It is hard to believe that one year ago I assumed my position at the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland. I have enjoyed every single day! I get to work daily with incredible volunteers and professionals who truly make a difference in our Jewish community -- their drive and passion is awe inspiring. In addition, our community includes warm, genuine, and very welcoming people.
I hope in my short time here I have brought new ideas and energy to Portland, along with a long-term vision for our Jewish community. As I have stated many times before -- Portland is the perfect "test laboratory" for Jewish America and we will become the most admired Jewish community in the country. To do this will take leadership, a willingness to take large risks (that may take years for the desired outcomes to become apparent), and a realization that our community's needs continue to evolve (what was needed in the past or even today may not be what is necessary in the future).
I will continue to share my thoughts in Marc's Remarks and look forward to your continued feedback and insights. I am excited about our future prospects and look forward to partnering with you in making our Jewish hopes and dreams a reality.
Now, I typically like to write about a specific topic, yet today I want to share a few significant community happenings with you:
As you know, we have a growing Jewish population in an ever-expanding geographic area. This was even more evident when I had the pleasure earlier this week of attending the groundbreaking for Congregation Kol Ami’s new synagogue in Vancouver, Washington. The pride and spirit emanating from the hundreds of people (Jews along with many non-Jewish community leaders) in attendance, and a live cow (those there will understand), was truly moving. Mazel tov to the congregation on this wonderful achievement and I look forward to seeing the synagogue next year once completed.
I want to make you aware that a troubling ad has been placed on the back of a single TriMet bus. The ad was paid for by Friends of Sabeel calling for the end to United States military assistance to Israel. We have been in touch with TriMet’s director of marketing, who told us that TriMet would prefer not to place any ads that carry a political message, yet TriMet had to suspend its policy of prohibiting such ads because the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled that the policy was violating “free speech” rights. Federation's Community Relations Committee (CRC) and its Israel Advocacy arm are on top of this issue and recommend that the proper course of action at this time is to ignore the ad (as opposed to placing ads of our own), not wanting to give it undue—and perhaps local media—attention. The Federation’s CRC will continue to monitor the situation and will reconsider its current approach if circumstances warrant.
This past week, President Obama called for all Americans to unite for a "day of service" to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy. I hope you and your family will join the Jewish Federation for a Jewish Community Day of Service. Federation is coordinating two volunteer opportunities on Sunday, September 11 scheduled from 1:30 - 3:30 p.m. -- at Tryon Creek State Park and at the Children's Relief Nursery. Please click here for more information and to register for either site.
Thank you again for making this past year so rewarding. I look forward to more sharing, listening, collaborating, and generating new ideas WITH YOU as together we build a stronger Jewish community in the months and years ahead.
Shabbat shalom and enjoy the Labor Day holiday weekend.
PS -- As a follow-up to my email from last week, I wanted to share that through the miracle of viral emails, my comments about branding reached the Rose City Rollers (RCR). I got a very kind response from their Executive Director thanking me for sharing my experiences at a recent RCR game, and added the following, “I have also copied Layla Smackdown, a member of the Wheels of Justice, RCR's 2011 Pivot of the Year and my most favorite Jewish princess whom I'm sure is overjoyed to see us written about in the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland's newsletter.” Now we have our own Jewish heroine to cheer for the next time any of us go see them play.