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The future belongs to those who learn

Jews, genes and Parkinson's disease

Animals have rights too

JARED BLANK Triumphs Over Dyslexia


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Oregon Jewish Life | Januar y 2018 | Tevet-Shevat 5778 | Volume 6/Issue 9




After defeating dyslexia, Jared runs so others can read 32 Dyslexia resources 37

Lessons for the modern world 16 Knowledge trumps hate 17 Online seminary for women 18 OJMCHE expands education options 20 Unsung Heroes 22 Educators who make a difference 23 Preschool accredited 24 An atypical advocate for Israel 25 Educating future leaders 26 Essay Winners 28 Kids & Teens Calendar 29 Education directory 30




JEWS WITH ATTITUDE Growing up off the grid


BUSINESS Ins & Outs Portlander brews up health tonic

12 14

FRONT & CENTER Anandi was born to sing


HEALTH OHSU investigates genetic link to Parkinson’s 40 Work out ON the water 42 YOUNG ADULT PNW native files report on Friendsgiving Oregonians at Global Hillel Assembly



44 45

FOOD Chef’s Corner: Spice gives life variety NW Nosh: Tea is a social event

46 48

ACTIVELY SENIOR Tikkun olam inspires Mother of Animal Law Don’t be scammed

50 52

ISRAEL Israeli journalist shares insights Israel trip inspires run for kids Coaching for Peace

54 56 57


JLIVING SOUTHWEST GROWTH: Kesser kicks off capital campaign Ahavath Achim plans for future Neveh Shalom shares ideas Real change requires intention Previews FACES & PLACES Calendar

COLUMNS Chef’s Corner by Lisa Glickman NW Nosh by Kerry Politzer Ask Helen

COVER: Jared Blank.


58 59 61 62 63 64 66

46 48 62




Cindy Saltzman

503- 892-7402


EDITORIAL: 503- 892-7402 or editor

Cindy Saltzman

E VENTS: editor

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2016-2017 MediaPort LLC All rights reserved The content and opinions in Oregon Jewish Life do not necessarily reflec t those of the publishers, staf f or contrac tors. Ar ticles and columns are for informational purposes only and not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Although ever y ef for t is made to ensure the accuracy of our published materials, Oregon Jewish Life, and its agents, publishers, employees and contrac tors will not be held responsible for the misuse of any information contained herein. The publishers reser ve the right to refuse any adver tisement. Publication of adver tisements does not constitute endorsement of produc ts or ser vices.


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I Cindy Salt zman

feel very fortunate to be in the media/communication business. It affords me and everyone on our staff the opportunity to become educated on subjects we normally would not be exposed to, and we are constantly inspired and moved by the stories of the incredible people we cover.   Jared Blank, our cover person this month, is one of those incredible people. Jared shares his very personal struggle to overcome dyslexia and how now he is helping others finish the marathon challenge that is dyslexia.   In our special section, Eye on Education, we profile young Israeli Udi Asaraf, who is spending the year with American high school students sharing his belief that “Education is the key to peace. Education can overcome hate.” In that same vein the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education has expanded their efforts to help school children understand discrimination and how they can help shape a more compassionate future. And a network of bicultural schools are creating a new generation of people who believe coexistence is possible. Other stories in this section feature schools and teachers who ensure students young and old have the resources to learn the skills to succeed in the modern world.   It is our hope that our stories touch, motivate and inspire you to improve your life, those around you or someone in need. 

We hope the New Year brings you much happiness, health and wonderful days ahead.

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Shabbat Service FRIDAY, JANUARY 12, 6 PM CONGREGATION BETH ISRAEL, 1972 NW FLANDERS

Please join us as we celebrate the work of Dr. King and welcome our

Keynote Speaker Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell As the Member of Congress representing Alabama’s civil rights district, Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell has been a passionate champion for recognizing and honoring the sacrifices of those freedom fighters who served as powerful agents of change. Her first piece of successful legislation, passed unanimously in both houses of Congress and was signed into law by President Barack Obama, recognized the “Four Little Girls” who tragically lost their lives during the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963. Our service will include music from the NW Gospel Choir and CBI’s Kol Echad Choir. FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.

“I’m benefitting from the sacrifices and seeds sown by Shirley Chisholm, John Lewis, and so many others. Those of us who are beneficiaries owe it to have a season of service in which we try to give back.” - Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell 1972 NW Flanders Street , Portland, OR 97209 503-222-1069 •




Josh Safran sees Judaism as a home for rebels Josh Safran in his Portland home. Photo by Ygal Kaufman

By Ygal Kaufman

Josh Safran has built his life and his profession on rebellion. Though being a lawyer, an observant Jew and married father of three doesn’t normally scream “revolution,” for a man like Josh it’s all very much part of a life going against the grain. As he describes in elegant and often painful self-awareness in his 2013 memoir, Free Spirit, Josh was raised by a mother who was a flower child. Born to committed leftists herself, Josh’s mother was a hippie in the ’60s who gave birth to him while living with a coven of witches on Haight Street in San Francisco. As the 1980s came around, she brought young Josh with her on countless “adventures” through commune living, homelessness and deprivation. Often going without things like plumbing, food, school or any semblance of order, Josh rebelled against the only lifestyle he knew. At age 9 he became an Orthodox Jew. Noting that he grew up with idol worshippers, he compares 10 OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY 2018

his journey to Jewish observance to that of Abraham. "The Jewish tradition is great for people like me, I think,” says Josh. Josh frequently highlights this concept – that Judaism provides a specific home for rebels. That will be at the center of his upcoming speaking engagement in January at the Institute for Judaic Studies in Portland (see box). As the child of a flower child, bouncing around from one reckless experience to another, Josh’s transition to both Judaism and the structured learning of school was bumpy, and only confirmed his place in life as someone going against the grain wherever he was. “I didn’t understand the conventions of a classroom, like raising your hand, not swearing, not calling your teacher a racist or the President of the United States a war criminal,” says Josh of the rough transition to civilized society as a kid. Though his mother lived an unconventional life, she’s still his Jewish mother, which is part of what makes reading his book interesting. Trying to wrap one’s head around this type of truth and openness about family is challenging.

“I didn’t understand the conventions of a classroom, like raising your hand, not swearing, not calling your teacher a racist or the President of the United States a war criminal.” -Josh Safran “I struggled with it from a halachic perspective,” says Josh. “So I consulted with my good friend, Rabbi Judah Dardik.” Dardik was his rabbi when his family was living in the East Bay in California. “And he said ‘your story is not merely your story, it’s meant to cast light on a generation of people and a set of experiences in common.’ ” But of course, Josh also worried what his mom would think. “Thank God, she’s been super-supportive of the telling of this story,” says Josh.

of remembering and telling one’s story is at the heart of at least two of Josh’s biggest projects. Before writing his memoir, Josh was part of a pro bono legal team, along with attorney Nadia Costa, representing Deborah Peagler. While serving a life sentence in prison for her involvement in the murder of her viciously abusive husband, Peagler became a model prisoner, a valuable worker and beloved mentor. Costa and Safran worked to free her under a thennew California law that allowed courts to take past abuse into account during trial and sentencing for women who lashed out against their abusive partners. Their fight for Peagler’s release was the subject of the critically acclaimed 2011 documentary, “Crime After Crime.” Since that fight, which was a rebellion against the state of California and its aggressive incarceration of minority women, Josh has become a nationally recognized advocate for survivors of domestic abuse. Not every case is like Peagler’s, though, and he earns a living through his Berkeley-based law firm. He splits his time between his California law practice and his home in Portland, where he lives with his wife and three daughters. “I still do land use, real estate and commercial litigation,” says Josh. “The main place that the government regulates people when there isn’t a crime is their land,” which is what he says motivates him. It’s the same thing he will speak about in January and at his other engagements. “I’ll talk about the book, some of my experience with Debbie (Peagler), but I also hope to talk about what – in many ways – is most awesome about the Jewish tradition … its celebration of the outsider, the rogue, the rebel,” says Josh, with a smile and perhaps a glint in his eye. Ygal Kaufman is a freelance writer in Portland. In addition to writing, he does photography, video, audio and graphic design, as well as curating film screenings.

IJS ANNUAL MEETING His memoir features the type of gripping, unvarnished accounts that make the best writing memorable. And most of it can be anxiety producing, even when amusing. “My childhood played out in two acts, and the second act was what I consider the ‘dark act,’ when my mother teamed up with this Marxist guerilla commander from El Salvador who was a violent alcoholic…,” says Josh without a hint of self-pity. But to start the story there is a serious digression. “I’m already fudging it by beginning with my birth,” says Josh, dryly noting that he technically can’t remember it. The act

WHAT: Institute for Judaic Studies 34th Annual Meeting, Dinner and Roscoe Nelson Jr. Memorial Lecture WHO: Joshua Safran, "Lessons from Growing up On the Road and Off the Grid" based on his book Free Spirit WHEN: 6 pm, Monday, Jan. 22 WHERE: Birnbach Hall, Congregation Neveh Shalom, 2900 SW Peaceful Lane, Portland COST: $36 per person RSVP: Pay online at or mail check to: IJS, 2900 SW Peaceful Lane, Portland, OR 97239 OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY 2018 11


Liz Broberg

Beth Israel opens family shelter The Congregation Beth Israel Board of Trustees unanimously approved the creation of an overnight family shelter at Beth Israel to last through the winter months in partnership with Temple member Jordan Menashe, the City of Portland, the Mayor’s office and Multnomah County. Mitzvah House will accommodate about 25 families. Hot meals will be served by professional staff from Beth Israel’s kitchen, and families will have a warm, safe, secure and guarded space for the night. Portland Homeless Family Solutions will operate the shelter in conjunction with Transition Projects. The primary space will be the Blumauer Auditorium and perhaps a classroom for students to do homework. The Menashe family, who have provided other shelter locations, are providing logistical and legal advice to CBI. The Oregon Department of Education reports a 5.6% increase this year in homeless children in the state: 22,541 students without a permanent home. The Portland and Beaverton schools each have more than 1,500 homeless students. In a message to congregants, Rabbi Michael Z. Cahana, Cantor Ida Rae Cahana, Rabbi Rachel L. Joseph and CBI President Ted Nelson wrote: “Congregation Beth Israel has decided that we cannot stand ‘idly by’ as these children suffer in cold and dangerous circumstances – sleeping in cars with their families or being turned away from shelters already too full.” Congregation Beth Israel will be the first Jewish institution in the area to house an overnight shelter. The City of Portland will reimburse CBI’s expenses. Although professionals will both run the shelter and keep the campus and grounds safe, congregation members will have volunteer opportunities – to help provide food, tutor students or play games with the children.

