Some Catching Up To Do - February 16, 2024

I am proud to be a Jewish communal professional. As a colleague recently wrote, “From the moment we take our first breath to the moment we take our last, a caring Jewish professional is thinking of us. When we are considering early childhood options, the Jewish community is there. When we are considering day school, religious school, or summer camp, the Jewish community is there. When we attend college and are unsure where to go, the Jewish community is there. When we move to a new town and are not sure where to start, the Jewish community is there. When we feel unsafe because of antisemitism, we feel less alone because the Jewish community is there. As we age, we can be assured that our last years will be lived with dignity because the Jewish community is there. And in our last moments, we can take solace that our bodies will be buried with honor and grace because the Jewish community is there.” This is the role of the Jewish Federation and our Jewish organizations -- and emphasizes the importance of our Annual Campaign.


The 2024 Campaign for Community Needs has exceeded $2.7 million. We need your help to raise an additional $800,000 by April 1 (to begin preparing for our allocations process). You can help by making your pledge here or by joining the Jewish Federation for March Madness/Super Sunday on March 17 at 10:00 a.m. at the Mittleman Jewish Community Center. Make phone calls to our Jewish community and raise needed funds for community programs and services. For more information or to register, click here.


This past Wednesday, the State of Oregon celebrated its 165th birthday. If you have yet to celebrate, perhaps visit a local history or cultural museum, spend time in Salem, or just get out on a trail and appreciate Oregon’s natural beauty.


We have been doing our Weekly Wednesday Webinar Series with voices from Israel since November. We are very proud of this series and the speakers we have been able to share with Portland.


This past week, we heard from representatives of HIAS and the special work they are doing in Israel. One presenter, Monim Haroon, a Sudanese refugee who went to Israel in 2012 and now works for HIAS, shared this incredible personal story.


I want to encourage you to register for our final two presenters. Next week we will hear from noted Israeli journalist, Gil Hoffman, editor of HonestReporting.comThe following week, Col. (ret.) Kobi Marom will share his analysis of the current Israel-Hamas war. I promise these will be enlightening webinars – register here.


Two years of conflict have cast a long shadow over Ukraine, with the Jewish community continuing to face harsh realities of the ongoing crisis. Our partner, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is a lifeline of hope for the most vulnerable that we should not forget. There will be a special JDC Global Webinar – The Ukraine Crisis Two Years Later – on Thursday, February 22 at 9:00 a.m. I encourage you to listen in by registering here.


The Chevra Kavod haMetPortland’s non-Orthodox Chevra Kadisha is looking for volunteers. This beautiful Jewish tradition of ritual washing and dressing the deceased (Tahara in Hebrew) offers lovingkindness and respect to the deceased. I am proud to volunteer and find incredible meaning from my personal experiences. To volunteer or to receive more information, click here or visit their website.


In December 2022, Bloomberg Businessweek had an article about 18 philanthropists passing on their wisdom to their 18-year-old selves in the form of letters. One philanthropist wrote, “Historically, people became ‘philanthropists’ at the sunset of their lives. Yet the needs are great, and problems take time to address, and only youth can afford that luxury of time. So this is what I would whisper into your ear if I could, with 30 years of hindsight: ‘You won’t be able to change the world overnight, but you have decades ahead of you in which to make an impact, and you have the access to philanthropic dollars that can help fuel that change. Work hard and humbly, earn your right to a seat at the table, but do not wait until you retire to become a philanthropic changemaker. Start now.’” 


I am pleased that the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland and Oregon Jewish Community Foundation (OJCF) have launched a NextGen Giving Circle, a unique pilot project for young adults to engage in collaborative philanthropy and make a positive impact on the community. This is similar to the highly successful Oregon Jewish Community Youth Foundation (OJCYF). Reserve your spot by contacting Laura Jeser or Susan Berniker.


The “Work for the World Fair," a family friendly event held in partnership with Portland Jewish Academy, PJ Library, and BB Camp, has been rescheduled for March 10 at 1:00 p.m. at Portland Jewish Academy. The original event was cancelled due to snow. Inspired by the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the fair will feature multiple stations offering hands-on volunteer activities for preschool to 5th grade children and their familiesRegister here for this free event open to the entire community.


Let me close with this beautiful quote from Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel -- “When I was young, I used to admire intelligent people; as I grow older, I admire kind people.


Someone I truly admire is Rabbi Barry Cohenour kind community chaplain for the past five+ years. The position was created in a collaboration between the Jewish Federation and the Oregon Board of Rabbis with the financial support of several donors. Rabbi Cohen will be leaving our community in mid-March to serve as the Chaplain Manager of The Velva G. and H. Fred Levine Jewish Chaplaincy Program at the Joan and Stanford Alexander Jewish Family Service in Houston. Rabbi Cohen has been a valuable resource to Jewish Family and Child Service, Cedar Sinai Park, local retirement communities, hospitals, hospices, and individuals by providing spiritual and pastoral care -- and a smiling face. We are grateful for his work in Portland and wish him only the best in Houston.


Shabbat shalom and enjoy the holiday weekend.



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