This is Portland’s LGBTQ pride weekend. Pride has been celebrated in Portland since the early 1970’s and this Sunday will be the Portland Pride Parade, with approximately 8,000 LGBTQ+ individuals and allies walking and some 50,000+ spectators lining the route that ends at Tom McCall Waterfront Park.
We are excited that once again our Jewish community will proudly stand with the broader Portland community and lend our voices for acceptance and inclusion. Our “step off point” is at the corner of NW Broadway and NW Davis (spot #75 - be there by 11:00 a.m.) where we will provide bagels, coffee, and activities while you wait. We are grateful to all our Jewish Pride Greater PDX partner organizations (listed below) for marching together in support of our LGBTQ+ community.
B'nai B'rith Camp, Congregation Beth Israel, Congregation Kol Ami, Congregation Neveh Shalom, Congregation Shaarie Torah, Congregation Shir Tikvah, Havurah Shalom, Jewish Federation of Greater Portland, Mittleman Jewish Community Center, Moishe House, Oregon Jewish Community Foundation, Portland Jewish Academy, PDX Hillel
Last weekend was Jerusalem’s Pride Parade. We are proud that Portlanders Carmella Ettinger and Ruth Thomas were there showing our community’s support and participation.
And, earlier today was the 21st Tel Aviv Pride celebration. Over 250,000 people (including 30,000 tourists from outside Israel) participated in the parade, making it one of the world’s ten largest.
On a different note, I want to share with you an important group at the Jewish Federation – our Women’s Giving Circle. They just completed their third grantmaking cycle focused on women, girls, and promoting social change by addressing social justice and Jewish continuity. The Giving Circle members are proud of the power of their collective giving with each required to make a minimum gift to the Jewish Federation’s Annual Campaign of $500 and an additional contribution to the Giving Circle of $1,000 - $2,500.
The Giving Circle funded seven exciting programs:
Women are encouraged to join the Giving Circle by contacting Wendy Kahn. You can work with like-minded women in making a unique impact on our Jewish community.
Our community should also be proud of three special teens who were awarded the prestigious national Diller Teen Award in recognition of their inspiring volunteer work. Each awardee receives $36,000 that they may use to further their initiative or education.
The three Portland recipients are Solomon Olshin, Britton Masback, and Malcolm Asher. You can read about each of these teens, as well as the other recipients from around the country by clicking here. You will be amazed by what these young people are doing to better our world.
Every once in a while I try to add some interesting facts to my Remarks. This past Tuesday would have been Anne Frank’s 90thbirthday. Tomorrow marks 25 years since Israel and the Vatican established full diplomatic relations and the Magna Carta was signed 804 years ago. More interesting to me, is that 65 years ago today, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill placing the words “under God” into the United States Pledge of Allegiance.
The term was added at the insistence of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization. Professor Jonathan Sarna of Brandeis University said the Jewish community at the time did not fight the addition of the phrase, because of concerns of being viewed on the side of Soviet atheists in the Cold War era. “The Jewish community had a lot to lose by opposing ‘One nation, under God,’” said Sarna. “Non-Jews would have questioned their patriotism and it would have broken their alliances with liberal Protestants and Catholics.” Sarna said it was very important at the time for Jews not to be seen as opposing religion itself, when atheists were being lumped in with Communists as enemies of the United States.
Marc Stern, a lawyer for the American Jewish Congress, said he believes the phrase had religious impact in 1954, and that one of the major motivations for it was to make religion a factor of distinction between Americans and Communists in the Soviet Union. Liberal Jewish groups, generally quick to weigh in on church-state issues, have remained relatively quiet on the Pledge of Allegiance issue, viewing this type of what they call “ceremonial deism” as harmless. “It conveys a resonance of American history and culture without conveying religious activity,” said Rabbi David Saperstein, former director of the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism and an authority on the Constitution. “It offers a comfort level that it otherwise wouldn’t have.”
I wonder what would happen if the words were being added today?
On a personal note, I am proud that on June 1st I celebrated my 25th anniversary of working in Jewish communal service. It is amazing to me that half my life has been spent in this field and all within the Jewish Federation system (Baltimore, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Portland). It has been a true blessing based on the experiences I have had -- the opportunity to visit Jewish communities around the world, to work with incredible volunteer leaders, learn from committed professional colleagues, and most of all, see the difference we make in people’s lives each and every day. Thank you for being a part of that journey.
Finally, our Centennial Trip to Israel is close to selling out. Registration will close on June 30. So, if interested in the “trip of the century,” please visit www.pdxisrael.org as soon as possible. You can also reply to this email if you have any questions.