PHOTO: Eliana Temkin, right, makes a surprise home presentation of the Laurie Rogoway Outstanding Jewish Professional Award to Rachel Nelson.
BY DEBORAH MOON
The Laurie Rogoway Outstanding Jewish Professional Award will be presented formally to Rachel Nelson at the 101st Annual Meeting of the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland (see below).
Following Laurie’s retirement from 30-year-plus career as a Jewish communal professional, Federation created this award to honor her dedication to community and passion for Jewish life. The award recognizes a mid-career professional at Jewish communal organization in Greater Portland.
“I’ve known Laurie most of my life,” says Rachel, a Portland native, who worked with Laurie at Federation in 2013-14. “It’s such an inspiration to get an award named after someone who gave so much to our community.”
Rachel is JFGP’s director of educational initiatives & intergroup outreach. Her role includes convening local Jewish educators, managing the local PJ Library program and overseeing the Intergroup Outreach committee of the Jewish Community Relations Council.
Rogoway Award Committee Chair Eliana Temkin says this year’s nominees included an impressive group of professionals.
“Other people were close, but Rachel has done an incredible amount of interesting, innovative work,” says Eliana, who was working at the MJCC when she first met Rachel as a young girl. “We’ve seen her really develop and grow, and (we’ve seen) her willingness to try new things and take on new stuff.”
Community members letters highlight some of Rachel’s innovative work and willingness to take on new challenges:
• Rachel was an exemplary professional pre-COVID, advocating on behalf of the Jewish community, Jewish educators and Jewish families with her myriad hats. During the Covid pandemic, Rachel has taken it upon herself to run the complex array of technological processes that are required for running large-scale webinars, webinars with government officials, with educators and with many allies telling their own stories of combating bigotry and racism. Rachel has given our community the gift of her expanding radius of talents in arenas that were far beyond her stated job description. ~ Sarah Rohr, who worked as an intern for Rachel last year.
• Rachel facilitated our JCRC-Latino Network dialogue, which took place over several weeks and has led to an important connection with the fastest growing community in Oregon. She has also been instrumental in planning an exciting joint project with the NAACP (United in Spirit). ~ JCRC Director Bob Horenstein.
• Under her leadership, the volunteer-based Intergroup Outreach Committee fostered new relationships with ethnic- and religious-based communities. New relationships were forged and others nurtured such as those with LGBTQ+, LatinX, Church of Latter Day Saints, Black, Catholic. Rachel has been instrumental in the Intergroup Outreach Committee’s creation and launch of a webinar series on Uncovering the Hidden History of Hate in Oregon and the half-day (May 26) summit to confront hate. ~ Michelle Bombet Minch, JCRC.
• Her respectful leadership style brings diverse and strongly opinionated members (of the Outreach Committee) to productive discussion and solutions. Rachel’s deep love and understanding of Judaism is an extra bonus. ~ Randi Peterson, past chair of JCRC.
• I have watched Rachel’s journey in the Jewish professional world for the past 15 years, working both in state and out of state in the fields of formal and informal Jewish education as a teacher and administrator. Rachel keeps her fingers on the pulse of national Jewish education initiatives and connects our Portland community to them. ~ Mel Berwin, Neveh Shalom director of congregational learning.
The award includes up to $1,800 for a professional development experience, something Rachel is sure to use to maximum benefit for the community. She currently participates in the Mandel Teacher Education Institute and the Israel Policy Forum Conveners Program.
“I love this community, I grew up in this community,” says Rachel. “I am so happy to be working in, and able to give back to, this community.”
JFGP 101ST ANNUAL MEETING
Monday, June 14, 2021
4:30 pm via Zoom