The Original Trailblazer - June 12, 2020

I admit I am not a native Oregonian nor an expert on Portland history. Dare I say outside of Francis Pettygrove and Asa Lovejoy, no one put Portland on the map more than the original “trail blazer,” Harry Glickman (z”l).
So much has been written and said about Harry since his passing on Wednesday. I am sure you have your own memories of this special man. I know I shared this story once before. I had just finished lunch with Harry at a downtown restaurant. After our meal we walked outside and a young African-American man in his 30s walked up to Harry and asked, “Are you Harry Glickman?” Harry responded affirmatively in his deep voice. The young man then asked if he could give Harry a hug. Harry accepted the hug and the young man said, “Thank you for what you did for our city and for me. The Trailblazers made such a difference in my life and so many others.” It was beautiful.
As Harry would say, “You win with good people.” Our city was the ultimate winner because of Harry!
May Harry’s wife, Joanne, his children, and grandchildren all be comforted along with all other mourners in Zion, and may his memory be a blessing.
Thank you for the emails I received last week sharing many ways our Jewish community can more closely work with the black community and other communities of color. In addition, I am uplifted by the response to the racial tensions in our community and the willingness of so many to speak out on injustice and the commitment to change.
There are still some underlying challenges we must recognize. The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), our JCRC’s national umbrella body, held a webinar this week with Eric Ward, Executive Director of the Western States Center. He spoke about the white nationalist movement today.
Here are some notable comments from the call:
  • A University of Virginia poll from two years ago showed that 1/3 of Americans agree with at least some of the tenets of the white nationalist movement. On the other hand, a majority of Americans today support the Black Lives Matter movement. Interestingly, never once during the 1950s and 1960s was there a majority in this country that supported the goals of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement.
  • We are seeing in the United States today armed vigilantes who are “running around” threatening and intimidating peaceful protesters and people of color. This has been a challenge as people watch videos of the protests, where the vast majority come with good, peaceful intentions.
  • “The silent center needs to speak up to advance an America that moves forward together.”
  • “The White Nationalist movement will not win because of its ingenuity; it will win because of our silence.”
At the same time, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is exploiting this moment to get their anti-Israel message out.
  • There has been an uptick in the “Deadly Exchange” campaign, which is an effort to implicate Israel in police brutality here in the United States.
  • new campaign launched in the University of California system by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) that calls for Justice for Black Lives and the divestment from Israeli companies. We expect there to be more issues on college campuses related to this as SJP chapters have long sought to identify their cause with the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • There are anti-Semitic misinformation campaigns attempting to drive a wedge between the Jewish community and Black Lives Matters including fliers supposedly written by Black Lives Matter about “Jewish Privilege.” We imagine we will continue to see a rise in these campaigns coming from both the extreme left and right.
Here is an article that provides additional context.
We should not allow these efforts to stop our commitment to working with local black communities, amplifying the voices of black and brown people, including Jews of color, and advocating for policies and laws that address the many injustices in our world. There is so much to do and we will not be distracted from the important work of addressing racism and hate in all forms.
Here is another way you can help. Contact your representatives in DC. A bill in Congress addressing police violence is being debated. The Jewish community wants to ensure that any legislative package includes meaningful reform to prevent police violence.
Send a message to our members of Congress urging them to include in any legislative package eight federal police reform priorities, including on the use of force, police accountability, racial profiling, militarization, data collection, qualified immunity, and training. These priorities have been endorsed by the JCPA and over 440 other civil rights organizations.
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, in 1965, said, “Few of us seem to realize how insidious, how radical, how universal and evil racism is. Few of us realize that racism is man’s gravest threat to man, the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason, the maximum of cruelty for a minimum of thinking.”
A few announcements:
  • Tonight, join your LGBTQ+ and ally community for a community-wide Shabbat candle lighting celebration of love, diversity, and acceptance in recognition of Pride month! Program starts at 8:00 p.m. -- register here. And next week’s Wednesday Update will be about perspectives on PRIDE in a changing time. 
  • Do you know a Jewish changemaker between the ages of 20-25? The Jewish Changemakers Fellowship is a national 3-week intensive cohort-based program happening this July for young adults ages 20-25. Each week of the program covers a new topic, which include professional development, community engagement, and Israel.
  • Please join us for the Jewish Federation’s 100th Annual Meeting on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. Beyond hearing our community’s accomplishments this past year, we will hear from two very special guests – Rabba Yaffa Epstein, Director of the Wexner Heritage Leadership Program, and Eric Fingerhut, CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America. I assure you it will be an informative program. Register here.
Shabbat shalom and hope to see you tonight.
Marc N. Blattner
President and CEO


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