Our Work In Salem Is Just Beginning - January 13, 2023

Thank you for all the interesting and thoughtful responses to my email last week. I shared several ideas that I have been thinking about and many of you provided additional community initiatives to consider. More to come.


Earlier this week, Tina Kotek was installed as the Governor of Oregon. We look forward to working with her and all elected officials for the State of Oregon. We do this work through relationship-building and lobbying efforts in Salem on behalf of the Jewish community. The 82nd Oregon Legislative Assembly will convene for the 2023 Legislative Session next Tuesday. ​


The Jewish Community Relations Council, made up of representatives from 18 Jewish community organizations (including every congregation) and at-large community members, has developed the following focus areas for the session in Salem:


Protecting Services for Seniors and People with Disabilities


The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) supports the safeguarding of Medicaid funding for Oregon’s most vulnerable populations, as well as funding for home and community-based service options. This includes support for the increase in demand for Medicaid due to recovery from the pandemic. The Oregon Health Plan currently provides health care coverage to one in four Oregonians.




The JCRC, along with its interfaith partners, is concerned about the houselessness crisis in the Portland area and across the state. We believe what is needed in the immediate term is an exponential increase in safe transitional shelters with wrap-around behavioral health and substance abuse services to accommodate the high number of people currently living on the streets. The JCRC supports legislation to advance this goal.


Holocaust Education Funding and Ethnic Studies


In 2019, the JCRC helped pass legislation requiring the Oregon Department of Education to include Holocaust and genocide education in public schools. However, there was no money attached to this legislation and the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education has absorbed most of the costs for developing resources and providing training. The JCRC supports legislation to fund teacher training, a statewide summit, and material/resource development through the OJMCHE.


The JCRC supports statewide ethnic studies standards for public kindergarten through grade 12. But these standards should include the history and contributions of the American Jewish community, along with the other historically marginalized communities (Black, Latinx, Asian, Native American).


Preventing Gun Violence


The JCRC is committed to making Oregonians safer by keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and dangerous individuals. We continue to support efforts by coalition partners in developing and bringing gun violence prevention measures to the Legislature.


Supporting Reproductive Choice


The JCRC believes that Jewish values compel us to support full access to safe and legal abortion care as basic health care. Every single person must be allowed to make their own moral and faith-informed decisions about their body and health. The JCRC supports legislation sharing these goals.


Climate Change Action


The JCRC believes that climate change is an urgent global security threat and one of the greatest moral issues of our time. We support legislation to promote renewable energy and other clean-energy innovations that will enable Oregon to lower its carbon footprint and help mitigate the dangerous impacts of climate change.


Protecting Workers Against Wage Theft


The JCRC believes that every worker has the right to live and labor with dignity, safety, and hope. The JCRC is a member of the Oregon Coalition Against Wage Theft, which plans to introduce several pieces of legislation this session. Other organizations are also working on wage theft concepts and the JCRC may decide to endorse those bills as well.


Although it is too soon to know what bills may be proposed, we will be monitoring and lobbying on behalf of the Jewish community every day. If you have any questions, please contact our Director of Community Relations, Bob Horenstein.



A few upcoming events for you to be aware of:


The Jewish Federation is partnering with Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon’s tenth annual Oregon Interfaith Earth Summit scheduled for Sunday, February 5 from 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. This year’s theme is “Care for Our Common Home: Building Neighborhoods for Climate Resilience.”


The first part of the event will be a plenary session on Zoom, with participants watching together from locations across Oregon. Following the plenary, local hosts will facilitate in-person sessions focusing on relationship-building and learning with people of faith. Each regional gathering will end with a climate vigil at 5 p.m. Register here.


The Jewish Federation, in partnership with The Braid, a Los Angeles based Jewish story company creating, curating, producing, and preserving stories grounded in Jewish culture and experience, presents inspiring and unexpected stories from the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors. Remembrance of Things Present is live via Zoom on Sunday, January 29 at 11:00 am or Sunday, February 5 at 4:00 pm. This new work of theatre is free of charge courtesy of the Jewish Federation.


To register -- Click here (it can be a bit tricky so feel free to call

503-245-6219 with any questions):


  • Scroll to find the showtime/date on the right of the screen and click “buy”
  • Select the number of tickets in “single ticket” and click “add” and then “next”
  • Select delivery method (default is email) and hit “next”
  • Enter discount code portlandjf1 on right and click “apply” (this will remove price) then “next”


Do not miss Israeli superstar, Noa, on Sunday, April 30 at the Patricia Reser Center for the Arts. Pre-sale tickets are on sale now by clicking here and using promo code Israel75. Get your tickets before they are sold out. The Center is very intimate and there is not a bad seat in the house.


Let me close with this. On November 2, 1983, President Ronald Reagan declared the third Monday of every January Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. This Monday we will observe the holiday, which is the only federal holiday that is also designated by Congress as a national day of service – a “day on, not a day off.” Coretta Scott King said, “The greatest gift my husband could receive is if people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds celebrated the holiday by performing individual acts of kindness through service to others.”


Dr. King’s memory and words should be an inspiration for our country today. He was a remarkable man who wanted our country and our world to understand the beauty of diversity and the importance of tolerance.


Shabbat shalom and the Jewish Federation office will be closed on Monday.



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