Rule of Threes - November 13, 2020

I am delighted so many of you were able to join us for our Federation Gala. It was not what we planned for our 100th anniversary, yet it was still a festive night.
I am pleased to share that in the first 45 days of our annual campaign we have already raised in excess of $1.9 million!!! This is an incredible start to our campaign, and we are grateful to so many who have already made their gift. To truly meet the needs of today and tomorrow, we need everyone’s support. If you have not done so already, please make your pledge today
First, I want to acknowledge President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris for winning the 2020 Presidential election. The national Jewish community looks forward to partnering with the new administration. As they prepare to take office, we urge everyone to come together and work across differences to meet our country’s challenges.
Have you ever heard the horrible “rule of threes” concept? It seems that when one well-known person dies, two others sadly follow. This week we lost three special people.
Last Saturday, Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (z”l), former chief rabbi of the United Kingdom, passed away. He was a truly inspirational leader in the Jewish world and beyond. A giant in Torah learning, a man who stood up against anti-Semitism, a man who spoke with a moral voice that resonated far beyond the Jewish community, and a bridge builder to people of all faiths.
He once said, “Leaders persevere and still lead because there is work to do, there are people in need, there is injustice to be fought, there is wrong to be righted, there are problems to be solved and challenges ahead. Leaders hear this as a call to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness.”
I also keep his seven leadership lessons in my “special papers folder”:
  • Leadership begins with taking responsibility
  • No one can lead alone.
  • Leadership is about the future.
  • Leaders learn
  • Leadership means believing in the people you lead
  • Leadership involves a sense of timing and pace
  • Leadership is stressful and emotionally demanding
His brilliance and humanity will be missed.
The next day we learned of the passing of Alex Trebek (z”l), the host of Jeopardy for 37 years. I always felt Mr. Trebek was the most trusted man in America since CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite. He brought calm and interest into my home every night. I was surprised to learn after I finished my remarks that Ken Jennings, the winningest person on the show, also compared Trebek to Walter Cronkite, via Twitter, tweeting, "Alex Trebek is in a way the last Cronkite: authoritative, reassuring TV voice you hear every night, almost to the point of ritual."
It is amazing to think that Alex Trebek’s longevity was reflected in a personal milestone, when he passed The Price is Right's Bob Barker in the Guinness Book of Records as the person who hosted the most game-show episodes (over 8,200).
The third person is a local “celebrity.” Eleanore Rubinstein (z”l), who passed away on Sunday, was 107 years old (!) and the Jewish Federation’s oldest donor. Eleanore was the life of the party and a pure delight. She was always so kind to me and would speak glowingly about her family, which includes 4 children, seven grandchildren, 14 great grandchildren, and 3 great, great grandchildren.
Through the years I have been very friendly with her oldest son, Dick. Nothing was more fun than hearing a man in his 80s talk about his mom, her activities, and how she would still call him her “special little boy.”
In an article in the Portland Tribune, when Eleanore turned 100, she shared her secrets for longevity -- stay up until midnight, eat everything you want, especially cheese, and either scotch and soda in the winter or vodka and whatever (but not soda) in the summer. Seems simple enough.
You can learn more about Eleanore in these two articles here and here.
Our condolences go to the Sacks, Trebek, and Rubinstein families at this time. May their loved ones’ memories be for a blessing.
Chanukah is less than a month away. The Jewish Federation is once again a proud partner and sponsor of the Maimonides Jewish Day School’s 4th annual Chanukah Essay Contest. Eric Kimmel, award-winning children’s author, penned this year’s question encouraging young Oregonians in 3rd through 8th grades (in private and public schools) to put themselves in the shoes of the Maccabees and ask how students today can lend strength to those in need. 
The Festival of Lights celebrates how the Maccabees found the strength to overcome difficult obstacles their community faced. How can you help support your community of friends and family in today’s challenging times?
Essays should be no longer than 150 words and are due by 5:00 p.m. on December 1 to will be announced on December 7 in two categories – grades 3-5 and grades 6-8. The winners will receive a $200 cash prize; one signed book from both Trudy Ludwig and Eric Kimmel; and Zoom lunch with both authors on December 13. Plus, they will publicly read their essays on the first night of Chanukah on December 10 (more details to come).
We invite you to join us on Monday, November 16 at 7:00 p.m. to discuss the implications of the Abraham Accords (peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Israel and Bahrain) with Israel’s Deputy Counsel General Matan Zamir. This program is co-sponsored by Congregation Neveh Shalom Israel360 and the Jewish Federation. Register here.
Finally, and of great importance, this past Wednesday we observed Veterans Day. Thank you to the women and men who so bravely serve(d) our country. Here is a moving video from the JWB Jewish Chaplains' Council and Jewish Community Centers Association in celebration of Jews who served in the military.
Shabbat shalom.
Marc N. Blattner
President and CEO


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