The New Year and Beyond

The New Year and Beyond

It is hard to believe the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, is already here. That old adage – the holidays come early or late, never on time – seems not to fit this year as the holidays feel to be at just the right time.

As we do every year, the Jewish Federation is pleased to share a listing of holiday services. In addition, the Jewish Federation reached out to local rabbis and asked them to share their blessings for the New Year. We are grateful to the many rabbis for their participation.

This is a time of reflection – personal, professional and communal. How can I be a better husband, father and person? How can I be a stronger communal leader? And what can the Jewish Federation do to strengthen our Jewish community? Much to ponder over the next few weeks.

Here are a few announcements and needs for the New Year from Federation for our community:

  • I am excited to announce that an anonymous donor has once again created a matching challenge grant for our Jewish community’s annual campaign. This generous donor will match all increased gifts of 10% or more (the increase will be matched dollar for dollar) and ALL new gifts to our campaign! The donor is leading by example in increasing the matching funds from $180,000 to $198,000 – a 10% increase. Make your increase or a new gift -- it will doubly benefit our community!
  • By late next summer, the Jewish Federation, in partnership with the Oregon Board of Rabbis and a group of committed volunteers, plans to build a new community mikveh at the Schnitzer Family Campus adjacent to the MJCC. Drawings are being created and we look forward to adding this new mikveh to our community.
  • In the next few months, we will formally announce the details of interest-free loans for people in our Jewish community. The PDX Jewish Community Loan Fund will make loans up to $2,000 for “life’s ups and downs,” which can include unexpected house and car repairs, Jewish experience programs (youth Israel trips and summer camp), and medical bills.
  • An increasing need in Jewish Portland is for a full-time community chaplain. The chaplain, like in many other Jewish communities, would serve the pastoral, spiritual, and (some) educational needs of unaffiliated Jews in the Greater Portland area who are ill, at end-of-life, or experiencing life crises, or otherwise in need of rabbinic support outside of a traditional synagogue setting. The chaplain would serve Jewish residents in facilities not under Jewish auspices, such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and hospitals throughout Greater Portland. In addition, the chaplain would work closely with these institutions to assure the spiritual and religious needs of Jewish patients/clients, as well as provide lifecycle event information and services. Moreover, the chaplain would serve as a Jewish resource, offering meaningful programming, as well as prayer leading on Shabbat and holidays.
I recognize that today is the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attack. Extremism and conflict continue to challenge our world. In this vein, I would be remiss if I did not discuss the worsening plight of refugees from Syria and instability throughout the Middle East and North Africa and the Jewish response. Many of those displaced are arriving in Europe illegally in dangerous boats sailing across the Mediterranean Sea, representing the most severe refugee crisis to hit Europe since World War II.

Clearly, no one country or organization can address the scope of this global problem alone. Through the Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief (JCDR), Jewish organizations have been quietly funding relief efforts to support Syrian refugees for the past two years. Convened by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), JCDR provides a coordinated Jewish response (50 Jewish organizations) to humanitarian crises around the world demonstrating our long tradition of Jewish humanitarianism.

To date, JCDR's assistance to Syrian refugees has been delivered in Jordan, which has seen more than 625,000 officially registered refugees enter the country since the beginning of the fighting in Syria. Jewish and Israeli efforts to steady the situation in Jordan reflect both humanitarian and security concerns, since this large and growing number of migrants can potentially have a destabilizing effect on the country. Israel has evacuated and provided medical care to approximately 1,000 Syrian citizens since the outbreak of the conflict. This week, JCDR expanded the scope and mandate of its Jewish Coalition for Syrian Refugees in Jordan to include refugees and migrants in Europe and the Middle East.

The Jewish Federation system is a standing member of JCDR, which provides the Federation community with an opportunity to respond to the Syrian refugee crisis in Europe. I am so proud of our partners, and of the fact that we do not stand idly by. When there’s a humanitarian disaster of this size, our Jewish community must play its part to alleviate suffering. You, too, can assist by making a contribution.

As I finish writing this week’s email, I recognize that every week I get the chance to "talk" to you. But as we approach the New Year – I want to HEAR FROM YOUWhat, in your eyes/mind/heart/soul, would make our Jewish community even better? What would inspire you to enhance your Jewish journey? What Jewish experiences are you most interested in? What does Jewish Portland look like to you in the future? Please share your thoughts and ideas – I would appreciate it!

Shanah tovah u’metuka – May this New Year be filled with health, happiness and prosperity and many sweet moments for you and your family.

Shabbat shalom.



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