BB Camp hires Liz Broberg B’nai B’rith Camp has hired Liz Broberg as BB Day Camp and youth engagement director to focus on programming in the Portland area. BB Camp is bringing camp to Portland this summer with a new day camp housed at Congregation Beth Israel. Registration information 12 OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY 2018

Mary Raskin

Lee Weinstein

Eric Simpson

will be available in January. Liz was born and raised in Southern California and recently moved to Portland to pursue her master’s degree in social work from Portland State University. Her most recent position was as camp director of Camp Wise, along with her work for the past 10 years at the Center for Youth Engagement at Stephen Wise Temple in Los Angeles, where she worked with kids in kindergarten through high school. Liz’s camp experience is broad. She also was a counselor for Camp Nai Nai Nai at Capital Camps, an adult camp experience with Moishe House. Liz also volunteered with the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles. Liz received her Bachelor of Science in management from California State University, Northridge. |

Mary Raskin certified as madrikha Mary Raskin of Portland’s Congregation Kol Shalom was certified as a madrikha Nov. 10, 2017, when the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism celebrated the graduation of three madrikhim and ordained two new rabbis. A madrikha is a Jewish professional who serves as a community guide, ceremonial officiant, philosophic counselor, educator and movement spokesperson.  Mary was born in Eastern Oregon and raised in Portland, attending Sunday school at Neveh Shalom. She was a camp counselor at B’nai B’rith Camp, a Sunday school teacher at Beth Israel and Shaarie Torah, and a swimming teacher at the Mittleman Jewish Community Center. She is a mitzvah program teacher and participates in the ritual committee. She represents Kol Shalom at the Society for Humanistic Judaism, of which she is vice president. “As a madrikha, … I am inspired by the people I serve: intercultural couples who want a Jewish wedding, bereaved families comforted by a funeral service that respects all their cultural beliefs, b’nai mitzvah parents who appreciate that all the cultural heritages of their child are honored and all those who are new to Humanistic Judaism,” says Mary. Mary is a rabbinic student in the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism rabbinic program and is also pursuing a Master of Arts in Jewish studies through the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership. 503-459-4210 |

Weinstein issues life planning workbook

Fourth doggie daycare in the “Zone”

A new survey released Dec. 1 by DHM Research in Portland found that only 13% of Oregonians have a life plan that they have committed to in writing and use to help guide them through their lives. Former Nike executive Lee Weinstein has released a workbook, Write, Open, Act: An Intentional Life Planning Workbook, to enable people to build a visual Intentional Life Plan and chart their plan in less than a day. Lee was featured on the November 2016 cover of Oregon Jewish Life ( He and his wife, Melinda, invented the Intentional Life Planning process in 2000, soon after they were married and were discussing where they wanted to live and what they wanted to do with their lives. "It was clear we had another 40 or 50 years left to live. Suddenly we realized we could – and we should – plan our moves," Lee explains. "If life were a project like the kind you're asked to complete at work or school, and you knew you had a limited time to get it done, wouldn't it make sense to develop a plan?" This led them to create a highly visual Intentional Life Plan – a timeline filled with dreams and goals – that the couple has updated every year since. They have taught the method in workshops across Oregon. The book brings life planningto a wider audience to explore on their own. It is available on Amazon for $24.95.

BarkZone, a full-service doggie daycare, grooming and boarding business, just opened its fourth and most comprehensive site since 2003, when owner Eric Simpson first zoned in on meeting the needs of man’s best friend. The open house for BarkZone Bethany (1815 NW 169th Pl., Bldg. 5, Ste. 5050, Beaverton) on Dec. 2 drew more than 270 people to tour the 8,050-sq.-ft., 10-room facility. BarkZone partnered with Oregon Friends of Shelter Animals to adopt out three pups and, with its new neighbor the Oregon Food Bank, to collect donations for those in need. Bethany BarkZone offers daycare rooms for small and large dogs, grooming, boarding, self-wash stations and “luxury suites” for pampered pups. Eric, 45, his wife, Dr. Dana Kostiner Simpson, and their two young children are members of Congregation Neveh Shalom. Eric is an Intel technical program manager, Beaverton School Board Director for Zone 3 and assistant track coach at Sunset High School (his alma mater). He started his Hillsboro site with one employee 14 years ago. He now has 35 staff members at his four facilities, which daily serve more than 200 dogs. The other BarkZones are in Montavilla and Lake Oswego. 503-533-4396 | |



Valerie Roth fire brews health

By Gloria Hammer

Fire Brew founder Valerie Roth drew on her interest in holistic nutrition to create a concentrated, shot-based health tonic. What began as offering samples at a local farmers market now has garnered national attention, including a mention in Sunset Magazine. “ You drink a shot of Fire Brew a day,” says Valerie. “ You add it to a smoothie, tea, seltzer water or even a salad. You’ve got to get a tablespoon a day!” The following Q&A with Valerie has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

What led you to produce Fire Brew?

I always knew I was an entrepreneur but was plagued trying to find the right thing that resonated with me and would motivate me to go the distance. It wasn't until I went back to school about five years ago to become a holistic nutritionist that I realized I could fulfill what had been in my mind's eye for decades. A classmate turned me onto this fiery health tonic called “fire cider,” which home brewers had been making since the '70s. It was hot and spicy and sort of jarring to the palate the first time I had it, but I was told how good it would be for me. I was intrigued. Well, after a few days (and then weeks) I still found myself thinking about it. I decided I would test my version at a farmers market I was volunteering at. People liked it. I just decided it was now or never in terms of giving it a go.

There are a lot of health drinks on the market. How does yours stand out?

First off, it's not a drink. It's a concentrated, shot-based health tonic. Think of it more as an all-natural, liquid vitamin that you should take every day by the tablespoon. Second, the amount of nutrient-dense ingredients in Fire Brew is awesome. We literally pack it with fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices that heal your gut, stave off inflammation and keep your system running at its optimal level. Third, it’s just flat out fun and crazy. Everyone should give it a go at least once and see for themselves. Warning, it’s very spicy (which is part of the “fun” factor).

What will people discover if they take Fire Brew religiously?

If people take Fire Brew consistently, they will come to appreciate that they can stay healthy naturally without taking tons of pills and medications. So much of what we need, we can get straight from our food, provided it’s clean and nutritious. Why not choose to go this route and try to stay healthy proactively rather than panic once things start to flare and then reach for the quick fix? Fire Brew can help ward off the onset of problems like joint pain, congestion, digestive issues and more. All it takes is a tablespoon a day.

How did you start producing Fire Brew?

When I first started producing Fire Brew, I was making it in my home kitchen. It was sort of novel at first, until it completely took over every inch of my entire house! By the time I moved into a commercial kitchen, my entire family and I were literally swimming in Fire Brew 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It got to the point where my kids were embarrassed to have any of their friends ride in my car or come over to our house because everything, and I mean everything, smelled like vinegar!

How does your brew differ from Kombucha?

Kombucha is amazing and I drink it all the time. Ours is a shot-based health tonic filled with a ton of very dense, nutritious vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices steeped in an apple cider vinegar base for more than a month. It's something you sort of "get through." Think of it more as your daily vitamin than a drink.

Did getting written up in Sunset Magazine affect your sales?

Fire Brew founder Valerie Roth with Fire Brew. 14 OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY 2018

That was amazing! I’m not sure how much it helped sales, but it definitely didn’t hurt! More than our sales going through the roof, what it did was validate that we have a product that is very timely, tasty and attractive enough to be in a major publication.

Are you and your family involved in the local Jewish community?

My kids did go to Portland Jewish Academy. Now they are 13 and 15, and one of our favorite things is to have Shabbat with friends. Recently, we all went to Israel for the first time as a family and had a blast! My son, Jonah, just became a bar mitzvah and Isabelle was a bat mitzvah two years ago.  

How many people work for you?

It depends on what season we are in, but on an average we have 10 people working at Fire Brew, and I love them all. 

Where can we buy the brew?

We're in all the co-ops around town. We are in grocery stores like New Seasons, boutiques like Tender Loving Empire, Barbur World Foods, Food Front Cooperative Grocery, Made in Oregon stores and some fitness facilities. Soon we'll be in Fred Meyer!

What are your plans for the future?

I keep joking around that I'll make tonics till I die, but that's probably the truth. I love what I do, so I'll just keep finding ways to bring natural, fun, crazy remedies to people as long as they keep buying them. Where it ultimately goes is anyone’s guess.

Can you remember mitzvah moments with your brew?

The best part is turning a skeptic into a believer. And that happens all the time. So many people have come up to us and told us how much Fire Brew has helped them stay healthy. Honestly, what more could I ask for than that? That is where the magic is!

carolyn and robin weinstein

Tell me about your Jewish roots?

My family moved around a lot when I was a kid, but elementary and high schools were in Paramus, NJ. I went to Jewish day school. I made a few teen tours to Israel in the summers. It wasn't until I moved alone to Burlington, VT, at 26 and knew no one that I realized how significant my Jewish roots were. It was the Jewish community there that welcomed me and became a comfortable place for me to connect with when I felt alone. The connection was instant. I have come to cherish that bond with other Jews wherever I go since that time. I am deeply proud of my Jewish heritage. I remember my parents sending me to public school in seventh grade. When I came home from school on the first day, my mom asked how my day was. I told her it went well and that a boy in my class (who wasn't Jewish) called me "his girl." The next day, she put me right back into yeshiva.

Realtors for Every Generation ®

Working for you and our community since 1978 to learn more visit or contact us personally

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EYE ON EDUCATION 16 Richness of education 17 Israeli visits high schools 18 Women's online learning 20 Holocaust education 22 Unsung Heroes 24 Preschool accredited 25 Caravan for Democracy 26 Hand in Hand to the future 28 Essay Winners 29 Kids Calendar 30 Education Directory


ETHICS, SKILLS AND SURVIVAL: Three lessons essential to the modern world By Deborah Moon IT MAY SOUND TRITE, but People of the Book is an apt description of the Jewish people, both historically and in contemporary America. The Talmud tells us that parents must teach their children three things: the Torah, how to make a living and how to swim. In other words, children need to learn ethical values, the skills necessary to make their way as adults, and how to stay safe and survive. Judaism’s central prayer, the Shema, includes the instruction “Take these words which I command you this day and teach them faithfully to your children.” The Jewish obsession with education began with the imperative for everyone to study Torah. Maimonides writes, “Every Jew is obligated to study Torah, whether he is poor or rich, healthy or ill, young or old” (Mishneh Torah, Laws of Torah Study 1:8-9). That edict has long been extended to secular study, as well. Jews have long valued education as the means to succeed in the world and also to affect change in the world. To make a positive impact on the world requires knowledge and curiosity. Portland is blessed with three Jewish day schools. Oregon and Southwest Washington boast at least 10 Jewish preschools. Most of the region’s 36+ congregations offer some education options for children, teens and adults. Two Oregon universities have extensive Judaic study programs leading to degrees. The Jewish community also supports community members seeking to pursue college degrees. Scholarship funds at the Oregon Jewish Community Foundation and the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland help students pursuing posthigh school education. Today Jews have a multitude of sources to learn Torah, how to make a living and how to swim – upstream if necessary – in the modern world.

Knowledge trumps hate Young Israeli shares his life with American students By Deborah Moon

HIGH SCHOOLS INVITED TO BOOK ISRAELI SPEAKER Udi Asaraf, 27, is visiting high school classrooms around Oregon and Washington to talk about Israeli society, Israeli culture (music, dance, food, service in the army or education), similarities and differences in life for American and Israeli teenagers, and Israel’s relationship with its Arab neighbors, particularly the Palestinians. FREE. Available dates: Jan. 16-19; Feb. 12-16; March 19-23; April 23-27; May 14-18 Udi is in the region as the Israeli shaliach for the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland and StandWithUs Northwest.   To book Udi: or 971-235-8608 


sraeli Shaliach Udi Asaraf is spending a school year in the Pacific Northwest to advance his belief that “Education is the key to peace. Education can overcome hate.” Just 27 years old, Udi has served as an officer in the Israeli Defense Forces; earned degrees in chemical engineering and energy engineering; taught physics, mathematics, English and chemistry at several Israeli high schools; and worked as a legislative aide to a member of Israel’s parliament. But to fulfill his dream of a more peaceful and prosperous future in the Mideast for Israelis and Palestinians, he applied to become a shaliach (emissary) and share his experiences and knowledge with American teenagers. “I think we hate because people don’t know enough,” says Udi. “If you have a friend who is gay, you won’t be homophobic; if you have a friend who is AfricanAmerican, you are less likely to be racist.” Since America is a major ally of Israel, Udi wants Americans to know and understand Israelis. “The U.S. is Israel’s big brother, the U.S. has our backs,” says Udi. As a shaliach shared by the Northwest office of StandWithUs and the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland, Udi had visited more than 50 high schools in Washington and Oregon by early December. During a Nov. 30 visit to Jefferson High School, Udi spoke to three history classes taught by Heidi Goertzen. “At Jefferson, we have a legacy to bring in more social justice, to look at hard issues and sift through to find the truth,” says Heidi. “I’m trying to give students a lens that reaches beyond our borders. If I don’t cultivate understanding in the next generation, things won’t get better.” Udi deftly adapted his presentation to each class. In a small class of engaged OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY 2018 17

