Will Wonders Never Cease

Wednesday night, the Jewish Federation and our community welcomed Jeffrey Goldberg, the new Editor-in-Chief of The Atlantic, to our annual Gala event. This year's Gala, chaired by Sharon Stern, and her children Anna and Eric Kodesch and Jonathan Singer (who was masterful in leading a dialogue with Mr. Goldberg), was an enormous success with 400 people in attendance.

Jeffrey Goldberg was a wonderful speaker. He provided his insights on the upcoming election, which he called a “hinge moment” in American history. Not only is our country focused on the election, but countries around the world are fixated on our process. Mr. Goldberg explained that our allies and smaller countries (who may complain about our behavior but willingly ask for help) have always seen America as the “global guarantor of stability” and are questioning what will be following the election.

Mr. Goldberg talked about internal strife in America and how we no longer agree on a common “American story.” We have many challenges as a country: “Is America about the localists or the globalists?”…Do we continue to stand with free countries around the world and fight fascism and terrorism?... How do we adapt to changing industries where it is less about “upper body strength” and more about intellectual capabilities? The leading candidates have to answer these questions and many more following the election.

Mr. Goldberg’s expertise is in foreign affairs. He shared his thoughts about Israel and the growing disconnect between American Jews and Israel. Mr. Goldberg discussed how Israel has “forgotten how to tell its story, especially in a way American Jews want to hear that story.” He feels we understand each other less and less. American Jews need to better understand the actual reality of life in Israel -- while Israelis needs to better understand what we mean by Jewish values. The older generation intuitively understood the need and role of the State of Israel, but many have done a poor job of articulating that to their children and grandchildren.

On a side note, I had the opportunity to chat with Mr. Goldberg before his talk. He shared how much he appreciates the efforts in smaller Jewish communities to strengthen Jewish life. We should be very proud of our community, and the participation on Wednesday night shows how vibrant Jewish Portland is.

Now, 35 days into our 100 Days of Impact, I am pleased to announce that our campaign currently stands at $2.1 million! This is the fastest pace in our history, but we still have a long ways to go to reach our $5 million goal. Please take the time to make your commitment to our community’s campaign and meet the needs of our children, seniors, and families – here in Greater Portland and around the world.

Will wonders never cease…

  • The Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians are in the World Series. It has been 108 years since the Cubs won and 68 years for Cleveland. I know my sister in Chicago and her family are rooting hard for the Cubs. (FYI -- My great great uncle, Al “Flip” Rosen, was the back-up third baseman for the Indians 1948 World Series winning team.)
  • On a positive note, Governor Kate Brown has signed onto the American Jewish Committee’s initiative, Governors United Against BDS, making her the 27th governor to do so (you can thank Gov. Brown here). This bipartisan campaign declares an unequivocal rejection of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and reaffirms support for Israel. Kudos to Federation’s JCRC leadership for helping advance this effort.
  • On the flip side, this past Monday the Associated Students of Portland State University (ASPSU) sadly passed a resolution calling upon the university to divest from certain companies doing business in Israel. The student government body voted 22-2 in favor of the resolution.

    Here is an abbreviated statement from Greater Portland Hillel:

    This is a difficult moment for the PSU campus community, but we are proud of the way our students united in the face of such a challenge. Pro-Israel students showed extraordinary resolve in fighting for the moral and intellectual integrity of our university since this measure was introduced. 

    We are buoyed by the knowledge that this vote does not represent the student body, faculty or administration of Portland State University. This resolution was engineered by the BDS movement and ramrodded into adoption without allowing the campus community the opportunity to research the motivations and implications of divestment or to truly engage in dialogue or learning about the complicated situation in the Middle East.
    We will not allow messages of hate to tear apart our campus community or to isolate Jewish students because of their religious or ethnic identities or because they support the State of Israel. The pro-Israel community of Portland State University and Greater Portland Hillel remain committed to being part of the solution. 


  • For the second time this month an entity of UNESCO, the World Heritage Committee, adopted a resolution that ignores Jewish ties to the Temple Mount. This resolution did mention the Western Wall, yet once again denies a Jewish connection to the Jewish holy sites.

  • In a secret ballot, the resolution passed with less than a majority of the committee’s members — 10 states voted in favor and two were opposed, with eight abstaining and one absent. Nine Arab countries and Vietnam are believed to have voted for the resolution, which was submitted by Lebanon and Tunisia on behalf of Jordan and the Palestinians, who do not serve on the committee.

  • This happened on the same day the Israeli Antiquities Authority revealed a papyrus document that contains the earliest known extra-biblical reference to Jerusalem in Hebrew writing dating from the time of the First Temple (7th century BCE). It underscores the centrality of Jerusalem as the economic capital of the kingdom during a period, according to the Bible, when the kings Menashe, Amon, or Josiah ruled in Jerusalem.

By now, I believe everyone in Oregon has received their ballot in the mail. As we approach November 8, I just want to encourage everyone in Oregon and SW Washington to exercise your right to vote.

Shabbat shalom.



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