You Had To Be There - March 31, 2023

Passover begins next Wednesday evening with the first seder. The Jewish Federation of Greater Portland created this resource page and segmented community calendar for Passover. There are a multitude of programs and resources available to you to help you enjoy the holiday.


Seven years ago at the Jewish Federation’s Annual Meeting, we announced a “Trip of a Lifetime.” Our goal was to take 500 people to Israel in honor of the Jewish Federation’s 100th anniversary. As we all know, Covid changed those plans. Wednesday morning, however, the majority of our 200 participants returned home from Israel (some stayed to visit Petra, others stayed longer in Israel, and some are stopping in Europe on their way home). We were the largest group in Israel at that time.


Originally, my thinking was to write all about what we did in Israel. Then I realized, how do you put into words nine days of an incredible experience? You don’t (unless you want monosyllabic responses you get from your children when they come home from camp, etc.).


What I will say is -- you had to be there!


The trip was truly amazing! Beyond touring Israel, eating way too much at every meal, being there during the protests (which I wrote about earlier this week), and being with so many wonderful people, we did have two couples get engaged, two broken ankles, several cases of Covid (sadly this will continue to be the norm), and still everyone had a great experience. Israel is a mesmerizing place with its history, culture, and so much more.


Bringing the largest group ever from Portland was a dream come true. And we plan to follow-up with future Israel trip experiences to bring even more. As we say at the end of the Passover seder, “Next Year in Jerusalem.” Look for information in the near future.


To make all of this happen takes an extraordinary group of people.


First, kudos and congratulations to everyone who participated. For most, you stuck with us from the initial trip. We are grateful you made the effort to visit Israel and entrusted us.


Special recognition to our unbelievable Chairs, Priscilla and Tony Kostiner and Kathy Davis-Weiner and Michael Weiner. Through it all, their infectious enthusiasm and tremendous partnership made this trip happen!


Kenes Tours was our operator in Israel. They could not have done a better job managing the logistics (even the unexpected), finding our excellent tour guides, and working with us throughout the process.


We brought to Israel almost our entire team from the Jewish Federation (two decided to stay home since they have very young children). I cannot thank them enough for the long hours, flexibility when things changed, and their efforts to make sure everyone had such a positive experience.


Finally, a special thank you to Caron Blau Rothstein, our lead professional on the trip for the past seven years. She managed everything from “soup to nuts” for the first go around in 2020 with 400 people and now this trip in 2023 with 200. I am unsure if you realize the amount of information that passed through Caron (registration forms, passport numbers, flight information, special dietary needs and requests, etc.) and the amount of time she took with every participant who called. Planning large-scale trips is not easy and Caron did a masterful job.


Everyone deserves recognition for the important role they played.


Later this month, we will be celebrating Israel’s 75th. Our community is planning multiple events and programs to highlight this wonderful milestone. We will soon be sharing a full calendar of activities.


Several programs to be aware of:


  • Noted Israeli journalist, Yossi Klein Halevi, will be speaking on April 19 at 7:00 p.m. at Congregation Neveh Shalom. He is one of Israel’s leading thinkers. Register here for this in-person only event.


  • Yom HaZikaron memorial service will be held on April 24 at 7:00 p.m. at Congregation Neveh Shalom to honor those who were killed while in active duty in Israel’s armed forces and those who were killed in terrorist attacks.


  • Join our community on April 26, starting at 4:30 p.m., for a Yom HaAtzmaut celebration at the Mittleman Jewish Community Center. There will be Israeli food, dancing, trivia, singing, and a DJ to close out the night. Children and teen programming will also be happening.


  • Do not miss Israeli performer, Noaon April 30 at the Patricia Reser Center for the Arts in Beaverton. Only 50 tickets remain – click here to purchase tickets. The Reser Center is very intimate and there is not a bad seat in the house.


Some community news:


The Institute of Museum and Library Services announced that Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education (OJMCHE) is among 30 finalists for the 2023 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries that demonstrate significant impact in their communities. OJMCHE is the only institution in Oregon to be selected as a finalist for this award.


The Jewish Federation is joining with Stand Up To Jewish Hatea new campaign to educate all Americans about the rise of antisemitism and mobilize people outside the Jewish community to help address growing hate and intolerance.


We encourage you to post and share #on social media, using the blue square emoji on your phone, as a simple but powerful unifying symbol of solidarity.


We recognize that antisemitism is rising at alarming rates in the United States. Yet, new polling finds that more than half of Americans do not believe “antisemitism is a big problem” and nearly half believe that “Jews are more than capable of handling issues of antisemitism on their own”.


That is why we are proud to join the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism and a wide coalition of Jewish and non-Jewish groups, to raise awareness and empower all Americans to join us to prevent hatred and intolerance towards Jews. While Jews make up just 2.4% of the U.S. population, we are the victims of 55% of all religious hate crimes.


Shabbat shalom and early wishes for a chag Pesach kasher v'sameach, a kosher and joyous Passover.


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