What Motivates Me - January 20, 2023

The past two weeks have exhibited what makes Jewish communal work so special – both the challenges and rewards. I witness so many upbeat, optimistic people. I applaud leaders who stand up for what they believe in and the organizations they support. I appreciate those who try to find “win-win” solutions. I am in awe of the many creative ideas and new ways of thinking. I believe more and more leaders are making data driven decisions. And, I feel it should be okay to agree to disagree.


You also learn very quickly that two people (or organizations) can look at the exact same issue and come to two vastly different conclusions. It can be philosophical differences, data analysis differences, or simply a disagreement in principle. Each of these outcomes are understandable. As the old adage goes, “You do not have to be wrong for me to be right.”


Recently, the Jewish Federation had important, and, at times, challenging discussions (with more to come) with various Jewish organizations in town. Topics included funding, service provision, and operations (which also requires funding).


I think we all recognize that funding will always be a challenge. Every partner agency of the Jewish Federation that receives funding from our annual campaign wants and deserves more money. We acknowledge that. We also recognize that funds are finite. (We can only do more with more contributions.)


At the same time, the role and mission of each organization is vastly different. Each organization provides a valuable service to its constituency and “client base.” The Jewish Federation, on the other hand, is here to serve the entire Jewish community in whatever capacity it can. That means priorities get set…tough decisions are made…and not everyone will agree with the outcomes.


I share all of this because what motivates me every day is knowing that everyone involved in these conversations has their heart in the right place. They care! They are determined for their organization to thrive and to fulfill its mission! They want to help and support Jews, as well as others! It is what makes our Jewish community stronger. I love that passion – even when we may not agree.


I met a young woman for the first time yesterday, and we had an informative and insightful discussion about the Jewish community. At the conclusion of our meeting, I asked her to name ways we can improve our Jewish community. She immediately stated, “People in the Jewish community just need to chill. Not be so worried, concerned, and charged over every issue. Our common denominator is that we are all Jews who care.”




I am sure you are watching what is happening in Israel. I find it both frustrating and fascinating at the same time.


In a decision that could lead to the dissolution of Israel’s new government coalition, the country’s Supreme Court ruled 10-1 on Wednesday that Aryeh Deri, longtime leader of the Orthodox Shas party and a minister who has been previously convicted in multiple fraud cases, is not fit to serve in the government.


If Deri pulls the 11 lawmakers from his Shas Party out of the ruling coalition, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would lose his majority (therefore, possibly requiring another election). If Netanyahu ignores the decision to remove Deri, he could move Israel into a (I cannot say “constitutional” since Israel does not have a constitution) crisis at a time when this new government is already facing massive domestic protests and is under international scrutiny for proposals that would curtail the Supreme Court’s power.


The fight is over fundamental questions like: Who has final say on the country’s laws and how they should be enforced? Does the Supreme Court have a duty to review laws or just interpret them? Does the government have the right to override the Court? And so on.


You can learn more by clicking here and here.


This is Israel’s political system and the current reality for the democratically elected government of Israel. We will all watch to see how this unfolds and how Prime Minister Netanyahu manages this.



A few quick updates:


Our Campaign for Community Needs is over 80% of the way to our target for the year! Thank you to everyone who has already made their pledge. If you have not done so already, support our Jewish community by clicking here.


In addition, and I have mentioned this before, thank you to everyone who pays their pledge. We can only do our work when we have the actual cash. I am immensely proud that our Jewish Federation has the highest payment rate on pledges in the country. This continues as we had another strong cash collections year in 2022.


Nominations are open for the Laurie Rogoway Outstanding Jewish Professional Awardsponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland in recognition of Laurie Rogoway, a pillar of Jewish leadership for over 30 years in Portland. This award recognizes an individual currently working in a professional capacity at a Jewish communal organization in Greater Portland. The nominee must demonstrate outstanding professional work and a commitment to the field of Jewish professional leadership. The winner receives up to $1800 towards a professional development experience of their choice. Send in your nominations before March 1.


Do not miss Noa in concert on Sunday, April 30 at the Patricia Reser Center for the Arts in Beaverton. This is part of our Israel at 75 celebrations. Tickets are going fast, and every seat is excellent in the intimate theater. Purchase your tickets here.


Finally, our Jewish Community Study is in the last 10 days of “field research.” If you received a survey (or check your email spam folder to see if you received a survey), you have until January 31 to submit your responses. Get your voice and experiences heard!


Shabbat shalom.



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