EYE ON EDUCATION students, he spent more time delving into the complex issues and history of the Middle East. In a large class of students who were eager to get to lunch, he shared videos of Conan O’Brien “training” with women soldiers in Israel and answered wideranging questions on teen life in Israel. “I was born in Israel, but we are very influenced by U.S. pop culture,” Udi told the class. “I picked up my English because of that show (he showed a slide of the “Friends” cast) and Beyoncé. So I have an idea of what America is like, but you don’t necessarily know what Israel is like.” Students asked him about weed (marijuana isn’t criminalized in Israel, but it isn’t legal either – you won’t get arrested for smoking it, but you will for selling it); the drinking age (18, but alcohol isn’t a big deal in Israel since most kids grow up drinking wine at Shabbat dinner after the blessing); why Jews break a glass at weddings (even on the happiest day of their lives they recognize the tragedy of the destruction of the Temple); and driving (Israelis can get a driver’s license at age 17). Udi says he always tries to adapt his talk to the audience. In a business class, he’ll talk about Israel’s kibbutz movement; in a science class, he talks about his education in chemical and energy engineering; in a Catholic school, he talks less about gay rights; in a Jewish school, he talks about core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But in every setting, he tries to make sure the students understand Israel just a little better for having met an Israeli.He also makes sure he always shares the history of Jews in Israel and of their persecution while in exile in other countries to help the teens understand why the Jewish nation is so important. “Jews lived in Israel for thousands of years,” he tells students. “Then they were sent into exile and evicted from their homeland. In the seventh century, Muhammed, a Muslim prophet and successful general, conquered all of this land.” So 150 years ago when Jews began returning in large numbers, Arabs were living there. In exile Jews “were not treated nicely,” says Udi. “The worst thing that happened to Jews was the Holocaust. Six million Jews died … there are fewer Jews in the world today than a hundred years ago.” “It is important for Jews to have our own country so we can feel safe,” says Udi. Udi says he believes that survival instinct, the feeling they were fighting for their lives, enabled 600,000 Jews to defeat millions of Arabs in the 1948 war. When Britain proposed partitioning British Mandate Palestine into two nations – 45% for Jews and 55% for Palestinians – the Jews agreed, but the Arabs rejected the proposal. For the Jews, it was a war of independence. For the Arab countries that were defeated and for the Palestinians, who did not get a state, it was the Nakbah – a disaster. That history has created a very complex situation with many competing stories. “I want to plant seeds of curiosity,” says Udi. “I want them to challenge what I say. ‘Don’t be indoctrinated’ is my message. When someone else comes, they will know how to differentiate what is true and false, what is opinion.” 18 OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY 2018

Online seminary aids women’s continuing study By Deborah Moon


yberSem grew out of Dr. Chavi Goldberg’s belief that all Jewish women should have access to continuing Torah study and the realization that with today’s technology you can do almost anything – except go to seminary. CyberSem offers women interactive online semester courses as well as self-paced video courses. The next semester for digital classroom courses begins in January. “I believe women should pursue what they have always had in their heart,” says Dr. Goldberg. “When they have time for themselves after raising kids or establishing a career, they should pursue dreams for themselves.” “I am not in competition with the seminary or anybody,” she adds. “People know the necessity of continuing learning. I am here to fill the gap for people who don’t have a way to continue that connection to Torah study.” Dr. Goldberg’s own education has given her the skills she needs to develop courses, recruit teachers and manage student relations at CyberSem. She holds a bachelor of Jewish education with honors from Talpiot College, a master’s in graduate teaching and curriculum development from Nova Southeastern University, and an Ed.D. in instructional technology and distance education from Nova Southeastern University. CyberSem’s first classes were directed at women who had a Jewish day school education, but who did not have access to continuing Torah study. But now Dr. Goldberg has developed a course designed to teach women the skills that a child would learn in grades 2 to 12 that make text study possible. The new course, which began in the fall term, adapts the teaching style for adults to give women the opportunity to either learn with their kids or on their own. Women completing the course will gain the skills to enroll in the other CyberSem courses. “It will provide women the ability to learn on their own in areas that were closed to them,” says Dr. Goldberg. In addition, CyberSem provides a Jewish history course that some universities accept as transfer credit to fulfill history requirements. This course does not require any special background and is open to all women. Dr. Goldberg said she will help students negotiate transfer credits at their college. “For people in remote areas, this can be a lifeline for them,” she says. “For women who are lonely or devoid of the opportunity to gain Jewish learning, this is the perfect opportunity.”

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12/15/17 2018 11:57 AM OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY 19


Museum’s education team brings fresh voices to town By Shuly Wasserstrom


taff at the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education have spent the past six months settling into their permanent home in the Pearl District – and that means filling the new positions that come with the larger building. For the museum’s education department, that means finally hiring a full-time educator and filling an education coordinator position. In the museum’s former space, April Slabosheski filled the role of Holocaust educator alongside part-time educator Cheyenne McClain. With the new larger space, the team has doubled in size by adding two employees. April oversees the expanded department as manager of museum and Holocaust education. The museum’s new education coordinator, Angelee van Allman, started during the summer and helps facilitate program logistics. Educator Marta Eichelberger-Jankowska joined OJMCHE in October after moving to Portland with her husband and son, who attends Portland Jewish Academy. The family moved here from Washington, D.C., where Marta had finished her M.A. in experiential education and Jewish cultural arts at George Washington University. While in D.C., she was an intern at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Marta was born and raised in Warsaw, Poland. In Warsaw, she worked for many educational institutions dedicated to the transmission of the Polish Jewish heritage. These included the Taube Center for the Renewal of Jewish Life in Poland and the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. The expansion of OJMCHE’s education team will enable the museum to accommodate more students, further develop curriculum and have a greater response to local hate and antiSemitic incidents across the state. The education team’s main focus is on guided school group tours, but the team also supervises the Oregon Holocaust Memorial and museum exhibit docents. School tours visit the current temporary exhibits plus three permanent, core exhibits: Discrimination and Resistance, An Oregon Primer, which identifies discrimination as a tool used to affect varied groups of people over the history of this region; The Holocaust, An Oregon Perspective, a history of the Holocaust that employs the stories of Oregon survivors; and Oregon Jewish Stories, an installation focused on the experience of the Jews of Oregon. Since the beginning of the 2017-18 school year, the first at the museum’s permanent home, the largest group to visit was 160 middle-schoolers from Beaverton. For the first time, a school group from Eugene bussed for two hours to visit and tour the new museum. The education team emphasizes outreach to schools and teachers around the state.


Marta Eichelberger-Jankowska April Slabosheksi

“It’s often a teacher who takes an interest,” April says. The museum sends a postcard to every school in the state at the beginning of the school year, does regular mailings and maintains email lists to make sure schools are aware of the programming. Marta is still settling into Portland, but she is looking forward to making a positive impact on Holocaust education. “Coming from Washington, D.C., I do feel the cultural difference,” Marta says. She is assessing and absorbing the experience with the school groups she’s encountered so far in order to adapt her methods to connect with Oregonians. Marta says she is especially passionate about the impact of third-generation survivors, of which she is one. “I’ve had the experience of speaking as a third-generation witness in Poland, mostly in the context of the renewal of the Jewish community, but also referring to what the impact is for us as Polish Jews,” she says. She also hopes to do more to highlight pre-war Jewish history and culture. “I want to make people aware of both the Holocaust and of the culture that was annihilated,” she says. As for taking on the task of Holocaust education at a time when the political climate is tense, Marta says she is prepared. “I am positive and optimistic, but also aware of how difficult the task is. I believe in what we do, I believe I chose the right place because of its focus and approach to the subject, and working in a team gives me faith we can do something significant.”

As for April, she’s thrilled to have expanded her team and be working in the museum’s permanent home. The museum’s new core exhibits help students understand discrimination in Oregon’s history, which she says feels especially crucial now. “We are becoming more holistic in our approach to education at the museum,” April says. “That doesn’t take away anything from what we are doing in Holocaust education. … (We are) weaving it into every other type of education we are doing.” “Part of our mission educationally is to look at our local Jewish history and our local history in general, not just Jewish, and to ask ourselves what is important to share with the public and what about all of this can help up shape the future,” she says. “We are able to take a wide view of issues common in histories of discrimination,” she says, adding that different histories don’t compete with each other, they offer complementary perspectives. April was recently named one of this year’s Light a Fire 2017: Emerging Leaders, sponsored by Portland Monthly. She was the recipient of a fellowship with the Council of American Jewish Museums to the POLIN Museum of the History of the Polish Jews, and was honored with other recipients at a dinner and featured in the publication. April says she is grateful to have a solid education team and for the experience Marta brings. “She could not have come at a more important time.”

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12/15/17 11:38 AM



Unsung Heroes: Supplemental school teachers impact kids By Deborah Moon


any of the unsung heroes in our Jewish community are the Hebrew and preschool teachers,” says JFGP President and CEO Marc Blattner. “Not easy jobs, but (they) play a huge role in building the Jewish future.” In recognition of the importance of educating the next generation, the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland supports Portland Area Jewish Educators, which provides ongoing professional development for community educators. “The majority of our kids are involved in some kind of supplemental Jewish education, and it is a gateway in (to the Jewish community) for many of our families,” says Rachel Nelson, who staffs PAJE. PAJE has flourished since the federation hired Rachel as the director of educational initiatives in 2014. Now PAJE educational programs annually attract about 100 educators, including those from Hebrew schools, day schools, youth groups and camps. This year a federation grant enabled PAJE to send 12 educators to the NewCAJE national conference. A JFGP Lifestage Allocation Grant will send educators to the 2018 conference. “The majority of the educators we sent to the national conference are connected to supplemental programs, though many do other things, as well,” says Rachel. So we asked congregations around the state why after-school and weekend schools are so important. “There is so much value in Jewish education,” says Congregation Shir Tikvah Director of Education Katie Schneider. “We have an incredibly rich heritage to pass on to our children. It is a culture of prayer and folklore, a beautiful language and delicious food. We are so lucky to Continued on page 24 Left: Students in Ashland decorate a sukkah.


UNSUNG HEROES Educators making a difference



VICKI ROTSTEIN Vicki Rotstein is in her 28th year of teaching at Congregation Neveh Shalom. She now teaches sixth graders the Hebrew prayers of the Torah service and focuses on leadership (from ritual leadership to tzedakah to inclusion). For fun she provides materials for students to create full-size murals on the walls of her classroom relating to each holiday. More than just a passionate educator, “Morah Vicki” walks her talk about leadership, volunteering regularly with Friends of Seasonal and Service Workers, Dress for Success and CNS. Perhaps the legacy Morah Vicki is best known for is her personal relationship with our pre-teens, enjoying every bar/bat mitzvah, and lighting up the dance floor of their parties with her fancy footwork. Our school would not be what it is without her.   RACHEL HALUPOWSKI  Rachel Halupowski has taught at Congregation Shaarie Torah for three years and in Portland for 15 years. Rachel brings enthusiasm and dedication to both Congregation Beth Israel and Shaarie Torah, where she teaches youth about Mussar and ethical living. Rachel’s pride in being Jewish and her love of Jewish teaching shines. Her students know she cares deeply about Jewish ideas and education – and that she cares about them. As this is Rachel’s last year in Portland, we want to publicly acknowledge all that Rachel means to us. We feel very blessed that she has shared her Jewish passion with our community and are so thankful to her for what she’s given our kids. (Rachel will retire and move to Vernonia after her wedding in June). NEHAMA BENNET-TEASDALE Nehama Bennet-Teasdale has been teaching in Congregation Shir Tikvah’s supplemental school for a number of years. Having formerly worked in early childhood education in Israel, she brought with her any number of tricks of the trade. For the past several years, she has been our go-to teacher for “Hebrew Through Movement,” an innovative curriculum out of the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland. As first- and second-graders hop, skip and jump around the gym, they are acquiring language skills that lay the foundation for letter recognition and reading. 



