BY DEBORAH MOON
The Jewish Federation of Greater Portland has formed a Young Adult Board, with seven members serving as ambassadors to 21- to 45-year-olds who live in different areas, have different sexual orientations and are in different stages of life, as well as to the community’s organizations serving those young adults.
“As the world has changed and continues to change in so many profound ways, it is crucial that each generation has a voice and a seat at the table in community decision-making,” says Marshal P. Spector, who was on the Federation committee that created the new Young Adult Board. “It is essential for the ‘older’ generations to listen, learn and gain perspective from young adults, especially those in the progressive community – they have benefitted from what we have done well but will deal with the consequences of our shortcomings and failures.”
A serious seat at the table is exactly the reason Shayna Sigman (pictured) agreed to serve on the new board. After earning her master’s degree, Shayna moved to Portland as a resident of Moishe House planning programming for other young adults. She says she hasn’t always felt like the older generations have taken her seriously, and she hopes the official nature of Young Adult Board will give members “the power to forge connections across the community … and to teach other organizations what young adults want and who young adults are.”
Shayna is joined on the board by former Moishe housemate Jake Sullivan, Hope Peskin-Shepherd, Sarah Howard, Stuart Zeltzer, Ben Morgan and Hannah Holstein.
“I was very excited seeing the list of people on the board,” says Shayna. “It makes me very hopeful.”
Hope says that when she moved to Portland in 2018 after earning her master’s degree, she was impressed by how many different organizations are already putting on events for young adults. “As a board member, I hope to help people have more awareness of all the different options,” says Hope. “It takes time to find out about all the fun stuff going on – once we can get together again.”
She adds she has made her closest friends in the Jewish community and hopes other young adults participate so they, too, can find such long-lasting friendships.
Sarah, a lifelong Portlander, agrees. “Being part of the Portland Jewish community has brought so much joy and growth into my life. … I made long-lasting relationships through friendships and mentors that have enhanced my life and helped define my values and goals.”
“Young adults will benefit greatly from being part of the Portland Jewish community,” she says. “I cannot wait to help bridge young adults to our community.”
Stuart Zeltzer sees young adults as a crucial demographic to build connection and community. “As the space between education years (high school and college) and the start of family life widens, young adult programming has stepped up to help fill the void,” he says. “As disconnection, loneliness and uncertain economic times potentially lay ahead, connection and community will be essential.”
As a member of the new board, Stuart says, “I want to share the sense of community, support and intrigue that I have both given and received as part of the Jewish community … part of the reason I ended up in Portland was through the generosity and connection of the Portland Moishe House to help set me up with housing during a monthlong visit and plug me into the community as soon as I got here.”
The board will have its initial retreat in August – either in person or on Zoom, depending on government and health recommendations at that time.
One of its preliminary missions will be to plan a hallmark young adult event that will be fun and feel welcoming for all the diverse young adult populations, says Nadine Menashe. Nadine, JFGP development associate since 2018, serves as the JFGP staff coordinator for the young adult board.
Nadine says the Federation decided to create the board to more fully engage young adults and to harness the expertise of former Moishe House residents, graduates of PDX Pathways (JFGP’s leadership and mentoring program for young adult professionals), and other engaged young adults.
Hope Peskin-Shepherd is a policy analyst at the Oregon Health Authority. Hope is passionate about public health and reproductive rights and completed her Master’s of Public Health in New York. She is originally from Michigan and helped found a Jewish Young Professionals group in Ann Arbor. Hope was thrilled to find a similarly welcoming and friendly community in Portland. She loves hiking, singing, cooking and traveling.
Jake Sullivan grew up in Portland and attended Colorado College and the University of Cambridge. From 2017-2020, he served as a resident in Moishe House Portland, helping to create a welcoming space for young adult Jews. Jake is excited to bring his passion for connection, creativity and fun to this new venture.
Sarah Howard grew up attending BB Camp and Congregation Beth Israel. Work and school havetaken her all over the world, where she discovered her passion for providing access to education and opportunities. When not working, you can find her with her dog and husband, hiking in the Gorge, hosting family and friends for dinner, or wine tasting.
Stuart Zeltzer came to Portland in 2016 to pursue a career in family medicine. Stuart was active in the Detroit and Cleveland Jewish communities through work at Tamarack Camps, Moishe House and the Cleveland Youth Leadership Division. Stuart remained engaged here through the PDX Pathways program, the Giving Council and participation in many events for young Jewish professionals.
Ben Morgan has lived in the area for five years, residing in Milwaukie with his wife, Lauren, along with their children, 3-year-old Zev and 7-month-old Lital. He loves everything Portland has to offer – outdoor adventures, the food and culinary culture, and the community and the amazing beer. He has worked in the beer industry for almost eight years, currently with Firestone Walker Brewing Company.
Hannah Holstein volunteered with her brother’s Special Olympics baseball team and watched her father train Super Sunday callers, which led to her passion for nonprofits. She earned her master’s degree from Northeastern University in Nonprofit Management. Hannah is an associate director of development at the PSU Foundation and likes to explore the Pacific Northwest with her son, husband and dog.
Shayna Sigman moved to Portland in 2016, after completing her MSW at Washington University in St. Louis. During her time in Portland, she has worked for multiple Jewish organizations, served two years as a Moishe House Portland resident and participated in the Jewish Federation’s Pathways program.