Lots of Good

Good conversation…Last Monday night, the Oregon Jewish Museum and Mittleman Jewish Community Center, along with other community partners, hosted an incredible event entitled Pew Jew. It was an opportunity for a thought provoking discussion on the findings of the Pew Research Center report, A Portrait of Jewish Americans, and how it may relate to Portland. I was honored to be on a panel moderated by Neil Simon, along with Professors Bob Liebman (Portland State University) and Steve Wasserstrom (Reed College), where we provided our own analysis and commentary about the report. Bob deftly analyzed the statistics, Steve provided his own personal reflections and evolution from his childhood experiences in Columbus, Ohio through his coming to Portland, and I shared data specific to the west coast and the potential impact for our own community.

The 110+ people in attendance came from all segments of the Jewish community. That, in many ways, was the highlight of the evening because those individuals brought their own diverse opinions and thoughts.

Following the initial presentations, each table was assigned a topic to discuss. Those topics ranged from synagogue affiliation to the “new Jewish culture,”  to non-Jewish engagement within the Jewish community. It was an eclectic mix of discussions with an eclectic group of people. Too often “we speak to ourselves;” this evening was different. It was an open forum with people from a wide variety of connections to our Jewish community.

As the evening concluded, tables reported their conversations. It was evident that there is a plurality of voices, a desire to create more “Jewish journeys,” a sense that Jewish pride is powerful, and that we have the opportunity to change the future course of Jewish history. Most importantly, we got a better understanding of the evolving nature of Jewish life – not from an institutional point of view – but, instead, from the individual’s own interests and needs. I hope we will have these types of conversations again and often.

Good deed…The Jewish Federation of Greater Portland, together with Congregation Kesser Israel and Jewish Family & Child Service, ask for your help in providing Passover food boxes to needy Jewish families in our area -- so all are able to celebrate Passover. With your donation (at any level), we can provide 120 needy individuals and families throughout the Greater Portland and SW Washington areas with the supplies needed to celebrate Passover. A donation of $36 provides each family with: 3 Dozen Eggs; 1 Jar Gefilte Fish; 1 Jar Horseradish; 5 lb. Box of Matzos; 10 lb. Potatoes; 2 Boxes of Matzo Ball Soup Mix; 1 Bottle Wine for Kiddush; 1 Whole Kosher Chicken; 1 Box Jelly Fruits.

Our goal is to raise $5,000 by March 15 (a Kickstarter-type campaign). In the first 48 hours we have already raised $2,369. Please consider making your contribution today so everyone in our community can celebrate Passover.

More Good DeedsGood Deeds Day (GDD) is an annual celebration of doing good. In May 2007 Ruach Tova (an Israeli non-profit) launched the Good Deeds Day project. This Sunday, Greater Portland will join hundreds of thousands all over the world (50+ 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.

Initiated by Shari Arison, Chairman of the Arison Group and organized by Ruach Tova, with the support of the Arison Family Foundation, the first Good Deeds Day saw 7,000 Israelis volunteering. In 2013, Good Deeds Day was the biggest ever: some 250,000 Israelis and thousands more worldwide joined in to do a good deed for others.

Local participation is coordinated by the Jewish Federation’s Portland Mitzvah Network. The Network was created to support individuals, groups and organizations around hands-on volunteerism. 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.

Portland is excited to be participating in GDD for our second consecutive year.  This year we anticipate 750-800 volunteers (200 more people than last year!), representing more than 28 organizations, at 21 different projects & 3 community drives throughout our community. This is just incredible! Amazingly, however, all of our volunteer projects are FULL!

If you are not volunteering, you can still participate via three special community drives:

Donate blood with the Red Cross Bloodmobile
Congregation Neveh Shalom
9 am - 1 pm
Minors 16+ with parental permission form
2900 SW Peaceful Lane, Portland
Register directly with Red Cross

Donate Pots & Pans for Local Families
Congregation Neveh Shalom/Community Warehouse
9 am - 12 noon
2900 SW Peaceful Lane, Portland

Join the national Bone Marrow Registry and Save a Life 
MJCC/Gift of Life
1-3:30 pm
18+ only may join registry
6651 SW Capitol Hwy, Portland
NO pre-registration; walk-ins only

And for those of you volunteering, please do not forget to “spring forward” and move your clocks ahead one hour. We may lose one hour of sleep, but soon spring and summer will be here!

It makes me proud to know the LOTS OF GOOD we do every day.

Shabbat shalom.



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