AMY RHINE Amy Rhine, the main teacher at Havurah Shir Hadash’s Wisdom Garden, is a Waldorf homeschool educator who lives with her husband and toddler on a mountain homestead raising a dairy goat herd and their own food. Last year she participated in the Wilderness Torah Teacher Training Institute and then created the Shoreshim (Roots) outdoor component of our program, hosting students on her land three times a year to bridge wilderness skills with Jewish teachings. “We are so grateful for what Amy brings to Wisdom Garden. Her education and lifestyle are totally in sync with our vision – teaching our students to profoundly respect and care for the land and the environment, to be active in co-creating a world we want for our children’s children,” says Havurah Executive Director Ayala Zonnenschein. DAVIDA JORDAN Davida Jordan has taught the Kol Shalom pre-mitzvah (ages 5-11) classes for seven years. She possesses a special combination of professional preparation for Sunday school teaching with a deep and heartfelt understanding of Humanistic Judaism. Davida grew up at a Reform temple, where she became a bat mitzvah and worked in their children’s education program as a madrikha, Hebrew tutor and Israeli dance instructor. While earning a B.A. in language studies at the University of CaliforniaSanta Cruz, she taught elementary students in a Reform temple and tutored Hebrew. Davida has taught English to refugees, immigrants, residents and international students at various schools in Portland. She is a longtime and active member of Kol Shalom and the mother of two children in our Sunday school.


EYE ON EDUCATION have thousands of years of history and celebrations to draw on as we prepare our kids to face the future.” Rabbi Chaim Wilhelm of Chabad of Northeast Portland shares this analogy: “We planted a sapling tree in our front yard with stakes on either side to help the tree grow straight and properly. The Torah compares people to trees. As soon as we start teaching our children, we need to ensure Judaism is included to help them grow straight and tall as proud and knowledgeable Jews. Giving children positive and happy associations with Judaism helps them later in life when they have a choice of whether to engage with their Judaism.” Mel Berwin, director of congregational learning at Congregation Neveh Shalom, says, “Our congregational religious school might be the one place where a child is known in their whole-person context. We know them as learners, as family members, as community participants and as spiritual beings. Our two-day congregational school builds community among kids from across the Portland area, allowing them to compare experiences of being Jewish in their diverse school settings.”  According to Shaarie Torah Education Director Dorice Horenstein, students learn much more than Hebrew and prayer skills. “They learn they are part of a synagogue and world Jewish community. Our kids learn to take responsibility for their world. They learn family is the key to Jewish life. Finally, they experience Jewish life as a source of joy and fun. We Students at Chabad’s afternoon dance and we cook and school in NE Portland get ready for we sing.”  Shabbat. “We’ve been so successful in guiding Jewish children and their families over the years,” says Ayala Zonnenschein, executive director of the Havurah Shir Hadash in Ashland. So the Havurah launched Wisdom Garden to share universal teachings that can be a valuable resource for all families, regardless of spiritual background, especially in these times of so much divisiveness. “We want to bring children together to learn, to grow and thrive in our ever-challenging world. Families of all backgrounds are encouraged to participate.” Questions are key to education at Kol Shalom, Community for Humanistic Judaism, according to Children’s Education Chair Walt Hellman. “Who are we? From what people and traditions did we come? Answers to these questions provide invaluable roots for our Sunday school children. We provide an enjoyable and worthwhile introduction to Judaism from a Humanistic Jewish perspective.” 24 OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY 2018

The Gan earns national NAEYC accreditation


he Gan-Portland Jewish Preschool has earned accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children. NAEYC accreditation is a rigorous and transformative system that uses 10 research-based standards to collaborate with early education programs to recognize and drive quality improvement in high-quality early learning environments. “We’re proud to have earned the mark of quality from NAEYC and to be recognized for our commitment to reaching the highest professional standards,” says Gan Director Mimi Wilhelm. To earn NAEYC accreditation, The Gan went through an extensive self-study and quality-improvement process, followed by an onsite visit by NAEYC assessors to verify and ensure that the program met each of the 10 program standards and hundreds of corresponding individual criteria. NAEYC can make unannounced quality-assurance visits any time during a program’s accreditation term, which lasts for five years. In the 30 years since NAEYC accreditation was established, it has become a widely recognized sign of high-quality early childhood education. More than 7,000 programs are accredited by NAEYC. Less than 10% of all child care centers, preschools and kindergartens nationally achieve this recognition. “NAEYC-accredited programs bring our definitions of excellence for early childhood education to Students at The Gan stretch out life each day,” says Kristen in a yoga class. Johnson, senior director of early learning program accreditation at NAEYC. “Earning NAEYC accreditation makes The Gan an exemplar of good practice for families and the entire community.” The Gan has a waiting list in all classrooms this year; enrollment for 2018- 2019 opens in January. |

Tremayne Smith: Atypical advocate for Israel By Mala Blomquist


remayne Smith has become a very outspoken advocate for Israel. His passion for American-Israeli relations from a political perspective began in college at East Carolina University, where he was the student body president. It came alive for him when he participated in Jewish National Fund’s Caravan for Democracy Student Leadership Mission in January of 2017. The Caravan for Democracy Student Leadership Mission is a 10-day, fully subsidized educational program to Israel for non-Jewish student leaders who have never been there before. This exceptional trip enables students to explore Israel through meetings with political, cultural and community leaders from diverse backgrounds and faiths. Ideal candidates are American students who hold significant leadership positions in student government, ethnic and minority groups, LGBTQA groups, women’s groups, service groups and Greek life. They generally are sophomores, juniors or seniors at the time of travel. When he heard about the Caravan, Tremayne says, “I thought this is like Birthright for us gentiles. I applied not thinking I would get it because there are so many other people who I imagined were more involved. I applied anyway because you miss 100% of the balls you don’t swing at.” Tremayne was accepted as one of the few graduate students on the trip. He feels that the trip was a great sampling of Israel – geographically, culturally and sociologically. “We traveled from the Golan Heights and Haifa up north; down to Beersheba and Negev in the south; Masada, Jerusalem and of course Tel Aviv. We spoke with former members of the Knesset; we had dinner with Druze and Bedouins – it was a very good overview of the country.” The more than 25 young adults on the trip became very close. “We are the future decision makers, future politicians – I am a future president,” says Tremayne seriously. “I am so grateful to JNF in investing in word and in deed; not to indoctrinate folks but to offer an opportunity to see it for yourself and come to your own conclusion, and then do something about it.” When he returned, he discovered an anti-Israel BDS resolution had been submitted to the student senate at George Washington University. He believed the resolution would

pass due to the composition of the student body and the organization of the people behind it. “I reached out to a senator who was for the resolution,” says Tremayne. “I wanted to understand what his reason was. I was quickly told it was none of my concern. That lit the fire for me. As a fee and tuition-paying student, and as a new alum of Caravan for Democracy – it was my business.” The meeting was the same night he was defending his master’s thesis. “I ran to the senate meeting, and I got my two minutes to speak. I very forcefully came out against the resolution for a number of reasons. One, that it would not have the desired effect that they wanted. It was a one-sided hollow gesture and it was not anything that was right for our campus or the sake of peace in the long run,” says Tremayne. “Luckily, and with the help of a very strong, concerted effort, the resolution failed by one vote. Someone’s mind changed, I like to think I may have contributed to someone’s mind changing.” From there Tremayne realized the power in words and the power in sharing your experiences. Not talking at people, but to them. “That’s how I got involved with JNF,” he says. While Tremayne was in Israel he reconnected with Caleb, whom he had met at an AIPAC conference 10 years earlier. Caleb, a Californian with dual citizenship, returned to Israel to serve in the IDF. “We both went to the (Western) Wall. We put one arm around each other and touched the Wall with the other arm. … You have this white, West Coast Israeli who was praying in Hebrew with this black, Southern Christian praying in English, but we were both praying to the same God, for the same peace. That still gets me choked up. That was a moment that sort of put things in perspective. If we can somehow encapsulate this and multiply this.” Tremayne is now special assistant to U.S. Rep. G. K. Butterfield, D-NC, chief deputy whip of the U.S. House of Representatives. Now that he has finished his master’s degree in political management, Tremayne is looking for a challenge, possibly working with nonprofits or in community building. “There is still an opportunity to have meaningful dialogues in a goal towards peace,” he says. “But we have to get the right folks at the table to hammer these things out.” OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY 2018 25


Hand in Hand: Educating future leaders for a shared vision By Deborah Moon

Two students (foreground) served as guides for visitors to their school on the Hand in Hand Board and Donor Mission. PHOTO BY JULIE DIAMOND



opefulness was the key takeaway of the participants in a recent mission to Israel to explore the bilingual, bicultural schools that were co-founded by Portland native Lee Gordon. “It was an outstanding educational and emotional experience for everyone,” says Portlander Julie Diamond, one of 33 participants in the first Hand in Hand Board and Donor Mission Oct. 28-Nov. 1. Launched with two schools in 1998, Hand in Hand now has six integrated schools in Israel, where more than 1,700 Jewish and Arab students learn side by side. Jews, Muslims and Christians live, learn and play together in fully integrated schools dedicated to coexistence. “To see the parents and kids and families living in a space of hope was really impressive,” says Julie. “They are creating young people and families who will espouse a shared society and peace.” Lee invited Julie to participate in her role as the president and CEO of the Oregon Jewish Community Foundation, where she helps educate fund-holders about things that can resonate with their giving. Hand in Hand has clearly resonated with the philanthropists who have donor-advised funds at OJCF. The first OJCF grant to Hand in Hand was in 2000. Since then, the foundation has made about 41 grants to American Friends of Hand in Hand, the nonprofit Lee created so that funds raised for the schools would be tax deductible in the United States. The foundation’s youth group has also been inspired: OJCYF first made a grant to Hand in Hand in 2014 and has done so every year since. Julie says she is now in an even better position to discuss the schools and their impact with donors. She plans to host a small gathering for interested donors in the next couple of months (for details, call OJCF at 503-248-9328). “When you learn about this from afar, you don’t really experience the realities of these parents bucking their traditional communities.” People ask them “Why are you doing this?,” says Julie. “They are doing it for the future.” Julie adds that the students talk in both languages at all times; they speak and answer questions in either language with equal ease. Most Israeli Jews don’t speak Arabic, which Lee calls a missed opportunity. Shared language opens understanding on so many levels. One Jewish student told Julie that when she would hear Arabic on a bus, she would be afraid the people were planning an attack. “Now she understands what they are saying and knows they are talking about what to make for dinner. Understanding opens up the potential for positive interactions,” says Lee. At one dinner on the mission, a group of alumni from the schools spoke to the visitors. “They talked about not being sure how it will all play out, but that the experience is deeply part of who they are now,” says Julie. The schools are public schools supported by Israel’s Ministry of Education, with fees paid by parents and grants from philanthropists. The fundraising is necessary to provide the additional staff needed to have a native Hebrew speaker and native Arabic speaker in each classroom of the younger grades.

Left: Students at a Hand in Hand school enjoy a break. Students not only learn Arabic and Hebrew at their bilingual school, they also study English beginning in third grade. Above, Portlanders on the Hand in Hand mission: Oregon Jewish Community Foundation President and CEO Julie Diamond (top) and Hand in Hand co-founder Lee Gordon.

