On Monday our community was energized by a visit from legendary philanthropist Harold Grinspoon, who has made possible such incredible national initiatives as PJ Library, the LIFE & LEGACY (endowment) program, and JCamp 180 (provides consulting and grant-matching opportunities for Jewish overnight camps). The Grinspoon Foundation provides over $23 million per year for these initiatives and more. In the last eight years, the Grinspoon Foundation has granted over $900,000 in funding to the Greater Portland Jewish community.
Harold met with leadership from our Jewish community in a variety of settings and inspired us with his vision for philanthropy. He is a humble man with a huge heart! What he cares about most is creating avenues for children and families to engage in Jewish life that will last with them for a lifetime.
Thank you, Harold, for visiting our great community and for all you continue to do to support our efforts.
A new path for Jewish professionals
In January, the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland announced two key priority funding areas for the future – school-aged children/teens and young adults. Earlier this week the Jewish Federation’s Allocations Committee finished their deliberations and will soon present their recommendations to the Jewish Federation board for approval. I am confident several new collaborative initiatives will be funded to better serve our community’s youth and young adults.
But why wait for the allocations process to determine new initiatives? As you know, I am always proud of the work we do at the Jewish Federation to strengthen our Jewish community. I am delighted that through the leadership of Michael Jeser, Federation’s Director of Financial Resource Development, and several community leaders including, Kim Rosenberg, Jen Singer, and Rob Shlachter, PDX Pathways was created -- in just ten short weeks.
PDX Pathways is a new program that builds community among and provides career mentoring support to young Jewish adults in Greater Portland. Over 50 prominent Jewish community and business leaders endorsed the program and have volunteered their time to serve as a mentor at some point. More than that, we received 55 applications from a tremendous group of young Jewish professionals in our community. We are also proud that a multitude of Jewish organizations and synagogues are collaborating with the Jewish Federation in this effort.
This program is clearly meeting a need; both short-term and long-term. PDX Pathways was created to answer two vital questions:
a) What can we create that will inspire Jewish young professionals to step forward and want to be involved today?
b) What can we do to ensure that our Jewish community’s future is even brighter with talented young Jewish professionals feeling invested, connected and engaged?
By leveraging the connections, wisdom and experience of our community’s leaders with the passion young members have to connect, build community and make an impact - we know this program will grow into the future.
The level of interest validates that we are going in the right direction! The summer pilot could only accept 1/3 of the original applicants. This was a competitive process. Learn more about these talented young professionals selected for the first cohort of PDX Pathways here.
The first get together for this group took place on Wednesday evening.
By all accounts, it was a tremendous success. We are grateful to the inaugural mentors who will facilitate the experience of a group of 17 mentees over the next few months. We are confident the mentors will not only guide them professionally, but also expose them to their passion for leadership and community.
One of the program participants shared, "I know I'm lucky to be part of this and want to make the mentors proud.” Another mentee said, “I originally applied because of the career mentoring opportunity, but see that this experience will help me connect to the community and become a leader.” We wish all the participants in this program only great success as we add to our efforts to engage young adults in our Jewish community.
OJMCHE Exhibit on Military Service People
On Monday we commemorate Memorial Day. Oftentimes, we look at this upcoming weekend as a long holiday weekend that feels like the start of the summer. But it is more than that. It is a day when we honor those who died while serving in our country’s armed forces. Jews in America have always served their country when called. In fact, during both World War I and World War II, the percentage of Jewish soldiers was higher than our proportion in the American population. Sadly, like in all wars there are casualties. On Memorial Day we will remember all American soldiers who died serving our country including 3,500 Jews during World War I, 11,000 Jews during World War II, (no numbers available for the Korean War), 270 Jews in Vietnam, and 44 Jews in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education (OJMCHE) will be honoring the military service of Oregon Jews (whether serving currently or in the past) in an upcoming exhibit scheduled for mid-October. Building on A Call to Serve—Oregon Jews in the Armed Forces, an exhibition first featured in 2001, the fall 2016 exhibition will expand on the original to include individuals who have most recently served, or who are currently actively serving in the military.
The OJMCHE is looking to reach people, so if you are currently serving or know of someone who is, please contact them at 503-226-3600.
Shabbat shalom and have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend.