and the West Bank for more than three decades. Yesterday, Ben & Jerry’s came out against its own parent company’s decision to sell the ice cream maker’s brand in Israel to an Israeli company.
Finally, this past week (June 29) marked the 15th anniversary of the first iPhone. For good or for bad, it is amazing how much the device changed how we live.
Shabbat shalom and I wish you and your family a fun and safe July 4th weekend.


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