While the first school met with resistance from the community, all of the schools now have waiting lists, which now total 800 students. An additional 14 communities have requested Hand in Hand start a school in their town. Schools begin with a class of 25 children in kindergarten or prekindergarten and expand through 12th grade as the students age. Lee says Hand in Hand has gone above and beyond what he envisioned 20 years ago. “I think this is a model for Israeli society. We challenge people to think that things can be different. If these children can go to school together, they can create businesses together and they can live in prosperity with mutual benefits.” After Lee spoke to OJCYF about the schools, two of the teens were so impressed that they volunteered to help at one of the school’s summer camps. Sarah Millender volunteered in 2015 as a counselor at Project Harmony. Now a sophomore at Grinnell College, she says that working with 10 Jewish and Arab girls and staying with an Arab host family for six weeks was “really helpful for the debates happening on college

campuses. I lived there and I worked with kids who co-exist and get along. I came out wiser and with less bias.” Sarah says her host family told her they love being Israeli citizens, but feel they are treated like a minority. “The family is very connected to the Jewish community and saw Hand in Hand as a cool opportunity for their kids to learn Hebrew and English in a good learning environment, where Jews, Christians and Muslims learn to acclimate for living together as adults.” Following the board mission, Lee and Julie also visited Gilad Perry of Dror Israel Movement. Gilad, who has visited Portland several times, shared the work of the Akko Educators’ Kibbutz with youth at risk, with the arts at the Akko Jam and with other social justice programs. Julie also joined Gilad to visit the Dror Israel School in Karmiel (for Ethiopian and other students needing a special environment in school to succeed) and Kibbutz Eshbal. Dror Israel is in part supported by the Jewish Agency for Israel and has received grants from Jewish Federation of Greater Portland, OJCF and OJCYF. | |



Yossi Wilhelm, right, a third-grader at Maimonides Jewish Day School, and Sivan Safran, left, a fifth-grader at Portland Jewish Academy, read their winning essays at Chabad’s annual Chanukah party in Director Park. Photos by Rob Pro Photo

Winners of the Chanukah Essay Writing Contest on “What Chanukah Means to Me” read their winning essays Dec. 12 the annual Chabad public menorah lighting in Director Park.

and teens too!

Sponsored by Maimonides Jewish Day School, the contest drew entries from elementary school students from Portland Jewish Academy, Raleigh Hills K-8, MJDS, and the International School of Portland. Award-winning children’s author Eric Kimmel endorsed the competition. Winning Essays are at right.

Con gregation Shaarie torah

920 NW 25th ave. pdx / (503)226-6131 /


Yossi Wilhelm

Boruch ata, in my house, we are lighting the menorah. As I light the menorah, I think about how many people have done this and how much light we add to this world. People from Sydney, Victoria, Moscow, Yerushalayim ( Jerusalem), all light the menorah. Each candle adds more light, warmth, and happiness to this world. I also realized that every person can do the same. Every time someone helps or visits someone that’s sick they’re adding so much light, warmth, and happiness to the world. I think about all the people in the world. Not all are the same. Some are old, and some are young. Some are tall, and some are short. Some may have special needs, and some may not have special needs, but they all add light to this world. Sometimes, I am scared of the dark, but if there is even one candle, it lights up the dark. It is the same with people. Just one good deed adds so much to the coming of Moshiach (the Messiah). I hope when you light the menorah for the rest of this holiday, you feel how much light you are adding to the world. Happy Chanukah!

Sivan Safran

Most weekdays, someone in my family has something to do after school, and we don't often have the luxury of stopping to talk with one another at length. We don’t regularly eat dinner as a family and the only time we spend talking for a long time is when someone needs help with homework or when our parents are putting us to bed. We are so busy that sometimes it feels like life might pass us by without giving us the chance to enjoy each other's company. To me, Chanukah is especially meaningful because it is a time of year where we get to connect and communicate. The chanukiah (often referred to as a menorah) reminds us to turn off our electric lights and gather around the candles. These candles bring light when the days are short. When we sit around enjoying the chanukiah, I try to sneak in some non-Chanukah related songs, too, so we can be together for longer, and we sing our hearts out like there’s no tomorrow. We stay together until the candles burn out. This helps me savor eight marvelous nights. I think when we get to be together as a family it’s like a third miracle of Chanukah.


JAN. 15

BB BREAKS: 9 am-6 pm, at Congregation Beht Israel, 1972 NW Flanders, Portland. Spend your day off school with BB Day Camp in Portland. 503-496-7017 or


at the MJCC. Learn about Martin Luther King Jr. and his dream. Make placemats for Meals on Wheels and fleece blankets for homeless families at Beth Israel’s Mitzvah House. Donate gloves and socks for homeless people. Make a tzedakah box to take home and listen to PJ Library stories. or 503-892-7415

JAN. 18

PORTLAND JEWISH ACADEMY OPEN HOUSE. 10 am at PJA, 6651 SW Capitol Hwy., Portland. See the program in action and meet students and faculty. 503-535-3599 MOMMY & ME: 10-11 am, every week until April 26, at Chabad of Northeast Portland, 2858 NE Sandy Blvd., Portland. Explore Jewish holidays, play and learn. Ages 0-3. Free. 503-309-4490 or



A LITTLE SHABBAT: 5-6:30 pm every third Friday at Congregation Shaarie Torah, 920 NW 25th Ave., Portland. For families with children in preschool (ages 2+). Short service with singing, greeting, stories followed by kid-friendly dinner. Free. 503-226-6131 FOURTH FRIDAYS WITH RABBI EVE POSEN: 5:15-7 pm,

fourth Fridays. Join Rabbi Eve Posen for this fun Shabbat for young families! Welcome Shabbat with music and stories. Potluck dinner to follow. Co-sponsored by PJ Library. RSVP for more info and location: 503246-8831 or



third Saturdays at Congregation Beth Israel, 1972 NW Flanders, Portland. Join us for our special Saturday service for our littlest congregants and the grown-ups who love them. 503-222-1069

TOT SHABBAT: 10:30 am, first Saturdays, at Congregation Ahavath

Achim’s Hillsdale location: 6686 SW Capitol Hwy. Eve Levy will lead tots and their parents in singing, dancing, stories and plenty of time for the children (and parents) to have fun. This program is geared for children up to age 5 and any older siblings who would like to attend. 503-227-0010

YOUNG FAMILY TOT SHABBAT: 10:15 am-12:15 pm, first and third Saturdays at Congregation Neveh Shalom, 2900 SW Peaceful Lane, Portland. Join other young families for singing, dancing, stories, indoor picnic-style lunch and Shabbat fun. Free. Rabbi Eve Posen 503-246-8831


KIDDUSH CLUB FOR K-2ND GRADE: 10:15-11:30 am, first and third Saturdays at Congregation Neveh Shalom, 2900 SW Peaceful Lane, Portland. Sing, hear a Torah story, maybe dance. followed by lunch. 503-246-8831


TORAH TROOP FOR 3RD-5TH GRADERS: 10-11:30 am, first and third Saturdays, Congregation Neveh Shalom. Meet in the main service for the beginning of the Torah service, and then come out with your friends for a fun and active lesson on the Torah portion (parsha) of the week. Return to the service to help lead Adon Olam, and join the community for lunch! Free. 503-246-8831


Sundays at New Seasons, 3445 N Williams Ave., Portland. Share in a weekly story hour for families with music and PJ Library Books. (No story hour Nov. 26). or 503-892-7415

STORY TIME IN ANNE AND GOLDIE’S CHILDREN’S CORNER. 11-11:30 am, Tuesdays, second floor of the Oregon Jewish

Museum and Center for Holocaust Education, 724 NW Davis St, Portland. Rotating story bring carefully selected books to life, with occasional singing, movement and crafts. Stay to play in the Neighborhood House themed corner, or grab lunch at Lefty’s Cafe. Co-sponsored by PJ Library. Caregivers with children are free.


CHAI BABY + PJ LIBRARY INDOOR PLAYGROUND: 10 am-noon, every second Wednesday (Sept-June) at the MJCC, 6651 SW Capitol Hwy. For parents and their children up to 5 years old. Playing, running, meeting new and old friends, kosher snacks. Free. 503-2440111


PJ STORY HOUR YAD B'YAD: 9:30-10:30 am, Thursdays at Rose Schnitzer Manor, 6140 SW Boundary St., Portland. Share in a weekly story hour for young families with music and PJ Library books with the residents of Cedar Sinai Park. or 503-8927415

SHABBAT STORYTIME: 9:45-10:15 am, second Saturdays, at Congregation Shir Tikvah, 7550 NE Irving St., Portland. Free. Shabbat gathering of toddlers and their caregivers. Best for kids up to age 5, although older siblings are welcome. Enjoy stories, songs and crafts that celebrate holidays and Jewish values. Stay afterward for bagels and coffee with Rabbi Ariel Stone. 503-473-8227 TORAH YOGA: 10:30 am-noon every second Saturday at Congregation Shaarie Torah, 920 NW 25th Ave., Portland. 503-226-6131 TOT SHABBAT: 9-9:30 am every second Saturday at Congregation

Kol Ami, 7800 NE 119th St., Vancouver. Rabbi Elizabeth Dunsker leads a short Shabbat service with singing and storytelling! Craft-making based on the story and a short oneg follows the service. Ages 0 to 5. 360-8968088

KESSER KIDS' TIME: 10:45 am-noon every second and fourth Saturday at Congregation Kesser Israel, 6698 SW Capitol Hwy., Portland. The program is geared for children ages 2-11. Games, songs, learning, food activity. Free. 503-222-1239 OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY 2018 29

E D U C AT I O N D I R E C TO RY THE NASHIRA EDUCATION PROJECT At the Tucker Maxon Oral School 2860 SE Holgate Blvd. Portland, OR 97202 503-473-8227


Classes: 1111 Country Club Road Mail: PO Box 311 Lake Oswego, OR 97034 503-310-9184 Jewish education for preschoolers-teenagers, including Hebrew, tutoring and preparation for B’nai Mitzvah and Confirmation. We provide spiritual and moral foundations for lifelong Jewish practice through Bible stories, parshot, Jewish music, dance, art and Israeli programming.


Shir Tikvah’s innovative program encourages students to connect to Judaism in a rich and lasting way. We offer 18 Sunday sessions per year and congregation-wide celebrations for the whole family. It’s fun, meaningful and on Portland’s eastside.


1915 South Shore Blvd. Lake Oswego, OR 97034 503-594-8776 Park Academy focuses on students in grades 3–12 with dyslexia and other learning differences. Dedicated faculty lead small classes, allowing students to explore their unique learning styles, discover their strengths and reach their full potential. Integrated assistive technology, accommodations and project-based learning support student development and growth.

724 NW Davis St. Portland, OR 97209 503-226-3600



9020 SW Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy. Portland, OR 97225 503-297-2336 Edison High School welcomes academically capable students who have learning differences such as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)/ Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Dysgraphia, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Nonverbal Learning and Auditory Disorders, and Tourette syndrome, among others. In our supportive academic environment, students develop self-discipline and gain confidence in their ability to learn. 30 OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY 2018

OJMCHE shares stories of the Holocaust from the perspectives of survivors, refugees and their descendants with guided tours of the Oregon Holocaust Memorial and museum tours for school groups of our core exhibitions: Discrimination and Resistance, An Oregon Primer; The Holocaust, An Oregon Perspective; and Oregon Jewish Stories.

6651 SW Capitol Hwy. Portland, OR 97219 503-244-0126 PJA students, infant through 8th grade, thrive in an academically rich environment that inspires positive Jewish engagement, respect, and responsibility for our world. PJA’s unique curriculum integrates project-based learning with Jewish studies and values, providing the foundation for success in high school, college, and life.



920 NW 25th Ave. Portland, OR 97210 503-226-6131 l Shaarie Torah’s education programs (preschool-grade 12) foster Jewish values, Hebrew learning, and community stewardship. Preschoolers investigate Jewish holidays and traditions through story and play. Our K-5th graders explore literacy and identity. Our teens cultivate their Jewish roots through speakers and social action with trips to Oregon Food Bank and more!

6680 SW Capitol Hwy. Portland, OR 97219 503-892-7415 Right Start provides funding to qualified families to help ensure children have the right start on developing a life rooted in Jewish values and traditions. The Jewish Federation of Greater Portland has made this gift available to the Jewish communities of Portland and SW Washington.

