Lions, TEFAP, and Non-Sequiturs - December 16, 2022

The Jewish Federation’s 2023 Campaign for Community Needs continues to advance. We have raised over $2.7 million in just 90 days! You can help our campaign reach its goal by making your pledge today. Every gift makes a difference, especially during these challenging times. Please give generously.


In addition, as we approach the end of the calendar year, please make your tax deductible contribution/payment.


Chanukah begins Sunday night and I hope your holiday is filled with love, light and latkes. One important thought – perhaps a response to the antisemitism we are experiencing in our country -- I hope we all proudly display our menorahs throughout the holiday. We must never allow others’ hatred to undermine the vibrancy, richness, and meaningfulness of our Jewish heritage.


  • Click here to learn more about programs and celebrations, including the multitude of menorah lightings and parties around Greater Portland.


  • Enjoy Six13’s (a Capella group) latest Chanukah medleyElton Johnukah.




This past week was the International Lion of Judah Conference in Arizona. Over 1,200 women from the United States (including four from Portland), Mexico, Canada, and Israel gathered in person to celebrate 50 years of Lion of Judah. Lions are women who make a philanthropic contribution to the Jewish Federation’s annual campaign of $5,000 or more. We are proud that Portland has over 90 Lions who have and continue to inspire others through their doing and their giving, while providing leadership for intergenerational philanthropy.


At the conference, they recognize each community’s recipient of the Kipnis-Wilson/Friedland Award. This award was created as a tribute to Norma Kipnis-Wilson (z"l) and Toby Friedland (z"l), who co-founded the Jewish Federation’s Lion of Judah program in Miami in 1972. The award honors extraordinary women who have set a high standard for philanthropy and volunteerism and who have a lifetime of commitment to the Jewish world. Sharon Weil accepted the award on behalf of her mother, Elaine Savinar, who was unable to attend the conference.


You can read more about the impactful conference in the next issue of the Jewish Review.


Something we do not talk about enough is our work in Washington, DC. The Jewish Federation is currently engaged in a national Jewish coalition focused on ending hunger. One priority is for Jews who keep kosher and receive government assistance be able to obtain foods they can eat.


About three weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a complete list of the foods it offers through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), a program that supplies food banks and pantries, and noted which ones are kosher and halal. But while the list of kosher foods is now public, it remains short. Only eight of 126 items are certified kosher, while 31 others are generally acceptable (such as fruits, vegetables, and milk) without certification.


We are grateful that the administration is using so many tools and resources to help those facing food insecurity, including members of the Jewish community. The publication of the list is an important recognition by the administration and the USDA of the needs of people who rely on kosher food. However, without more culturally sensitive food available through TEFAP, kosher pantries in major metropolitan areas with large observant Jewish populations will continue to struggle.


The USDA plans to increase the list of kosher food products by 50% in 2023. We are grateful to the USDA for being so attentive to the concerns voiced about the lack of nutritional kosher meals available to families in need in the Jewish community.


A few awards and non-sequiturs:


  • Mazel tov to Hannah Sherman, Executive Director of Greater Portland Hillel, for receiving the prestigious Richard M. Joel Exemplar of Excellence Award at Hillel International's Global Assembly this week.


  • Congratulations to Priscilla Kostiner, Linda Nemer Singer, and Irving Potter for being recipients of the 2022 Milt Carl Way Award. They were honored last night for their deep care for the Jewish community and the incredible time and resources they have given to so many organizations.


  • The Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education announced that Weekend in Quest is returning to Astoria on the Oregon Coast from March 3-5, 2023. Join in person for a weekend of community and study with Professor Mika Ahuvia, whose lectures will draw upon her recent book On My Right Michael, On My Left Gabriel: Angels in Ancient Jewish Culture. Sessions will focus on the presence of angels in ancient and contemporary Judaism, classical rabbinic sources, Jewish magic, and liturgy. For detailed information and registration, click here.


  • We are 85% of the way through the survey work for our Jewish Community Study. The “field research” will conclude by the end of January. If you get contacted, please take the survey. In addition, check your junk/spam folder to see if the community survey request ended up there.


  • Here is a great article worth the read. Ashkenazi Jews Have Become More Genetically Similar Over Time describes how two Jews in 14th-century Germany were more genetically distinct, on average, than any two Ashkenazi Jews alive today. Despite the rapid growth of the Ashkenazi Jewish population during the last 700 years, the population has become more homogeneous.


  • With the finals of soccer’s World Cup (France vs. Argentina) taking place on Sunday morning, this article about the psychology of a penalty shootout is fascinating. Let us hope the game does not come down to that.


  • Finally, I was born in Atlanta and a lifelong Atlanta Braves baseball fan. This includes the lowly 1970s and 1980s and the highs of the 1990s. Twelve days ago, I was excited to see Fred McGriff, who helped the Braves win the 1995 World Series, get elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. However, I continue to be disappointed when Dale Murphy, a graduate of (the former) Wilson High School in Portland and my favorite player growing up (and by all accounts one of the nicest people in the world), fails to get the necessary votes. A two-time National League MVP on bad teams with 398 home runs and 1,266 RBIs deserves more credit.


Wishing you and your family a Shabbat shalom and Happy Chanukah.



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