Summer Education and Sports

Whew, it’s HOT outside! Looking forward to more typical Oregon summer weather returning soon.

First, I am excited to share that Cedar Sinai Park has hired a new CEO -- Martin Baicker. Marty is President/CEO of JGS Lifecare (formerly Jewish Geriatric Services) in Longmeadow, Massachusetts. We look forward to welcoming Marty and his family to Portland in October.

Summer is a time when many educators take a break and kids get time away from their organized sports. Well, this happens to be a busy week for both of these groups.

One of the most important groups that the Jewish Federation convenes and coordinates is PAJE: Portland Area Jewish Educators. These educators teach in our Jewish day schools, supplementary schools, pre-schools, summer camps, and youth groups. They are an exceptional group of dedicated and talented people who do not get the credit they deserve for their role in cultivating the next Jewish generation. PAJE coordinates an annual Yom Limmud, day of study, where the educators enjoy peer-led sessions on a variety of subjects. The PAJE Directors Council meets bi-monthly to discuss topics including ongoing professional development, strategies to bring our community’s youth and teens together and other educational opportunities. For more information and to get involved with PAJE, please reach out to Rachel Nelson.

Starting Sunday (although many left today for the Shabbaton prior to the conference), at St. Mary’s College in Northern California, NewCAJE will hold its annual national conference for Jewish educators. I am pleased to share that 11 educators representing six organizations from Greater Portland will be participating and that the Jewish Federation, with the support of an anonymous donor, covered the registration fee for each of these participants. In addition, through the Federation allocations process, funds have already been secured for educators to attend next year’s conference in Hartford.

At NewCAJE, participants network with hundreds of Jewish educators from around the country, choose from a vast array of workshops, enjoy today’s biggest names in Jewish music, and have opportunities to advance their careers! They have an incredible program planned for these educators. 

NewCAJE is a pluralistic organization which embraces every denomination of Judaism and brings together all settings of Jewish education: day schools, complementary schools, camps, JCC’s, independent schools and afterschool programs, online programs – just to name a few. 

You might ask, why it is called NewCAJE? The original CAJE was founded in 1976 and over the next 32 years changed the landscape of Jewish education in the United States and beyond. Over that time, conservatively speaking, over 600,000 children and adults were enriched because their teachers had been to CAJE. Sadly, it ran into financial challenges but was thankfully re-created eight years ago.

As NewCAJE says on their website: There are NEW demands on Jewish educators. There are NEW technologies and NEW approaches and NEW students and a NEW generation of educators. NewCAJE is a NEW beginning for Jewish education. NewCAJE will ask NEW questions and find NEW solutions. That is what the New in NewCAJE stands for.

We are fortunate to be have so many educators attending NewCAJE. Our students will be the greatest beneficiaries.

In addition, we have a group of 17 athletes (six returning and eleven new) from Portland participating in the JCC Maccabi Games in Miami, Florida from August 6-11. Portland teens are competing in basketball, baseball, soccer and lacrosse. We are grateful to the Mittleman Jewish Community Center for leading this exciting effort. The Jewish Federation is pleased to help subsidize the costs for each of the athletes.

The JCC Maccabi Games® is a week-long Olympic-style sports competition that began in 1982. Each year, three communities (this year it is Birmingham, AL, Albany, NY, and Miami) host the Games, with one also hosting JCC Maccabi ArtsFest®, which was held for the first time in 2006. Attracting approximately 3,000 teens from around the globe, these events provide teens a chance to meet other Jewish youth while participating in sports they love, or in an intense immersion in their art. 

Each program gives Jewish teens the chance to give something back to their communities through JCC Cares, a day dedicated to acts of tikkun olam, or repairing the world, in ways meant to give back to the communities they are visiting.

These week-long experiences provide teens – many, for the first time – a feeling they are part of clal Yisrael, the greater Jewish people. JCC Maccabi Games and ArtsFest engages the entire Jewish community of the host communities in a celebration of Jewish peoplehood.

In addition, in July Israel hosted the 20th Maccabiah Games, the third largest sporting event in the world which takes place every four years. The July 6 opening ceremonies celebrated with a parade of nations similar to the Olympics where nearly 10,000 individuals (1,100 from the United States) from 80 countries, including Macedonia, Kazakhstan and Gibralter, entered Jerusalem’s Teddy Kollek Stadium. Open to Jewish athletes from around the world, the Maccabiah Games also allows all Israeli athletes, including Arab Israelis, to compete in 43 different sports. The games began in 1932, when many Jewish athletes were prohibited from competing in international sporting events. The Maccabiah Games are intended not only to encourage athletic excellence, but also to foster a sense of Jewish belonging and pride among the participants.

Our community had several athletes participate in the Maccabiah Games. Oregon Jewish Life magazine just posted a wonderful storyabout Maya Rayle, a Portland teen who won a gold medal and two silver medals as a member of the US Junior Track team. She ran in the 800 meter (won gold), 1500 meter, and 3000 meter events. It was Maya’s first trip to Israel and was quite an experience for her.

Have a Shabbat shalom and let’s wish our educators a great experience and our athletes only wonderful successes in Miami.



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