" It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge." ~ Albert Einstein

Walk In The Shoes Of A Dyslexic

A simulation

February 1, 2018 | 6.30pm – 8.00pm Hosted by

Park Academy

1915 South Shore Blvd. Lake Oswego, OR RSVP to Kim Barton, 503.594.8776 or Park Academy is the only school in Oregon with a focus on students with dyslexia and other language learning differences. To learn more, visit

Edison High School empowers students with learning differences to experience academic success and personal growth, while preparing them for a productive future. For more information or to join us for an admissions tour call 503-297-2336. 9020 SW Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy. Portland, OR 97225


Defeating Dyslexia



Jared Blank runs so others can read By Liz Rabiner Lippoff


hy is Lincoln High graduate Jared Blank, who was director of football operations for two Pac12 football teams, running marathon after marathon after marathon? The partial answer is because he has dyslexia. The whole answer is so much more. Jared might have seemed like your normal Portland kid if you saw him on the soccer field, but he knew he was different from the other kids. He couldn’t see words clearly, he was getting headaches, and, he says, “Every project, even listening to directions, was hard. I retained maybe 25% of the information.” His eye doctor figured out why when Jared was 5 years old. She ran a test and told Jared to fetch his mom. She explained: Seeing the board at school isn’t his issue; he can’t recognize the letters. Jared is dyslexic. His parents, Lynn and Owen Blank, jumped right on it. “They were relentless,” Jared says. “Once they got the diagnosis, they said ‘let’s figure this out.’ ” Subsequent testing added “sensory processing disorder” to Jared’s plate. According to the Star Institute, occupational therapists in Colorado who specialize in SPD, “Sensory processing ... refers to the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses. Whether you are biting into a sandwich, riding a bicycle or reading a book, your successful completion of the activity requires accurate processing of sensation. ... SPD exists when sensory signals are either not detected or don’t get organized into appropriate responses.” It can mean that simple sequential tasks, such as putting on shoes, can seem impossibly complex. For the Blanks, the twin diagnoses meant there’d be extra work every day. Tons of extra work. For all of them.




“In second grade, for example, we’d get up in the morning and I’d practice spelling with my parents,” Jared says. “If the word was PREPARE, I’d practice with my parents to put P-R-E on three fingers of my left hand and P-A-R-E on four fingers of my right hand. It worked except when it didn’t, and I’d write PAREPRE.” He would then go to school and take the spelling test. “Luckily I had an understanding second-grade teacher, who would give me credit for having the right letters if not the right order.” He’d then leave school mid-day for occupational therapy at Emmanuel Hospital to work on fine motor skills for an hour: hold a pencil, balance in a chair, tie a shoe. “Repetition is the coping skill for sensory processing disorder.” Then back to finish the school day. Then soccer. Then home for tutoring. Jared was actually fine with all this. “I was trying to get the other 75% I was missing.” This went on every day, all through grade school. The school/tutoring/sports/study cycle went on every day all through high school. “I retain a lot more when I am listening to something, so in high school, I’d go to classes and then work one-on-one with a tutor.” But look, Jared points out, “In third grade they projected that I’d never get above a C average and probably would never graduate from high school.” He was determined to prove them wrong. “I learned that I could study for long periods of time, three hours at first. So I thought: if I can study for three, I can study for six. I would break the day into chunks of study and sports. When that worked, I knew I could get through all my work.” The sports intervals between the extended study sessions started out to be soccer primarily. Then he took on running. “Early on I ran to deal with the frustrations of school and life. In high school, running became a tool I used to stay in shape for soccer.” Jared’s combination of hard work, focused concentration and self-styled “sports therapy breaks” was hugely effective in other ways, too. When it was time to plan for his bar mitzvah, Cantor Judith Schiff at Congregation Beth Israel was willing to make accommodations and shorten his portion of the service, but Jared insisted on having the full service. “If I was going to have a bar mitzvah, I wanted to do what my brothers had done and my peers were doing. I learned it through rote memorization.” Later, Lincoln High School was willing to waive

Continued on page 36 34 OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY 2018

Jared Blank crosses the finish line in the San Francisco Ultra July 23, 2017. He ran the 52.4 miles in 9:08:52 to finish in 10th place overall. PHOTO BY MOLLY STARK, STARKLIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY

Congregation Beth Israel Rabbi Emanuel Rose (now rabbi emeritus) congratulates Jared Blank on becoming a bar mitzvah.

The Blank Family – From left, back row: Joshua, parents Owen and Lynn, Adam, Ya’ira (Joshua and Maria’s daughter), Jared and Maria Elena; front row: Aliyah (Joshua and Maria’s daughter), Alexis’ twins Jack and Ryan Rosengarten, Alexis Blank and Erin Rosengarten (Alexis’ daughter). PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BLANK FAMILY

Jared Blank reads his bar mitzvah Torah portion Oct. 14, 1995. His dyslexia made the Hebrew alphabet especially challenging. But he wanted to do the full bar mitzvah ceremony, so he learned his entire portion by rote. PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE BLANK FAMILY

Jared Blank enjoys a sunrise training run near the top of Council Crest overlooking Portland. PHOTO BY MOLLY STARK,



JARED BLANK its foreign language requirement, but Jared took Spanish for three years anyway. Freshman year he earned a 4.0 GPA and the school counselors started asking him where, not if, he wanted to go to college. He ended up studying communications at the University of Southern California, and it, too, meant long study hours, tutors and running, all four years. He interned with the football team his last two years, and when he graduated they hired him full time and he became the director of football operations. The job included evaluating student transcripts. “I just stayed until I got it done, checking my work over and over again,” he says. At the same time, he earned a master’s degree in communications management. After four years, he moved to Seattle to do a similar job for the University of Washington, and again, at the same time, he got a master’s degree, this time an MBA. Jared has a message for parents or supporters of someone who is diagnosed with a learning difference. “Find out what their strengths and passions are – dance, art, music, sports – then build around that. What you want to do is preserve the confidence and self esteem of these children. If you put them in a classroom for eight hours a day and they do not understand stuff or they feel different from their peers, their confidence will suffer. In addition to helping them learn to read and write, you’ll have to rebuild their self-esteem. But if you build around their strengths, when they get something harder, it won’t crush them; they can manage it and they can attack it with a level of confidence.” Jane Cooper, president of the Oregon Chapter of the International Dyslexia Association, says Jared’s success story is motivational for so many struggling with learning differences. “In a world where literacy is taken for granted, to be dyslexic is a 24/7 challenge at school, in the work place, at home and in the community,” she says. “When someone shows understanding and teaches them how to read and learn in a way that works for them ... the emotional journey becomes one of success and rising to fill their potential.” After college, running became “something of a passion” for Jared. He 36 OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY 2018

trained for his first marathon in 2010 in Eugene, did well and was hooked. In typical Jared fashion, he then set his sights on the Boston Marathon. He ran three marathons before he achieved the time he needed to qualify, and he ran the Boston Marathon in 2016. Jared’s life changed when a man in a running store came up to him and said, “You’re an ultra runner!” An “ultra” is anything over 26.2 miles, normally about 30 miles. And although Jared replied no, he was just training for a marathon, it got him thinking, “Why not?” So he trained for, and completed, the San Francisco Ultra in 2017, on his 35th birthday: 52.4 miles (twice the distance of a marathon). That would be like running from the I-5 bridge over the Columbia to the state capitol in Salem. Today, Jared has left his university job to combine his love of running with a strong commitment to help others with dyslexia find their way. “I recognize how fortunate I was to have the family and support I needed to deal with the learning challenges. For a long time, I hid my dyslexia from the world. Now I want to talk about it. I don’t want others to feel like they’re alone.” To take on this running/sharing project, Jared moved back to Portland, which he calls a “mecca for running.” He also relished the chance to be near his family, so he moved into a tiny house his parents had built next to their home in Southwest Portland. “It is so simple and it is the perfect training headquarters,” he says. “It is a space I can be productive in.” Jared shares his inspirational story with others, especially at schools, every chance he gets. He talks about his struggles with his disabilities and how he, together with his family, his tutors and his sports, created the framework to deal with it. His mother Lynn has attended several of his presentations. She notes that families today have many more resources than when Jared was diagnosed. It took several years for them to get a diagnosis even after the Blanks noticed that Jared wasn’t doing the same things his siblings had done, and Lynn herself was a certified teacher. They then did their own research and, when they found a set of books that were particularly helpful, they bought a second set for Jared’s school so they, too, would have the latest

information. She is proud that Jared is another resource for families today. “Parents are frustrated,” Lynn says. “They wonder if their kid will turn out OK, but then they hear Jared and they feel better.” This summer Jared researched organizations that help people with dyslexia and decided to work with the International Dyslexia Association. “They provide resources for parents, teachers and students,” Jared says, adding he wanted to be one of those resources. Jared says they also partner with marathons to get people to sponsor runners, support family members and raise money for the organization. This new program, called Team Quest: Run Until Everyone Can Read, turned out to be a perfect fit for Jared. So Jared will run. But is he running a marathon? An ultra marathon? No and no. To raise money and awareness, Jared is training for the January 2018 World Marathon Challenge. This is seven marathons in seven days on each of the seven continents. They start in Antarctica Jan. 30. Jane Cooper of IDA says, “… Dyslexia students and their families are drawn to the concept of this endurance race because each can attest to the marathon challenge that is dyslexia. The fundraising Jared is embarking on to assist the IDA will change lives and will change the culture around dyslexia.” As you would imagine, training for this is practically a 24/7 full-time job. His mom reports that, after one of Jared’s speeches, a parent asked how he could work that intensely, day after day. “He’s always been overly conscientious,” Lynn says. “His reply to her was, ‘I’ve always done it ... school, tutoring, homework, sports, study ...’” In his spare time, Jared ran the Hood to Coast with the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland’s team last summer, and he sits on the National Board of Israel 21c. It is a not-for-profit whose goal is to tell stories of the beauties and wonders of Israel. He has been to Israel twice and would like to run a race there some day. “They have a big ultra community,” he says with a smile. “It would be fun to be a part of that.” Liz Rabiner Lippoff is a marketing consultant, freelance writer and community volunteer.

RESOURCES LEARN MORE ABOUT DYSLEXIA: International Dyslexia Association: Decoding Dyslexia Oregon: PDX Reading Specialists: SCHOOLS: Edison High School (9th-12th & 7th-8th in summer): Park Academy (3rd-8th & 9th-12th grades): LEARN MORE ABOUT SENSORY PROCESSING DISORDER: SUPPORT JARED’S RACE TO FUND DYSLEXIA RESOURCES:

Jared Blank stretches before a training run. PHOTO BY MOLLY STARK, STARKLIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY





was born to

By Kerry Politzer


Portland jazz singer Anandi Gefroh hails from a long line of musicians. Her maternal grandmother, Nina, a classically trained singer, toured with the international production of “Fiddler on the Roof.” Her mother, Rachel Faro, is a songwriter and producer, and her father is Nick Gefroh, a veteran jazz drummer and longtime local disc jockey. So it was only natural that Anandi would grow up to be an accomplished musician herself, one whom the Jazz Society of Oregon calls “a real deal jazz singer.” Anandi feels very much at home in the Portland jazz arena. “I love Portland musicians, it really feels like a community to me,” she says. “I definitely had an advantage since I've known a lot of people (here) since childhood.” Anandi’s maternal grandfather, a Russian Jewish immigrant, was originally named Alex Magidienko. Anandi explains that this surname derives from the word “maggid,” which suggests that her ancestors were rooted in Jewish mysticism. Alex met Nina, Anandi’s grandmother, in Duluth, MN. Laughing, the singer says, “One of my favorite stories is when (my grandmother) talks about cute little Bobby Zimmerman, the neighbor’s baby. That's Bob Dylan!” Anandi has always been surrounded by music. She grew up listening to her father’s vast collection of jazz albums (Nick co-hosts the weekly “Jazz Lives” program on KBOO) and was harmonizing folk melodies with her mother at age 10. By the time Anandi was in high school, she had already begun to make the rounds at Portland jam sessions. The singer boasts an extensive repertoire of jazz standards as well as original, R&B-influenced songs. When asked about her influences, she names Sarah Vaughan and Carmen McRae, but her mellifluous voice also draws comparisons to singers such as Carole King and Joni Mitchell. Anandi has released six albums, three of which focus on her original music. One of Anandi’s songs, “Enough of You,” has received more than 3 million hits on YouTube. All of Anandi’s albums are available for purchase at When asked about her songwriting process, Anandi says her method tends to be freeform. “These days it usually comes when I hear a beautiful piece of music, and then lyrics come out of that,” she says. An avid listener, Anandi is always searching for modern takes on beloved jazz standards. One of the singer’s current projects, the all-female band Nica’s Dream, plays some of these arrangements at venues including The 1905 and Zarz on First (814 SW 1st Ave., Portland), where her modern jazz quartet will perform from 8 to 11 pm Jan. 27. Anandi says that in these settings, “I try to choose songs with more complex arrangements, a more modern treatment of familiar songs.” Anandi can also be seen in a duo performing at the Hotel Monaco on Southwest Washington (upcoming dates include Jan. 13 and 27). She has performed at the PDX Jazz Festival, the Rose Festival and Classic Pianos, among many other venues. To buy Anandi’s CDs or to learn about where you can next hear her, visit




JAN 20 - FEB 18


1515 SW Morrison St.



Decoding genetic risk factors for Parkinson’s disease Story by Puneet Rai Photos by Naji Saker

You make lifestyle choices every day that affect your health. Perhaps you eat a healthy diet and refrain from smoking. Maybe you keep your brain active by doing crossword puzzles and maintaining a vibrant social network. Perhaps the new year has brought with it the perennial resolution to exercise regularly. However, you can’t choose your genetic makeup, and as you may already know, individuals of Jewish ancestry have a greater likelihood than non-Jewish populations of harboring a gene that puts them at increased risk of developing breast and other cancers, or to be carriers of genes for conditions such as Tay-Sachs disease or Gaucher disease. Recent research has shown that there may also be a genetic component to Parkinson’s disease that has implications for the Jewish community. A team of researchers at Oregon Health & Science University is partnering with the Michael J. Fox Foundation to learn more about the connection between Jewish heritage and Parkinson’s disease. You may be able to help and, by doing so, add to the list of ways you can actively contribute to your future health.

