New Year's Thoughts

Happy new year! May it be a year of good health, peace and prosperity.
I am pleased to share that our 100 Days of Impact was a rousing success again this year – all due to you and our wonderful campaign volunteers.We raised $3 million in the first 100 days of our campaign! This is an incredible achievement. Our campaign, however, does not conclude until June 2016, so we still have plenty of time to reach our annual campaign goal of $3.6 million. Thank you to those who have already made their commitment to our campaign for community needs. 
Over the past few days, as many of us do, I took time to make some new year’s resolutions – both personal and professional. To aspire to do more and to do differently is a positive step forward.
Let me start with some personal reflections. For the past three years, I have re-read an article written by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Commonwealth, on new year’s day. The article talks about people’s journeys into the future with each new calendar year.
Rabbi Sacks shares five beautiful things “to do” in the new year. Here is that list along with my own personal thoughts:
  • Dream – Seemingly the least practical activity turns out to be the most necessary, and most often left undone. What journey am I on? What do I want the next 1, 3, 10 years to be like for myself, my family and our community? What are the possibilities and what will give me a sense of accomplishment?
  • Follow your passion – Do the things you enjoy. Spending time with my family makes me the most happy, and too often, I do not have enough family time. Beyond my family, I have had a passion for Jewish professional leadership since I was a teenager. I believe in and love the work that I do, and moreover, want to see other’s touched by the beauty of Jewish life.
  • Do not ask what you want from life. Ask what life wants from you. – This comes from noted Holocaust survivor and psychotherapist Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning. As Rabbi Sacks states, “The great lives are ones where people hear a calling, have a sense of vocation…This is where the ‘want to do’ meets what is crying out to be done.” That is where my focus will be.
  • Make space in your life for the things that matter – for family and friends, love and generosity, fun and joy. –This perhaps is often the greatest challenge. We all recognize that time is limited, yet if we really think about it, we are in control of our own time and calendar. Make the most of what you want from the things that matter most to you.
  • Work hard! – No one who achieves, even those who make it look easy, ever succeeds without hard work. I certainly learned that from my father’s deli business. And, this holds true in anything and everything we do as individuals. It is my expectation to work hard every day on behalf of the Jewish people and am very proud of the impact we are making.
Beyond these personal reflections, there are many goals I have for the Jewish Federation and our Jewish community. In late December, Dan Waldschmidt, author of a popular blog site called Edgy Conversations, published his own list of “52 Behaviors of Highly Successful People.” From this list are five important messages for the Jewish Federation – ways we can be more successful as an organization, that I want to emphasize:
  • Be ambitious and driven – be awesome and work to achieve your goals.
  • Feel comfortable with new and different, even though it is scary at times.
  • Always learn, ask questions, and read about the successes of others.
  • Take action before we have to.
  • Be open to feedback and use what we learn to improve.
After careful reflection, here are my top personal and professional goals for the new year. On a personal level – I need to spend more time with my family, especially my wife. As parents of teens and younger children will attest, it is often hard to find spouse/partner time together. Professionally, I hope that our community will engage more people in Jewish life in the ways of most interest to them. And, in the upcoming weeks, I will share how the Jewish Federation is adapting its work to meet this very goal. 
And here is one for each of us…something a presenter at a recent conference asked – When is the last time you did something for the first time? Think about that as you plan for the new year.
On a different note – do not miss Oregon Public Broadcasting’s (OPB) new documentary, Oregon Experience: The Jewish Frontier (see the trailer). I was sorry to miss the advance screening last night (my son’s birthday), but am delighted to let the Jewish community know of a FREE preview public screening on Tuesday, January 19 at 7:00 p.m. at the Mittleman Jewish Community Center followed by a Q&A with the producer, Kami Horton. 
In addition, the show’s premiere will be onJanuary 25 at 9:00 p.m. on OPB. Enjoy the opportunity to learn more about Oregon’s Jewish pioneers, among the region’s first settlers. I know the Oregon Jewish Museum and Holocaust Center for Education played a major role in providing photos and historical information for this project.

Shabbat shalom and best wishes once again for a happy new year.



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