Cardinal Rules for the New Year

Cardinal Rules for the New Year

Several years ago, the Wall Street Journal ran an interesting article detailing how September is a time when people make as many resolutions as they do in January. I am unsure why this is the case, but it coincides neatly with Rosh Hashanah most years. According to the article, September marks a time of change in how we live, what we buy, and what goals we set. It is when new cars come out, we see an increase in fitness club memberships, Hollywood studios put out their serious award contender movies, people spend more time browsing new career opportunities, and more people get married in September than any other month besides June.

While these trends/changes affect our personal lives, I take this time of year to think about what I can do personally and what we can do for our community. Communities do not just happen -- they are created, nurtured, and continuously evolving.

At the Jewish Federation we are always looking at communal priorities and potential new models for engagement in our Jewish community. We look to enhance collaboration to be less institutionally-focused, and more nimble and strategic in response to community needs. We still have much work to do. 

With the New Year upon us, here are some personal thoughts and reflections on the job at hand:

● Our work is about individuals and families -- It is about addressing the opportunities and challenges at every stage of life. It is not about how much money is raised, number of members, or what the next event or program is. Instead, it is about the direct impact we have on people to enhance their lives for the long-term.

● We must accept that our work is unpredictable. – There is complexity and uncertainty in Jewish communal work. Much of the knowledge needed to support our change strategies can arise only during implementation. Therefore, collaborative experimentation and risk-taking are what will take us to the next level.

● Our efforts require working partners – Jewish agencies, synagogues, rabbis, communal leaders, donors, non-donors, individuals in the community, etc. must work better in consort with one another.  

● Times demand we be “great,” not just “good.” -- "Good" speaks to protecting and perpetuating the widely accepted ways of how we currently do things. When “good” rules the day, it’s not noticeable, since things are transpiring just as they should. “Great,” however, is exciting, energizing, and stimulating. Striving for “great” shocks complacency and inertia into action.

● Our collective work necessitates shared ownership -- This requires accepting the premise that to tackle community-wide issues “no one organization can go it alone.” Collaboration and strategic partnerships must be developed.

At the end of the day, strengthening our Jewish community is all about the importance of doing what’s right -- not who’s right.

Some exciting announcements as we begin the New Year:

● Mazel tov to Maayan Torah Day School on their new school location in Lake Oswego. The Jewish Federation, along with many wonderful supporters in our community, played an integral role in securing the new school building. The grand opening on Tuesday was quite inspirational with all the children and parents.We were delighted to have the Mayor of Lake Oswego and two state representatives join us for the festivities.

● As you know, Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak will be the Jewish Federation Gala speaker on October 14. It is an honor for our community to have him as we celebrate Israel’s 70th anniversary. Join us!

We are asking all families, whether attending the Gala or not, to please send in a photo (just reply to this email) of you/your family together in Israel (if you have been). We are creating something very special for the Gala evening and need your assistance. 

● Speaking of Israel, early-bird registration for the Centennial Trip to Israel, scheduled for March 18-29, 2020, ends in 10 weeks. Do not miss the opportunity to save an additional $500 per person. Go to and register today.

In addition, we will be holding two information sessions about the trip on October 4 and October 29. More information and details will be shared next week. Our Chairs, Priscilla and Tony Kostiner and Kathy Davis-Weiner and Michael Weiner, are looking forward to seeing you.

In the meantime, if you have any questions or would like additional details, please do not hesitate to reply to this email or call 503-245-6219. We are happy to share with you why this IS the trip for YOU/YOUR FAMILY and will be the trip of the century.

Let me close with these thoughts that you may have seen before. I found it quite refreshing, especially with Rosh Hashanah and this time of personal reflection:

Seven Cardinal Rules for Life

1. Make peace with your past so it won’t disturb your present.
2. What other people think of you is none of your business.
3. Time heals almost everything. Give it time.
4. No one is in charge of your happiness. Except you.
5. Don’t compare your life to others and don’t judge them. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
6. Stop thinking too much. It’s alright not to know the answers. They will come to you when you least expect it.
7. Smile! You don’t own all the problems in the world.

Starting Sunday night, may our prayers, reflections, and coming together provide the needed space for introspection that leads to hearing the sounds of the shofar and the ushering in of the New Year. On behalf of my family and the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland, Shana Tova u’Metuka – a Sweet and Happy New Year. May 5779 be a year of good health, peace, happiness, and much joy for you and your family!

Shabbat shalom.



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