Genetics 101: the basics

First, a quick refresher of DNA, chromosomes and genes. DNA is packaged by the body into 23 paired structures called chromosomes, one chromosome in each pair coming from one’s mother and the other from one’s father. Within each chromosome are thousands of genes, which regulate certain functions of the body. Sometimes multiple genes are needed to control one function. Other times, just one gene can influence multiple parts of the body. Since there are two copies of each chromosome, there are also two copies of each gene. In some gene pairs, both copies need to be expressed (or turned on) in order for them to do their job correctly. For other genes, only one copy needs to be expressed. 40 OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY 2018

Dr. Hogarth completes a neurological exam on a research participant. OHSU study coordinator Katrina Wakeman processes precious biological samples from participants in the PPMI study.

a person’s chance of developing Parkinson’s disease, many gene carriers never go on to develop symptoms of the disease. A landmark study sponsored by the Michael J Fox Foundation called the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative is trying to develop tools that will help us predict who will get the disease, with the ultimate goal of preventing it. OHSU is one of 33 sites in 11 countries selected by the Fox Foundation to be a part of this important study.

Am I at risk for Parkinson’s disease? Movement disorders neurologist, Dr. Penelope Hogarth (right), and her study coordinator, Katrina Wakeman (left), chat with a couple who have been a part of the PPMI research study at OHSU for six years.

Is Parkinson’s disease inherited?

Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurological disorder that affects about a million people in the United States, causing tremors and difficulty with walking, balance and movement. In the vast majority of cases, the cause of Parkinson's disease in an individual is unknown. However, in rare instances, the disease may be associated with a genetic “misspelling” (or mutation). Approximately 10% of all cases of Parkinson's are thought to be genetic in origin. Two genes in particular, called LRRK2 and GBA, have been shown to be associated with an increased risk for Parkinson’s disease. Though individuals of any ancestry may carry a LRRK2 or GBA mutation, both genes are more common in families of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage. The risk of carrying a single GBA mutation is less than 1 in 100 for non-Jewish populations, but about 1 in 18 for those of Jewish descent. The LRRK2 gene is responsible for only 1-2% of ALL Parkinson’s cases, but it is believed to account for approximately 15-20% of cases of Parkinson’s disease in individuals of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry.

The GBA and LRRK2 genes

The story behind the GBA gene and Parkinson’s disease is interesting. Gaucher disease, which causes the buildup of a fatty chemical in the liver, spleen and sometimes brain, results when a child inherits two mutations in the GBA gene, one from each parent. Individuals with a mutation in just one copy of the GBA gene – for instance, the parents of a child with Gaucher disease – were not thought to be at increased risk for Gaucher or any other disease until recently. However, an observant doctor/researcher began to suspect a connection between the GBA gene and Parkinson’s when she noticed that people with Gaucher disease and their relatives seemed to develop Parkinson’s disease more often than expected by chance. Further investigation led to the discovery that carrying even a single copy of the GBA mutation increases the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. Similarly, having just a single copy of the LRRK2 gene increases your risk of Parkinson’s. Biology is never simple, though. While having a mutation in either the LRRK2 or GBA gene does indeed seem to increase

PPMI is currently seeking volunteers who meet one of the following criteria to be screened for the genetic arm of this study: • People of any age with Parkinson’s disease who are of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry • Ashkenazi Jewish people over the age of 45 without PD who are first-degree relatives (parent, child, sibling) of someone with PD • People over the age of 45 who already know they have a GBA or LRRK2 mutation from prior testing. This would include people with Gaucher disease and their first-degree relatives; and people who have had positive testing through “23andMe” or other genetic testing. • People over the age of 45 who have a first-degree relative (parent, child, sibling) with one of these mutations. PPMI is an observational study, meaning that participants do not take an experimental drug or placebo. Individuals who meet recruitment criteria may be eligible to receive genetic counseling and testing at no cost to determine if they may qualify to participate in PPMI. Because not everyone at risk for a disease such as Parkinson’s wants to know about that risk, individuals without Parkinson’s disease can choose whether or not to receive results of genetic testing. Participants will receive compensation for their participation in the study. Penelope Hogarth, MD, is the principal investigator on the study and the study number is eIRB 6459. If you are interested in learning more about this research study, you can email the study coordinator, Katrina Wakeman, at You can also proceed directly to a study screening questionnaire online at


WHAT: YOUR GENES, YOUR HEALTH, an educational event about genetic risk factors for Parkinson’s disease and cancer WHEN: 10:30 am-1 pm, Sunday, Jan. 21 WHERE: Vey Auditorium in Doernbecher Children's Hospital at OHSU PRESENTED BY: Oregon Health & Science University FREE RSVP FOR FREE LUNCH: Please RSVP (by Jan. 12 if you would like lunch) to A packet with directions and parking information will be sent on request.

Puneet Rai is a certified genetic counselor at Oregon Health & Science University.



Participants in MJCC aqua yoga class

Get fit ON water

By Deborah Moon

Yoga, strength-building and swimming have long been popular fitness options. Now you can literally work out ON the water with a floating fitness mat called Glide Fit. The Mittleman Jewish Community Center has purchased the boards and is offering two classes designed to strengthen your core and improve your balance as you mix up your fitness regime. Aqua Strength and Aqua Yoga will get you on the water for a workout like no other. In Aqua Strength, participants perform traditional strength-building exercises while floating on top of the water. “When training on an ‘unstable’ environment, your body is required to continuously contract muscles to maintain balance and stability in addition to perform any range of motion,” says Alexander Ness, who teaches the Aqua Strength class. “In other words, by maintaining balance and moving through a series of exercises, your body will require more muscle activation to maximize the workout and double the efforts to perform during the exercise(s). The results of your body's muscle endurance will increase when exercising on the Glide Fit boards.” The boards are anchored to the lane lines to provide people control over a specific area within the pool. MJCC member Sylvia Grant says she decided to take the class to further diversify her fitness regime, which includes 42 OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY 2018

body shop, Pilates and swimming. “It’s fun and a good workout,” she says. “We do planks and sit-ups and bicep curls with bands and core work, but when you’re on the water, all your muscles are engaged trying to keep your balance. It’s fun; if you lose your balance, you fall in the pool and don’t care.” Alex learned about the boards from his mother, who is a yoga instructor and an ambassador for Glide Fit boards. She encouraged Alex to create a class at the MJCC. The J’s Aqua Yoga instructor is Amy Bradford, who has taught yoga for kids, youth, gentle yoga, "regular" yoga and chair yoga since 2014. She also teaches aqua aerobics classes and swimming lessons. Amy says her students range in age from their 30s to 70s. “It's all core work,” says Amy. “Getting onto the board, balance on the board. Pretty much everything requires intensive core engagement. … Anyone who is interested in working on balance will find a good challenge in this class. It requires a fairly robust willingness to be challenged and potentially fall into the water.” Doing yoga on an unstable surface offers an opportunity to explore balance, enhance core work and be playful in an aquatic environment. “It’s definitely cool to do something that's different that challenges my balance while doing yoga at the same time,” says

student Carolyn Fischer. Cheryl Macy is 72 and says she has a love/hate relationship with the yoga class. “It’s really hard, but that is part of the fun. It’s hard to stay balanced on that thing.” As an added benefit, Cheryl says she also got a good muscle workout pulling herself back up on the board after falling into the pool – which she did frequently for most of the session. “I did get through the last class without falling off – that was quite an accomplishment,” she says. Alex hopes to develop other classes on the boards in the future, including a fall-prevention class for elderly people who need stability exercises. He says the exercises are fun and challenging and can benefit all ages and abilities for people who want additional training for muscle endurance, balance and strength.


Mittleman Jewish Community Center Aqua Strength 12:30 - 1:30 pm, Wednesdays, Jan. 3 - Feb. 7 & Feb. 14 - March 21 $72 members/$92 non-members Aqua Yoga 12:30-1:30 pm, Saturdays, Jan. 6 - Feb. 10 & Feb. 17 - March 24 $72 members/$92 non-members For details, call 503-244-0111 or visit



Hillel hosts Interfaith “Friendsgiving” Pacific Northwest native files report from Colorado college town

By David Kravitz

The fourth annual “Interfaith Friendsgiving” was hosted by Colorado State University Hillel in partnership with the Geller Center, Lutheran Campus Ministry, Key Communities, Multifaith and Belief Student Council, and Fort Collins Interfaith Council. The Geller Center is a local organization that teaches nonviolent communication skills that allow individuals to hold deeper conversations about difficult topics. CSU’s key communities offer a welcoming environment that honors individual life stories by bringing together dedicated students from diverse backgrounds in a community that supports success.  Friendsgiving began four years ago when new CSU Hillel Director Alex Amchislavskiy first met Geller Center Director Laura Nelson. Alex presented an idea for an interfaith thanksgiving, and it grew from there. The first year of the event was over-successful and ended up flooding the Hillel house head to toe with people. For the past three years, it has been held at Everyday Joe’s, a local coffee shop. The connection between the Hillel and Geller Center directors has been a linchpin in the success of the dinner. Laura also mentions the importance of sharing a meal with strangers and how powerful those shared moments can be.  “I’m biased being a food person, but there is something 44 OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY 2018

incredibly powerful about sharing a meal with people,” says Laura. “That is so clear because of how many of our traditions value food. One thing we have stayed committed to since year one is the powerful conversations that happen in the Hillel kitchen when everyone is cooking. That has stayed really important; students who don’t know about Judaism learn about what kashrut means and learn all sorts of things about each other by just being in the same room for a couple of hours. It’s not just sharing a meal, it is about the whole process of it coming together.” One of Laura’s favorite aspects of the dinner is what it says to the local community.  “What I love about it is, not only is it interfaith but it’s inner-community,” she says. “Sometimes if you talk to long-time Fort Collins residents, they say CSU is on an island. I think a lot of people are working to change that and always have been. Tonight was a moment to say, ‘We don’t have to be separate communities.’ ” David Kravitz is a senior at Colorado State University and a writer for CSU Hillel. He is originally from Vancouver, WA, right across the Columbia River from Portland. “I love and miss the Pacific Northwest and want to share the stories of Northern Colorado’s Jewish community with my hometown,” says David.

