BY RACHEL NELSON
Every year the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland sends a packet of information about the Jewish holidays to superintendents in the greater Portland area including SW Washington. This year is no exception, and in fact, we have expanded this list to include all superintendents and principals in Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington and Clark counties as well as several private schools in the area.
Typically a hard copy of this letter is sent out twice per year, once in early spring as districts begin their planning and again in the summer for individual schools to use in scheduling events such as dances, back-to- school nights and other community programming.
This letter also introduces educators to resources available to them in the community. In the past several years, we have anecdotally seen a rise in incidents where Jewish students experience discomfort or anti-Semitism. These resources include bringing in speakers from Federation, StandWithUS and the Oregon Jewish Museum & Center for Holocaust Education, information on how to contact the ADL and contact for the Oregon Hate Crimes and Bias Incident Response Hotline.
Additionally, there is a description of the Jewish holidays and the days that some students may miss classes in observance. There is an explanation on how Jewish holidays start on the evening prior to the date written and go from sunset to sunset.
We hope that families will use the following resources to advocate for themselves and will reach out to the Jewish Community Relations Council and Federation as incidents arise in their schools. For assistance, families can contact me at 503-892-7415 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To read the letter sent to educators, visit:
For the Jewish Holy Day descriptions:
For a list of resources and speakers:
Rachel Nelson is the Director of Educational Initiatives & Intergroup Outreach at the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland. She has worked at Federation since 2013.