Make It Happen

As we move Campaign 2014 forward, I am excited by our success to date. In only 25 days our campaign has already raised over $1.25 million with an increase of 7%! To put that in perspective, last year at this time we had yet to even raise $550,000 and our increase was much lower. Help us keep the pace going (reducing our fundraising costs), as well as the increased amount (all 10% or more increases AND new gifts will be matched dollar for dollar), so we can make it happen for our Jewish community. Please make your gift today!


I am excited to announce that the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland is partnering with the Schusterman Philanthropic Network on its new #MakeItHappen initiative. YOU are invited to submit inspiring ideas for creating a Jewish experience that will make a meaningful difference here in Portland. This is YOUR opportunity to get creative and show how small change leads to big impact! Visit the #MakeItHappen website today to start seeding and growing new ideas for Jewish Portland!

Between now and December, up to 50 ideas from around the world will receive #MakeItHappen micro grants of up to $1,000! Five ideas could receive up to $5,000! Terms and Restrictions apply.

Click here for more information! Entries are due by December 6, 2013.


Yesterday, the Jewish Federation held its annual Lion of Judah (women donors who contribute $5,000 or more to the Annual Campaign) event. Rabbi Lou Feldstein from Atlanta was the speaker, discussing what we each hope our legacy will be. He asked the women in attendance the following questions:

  • What do you want your great great grandchildren to say/know about you?

  • If you had the opportunity to know your great great grandchildren, what would you say to them?

  • What would you ask your own great great grandparents?

It was a very reflective conversation. Think about how you would answer those questions. I know it made me think about my “own legacy” within my family – the values in how I live my life and the traditions I share. Plus, will five generations from now in my family even know my name? Think about it, can you name your own eight great grandparents? Each and every day you are creating your own (Jewish) legacy – make it happen so future generations will know!

Following the event, Rabbi Feldstein led an excellent professional development program for the Federation’s professional team. He asked us two important questions:

  1. What frustrates you most about your job?

  2. What are you most passionate about at your job?

Our team each shared various answers to the questions. Despite having ten people in the room, we learned that all of our frustrations could be grouped into two main categories – the challenges of systems and people (unsure if this would be any different in any other corporation or organization). In essence, we had a shared response.

On the other hand, our passions for the work we do were all quite different. The responses were individualized. And, in many ways this made us an even stronger team. We are here to nurture one another’s passions, as well as feed off them. We recognize that as a passionate team we can make anything happen.


Finally, this Sunday, one of our overseas partners, The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life and Culture, Koret Foundation, and the Jews of Warsaw will inaugurate the city's first-ever modern Jewish Community Center in Warsaw. The new JCC is the second in the country and will serve as a hub for a vast array of Jewish cultural, educational, and community programs and activities, many taking place outside the JCC's walls, for Warsaw's multi-generational Jewish community.

“The opening of the JCC is yet another chapter in the remarkable story of the revival of Jewish life in this country,” said JDC CEO Alan Gill. “It’s a testament to the perseverance of Polish Jews that they are continuing to rebuild their institutions after surviving near annihilation followed by decades of oppression. We expect this new flagship organization for Polish Jews be empowered to innovate and create their own brand of Jewish identity.”

The 3,000-square-foot free-standing building will serve as the boutique center for Jewish activities that will take place in the space and also continue outside its walls in venues like museums, cafés, and other alternative spaces. Located in one of Central Warsaw's hippest neighborhoods, the JCC will offer a range of activities around the year including cooking classes, childcare, training programs, Jewish education, theater classes, and a book club.

The JCC will also be the central hub for the numerous “JCC Without Walls” programs that have become popular in Warsaw in the last number of years. These have included Jewish street festivals, artistic sukkah installations, and cafe educational programs (sound familiar?) that draw newly engaged, curious, and fully involved Jews in Jewish life in the city. This formula – a small, centrally energized building that creates programming inside and out – addresses the new reality of Jewish engagement that requires various entry points for involvement. How exciting that the Polish Jewish community, with our support of the JDC, made it happen.

I know this week’s email had several random thoughts. Not one of my typical messages. What I deeply believe is that the Jewish world is vibrant and exciting – and what we do today will have an incredible impact on tomorrow. If we want a bright Jewish future for today and tomorrow, one that people want to experience and participate in – we have to be passionate and creative in what we do, how we do, and where we do – so, let’s make it happen!

Shabbat shalom.



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