I love people who care deeply about community.
Last night was a special and well-deserved evening for an incredible community leader. Cedar Sinai Park, and in many ways the entire Jewish community, celebrated the retirement of David Fuks. Unfortunately, I am currently in Vancouver, BC and was unable to attend. I did, however, send a note that I believe was read at the festivities that I wanted to share (abbreviated version) with all of you.
David Fuks has been my professional mentor and role model since I moved to Portland in September 2010. I fondly recall meeting him during my interview process and appreciated his thoughtful questions. Moreover, once I started, I remember our first lunch together at McCormick’s where he said to me, “Federation is so important to our community and I want to be one of your new best friends.” David, I will never forget your collegiality, true partnership, and wise insights!
Underlying everything David does is one important word – community. There is no person more community-minded and focused than David. When he walked the halls of Robison Home or Rose Schnitzer Manor, he did not only see those residents. He saw their children and grandchildren. He understood that our connections in Jewish life go much further than the individual – these relationships create community.
I do recognize David did not do this all alone. He always had an incredible professional team working with him at Cedar Sinai Park along with fantastic and committed lay leadership. But above all, there is his family – DeAnn and his two sons.
Your years and years of service to this Jewish community, both as a volunteer and professional leader, will have an impact on generations to come. You have given so much to this community and everyone has been blessed by your efforts. Thank you for being the mensch you are! You are one of the few people who have such passion and compassion for the Jewish people.
David, your professional leadership, vision, kindness, and community-nature will surely be missed. I know you are remaining in Portland and willing to helping our community at any time. In addition, I would be remiss if I did not wish Sandra Simon, the new CEO at Cedar Sinai Park, only great success in the years ahead.
On a different note, last year the Jewish Federation provided a start-up three-year grant of $30,000 to help launch a Hillel at Oregon State University. Under the professional leadership of Andy Gitelson and his team at Oregon Hillel, the program has quickly gotten off the ground. I am delighted to share the following letter we received from the OSU Hillel President:
One year ago, as I walked around Oregon State University’s Beaver Community Fair, I desperately searched for a club or organization I could call home—specifically a place for Jewish students to get together, since that was something I was familiar with. There was no table set up for such group. At the end of the fair I hadn't found any clubs that really grabbed my interests and felt I would never find my niche. However I did my research and found out that Hillel existed and was rebuilding and I jumped in wholeheartedly.
A year later, I found myself once again at the welcoming Beaver Community Fair, but this time I was standing there with Hillel. I loved meeting all the new people and inviting them to our events later that week. By far the highlight of that day was when a faculty member came up to the table and in shock said, "I've been here for three years! Where have you guys been all this time?" He could not be happier to see a Jewish student organization making a name for itself on the quad. From carpooling down to Eugene to celebrate Yom Kippur services to a hysterical bagel brunch in a gorgeous room on campus that I had no clue existed before, to our own personal portable sukkah on the quad (and enjoying “pizza in the hut,” our welcome week has been full of opportunities for us to learn, laugh, and grow together as a Jewish community on campus.
I cannot thank the people who made this all possible enough, from the student volunteers who helped build (and move!) the sukkah and Tim Stover of the Westminster House, to the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland for supplying the funds to make this all possible. I can't forget the Oregon Hillel Foundation staff—Amanda Weiss, Andy Gitelson, and Becca Marx—for realizing how important it was for Oregon State Jewish students to have a home away from home. And most of all, a huge thank you and welcome to all of the students who have joined us thus far this year.
In the last school year, we engaged over fifty students at Oregon State University and created a goal to double that number this year through events and one-on-one interactions. Amazingly, we’ve already engaged over fifty students in our first week! So our goal has increased: we plan to engage 150 students by June 2016. I have loved meeting everyone so far and cannot wait to meet so many more Jewish students looking for a Jewish home away from home on campus!
Success is based on two things – leadership and relationships. Quality leaders must be passionate and committed. And, quality relationships must be built over time. David and Leah are models for each and the reason Cedar Sinai Park and Hillel at OSU will continue to see only great success into the future.
Unlike last week’s heartbreaking news in Roseburg and Israel, I would much prefer sharing these positive stories. As we look to the past and future, be proud of the tremendous "community people" in Jewish Portland!