Legislative Action

You may have heard me screaming (in agony) last Sunday night as my Atlanta Falcons totally blew it during Super Bowl LI. So close, yet so far. GRRRRRRRR!

This past Tuesday, over 450 individuals, including 50 from the Jewish community, participated in Interfaith Advocacy Day in Salem, an event planned by the Jewish Federation’s Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) in partnership with Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon (EMO) and other faith-based organizations. Keynote speaker was Ellen Rosenblum, Oregon’s Attorney General. There were workshops on issues such as senior healthcare (led by former Cedar Sinai Park CEO David Fuks), affordable housing, childhood hunger, and wage theft. JCRC Director Bob Horenstein and Federation lobbyist George Okulitch led a lunchtime session on “Advocacy 101.” In the afternoon, participants met with over 70 legislators, stressing the importance of not balancing the state budget -- which is facing a $1.8 billion deficit -- on the backs of Oregon’s most vulnerable. The JCRC will keep our community informed about legislation affecting funding for vital social service programs and will be encouraging members of our community to mobilize against any potential draconian cuts.

The JCRC is proud of its leadership role in working with our legislators in Salem and standing up for the interests and values of the Jewish community.

While we struggle with our own state budget issues, the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), representing 148 Jewish Federations and over 300 independent Jewish communities across North America, has finalized its list of 2017 Public Policy Priorities. Through JFNA’s Washington office, Jewish community voices are brought to Capitol Hill and the White House, advocating for life-saving and humanitarian assistance in the United States and 60 other countries around the world.

Here is an abbreviated list – feel free to read the entire document

 1. Maximizing incentives for and supporting interests of charitable organizations.

 2. In coordination with JFNA’s Israel Office, promote the Jewish Federations’ international interests, including United States-Israel relations.

 3. Empowering older adults to age with dignity and an enhanced quality of life, including greater access to home and community-based services.

 4. Protecting Medicaid, Medicare, long-term care, wellness initiatives, and the health safety net.

 5. Safeguarding the Jewish community from terrorism and responding to natural disasters.

 6. Advocating with and on behalf of people with disabilities across the lifespan, including encouraging full inclusion and physical accessibility for all aspects of Jewish life.

 7. Sustaining services for the most vulnerable (poverty, food insecurity) and defending the rights of minority groups.

 8. Preserving education opportunities, including ongoing support for public education while cultivating healthy, vibrant, and affordable Jewish day schools.

We are proud to partner with JFNA’s Washington Action office and the incredible work it does on behalf of the American Jewish community. They help secure billions of dollars for necessary and important social and health services.

In May 2007 Ruach Tova (an Israeli non-profit) launched the Good Deeds Day project. On April 2, 2017, Greater Portland will join hundreds of thousands all over the world (75+ countries!) choosing to volunteer and help others, putting into practice the simple idea that every single person can do something good, be it large or small, to improve the lives of others and positively change the world. 

Portland is excited to be participating in GDD for the fifth year. Last year hundreds of people volunteered in the Greater Portland region. Project descriptions and registration are available here. It’s a great day to volunteer with your family or friends and to meet others in the Jewish community. Our 6th-12th graders also have their own project, J-Serve, as part of the day.

The program is presented by the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland in partnership with the Mittleman Jewish Community Center and all of our project hosts. As a community we can volunteer, connect and make a difference in our own and other’s lives by coming together for events like Good Deeds Day and more ongoing volunteer opportunities. Come out and join us!

Shabbat shalom and chag sameach as we celebrate Tu B’Shevat or the "New Year of the Trees" (basically Jewish Arbor Day). The holiday is observed on the 15th (tu) of the Hebrew month of Shevat. Scholars believe that originally Tu B’Shevat was an agricultural festival, marking the emergence of spring. In the 17th century, Kabbalists created a ritual for Tu B’Shevat that is similar to a Passover seder, which many Jews today do. The holiday also has become a tree-planting festival in Israel, in which Israelis and Jews around the world plant trees in honor or in memory of loved ones and friends.


PS – As a follow-up to my previous introduction of our Stand With Us shlicha, Timna Rockman, here is a wonderful article about her role here in the Greater Portland area.


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