Mikvah For All

Let me begin by first thanking those who responded to my email last week about the “biggest threat to the Jewish people.” I received many thoughtful, interesting and divergent views. If you have not shared, please reply to this email and let me know what you think is/are the greatest threat(s) to the Jewish people.

Last night, the Jewish Federation’s Women’s Philanthropy put on its IMPACT! Event with filmmaker and philanthropist Nancy Spielberg. Nancy was truly inspiring! Over 330 women attended and had the opportunity to make their commitment to the 2018 Campaign for Community Needs. Congratulations to Kim Rosenberg and Rochelle Schwartz, Co-Chairs of the event, and their phenomenal committee for creating an evening filled with energy and meaning!

With the success of the event and now being 37 days into our 100 Days of Impact, our Campaign for Community Needs has raised in excess of $1 million! We are off to a wonderful start and with your support we will reach our goal of $5 million. Please consider making your gift today!

I am delighted and ecstatic to share that Rachel’s Well Community Mikvah, on the Schnitzer Family Campus, will open on November 1. It is beautiful! A mikvah is a Jewish ritual immersion pool designed to support Jewish ritual life and personal transitions. It is one of the most ancient and continuous practices in Jewish tradition, most often associated with the laws of family purity and conversion. 

Rachel’s Well is owned and operated by the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland, with the Oregon Board of Rabbis (OBR) providing ritual supervision. The project is a true communal endeavor as it has received support from all segments of the community. We owe special thanks to Jeffrey Weitz and Brian Carleton of Carleton Hart Architecture for their tireless efforts and time throughout the design and construction process. Plus, thank you to Ronnie Malka, our Mikvah Advisory Committee Chair, Rabbi Tzvi Fischer, and the OBR for their commitment to this project.

What also makes this space unique for the Greater Portland community is the broad range of uses for which it will be open. Inspired by the Mayyim Hayyim Community Mikveh in Boston, Rachel’s Well is part of a newer trend for Community Mikvaot that provide the opportunity for both traditional (family purity, conversion, etc.) AND contemporary usage of the mikvah immersion ritual. Immersions can be healing or celebratory—marking transitions that are meaningful to that particular individual. Rachel’s Well is open and accessible to all women and men in the Greater Portland Jewish community. (Our community is blessed to also have Mikvah Shoshana for use by women.)

Trained volunteer guides attend users, helping to make the experience as welcoming and user-friendly as possible. Rachel’s Well relies on donations to manage its operations. Information, appointments and donations can be made via www.jewishportland.org/mikvah

Caron Blau Rothstein, Federation’s director of community engagement and special projects (who has also been the lead professional on the mikvah) recently attended the International Association of Jewish Free Loans conference in the San Francisco Bay Area. She was there along with 55 other professional and lay leaders representing 22 other free loan associations across North America to discuss opportunities for growth in Jewish free loan programs. We are so proud to have started this program for our Jewish community.

As tuitions and housing costs increase, unforeseen health challenges and natural disasters occur, more and more members of our communities could benefit from an interest-free loan. People are looking for a hand up, not a hand out, as they look to send a youth to camp, consolidate debt, increase their professional skills, etc. Jewish Free Loan of Greater Portland (JFLGP) can address these needs and many others with interest-free loans now available up to $4,000. To learn more, apply or donate visit JFLGP online.

Several important announcements:

1. The Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI), a think-tank based in Jerusalem whose mission is to ensure a thriving Jewish people and Jewish civilization by engaging in professional strategic thinking and planning on issues of primary concern to world Jewry, is once again seeking our community’s input.

JPPI has asked Federations and Jewish organizations worldwide to convene groups for discussion surrounding current issues in the Jewish world. For the past two years, the Greater Portland Jewish community has participated. And, we will once again.

JPPI is seeking young Jewish adults (20s and 30s) in the metro area to participate in this special dialogue group. JPPI Senior Fellow Shmuel Rosner will be in Portland and facilitate the conversation. This year’s topic is -- Israel-Diaspora Relations at 70: The Next Generation.

The focus group will be held on Sunday, November 19 from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. at the Moishe House in NE Portland. Please RSVPto reserve your place and get the location address. Limited spots available.

2. The Institute for Judaic Studies of the Pacific Northwest will be holding its annual Weekend in Quest on March 2-4, 2018. Drs. Rena Lauer and Yiftakh (Kevin) Osterloh, Assistant Professors of History and Religious Studies at Oregon State University will be the scholars-in-residence. Rabbi Joshua Rose of Congregation Shaarie Torah will lead services that weekend.

To learn more about this incredible learning opportunity and to register please click here.

3. Join us on Sunday, November 5 from 9:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. at the Mittleman Jewish Community Center for our annual Super Sunday. This is a wonderful opportunity to support our Annual Campaign and to reach out to members of our community for their support. Please be a "community superhero" and join us.

On a personal note, this past week was my mother’s yahrzeit. Amazing to me that she passed away 10 years ago. I miss her greatly! I was reflecting and thinking about all the things she has missed in my life and my children’s lives. But I know she is looking upon us with great pride and joy as our family continues to evolve and my children continue to mature into wonderful young people.

Shabbat shalom.



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