One of the most challenging responsibilities of the Jewish Federation is to allocate funds contributed through your generosity to the most pressing Jewish needs both locally and overseas. We have dedicated volunteer leaders who work for months reviewing proposals to make the best decisions possible.
I am pleased to share that due to the success of our Annual Campaign, an additional 7% in funding was made available to our local and overseas communities! Here are some highlights for you (this will be fully explained in our Annual Report later this summer):
• Three Portland-based organizations will receive funding for the first time – Portland Kollel, Chabad of Northeast, and Tivnu: Building Justice.
• Funding to enhance Maimonides Jewish Day School’s physical education program by utilizing the Mittleman Jewish Community Center’s gym on a weekly basis.
• Increased funding for teens participating in our area Jewish youth groups for scholarship assistance to attend Shabbatonim and conventions.
• Greater Portland Hillel receiving funding towards their Israel Fellowship program.
• Funding for Oregon Hillel to expand Jewish programming at Oregon State University.
• B’nai B’rith Camp will receive funding for their nationally recognized Kehillah/inclusion programming.
Teen Israel Experiences
One of the biggest changes is funding for teens participating in Israel programs. Since 1996, the Oregon Board of Rabbis has partnered with the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland, and soon after the Arthur Krichevsky Fund of the OJCF, to provide up to a maximum of $4,000 or 80% of the total cost for a teen’s Israel educational and experiential program. We are the only community in North America that provides funding at this level. Since its inception, we have enabled 250+ Portland teens to participate in Israel experiences with Federation allocating over $500,000 towards this effort. These funds, however, were only available to teens continuing formal Jewish education through high school at their synagogue.
The Jewish Federation, following conversations with representatives of the Oregon Board of Rabbis and the Krichevsky Fund, has decided to expand its funding. Beginning in fiscal year 2018, the Jewish Federation will now provide 18% (up to a maximum of $2,500) of the total published price for any teen in our community wishing to go to Israel while in high school (minimum three-week experience).
Understanding the importance of encouraging teens to remain in the formal high school programs, the Krichevsky Fund will continue its funding. Jewish Federation will also provide an additional $250 to each of these students when matched by their congregation.
Also, for the first time ever, Federation will provide up to $2,500 to those wishing to participate on a GAP-year program immediately following high school. The program must be approved by MASA/Israel Journey and include a hands-on volunteer experience while in Israel. Teens will be eligible for funding for both a teen Israel experience (one-time) AND a GAP-year program.
With these changes and the dramatic expansion of the program, it is our expectation that we will see increases in the number of teens participating in Israel experiences and Federation financial support starting in 2018.
“Stages of Life” Funding
Two years ago, the Jewish Federation Board approved special funding for “Stages of Life” projects. After much consideration, the Federation Board selected school-age children/teens and young adults as the first two demographics to focus on. Following an intensive proposal process, I am pleased that we will be providing $76,250 in funding to the following five initiatives:
• Year two funding for student support services at the three Portland area Jewish day schools (Portland Jewish Academy, Maayan Torah Day School, and Maimonides Jewish Day School).
• Year two funding for Moishe House Without Walls to connect more young adults to one another and our Jewish community.
• Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education will receive funding for their new “Unlearning Discrimination” program.
• Funding for the Mittleman Jewish Community Center to provide subsidies for more teens to participate in the North American Jewish Community Center Association Maccabi Games and Arts Fest in the summer of 2018 (funds were provided already for summer 2017).
• Funding for professional development conference subsidies for Portland area Jewish educators.
Overseas Special Projects
For the past 19 years, the Jewish Federation has been making direct allocations to special projects in Israel. This goes beyond our core funding to the Jewish Agency for Israel, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and World ORT. Our focus is on smaller organizations where our resources will have a large impact and reach broad and diverse segments of the community. Funding this year will go to nine organizations in Israel focusing on the following:
• Teen groups specifically addressing needs of youth with special needs
• Two domestic violence crisis centers
• Efforts to improve life for Ethiopian youth in Israel
• Support for the LGBTQ youth in Israel
• Enhancement of pre-military service programs for at-risk youth
• Housing for “Year of Service” alumni to help empower underprivileged children to break the cycle of poverty
• Expansion of the capacity to meet the needs of low-income residents in Kiryat Malachi
• Renovation of the Children’s Petting Zoo at Neve Michael (a residential village for at-risk youth), which the Jewish Federation built many years ago
In late August, our Annual Report will be made available to the entire community. I encourage you to review the incredible depth and breadth of our funding (both local and overseas). If you have any questions or would like more information before the Annual Report is published, please do not hesitate to contact me.
THANK YOU – YOU made ALL this possible! And special appreciation to Federation’s volunteer Allocations Committee, chaired by Jeff Robinson, and Overseas Special Projects Committee, chaired by Carmella Ettinger, for their hard work and efforts. Allocating finite resources is never easy and difficult decisions must be made. We should be very proud of all we are doing to strengthen Jewish life in Portland, Israel, and beyond.