Join us for the 99th Annual Meeting of the Jewish Federation on Wednesday, June 5 at 4:30 p.m. at Congregation Neveh Shalom. We will congratulate Ed Tonkin, along with Mindy and Mark Zeitzer, for their three years of incredible service as Chair of the Board and Campaign Chairs respectively, and welcome Lauren Goldstein as our new Chair of the Board. It will be a very special evening.
On Wednesday night, the Jewish Federation Board met to approve the final local and overseas allocations for fiscal year 2020 (July 2019 – June 2020). As I shared with the Board at the conclusion of the meeting, this is my proudest moment (!) of the year. Why? Because as trustees for our Jewish community and stewards of your generous charitable contributions, they make the best decisions possible for our Jewish community and its future. They do this with love and care. To allocate finite dollars is a daunting and challenging task, yet one that our leadership takes with great concern.
Over a six-month period, a group of dedicated community volunteers meet with and review twenty local Jewish organizations to learn more about their past successes, future plans, and their impact on our Jewish community. They listen to each organization’s current services and want to hear about new initiatives going forward. Plus, they review each organization’s budget and financials. To be frank, this is tedious and deliberate work – yet, each committee member will tell you it is inspiring. Kudos to Jack Birnbach, Chair of the Allocations Committee, and the entire committee for all they do to strengthen Jewish life in Greater Portland.
One thing that I am most excited about in regard to our allocations process is that we continue to expand the number of community partners. If you look at our allocations from five years ago and compare it to today, you will see nine new organizations receiving funds with a total investment of $129,000. This includes organizations like: Moishe House and One Table for young adults, Portland Kollel, NE Chabad, Stand With Us, and multiple Jewish youth organizations, We recognize
that our community continues to evolve and we want to provide as many Jewish experiences as possible and support those organizations who can make an impact.
Parallel to our local allocations process, we send out Requests for Proposals to organizations in Israel and overseas who may seek grants for special projects. We have been doing this for two decades and we should be very proud how we touch every part of Israel’s civil society. I want to be very clear, no Jewish Federation funds go to Jewish organizations over the Green Line and no funding goes to the Israeli government.
I am pleased to share that this year, under the leadership of Carmella Ettinger, we funded eight special overseas projects. The impact of these grants will reach Ethiopian-Israeli children and seniors, disabled youth in the Israeli-Arab community, people of all sexual orientations, ultra-Orthodox women who require employment training, bullying in Jewish and Arab schools, and assist victims of assault. It is quite an array of unique programs that truly make a dramatic impact on the lives of many.
It is important to reiterate that allocating millions of dollars would not be possible without the generosity of YOU and our Jewish community. Your support of our annual Campaign for Community Needs is the “fuel” that allows us to provide funding for programs and services literally from “cradle to grave” here in Greater Portland, Israel, and beyond. THANK YOU!
We have just begun the process of sharing the allocation decisions with each of the recipient organizations, so I cannot share them at this time. Once complete, we will certainly make those decisions public and they will also be listed in our Annual Report coming out later this summer.
It is important to understand that our allocations committee is focused on the needs of the entire Jewish community. I say this all the time, having a Jewish day school…or a Jewish senior home…or a synagogue…or a Jewish cultural institution does not make a Jewish community. Each is important in its own right. A Jewish community is truly the sum of its parts! And that is what the Jewish Federation is focused on – total community building with every organization maximizing its impact.
On a different note, I am so very proud to share that Senate Bill 664, which will require Holocaust and genocide education in our state's public high schools starting in the 2020-21 academic year, passed the Oregon House 58 to 0 (it passed the Senate earlier this year 27 to 0). The governor will sign the bill within the next week and there will be a ceremonial signing later in the summer at the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education (OJMCHE). Oregon is now the 11th state in the country to mandate this education. Thank you to our Jewish Community Relations Council, the OJMCHE, survivors, students and others who worked to make this important legislation a reality!
In closing, one month after the 21st Knesset was sworn in, a majority of the Knesset voted late Wednesday to disperse themselves and initiate an unprecedented repeat election on September 17. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was unable to form a coalition government in the timeline set by Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin.
Prime Minister Netanyahu failed to reach a compromise with Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Liberman on the controversial haredi (ultra-Orthodox) conscription into the army bill and also tried unsuccessfully to woo Knesset members from the opposition to join his government.
The Likud party initiated a bill at the deadline to dissolve the Knesset rather than give President Rivlin a chance to appoint someone other than Netanyahu to form a government.
Here is a good primer on what could happen over the next few months while we all wait and see. It will be interesting to say the least.
Shabbat shalom and please join us at our Annual Meeting next Wednesday.