For nine years, I blocked out the second week of July for a national Jewish Federation mission to somewhere around the world (typically the Former Soviet Union) and Israel. It was called the Campaign Chairs’ and Directors’ Mission, and brought together over 100 volunteer and professional leaders from communities across North America. It was always a spectacular learning and motivational experience that reinforced the global mission of the Jewish Federation.
I am delighted that Mindy and Mark Zeitzer, Jewish Federation Campaign Co-Chairs, and Michael Jeser, Director of Financial Resources, are currently participating in this mission. They were in Kiev, Ukraine earlier this week and are now enjoying Shabbat in Israel. I encourage you to follow their experiences by reading their blog.
Michael’s initial blog entry talks about an elderly woman in her apartment in Kiev. We must all understand that the challenges of serving the elderly in the Former Soviet Union (FSU) are enormous. The Jewish Federation uses its campaign resources to support the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and Jewish Agency for Israel’s (JAFI) work across 11 time zones in several thousand locations across the FSU. In many of those places, the elderly Jewish clients are dispersed far and wide.
Sadly, there is no way to move the elderly to centralized large urban areas to more efficiently provide them with life-saving food, medicine, and homecare provisions that your campaign dollars provide in the FSU. Your support of the Hesed system (Federation-supported welfare centers across the FSU) provides the opportunity for dedicated homecare workers and thousands of volunteers to go apartment to apartment, typically up multiple flights of stairs (no elevators at all), to be a friendly visitor and provide the “nourishment” these people need. There is an old saying in the FSU (and true elsewhere) – people do not die of hunger, they die of loneliness. Your campaign contributions reduce isolation and allow these individuals to live their life with dignity.
If you have never climbed the five flights of stairs in a crumbling Soviet-built building to meet and hold the hand of an elderly client whose life is saved because of the generosity and kindness of people like you…read the blog ("Our Bubbie in Kiev") and see what we mean when we talk about saving one life is like saving the entire world.
On a separate note, it is always fun when you hear something “out of the blue” about someone you may not know in your own Jewish community. Mazel tov to Portlander Michael Ioffee, one of 15 teen leaders from across the United States who received a national grant from the Helen Diller Family Foundation for creating social change locally and globally.
The Helen Diller Family Foundation, a supporting foundation of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties, earlier this week announced the recipients of its annual Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards. Now in its 11th year, the national Awards recognize young entrepreneurs who are committed to establishing methods for social change that address the most urgent and pressing challenges in the communities around them. Each awardee receives $36,000 in support of their philanthropic vision or to further their education. Full descriptions of all 15 Award recipients and their projects can be found at: www.dillerteenawards.org.
Michael, a recent Lincoln High School graduate, is the founder of TILE (Talks about Innovation, Leadership and Entrepreneurship), a non-profit which offers free monthly conversations with innovators, leaders, and entrepreneurs for high school and college students, particularly from low-income backgrounds. TILE bridges the resource gap for underserved students, creating a more equitable and diverse future of innovators, leaders, and entrepreneurs. Through Michael’s program, tens of thousands of students have gained insights and connections that enable them to pursue their goals. Ninety percent of TILE’s chapters are minority-led and roughly twenty-five percent of the audience comes from a high-poverty background. In less than one year, TILE has grown to 128 locations in 23 countries—including Slovakia, Yemen, India, and Ethiopia—with over 400 student leaders and volunteers helping organize and operate events. TILE is now the world’s largest conversation series.
Congratulations Michael and we wish you only continued success! Your achievement will no doubt inspire other teens in our community to apply to the Diller Foundation, too.
On August 8, we will hold our 2nd annual Jewish Community Night at the Hillsboro Hops. Tickets are available now through July 25 – click here.
We are also continuing our walking tours of Jewish Portland in partnership with the MJCC and led by docents from the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education (OJMCHE). This year we have two options for different demographics:
1. Younger adults 20s-40s -- July 19
2. 50s+ -- August 16
Both tours begin at 5:30 p.m. for happy hour at the Lair Hill Bistro followed by the walking tour. It is a great opportunity to learn more about our local history and to meet others. The cost is $5 per person and includes one beverage and appetizers. RSVP to LauraR@jewishportland.org or call 503-245-6219.
Continue to enjoy this beautiful summer and Shabbat shalom.