When The Time is Right, May 28, 2020

Starting tonight at 6:00 p.m., you are invited to participate in a virtual tikkun leyl Shavuot—a late-night learning. According to Jewish tradition, the Torah was given to the Jewish people on Shavuot (Jewish Federation office is closed on Friday). We stay up all night (or as we are able) on erev Shavuot every year to show our desire for Torah learning. This year we gather via Zoom. More people will be able to see and learn together than we ever would have imagined.
Join the Oregon Board of Rabbis for a night of learning and study by registering here.
I have been writing some “heavy” emails of late and thought this week, being a short work week, I would update you on several important things in our community.
I want to share with you an important decision made by the Jewish Federation Governing Board. Although our annual campaign has not concluded, (we still need to raise $105,000 more in the next two weeks) we have informed our Jewish organizational partners that they will receive the same allocation as they did last year, with the understanding that if the campaign raises more or less money than the projected goal, each organization will share equally in that increase/decrease. The only two organizations not included in this are B’nai B’rith Camp and the Mittleman Jewish Community Center due to potential special circumstances.
Our Board and Allocations Committee unanimously agreed because during these uncertain times we wanted to provide our partner agencies with one certainty -- their annual Jewish Federation allocation. We informed them of this decision two weeks ago (decisions are typically made by mid-June) to assist with their budgeting process. 
As our state begins the reopening process in phases, many of us wonder “is it safe to go out.” Can we eat at a local restaurant? Can we go to the gym? Will I be safe getting a haircut? Each of us will make our own decisions on what we are comfortable doing and when. What we can all do is wear a mask in public, wash our hands, and practice social distancing.
Every week our agency executive directors talk about the issue of reopening. The governor has rolled out specific guidelines for certain businesses and operations. When will our synagogues reopen? When will the fitness center at the Mittleman Jewish Community Center open? What is happening with local summer day camps and overnight camps for our children? How will pre-schools operate going forward? Many have already announced their plans and others you will hear from shortly. But the simple answer to all these questions is our Jewish communal organizations will open and operate when they are prepared to keep people healthy and safe.
I am grateful for their caution, thoughtfulness, patience, and diligence. They truly have your well-being as their top concern.
The community’s COVID-19 Crisis Campaign now stands at $810,000. An anonymous donor recently provided a $50,000 matching challenge grant. To date we have raised $10,000 towards that grant. I think we all recognize the economic challenges are not going away any time soon and your support can help bring an additional $50,000 to those most in need. Please consider making a contribution here.
Earlier this week, our grants review Steering Committee made $29,100 in new grants to the following organizations (many from outside the Greater Portland area):
  • Camp Solomon Schechter -- $18,000 for loss of revenue as camp is closed for summer
  • Chabad of Central Oregon -- $1,800 for loss of revenue and program support
  • Chabad of Salem -- $1,800 for loss of revenue and program support
  • Jewish Community of Central Oregon/Congregation Shalom Bayit -- $1,800 for loss of revenue and program support
  • Temple Beth Tikvah in Bend -- $2,700 for loss of revenue and program support
  • Tigard Chabad Jewish Center -- $500 for program support
  • Tivnu – Building Justice -- $2,500 for loss of revenue and program support
To date, we have granted $632,600 to 38 different organizations across the state. We should be incredibly proud of the way these funds have been managed and allocated.
More than the agencies we support, we help people! Here are just two case studies (dozens more) from Jewish Family and Child Service showing the impact of our work:
  • 88-year-old woman lives on her own in low income housing. She has costly medical needs, impacting her ability to pay her rent and utilities. Her son has been assisting in paying bills but is also struggling with the impact of Covid-19. We are assisting with June rent and helping provide referrals to meal programs and food boxes.
  • 38-year-old male, single father of young child with zero contact with other parent. He works from home but is having to navigate parenting with his work schedule, creating fewer hours for his income. His mother will be moving to Portland soon to help with childcare in the home. JFCS will help him catch up on April bills, provide gift cards to Fred Meyer for food resources, and assist him in applying for SNAP benefits.
Now we are at the end of May and we know there are many challenges ahead. Our goal with this fund was to provide support through June 30. We will meet that demand. A lot has to do with the success of many of our Jewish organizations in receiving SBA loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (over $6.1 million). What happens in July, August, September, and beyond is another issue. That is why maximizing our community crisis fund will make an enormous impact on the capacity of our Jewish organizations.
Finally, a hearty mazel tov to all the high school and college graduates. I know the graduations are not what people had in mind, but it is a wonderful milestone.
Enjoy the Shavuot holiday and an early Shabbat shalom.
Marc N. Blattner
President and CEO


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