It makes me proud when Jewish values and clal Yisrael (the Jewish people) are priorities above all else. Because when an opportunity, crisis, or challenge occurs, our Jewish community comes together.
I know I have spent the past few weeks talking about the new community mikvah. On Tuesday night, a group of 35 community members came together to learn more and to celebrate at the home of Ronnie Malka. We heard several beautiful stories about the impact mikvah experiences can have on people. Moreover, we shared drawings of the new mikvah. But what felt most important to people in the room was for our community to have an open and accessible mikvah for all. I am confident that our partners, the Oregon Board of Rabbis, will make sure this happens.
The new mikvah, along with a maintenance endowment, will cost over $800,000. It is surprising how much additional concrete and special plumbing can cost. We need to raise $50,000 more to meet our communal goal – this creates an opportunity for our community to come together and provide this vital resource. Ronnie’s passion for this project has led her to spearhead this fundraising effort and she has enlisted others to create these wonderful videos about the importance of the mikvah. Let’s come together as a community and raise the final dollars needed to build the mikvah of our dreams and to have a maintenance endowment for its upkeep for generations to come. Please join me and many others in making your own contribution of any size by clicking here. Every gift will make a difference. Thank you for your support.
Sephardic Adventure Camp/Camp Solomon Schechter
Here is an inspiring story! On Wednesday afternoon, I learned that the Sephardic Adventure Camp a two-week Jewish overnight camp that does not have a permanent site) needed to evacuate from its camp site for their session that was to begin this past Tuesday. The camp was renting a site near Yakima, Washington, yet a nearby forest fire forced an evacuation and left the camp searching for an alternate location.
Sam Perlin, Director of Camp Solomon Schechter (CSS), reached out to the Sephardic Adventure Camp and invited them to relocate to CSS. I am delighted to share that today 120 children and staff are arriving and will have an incredible summer experience. CSS found beds, created multiple shifts for the dining hall (Sephardic Adventure Camp is having their meals delivered daily from a Va’ad certified facility to meet their kashrut needs), and have worked around many logistical challenges.
What makes it so special is that the two camp programs are very different. Camp Solomon Schechter has their camp sessions focused on specific age groups (currently it’s the 8th-10thgraders' session). They have their own activities, social programs, dances, services, Shabbat programming, etc. Sephardic Adventure Camp has children of all ages, including the youngest in 3rdand 4th grades. They also have their own programs and activities. It is exciting that these children and staff are able to come together and share a summer camp experience. I know Rabbi David Kosak of Congregation Neveh Shalom is there now (he wrote eloquently about it this morning to his congregation) and I will be visiting CSS on Monday to see more.
B’nai B’rith Camp
Last week, B’nai B’rith Camp announced a new partnership with the Portland-metro BBYO program. BB Camp will assume management of the program, including supervision of all local programming, finances, and fundraising. The goal of this partnership is to strengthen programs for local Jewish teens, increase the number of chapters, the number of members, and the reach of BBYO.
B’nai B’rith Camp and BBYO share common goals: to involve more Jewish teens in meaningful Jewish experiences and enrich their Jewish identity with a focus on personal and leadership development. BB Camp is seeking to expand teen leadership opportunities and will be partnering with BBYO to promote their national and international summer teen leadership programs. I applaud BB Camp and its leadership for enabling these two great organizations to come together.
In addition, BB Camp recently underwent its accreditation process conducted by the American Camp Association, an intense process that occurs once every three years. BB Camp was scored on key aspects of the camp’s administration and operation, particularly those related to program quality and the health and safety of campers and staff. Our community should be very proud that BB Camp remains at the highest level of standards andscored 100% on all criterion.
The 50s+ demographic is growing and every day Jewish newcomers in this demographic move to our community. Wednesday night the MJCC and Federation co-hosted a 50s+ happy hour and walking tour of old Jewish (south) Portland for those newer to town. Participants from across the community were regaled with stories by Polina Olsen of the early Jewish Portlanders. One participant wrote, “Thank you for hosting the happy hour and Jewish Portland Tour. I have lived in many cities but none had anything this great.” We were delighted these newcomers came together to meet one another and to learn more about their new hometown.
I have written before about the wonderful Mother’s Circle program, a free, community-wide class for moms without a Jewish background who are raising children in a Jewish environment. The Mother's Circle is a 13-week community-wide program coordinated by multiple synagogues and Jewish organizations, and is an affiliate program of Big Tent Judaism.
This supportive program is for women wanting tocome together to learn more about the “how-to’s” of tradition, holidays and ritual while meeting other families with a similar background. There is no cost and childcare is provided. There will be an information session and coffee on September 18. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-293-7313 for more information.
How wonderful to have all these reasons and the ability to come together and celebrate Jewish Portland! And, I have even more exciting news to share in upcoming weeks!