Two days ago marked the 70th anniversary of an important date in Jewish history. On November 29, 1947 the United Nations held a historic vote at Lake Success, New York. Should British Mandate Palestine be partitioned into both a Jewish and an Arab State? All throughout soon-to-be Israel and around the world families and neighbors gathered around their radios to listen to the vote count. The General Assembly approved United Nations Resolution 181, also dubbed the partition plan, with 33 countries in favor, 13 against, 10 abstentions and one absent. When the results of the vote were declared, crowds went out to the streets and celebrated with song and dance until dawn.
UN General Assembly Resolution 181 sought to provide a solution to what was perceived as a conflict of two peoples with conflicting rights and claims in Palestine/the Land of Israel and established the principle of two states for two peoples.
The decision by the UN Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) to recommend partition resulted from a variety of reasons: the land ownership and organizational infrastructure already established by the Jewish community in Mandatory Palestine; its leaders’ willingness to cooperate with UNSCOP and accept the principle of partition – in contrast to the Arab Higher Committee who boycotted UNSCOP and rejected both its majority and minority recommendations; and the pressing need to find a solution to the hundreds of thousands of Jewish displaced persons in Europe who had survived the Holocaust.
Resolution 181 provided international legitimacy for the Jewish claim to statehood. It was a morally significant action, but like all UN General Assembly resolutions, it was not legally binding. The State of Israel was formally founded on May 14, 1948.
In his book, A Tale of Love and Darkness, Amos Oz recalls how strangers hugged and kissed each other with tears in the streets, shocked British soldiers were included in dance circles and plied with beer and liquor, and ecstatic celebrators climbed British tanks and waved the flags of the state that hadn’t yet been established.
Oz recalled that night in Jerusalem as his father stroked his head in his darkened bedroom:
"From the moment we have our own state [said Oz's father], you will never be bullied just because you are a Jew and because Jews are so-and-sos. Not that. Never again. From tonight that's finished here. Forever. I reached out sleepily to touch his face, just below his high forehead, and all of a sudden instead of his glasses my fingers met tears. Never in my life, before or after that night, not even when my mother died, did I see my father cry. And in fact I didn't see him cry that night, either. Only my left hand saw.”
On behalf of the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland we are grateful to the 100 volunteers who joined us at the Oregon Food Bank on #DoingTuesday earlier this week. Feeding the hungry is a moral imperative steeped in Jewish tradition, and the Jewish Federation is proud to facilitate opportunities like these. Between the Portland location and Beaverton location, our volunteers packed 27,622 pounds of pears and 4,652 pounds of frozen beets. Together, this provided food to be included in 26,895 meals.
Please hold the date for our spring community-wide day of service, Good Deeds Day on Sunday, April 15, 2018.
Last night the Jewish Federation held its annual Gala. What a fun community evening with the comedy of Joel Chasnoff and the personal sharing of Chef Einat Admony. It was a terrific gathering of people from across our Jewish community. Thank you to our event chairs: Lauren Goldstein, Glen Levy, Sandra Lewis, Ronnie Malka, and Susan Shleifer for all their hard work and efforts, as well as the wonderful Israeli-inspired meal provided by Century Catering.
I am delighted to share that our 2018 Campaign for Community Needs now stands at $2,250,000. December is always a busy month with end-of-year giving and we look forward to raising $3 million by the close of our initial 100 Days of Impact. If you have yet to make your contribution or would like to pay an outstanding pledge, please do so by clicking here.
Jewish Federation Chair, Ed Tonkin, and I have been visiting with many of the Jewish organizations (more visits to come) your Federation contributions support. I must say how impressed we are by the work they are doing. We have met with our three Jewish day schools (Maayan Torah Day School, Maimonides Jewish Day School, Portland Jewish Academy) and seen the nurturing environments and quality secular and Jewish education they provide. We have visited Cedar Sinai Park to learn more about the extraordinary care they are providing to our seniors, especially with their new buildings and health centers. The Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education not only has a beautiful new building, but also provides excellent community exhibits and quality education for students across the area about the Holocaust and discrimination. B’nai B’rith Camp continues to grow beyond a fantastic overnight summer camp and now incorporates year-round programming for youth, adults and families. And the Mittleman Jewish Community Center continues to serve as the “living room” of the Jewish community with a wide-array of cultural, educational, and physical activities. Be very proud of what our Jewish organizations are doing – and THANK YOU for partnering with us in strengthening our Jewish community for today and the future.
Finally, with Chanukah only thirteen days away, please click here for a listing of community activities.