It seems the rain has ended and perhaps summer has arrived early. Understanding that many are already or will soon be away for the Memorial Day holiday weekend (commemorating those who died in service to our country), I just want to share a few important tidbits of community news.
• Our community's newest mikvah, Rachel's Well, will open this summer for traditional and contemporary ritual immersion and be accessible to all Jews in our community. As we complete the project, we are asking for community support to make it a beautiful (and functional) space. A Mikvah Registry has been established for community members to donate items (large and small) to furnish the two lovely immersion preparation rooms. The registry can be accessed here. Caron Blau Rothstein at the Jewish Federation can answer any questions. And do not forget to check the Federation’s website for updates on the mikvah’s opening.
• Last weekend, nearly 40 young adults gathered for our first ever “Community Hackathon.” The Hackathon was an innovative event rooted in principles of design thinking that focused on addressing the challenge of how to engage young professionals in our Jewish community. The weekend kicked off Friday night with Shabbat dinner where Rabbi Eve Posen of Congregation Neveh Shalom shared inspiring words of Torah about how lucky participants are to have the space to create and innovate.
At the Hackathon event on Sunday, participants brainstormed and generated creative project ideas designed to engage Jews in their 20s and 30s in the Greater Portland area. Participants formed groups and pitched their ideas to an incredible panel of judges -- Ed Tonkin, Becki Saltzman and Russ Finkelstein.
Two of the groups focused on how better to welcome and connect with newcomers to Portland. One focused on using technology while the other presented an approach based on building a network of volunteer “ambassadors” to create personal connections and build community among these young adults. The third group pitched the idea of creating an “urban kibbutz,” where people would live in their own homes but come together by bartering and trading currency to share resources of time and skill. All three groups will receive seed funding to implement their ideas in the coming year, thanks to funding from the Covenant Foundation and our partnership with Upstart.
Ed Tonkin, Federation Chairman, shared how last Sunday was the first beautiful day of the year and he realized he had committed to spending several hours indoors at the Hackathon. He was so happy he did! Ed told me it was “inspiring and so wonderful to see smart, passionate young people give of their time on behalf of bettering our community. I was honored to be there!”
• On Tuesday night, The Butterfly Project exhibit was installed at the entrance of the Mittleman Jewish Community Center. These beautiful butterflies were painted by local Jewish teens at J-Serve/Good Deeds Day this past April and sponsored by Portland Area Jewish Educators with support from the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education and the MJCC.
• Please join us on Tuesday, June 13 at 4:30 p.m. at Congregation Neveh Shalom for the Jewish Federation’s 97th Annual Meeting. The gathering is our opportunity for reflection on this year’s achievements and a preview of amazing initiatives for next year and beyond. We will express appreciation for outgoing board members and welcome two incoming leaders to the board. The Laurie Rogoway Leadership Award will be presented to an outstanding Jewish communal professional, Ben Winkleblack.
Rabbi Jay Moses, Vice-President of The Wexner Foundation, will speak about Leadership the World Needs in the 21stCentury. Rabbi Moses has served for many years as Director of the Wexner Heritage Program, North America’s premier Jewish leadership education program, which Portland is excited to bring back in 2020.
Join us and welcome Rabbi Moses to our community! I assure you it will be a fun and uplifting meeting.
•This summer, the Jewish Federation and the Mittleman Jewish Community Center are partnering on two sports related Jewish Heritage Nights: Wednesday, June 28 at the Portland Thorns and Tuesday, August 8 with the Hillsboro Hops. These events are open to people of all ages – so bring the whole family, cheer on our local hometown teams, and enjoy the beautiful Portland summer. Get your tickets now at the links above.
• We just celebrated Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day on the 28th day of Iyar. Fifty years ago there was a “municipal reunification” of the city of Jerusalem, ending 19 years of separation between predominantly Arab and Jewish suburbs of the city following the War of Independence in 1948.
In our continuing video series about the Six Day War, we look back at May 22, 1967: Egypt sends 80,000 troops to Israel’s border, expels UN observers, and broadcasts: "we shall apply against Israel...a total war which will result in the extermination of Zionist existence.” Follow the story as it unfolds in video #2 of our Countdown to the Six Day War Project.
On a personal note, forty years ago my entire world changed. Star Wars was released and my family went opening night. I was almost 8 years old and remember being mesmerized by everything on the big screen. Immediately down went the posters of Star Trek characters and up went Han Solo and Chewbacca. I stopped playing with my Evel Knievel wind-up stunt motorcycle and instead had my own light saber. It is amazing the impact that movie had on so many of us. And the subsequent movies have kept “the force” alive in all of us.
Have a meaningful and wonderful Memorial Day holiday and Shabbat shalom.