We Salute You

As we enter the final two weeks of June, I am quite proud that the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland’s annual campaign has already surpassed last year’s total, as well as increased its number of donors. That is due to your generosity and efforts. But we have still not reached our goal. Please, if you have yet to do so, consider making a contribution to the Federation’s campaign before June 30. It will make an incredible impact on our community.


Earlier this week, I attended the annual meeting of the Oregon Jewish Community Foundation. While there, I was speaking to one of the attendees and we were chatting about my Marc’s Remarks. I asked him, “Have any good topics for this week?” He said why not talk about all the new graduates in our community.

Later that night I thought about his suggestion. Isn’t it always the case that at each graduation (no matter what grade level) the speaker tells the students that as they enter a new stage of life they must go out and help to change the world. It is my hope that all of our graduates (from pre-school through college) eventually take a leadership role. And, better yet, may they lead within the Jewish community.

This week alone there were four Jewish organizations that held their annual meeting, including the Jewish Federation just last evening. Beyond the typical business of thanking past Board members and installing new ones, the volunteer President/Chairman gave his/her report. Successes, challenges and future plans were shared. But most of all, the incredible volunteer commitment to our community was on display.

In the past, leadership positions were something people aspired to. Individuals were inspired by leaders who in essence were their role models. People wanted to be like those in top positions. I know when I was a teenager in AZA (boys' part of the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization), I went to my second convention and met the then International President of the organization. I was inspired. I was motivated. In fact, that weekend I knew I wanted to be like him. I remember coming home from the convention and telling my parents I could one day be the International President because he was short like me. (Yes, a true story!) And, three years later, I achieved that goal.

But positions are one thing…leading is anotherOur community needs more people to step into leadership positions. We are blessed to have many who have served for long periods of time, and in some cases with multiple organizations. However, we are at a critical juncture where we need new people to get actively involved. Volunteering for boards and committees makes a difference – and the experience can be very rewarding. Yes, service takes time, energy, and passion. It requires educating yourself. It is also an opportunity for organizations to hear new voices and for you to bring inspired creativity. You can be one of those people.

What makes a great board member? (I am sure you can think of other ideas to add to this list)

  • Share a passion for and commitment to the organization's mission

  • Actively participate

  • Roll up your sleeves, when necessary, to help with the practical work

  • Utilize personal skills and expertise to help make the best decisions possible

  • Support efforts to raise money

I admire and applaud each and every Jewish community volunteer. Thank you for what you are doing. You give of your own free time and expertise to best serve the mission of our organizations. You make our community better.

Moreover, our community is indebted to those who assume the mantle of leadership by serving as the volunteer President/Chair of our Jewish communal organizations. It is not easy work, yet the dedication of these individuals is second to none. For most, they hold their positions for multiple years, which is even more impressive. Thank you to all these incredible people for taking on an exciting, yet challenging role. Leaders lead – and you are the role models for people to emulate.

I have the opportunity to work closely with one of these people, Michael Weiner, Chairman of the Board of the Jewish Federation. Michael will be continuing in his role next year. While I have the opportunity to write a weekly message to the community, much of my inspiration and examples come from observing how Michael operates. He is confident, capable, and an incredible partner. Moreover, Michael understands that in most cases the process is more important than the outcome. He believes, and I agree, that the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland is a communal organization, open and accessible to all. I cannot thank him enough for his leadership – he sets an incredible example for others to follow. Michael, our community looks forward to working with you to achieve its goals.

On a final note, I want to wish only the best to Josh Stein, Jewish Federation’s Campaign Director, and his beautiful family as they move to Kansas City (his home town). Josh has worked tirelessly for our community for the past ten years and will be sorely missed. He is a consummate professional and I know he will have great success as the Assistant Director of their Jewish Community Foundation. Josh, thank you for everything!

Let me conclude with this…Get involved! Make a difference! Our community needs people like you. To paraphrase the rock band AC/DC – For those who lead…we salute you!

Mazel tov to all our community’s graduates (i.e., future leaders) and their families…a special thank you to those board members who are rotating off for their years of service…much success to the new board and committee members…and we should all be grateful to those who have assumed top leadership positions.

Shabbat shalom and best wishes for a wonderful Father’s Day.



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