We Are Fortunate

Sunday night was a wonderful night for our community. Federation’s Campaign Kick-Off Event, chaired by Lauren Goldstein, was an incredible success with nearly 500 people in attendance, including many who attended a Federation event for the first time. We heard moving personal stories from seven community members about the services they received due to support from the Federation’s Annual Campaign. And, Jerry Greenfield, founder of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, provided a lighthearted look at how values based leadership and social activism were the guiding principles for his successful business. 

Beyond the excitement of seeing so many community members, we were very pleased with the response from those in attendance for the Federation’s Annual Campaign. The astounding increase in giving was 16% higher than last year! And almost everyone in attendance increased by a minimum of 10%, which means their increase will be matched dollar for dollar by an anonymous donor. A fantastic way to start our campaign that now stands at $875,000.

Please join the hundreds who have already made their commitment by clicking here to make your 2013 gift. When you make your pledge today, you will help so many in our community, and help Federation lower its fundraising costs. Thank you for your support!

While we were celebrating, the east coast was bracing for Hurricane Sandy, a storm of unprecedented magnitude and size. Watching from afar and then seeing the damage as the storm moved away was truly heartbreaking.

As you may know, we moved here from Philadelphia a little over two years ago. Our old neighborhood was devastated with no electricity for over 48 hours, fallen trees, and tremendous damage. In addition, I have been in touch with several friends and Federation colleagues in the northeast to ask how they are and how we can help. Here is part of an email received from John Ruskay, CEO of the UJA-Federation of New York:

Those in the most affected areas are reporting extensive flooding and loss of power. Our network agencies are also sharing stories of ingenuity and "getting the job done" in the face of extreme challenges. Many agencies operated even though their headquarters were waterlogged and without power. We're not surprised - this dedication is business as usual for them, serving our communities and going above and beyond when the need demands. And this is what you and Federation help make possible with your support.

In partnership with the Jewish Federations of North America, we have opened up a Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund. As is our practice, 100% of funds raised will go to the relief efforts. I know you join me in sending our support and prayers to those affected by the hurricane and we wish them well during the recovery and rebuilding.

Fortuitous or not, I had a previously scheduled meeting with Maree Wacker, CEO of the American Red Cross Oregon Trail Chapter, on Tuesday morning (during the storm). It was a fascinating conversation about the work of the Red Cross and ways we can partner in our community. We talked a great deal about changes in our community and disaster planning. I also learned that 16 local Red Cross workers had already been deployed to the northeast to assist with disaster relief.

Then the conversation became more scary. I remember when we moved to Portland, our insurance agent asked if we wanted to purchase earthquake insurance for our home. I responded, “Why? Do I need it?” He then explained to me how we are on a fault line and predictions of a major earthquake within the next 50 years are standard conversation. Maree shared with me that apparently every 240 years, this area has been struck with a high magnitude earthquake. The only problem, the last one was in 1700 – so that was 312 years ago. Apparently we are due for one at some point in time. Are we prepared? Do you and your family have an action plan?

All I can say is the Red Cross is prepared and is grateful that several Jewish institutions are to be used as shelter points. Let’s hope we never see that day.

Finally, make sure you vote! I did (and went through the entire ballot with my children). It is our right (and dare I say our responsibility) to participate in the election process.

My first election was in 1988, the year George Bush defeated Michael Dukakis. Perhaps more interesting to me at the time, was my district’s congressional race between Pat Swindell and Ben Jones. Now, let me put all of this into context. I was a freshman at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia and registered to vote in the state. That fall there was a major debate on campus between the two candidates. Now, why was this race even of interest? Well, Ben Jones played the role of “Cooter” on the TV show, Dukes of Hazzard (remember the school was in the south). So here was an auditorium filled with college age students who were more excited by the character he played on TV than the candidate as a real person (I was embarrassed by the questions from many of the students).

It was at that moment I realized how important my vote is. I needed to research the candidates, the ballot measures, and be an informed citizen.

We are fortunate to have such a giving community. We are fortunate (this time) to have missed this natural disaster. And we are fortunate to live in a country that grants us incredible freedom. Let's never take it for granted.

Shabbat shalom.




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