Amazing how time flies. My older sister just turned 50. I just celebrated my 24th anniversary working in the Jewish Federation field (eight of those years here in Portland). And, according to the Hebrew calendar, this Shabbat (Parashah Shelach Lecha) marks 36 years since my bar mitzvah. All this can only mean one thing – I am getting older -- thank goodness!
Please join us for the 98th Annual Meeting of the Jewish Federation on Thursday, June 14 at 4:30 p.m. at Congregation Neveh Shalom. Ed Tonkin, Federation’s Chair of the Board, will give a year in review and you will enjoy our keynote speaker, Rabbi Shira Stutman from Washington, DC’s historic Sixth and I Synagogue. This will be an informative and exciting meeting.
As a follow-up to my email last week, I am pleased to share the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland’s Governing Board just approved the local and overseas allocations for FY 2018-2019. We are proud of the breadth and depth of our funding decisions. Local allocations will be released following our Annual Meeting.
One of the historic roles of the Jewish Federation is to support programs and services in Jewish communities around the world. We provide core support to our partner agencies, the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), as well as make independent funding decisions to overseas special projects.
I do want to make it clear that none of our funding in Israel goes beyond the “Green Line” and our funding does not go to support the Government of the State of Israel. It is for the express purpose of social services.
Our Overseas Special Projects Committee thoughtfully evaluates proposals to help Israelis in need based on the following priority areas: Families/Children at-risk, Arab-Jewish coexistence, Ethiopian Israelis, and older adults. We strive for our grants to have a meaningful impact, lead to broader influence in the wider society, and try to build strong connections with the Portland Jewish Community.
Here are the organizations we funded this cycle:
• BeAtzmi -- Enriching the educational experiences of 2nd and 3rd generation Ethiopian-Israeli children (grades 3-6) with the goal of enhancing their participation at a high level when they enter the workforce.
• Hillel-The Right to Choose -- Fund the organization’s ongoing work with women, single mothers and children who receive support after they leave the fold of the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox community) and enter the secular community.
• House of Wheels -- Provide wheelchair accessible transportation for young adults with cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy in the Arab community to attend programs providing enrichment and socialization for marginalized populations.
• Israel Gay Youth (IGY) -- Provide safe spaces and build additional youth groups in Haifa and Tel-Aviv Jaffa areas for trans youth, LGBTQ+ Ethiopian-Israeli youth, and LGBTQ+ Arab youth.
• Neve Michael – A longstanding partner of the Portland Jewish community. We will build a new playground for youth-at-risk who live at the village.
• Ofanim -- Provide extra-curricular enrichment in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) to children in the peripheral communities throughout Israel
• Miffal HaHesed Yad b’Yad -- Provides an opportunity for disadvantaged women to be the “queen for the day” to create greater self-esteem and dignity.
• The Women’s Courtyard -- Support a community development and beautification program in Netanya for Ethiopian Israeli women.
Our community should be proud of the incredible array of programs and services we fund.
One of the best kept secrets at the Jewish Federation is a “Women’s Giving Circle.” A small group of women pool together their resources and then serve as their own allocations committee. Here are the programs they are funding for this cycle.
B’nai B’rith Camp -- Fund for an inclusion coordinator. This program contributes to the camp's on-going efforts to provide an opportunity for every camper to succeed and have the ability to participate in a Jewish summer camp experience.
Mikvah Shoshana -- Fund a new Women's Resource Center to foster feelings of belonging for all women through two main themes: access to a network of professionals and providing education and outreach to all Jewish women in the Portland Jewish community.
NCSY – Create a 10-week leadership program for young women called, "How to be a Jewish Woman in a Modern World." This follows on the heels of the successful program funded last year by the Women’s Giving Circle.
Oregon Hillel -- Rosh Chodesh crafts program that builds identity and connection between female participants. The series is purposefully designed for Jewish college students, encouraging their curiosity towards Jewish living and building connections. This is year two of the series and culminates in a joint retreat with the women who participate in Oregon State University's Rosh Chodesh program.
Oregon State University Hillel -- Monthly Rosh Chodesh programs create a safe space to empower and inspire college-age women to connect with themselves, their intuition/inner-knowing, their leadership, their spiritual life, and their community. This is year two of the program and the series culminates with a joint retreat with the women participating in University of Oregon's Rosh Chodesh program.
Portland Jewish Academy -- Thirty-two middle schoolers and parents will work together to address homelessness at Transitions Projects in the preparation and serving of meals at the women-centered shelter.
These are some incredible initiatives being funded in our community. If you are interested in participating in the Women’s Giving Circle in the future, please contact Wendy Kahn.
On a final and important note, we have watched the recent eruptions of Hawaii’s Kilauea and Guatemala’s Fuego volcanoes. The challenges are enormous both for the people living in these areas (property damage, etc.) and the environment.
In Guatemala, more than 70 people have died and 200 are missing. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) activated its emergency response network to partner with the Guatemalan Jewish community to distribute critically needed relief items and plan for the rebuilding of schools and clinics. To support JDC’s response in Guatemala, visit: http://donate.jdc.org/guatemalarelief.
Shabbat shalom and mazel tov to all the recent high school and college graduates!