Pre-Passover Potpourri - March 19, 2021

We have updated our mailing list so many of you may be
receiving this weekly email for the first time.
Hard to believe Passover starts next Saturday night. The Jewish Federation has assembled a webpage that provides plenty of information, resources, recipes, and virtual local community events and seders for you to participate in our Jewish community.
In addition, visit JewBelong, an outreach organization that uses irreverent and edgy humor to market Judaism. Watch their Passover video and check out their Haggadah. They will also be hosting virtual seders called “Burning Man-ischewitz” (a riff on the popular music and art festival) on the first two nights and you can register here.
Here is an update on multiple issues:
The rise of intimidation and violence towards Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Oregon and across the United States can neither be ignored nor tolerated. I have personally learned a great deal more about this issue in the past few days. I am outraged and disturbed by the violent murders that took place in Atlanta earlier this week, as well as the mounting anti-Asian sentiment on the rise in our country. The Jewish Federation of Greater Portland stands with the Asian American & Pacific Islander community, including those in our Jewish community, as we work together to fight racism, bigotry, and hateful violence in the United States and around the world.
The Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO) released this important message on how their community is processing and reacting to the senseless murders.
Over the past six months, the Jewish Federation and its partners have held a series of programs on the history of discrimination in Oregon, including the anti-Asian discrimination in Oregon. I encourage you to watch the videos here.
Mark your calendar for May 26 when the Jewish Federation and other partners sponsor a “Community Call to Confront Hate” summit. It will be worth your time and promises to be very interesting. You can register here.
We continue to work with school districts across the state requesting that school not start on September 7, which is the first day of Rosh Hashanah. We are delighted that the Beaverton School District just announced school will begin September 8. We are waiting to hear from Portland Public Schools. We also continue to be in dialogue with West Linn-Wilsonville and North Clackamas as they have set school to begin on September 7. You can read more about that here.
I am excited to share the news that Oregon’s overnight camps will be allowed to open this summer!! The guidelines and protocols are not yet finalized, but our own B’nai B’rith Camp will be open and welcoming campers this summer.
A special “shout out” goes to Michelle Koplan, Executive Director of B’nai B’rith Camp, for her incredible leadership role in this. She serves as the chair of the Alliance of Oregon Camps, which lobbied state officials on the importance of camp experiences.
We also understand from Camp Solomon Schechter that Washington state is finalizing its guidance and protocols for overnight camps and we expect to hear positive news soon. Zach Duitch, Executive Director of Camp Solomon Schechter, has also played a significant role in Washington to make this happen.
Make sure you get your children signed up – and for first-time campers remember the Jewish Federation provides One Happy Camper incentive grants up to $1,000 for first-time campers.
The Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education just announced the second phase of a project to document these extraordinary times through a powerful oral history project and is looking for the help of the Jewish community. Through a short online interview, you can become part of a national project that will provide a snapshot for researchers and future generations of the Jewish experience during these unprecedented times. Jewish community members of all ages and backgrounds who live throughout Oregon can participate by contacting Alisha Babbstein, OJMCHE archivist. The full story of the Chronicling These Times oral history project can be found here.
I want to share this story with you from the Jewish Funders Network conference earlier this week:
A Hasid gets lost in the forest. Mind you, we are not talking about a little bit of woodland, but about the forests of Eastern Europe, where full armies get lost. The poor man walks along different paths for three days and three nights but cannot find a way out of the forest. When he is close to despairing, he runs into no one other than the Ba’al Shem Tov, the great Hasidic master. “Rabbi!” he says, “Praised be God, I’m so happy to have found you, I’m lost in this forest and you can show me the way out!”
“Well,” says the Ba’al Shem Tov. “I’m lost too.”
“Oh no!” says the Hasid.
“But wait,” says the Ba’al Shem Tov. “You know that the road you’ve taken leads nowhere, and I know that the paths I’ve been taking lead nowhere. Now, let us look together for a new road.”
During the past year, we have all been like the Hasid in the forest. Lost in an unknown world; caught in a maze of new threats and unprecedented challenges. And how many times have we waited in vain for somebody to show us the way out? We were all lost; we still are. But our common perplexity, our shared perplexity is, maybe, our salvation. We will get through this together – sooner than later.
Let me end on a high note. Cedar Sinai Park commissioned the acapella group 613 to write a song for/about them. It is beautiful and worth a listen here!
Shabbat shalom.
Marc N. Blattner
President and CEO
PS – Enjoy the NCAA basketball tournament and March Madness. Good luck to Oregon State University and the University of Oregon.


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