Why Federation? - July 9, 2021

For the past six years, the Jewish Federation has sponsored a team participating in the Hood to Coast race. If you are interested in volunteering (3 spots), running (1 spot), or cheering on our team, L'Chaim, on August 27-28, please click here.
I love the summer. It feels even better this year as our world seems to be opening up. COVID restrictions have been relaxed, children are at camp, teens are in Israel, and families are travelling once again. Most of all, people want to be together!
Summer also has a slower pace. So, as I was struggling with what to write this week, someone I was talking to asked me “Why Federation?” What does the Jewish Federation do and what difference does it make. Here are some thoughts:
For over 100 years, the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland has been raising funds to meet the ongoing needs of our Jewish community with an innovative approach and a record of achievement. In fact, Federation’s Annual Campaign has raised over $140 million for our Jewish community since its inception.
Our approach to community-building is becoming even more strategic and, I believe, the results will be inspiring. We will be embarking on the most comprehensive Jewish community study in our history. The data, instead of anecdotes, will shape priorities and provide invaluable information to our Jewish communal network.
Federation truly supports the fabric of Jewish life in our community. By working with a broad cross-section of community members, we ensure that the programs, institutions, and values that enrich our Jewish community remain vibrant and strong. From feeding the hungry to helping the unemployed...from supporting families to funding Jewish education and Israel experiences…the Jewish Federation is focused on addressing the most pressing issues facing our community every day.
Federation provides an effective and meaningful way for you to give Jewishly. With each gift, leveraged with thousands of others, we address causes and issues of importance to our community. If you or someone you know receives financial or scholarship assistance, enjoys PJ Library books, or has been a participant on Birthright Israel, then you know how important the Jewish Federation is to our community. And this is just a small sampling of services we help fund.
We are focused on leadership development. Twenty young leaders will soon begin their two-year journey with the Wexner Heritage Leadership Program. Federation is also bringing the Legacy Heritage Fund’s OnBoard program to enhance board governance. Ten organizations will be participating and once the program is complete an additional $1.1 million in new matching dollars will be coming into our community for capacity-building projects.
During times of crisis and natural disasters, Federation responds. We took a leadership role during COVID. We are there to help provide life-saving support during natural and man-made disasters. Moreover, the Jewish Federation system has a long track record of carrying out big bold initiatives and mobilizing great resources during times of crisis. We helped airlift thousands of Ethiopian Jews to safety in Israel during Operations Moses and Solomon. And, we helped rescue and resettle more than one million Soviet Jews in Israel and North America (including in Portland) during Operation Exodus.
We believe in the long-term future. We fully support the work of the Oregon Jewish Community Foundation (OJCF) to provide permanent endowments for our community. We participated in the Life and Legacy program. And we will soon launch the Jewish Future Pledge in partnership with the OJCF. The pledge calls on all Jews to pledge half or more of their charitable giving in their will/estate plan to support the Jewish community.
The extraordinary impact of the Jewish Federation can be felt around the community and around the world. In Portland, via Federation funding, we enable financial assistance and counseling, eldercare services, and college services to campuses throughout the area. We provide opportunities for Jewish culture to flourish. Outreach to our broad, diverse, and growing community. We advocate on issues of importance to the Jewish community and build bridges with other religious and ethnic groups.
In Israel, Federation provides funds for training and educational programs to break the cycle of poverty, enrichment programs for children at-risk, shelter and counseling assistance for victims of domestic violence, support for LGBTQ+ communities, and Arab-Israeli co-existence projects.
And Federation is active in over 70 countries around the world. In Russia and other Eastern European countries, home to the world’s poorest Jews, Federation-funded programs offer relief to 168,000 Jewish elderly while helping over 10,000 children receive a Jewish education. In Latin America, we help over 50,000 Jews with financial assistance and identity and renewal programs.
Through our broad network of partners and agencies, we actively seek out and support innovative solutions in order to provide basic necessities in life, rescue people in need, provide security, and educate, inspire, and connect people to their Jewish identity.
This is “Why Federation!”
As we look to the future, Federation is leading our community into our next century with a bold and innovative agenda and incredible leadership. Our agenda encourages inclusiveness and an understanding that innovative models and strategies for Jewish life must be explored and created. You are our partner in that process – we need your support.
Help us become the model Jewish community of the 21st century!
Our 2021 Campaign just concluded. We raised $300,000 more than the previous year. We are just now starting our 2022 Campaign – now is the perfect time to make your commitment to Federation’s Campaign for Community Needs. No need to wait! My family made its increased commitment. Join us and be one of the first to help set the pace. Please click here to provide your support.  
As a colleague of mine said, “From our earliest days, our annual campaign has represented a sacred expression of communal responsibility. It says: I give because I am part of a community, with an obligation to help in any way I can — and with the recognition that if someday I need help, I know where to turn."
The Jewish Federation -- and our network of organizations make this possible -- only with your support.
Thank you for what you do -- and the Jewish Federation is here for you.
Shabbat shalom.
Marc N. Blattner
President and CEO


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