Let me catch up this week with a wonderful anniversary, special honors, and new opportunities.
Hard to believe that two years ago the Jewish Federation and our community opened Rachel’s Well, our community mikvah. Since that time, we have welcomed over 800 people for immersions ranging from conversion of infants, children and adults, to brides & grooms, to newly divorced or healed from a health-related issue or other trauma, to milestone birthdays, pre-Shabbat/ holiday use, et cetera.
The mikvah is open to all genders and is used by a broad swath of people in our community from traditionally observant to unaffiliated. The mikvah also has a special mikvah just for kashering dishes and utensils. We are very proud of this communal institution.
As part of the celebration, we are bringing the Bodies of Water program (funded by the Jewish Federation's Women’s Giving Circle) to Portland. Bodies of Water gives teens the tools and resources to affirm positive perspectives on body image to take them through the teen years and beyond.
Teens are bombarded (via social and print media, movies and television) with hundreds of messages about body image daily. These messages can be upsetting, depressing, confusing, troubling, stressful, especially to teen girls.
Two workshops for female-identifying teens are being offered – middle schoolers on December 15 and high schoolers on December 17. To learn more and to register for this powerful, affirming experience click here.
The Association of Fundraising Professionals of Oregon & SW Washington will be hosting their annual Philanthropy Awards Luncheon on November 12, which is National Philanthropy Day. We are delighted that the Jewish community will be very well represented. Mazel tov to B’nai B’rith Men’s Camp Association for being selected as the 2019 Outstanding Volunteer Group and local teen Benjamin Olshin for being selected the recipient of AFP’s Youth in Philanthropy award.
The awards luncheon will be held at the Portland Hilton and tickets are available by CLICKING HERE.
I want to make all 3rd - 8th graders aware of the annual commnity Chanukah essay contest. The topic is "How can I use words to be a helpful person, or a good citizen, or a friend to the earth?" Submissions should be 150 words or less and are due by December 12 to email@example.com
The winners will receive a $150 cash prize and $50 to a school of their choice, plus the opportunity to have lunch with award-winning children’s book author Eric Kimmel.
I wanted to share a powerful “small Jewish world” story I heard this week that took place at the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Board of Governors meeting in Jerusalem. Major General Benny Gantz, head of the Blue and White party, who may become the next Prime Minister of Israel, addressed the group. He shared that the father of Isaac Herzog, Chairman of the Jewish Agency, was one of the first soldiers to enter the liberated camp at Bergen Belsen where Benny Gantz’s mother (17 years old at the time) was a prisoner.
One of the great challenges in our high schools is the discussion about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Jewish Federation of Greater Portland is partnering once again with StandWithUs Northwest, a nonprofit organization focusing on Israel education, to provide local high school students with an opportunity to engage with a young and engaging Israeli speaker.
Aviv Attia, age 25, is available to speak to high school classes throughout the metropolitan area about Israeli society, Israeli culture (e.g., music, dance, food, service in the army, education), similarities and differences in teenage life in Israel versus that in America, Israeli history, and Israel's relationship with its Arab neighbors, in particular the Palestinians.
Aviv is from Tel Aviv and has an interesting family story. His father’s family lived in Spain for centuries but was expelled and went to Tunisia following the Alhambra Decree in 1492. After centuries in Tunisia, they were forced to flee to Israel in the early 1950s. While his maternal grandparents were Iraqis from a very wealthy family in Baghdad. In the early 1960s, they fled to Israel because of terrible anti-Semitism. They were forced to leave all their property behind and begin a new life in the land of Israel.
Aviv is available to local schools (and local organizations) at no cost. We just need your help in contacting your teen’s high school and request that we bring Aviv to speak. He is quite an articulate and interesting young man. Please contact me with any questions.
On a final note, I am proud that the Jewish Federation’s professional team volunteered this week at Cascadia Clusters, the “tiny house” building program happening next to the Mittleman Jewish Community Center. It was fun time and great getting our “hands dirty.” We look forward to the day when those who are houseless are able to use these wonderful tiny homes.