Oregon makes a splash at Global Hillel Assembly

Oregon and Greater Portland in-person synergy,” says PDX HilHillel representatives were among lel Director Rhonda Abrams. the more than 1,100 Hillel profesThis year’s programming includsionals, partners and stakeholders ed “Empowering and Supporting who gathered in Denver Dec. Students in the Face of Anti-Sem4-7 for the fourth annual Hillel itism and Anti-Israel Bias,” “PasInternational Global Assembly toral Counseling Master Class,” and first-ever Hillel International “Objectives and Key Results for Global Leadership Conference for the Social Sector: Adapting How volunteer leaders. Google Sets Ambitious Goals The gatherings showcased and Manages Progress to Drive innovation from Hillels around the Growth” and “Intersectionality: world, and gave Hillel professionals Identity, Politics, Judaism and the the opportunity to share ideas and Oregon Hillel staff (from left) Loren Murphy, Brittany LenCampus Community.” successes that can be emulated on hart, Rachel Chodorow-Reich and Andy Gitelson accept the “Hillel International Global AsHillel International Campus Partner of the Year award on campuses of every size. sembly brings together the best and Oregon Hillel received the Hillel behalf of Oregon Hillel. brightest from the field of Jewish International Campus Partner of campus professionals, providing the Year Award, recognizing the them with an opportunity to learn Manzil/Midrash Jewish/Muslim from one another and bring new Learning Initiative created in partideas to every campus community,” nership with the Muslim Student says Eric D. Fingerhut, president Association and Arab Student and CEO of Hillel International. Union at the University of Oregon. “With a successful first year of Hil“Being recognized among so lel U and the Hillel Talent Grants many incredible Hillel programs behind us, we know our professionled by an equally impressive colal development efforts are starting lection of staff and lay leaders from to change the Hillel movement, around the world is truly humbling allowing us to grow our professionand a great honor,” says Oregon als and impact more students.” Hillel Executive Director Andy The first Hillel International Gitelson. “For the past three years, Attending the Hillel International Global Assembly from Global Leadership Conference the Greater Portland Hillel were (from left) Director and now going into our fourth, brought together Hillel’s volunteer we've had an amazing group of stu- Rhonda Abrams; Rob Shlachter, founding board member leaders from around North Ameridents, leaders and staff who shared of PDX Hillel; Shiran Halfon, former Israel Fellow to PDX ca and the world for an insider look Hillel; Hagit Ojalvo, Israel Fellow to PDX Hillel; and not the vision and commitment to at the most significant topics and pictured: Elyssa Hurwitz, Ezra Fellow to PDX Hillel. building relationships and respect issues facing Jewish life on campus. that made this unique interfaith The more than 150 participants learning series a truly impactful included major donors to local and moving initiative. I am so very proud that this initiative Hillels and Hillel International, chairs and members of local is happening at the University of Oregon and, as we continue Hillel boards, and other key stakeholders. The Global Leadto develop relationships in Corvallis, we hope to bring it to ership Conference is a centerpiece of Hillel’s new Global LeadOregon State University in the near future.” ership Society, an initiative to identify, cultivate and steward Building on the success of Hillel U, the organization’s comvolunteer leaders from across the Hillel movement and deepen prehensive new professional development program, this year’s Hillel’s connection with the broader Jewish community. HIGA featured peer-to-peer and expert-led learning modeled Participants in the Global Leadership Conference learned after corporate and academic trainings. new skills to improve their local board of directors, hire future “Together with staff and one board member, PDX Hillel Hillel directors and make improvements toward Hillel’s Drive was able to learn from and with other members of the Hillel to Excellence benchmarks. movement in a collaborative way that can only happen through OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY 2018 45




It is often said that variety is the spice of life, however, I believe that spice is what gives life variety, so I amp up the spice whenever I can! The holiday season is the time to eat all of those traditional foods that we know and love. The turkey, brisket, latkes, cookies and kugel are all hallmarks of holiday eating, but come January, the party is over. We all feel the need to make the resolution to eat a bit smarter in the new year, but that doesn’t mean giving up foods that make us feel comfy and cozy in these cold, wet and dreary winter months. An Indian curry fits the bill when I feel the need for something comforting without completely breaking the calorie bank. Spicy cinnamon, earthy cumin, coriander, turmeric and garam masala fill my kitchen with the inviting aroma of something that is perfect to tuck into on a gloomy night. I add garbanzo beans to amp up the protein without adding unwanted fat, and serve tender crisp broccolini on the side for an extra helping of heart healthy green vegetables. I skip the naan bread and use brown rice, farro or barley to sop up all of the deeply flavored sauce. A warm and inviting curry adds delicious variety to a lackluster wintertime meal. We still have a few more months before the sunshine comes back around. The holiday party may be over, but starting the new calendar year with a healthy dose of spice in your life is sure to be a welcome New Year’s resolution!

Kosher salt 2 cups strained tomatoes (such as Pomì) 2 tablespoons tomato paste 1½ teaspoons ground cumin ½ teaspoon ground turmeric 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 8-10) cut into bite-sized pieces 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed 3 tablespoons ground almonds (almond flour) 1 teaspoon garam masala Put the oils into a wide-bottomed, lidded frying pan on a medium heat. When it's hot, add the cumin seeds and cinnamon sticks. Let them infuse in the oil for a minute, and then add the onions. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Meanwhile, put the ginger, garlic, serrano chilies and strained tomatoes into food processor with a pinch of salt and blend until smooth. Add the mixture to the pan and cook gently for 2 minutes. Cook the strained tomatoes for a few minutes until the sauce thickens, then add the tomato paste, ground cumin, turmeric and ½ teaspoon of salt (or to taste). Cook it through until it starts to bubble, then add the chicken and the garbanzo beans. Cover the pan and continue to cook on a gentle heat for around 30 minutes. Add the ground almonds and the garam masala and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks and serve over rice, farro or barley.

Indian Curry Chicken 2 tablespoons coconut oil 1 tablespoon canola oil 1 teaspoon cumin seeds 2 cinnamon sticks 2 large onions, finely chopped 2 tablespoons grated ginger 6 cloves garlic, crushed 1 fresh serrano chili, coarsely chopped (you can remove seeds for less heat)

Lisa Glickman is a private chef and teacher who lives in Portland. She has made TV appearances on COTV in Central Oregon and appeared on the Cooking Channel’s “The Perfect Three.” She can be reached at


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Russian tea tasty for patrons, nostalgic for chef By Kerry Politzer 48 OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY 2018

A little over a year ago, award-winning chef Vitaly Paley took the reins at the Heathman Hotel. He transformed its dining room into Headwaters, a Pacific Northwest seafood-focused restaurant. The Belarus-born Vitaly had a particularly intriguing vision for the Heathman’s Tea Court Lounge, which used to offer an English-style high tea with buttermilk scones and jam. “The Heathman restaurant and bar that was there for many years had a longstanding tradition of serving tea,” explains Vitaly. “When we took over the restaurant, because of my heritage, it only made sense to explore the Russian version of tea as opposed to continuing the English tradition.” When asked what is unique about the Russian tea, Vitaly waxes nostalgic for centuries-old traditions. “Russians have a ritual associated with drinking tea, and it’s centered around the samovar, an urn that keeps the water hot. In the old days before electricity, you would take it outside, get some twigs and pinecones, build a fire inside the little stack that goes through the samovar, fill it with cold water and bring it to a boil. Then you would take it into the house and put it in the

Photo by John Valls

middle of the table.” The samovar has become a symbol of Russian hospitality, and tea is a social event. Vitaly grew up appreciating his mother’s teapot collection. As a child in the former Soviet Union, he was not allowed to practice the Judaism of his ancestors, so the tea was an important household ritual. The chef has extended that ritual to the Tea Court Lounge, which he has adorned with tea-related artifacts. His mother’s precious teapots and a friend’s 300-yearold engraved copper samovars are on display. As word travels about the Russian tea, the samovar collection increases. Vitaly laughs about it and says, “A woman walked in; her husband used to be a diplomat in St. Petersburg, formerly Leningrad, in the 1970s. They brought back a samovar in their suitcase. It’s all banged up and really old, but it’s a wonderful piece of history.” Afternoon tea at the Heathman now features a selection of Russian savories and sweets. “Some of the dishes are pretty standard Russian fare like piroshki stuffed with mushrooms,” remarks the chef. “There are stuffed eggs and buterbrodi, small

open-faced sandwiches on black rye with a little bit of butter and a variety of different toppings like smoked salmon.” There is only one meat item on the menu; the rest are all vegetarian or fish based. Sweets include one that involves a family heirloom. “There’s a cake called steopka, my grandmother’s recipe. It’s a layer cake with cheese and sour cream, and a little bit of sugar, vanilla and cocoa. I’ve been eating this cake for long as I’ve been eating, and it’s something that’s pretty special to us.” The tea started off as a holiday event at the Heathman, but Vitaly plans to continue it year-round. For reservations and more information, visit OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY 2018 49


“Mother of Animal Law” driven by tikkun olam

Joyce with Deja, her American Staffordshire terrier. A widow, Joyce has “lived with companion animals” most of her life and now lives with Deja and two cats, Marley and Frankie.

By Deborah Moon

When Joyce Tischler was a law student 40 years ago, animal law didn’t exist. Now the Animal Legal Defense Fund Joyce cofounded in 1979 has 180 student chapters, three offices on the West Coast and thousands of attorneys protecting animals’ rights. For Joyce, protecting animals is all about tikkun olam, mending the world. “Tikkun olam runs very deep for me,” she 50 OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY 2018

says. “I never wanted to practice in a big firm and make a lot of money. I wanted to work for a cause and change the world.” Joyce, who is 63, has been called the “Mother of Animal Law.” As a law student she wrote a groundbreaking article for the law journal at the University of San Diego School of Law: “Rights for Nonhuman Animals: A Guardianship Model for Dogs and Cats.” She served as the founding director of ALDF for 24 years and is now general counsel at ALDF, which is headquartered in San Francisco with offices in Portland and

Los Angeles. ALDF protects the lives and advances the interests of animals through the legal system. As an attorney who has devoted her life to animal welfare, Joyce doesn’t expect everyone to jump in as deeply as she has. But given the love and care so many of us lavish on our dogs and cats, she does hope everyone will take one small step toward improving the lives of animals. “There is a lot of information on the internet about problems faced by animals,” she says. “Many people don’t want to know the painful truth. Allow yourself to be broken open to the suffering.” As it says in Ethics of the Fathers, “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.”

“We cannot be

bystanders, we have to start somewhere … pick an

issue, pick a species, pick what you are passionate about, then roll up your

sleeves and take action.” ~ Joyce Tischler “We cannot be bystanders, we have to start somewhere, and it doesn’t really matter where: pick an issue, pick a species, pick what you are passionate about, then roll up your sleeves and take action,” says Joyce. Herself a vegan, she encourages others to consider adopting Meatless Monday to reduce the demand for animals raised in intense confinement on factory farms. Or volunteer to clean cages, walk dogs or play with cats at the Oregon Humane Society. (“This one is a sterling, wonderful example of a humane society,” Joyce says). Or visit and sign up for action alerts. Attorneys can do pro bono work to help ADFL extend its reach. If you are interested in politics, thank Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-OR, for the many bills he has introduced to support animals or encourage other politicians to support laws that protect animals. “Whatever level you want, there is so much people can do,” she says. “It starts with tikkun olam. This concept encourages each of us to stretch our hearts and embrace more of this world. To stand beside the wounded and the defenseless, to embrace those who suffer, to acknowledge and reach out to

those who are ignored or abused. … The world needs more generosity, more mercy and better care.” Joyce grew up in a culturally Jewish home. The family attended synagogue on the holidays and she spent summers at a Jewish camp in the Catskills. She says her commitment to tikkun olam grew out of her exploration of concepts she encountered on the Days of Awe. “I had to teach myself a lot,” she says. She took Yiddish in college and visited Israel when she was 19. But she notes Birthright didn’t exist then, and Israel was just part of her travels. By contrast, when her daughter, Margeve, now 27, went to Israel on Birthright, she was so moved that she took a volunteer job at a hostel in Tel Aviv in exchange for a place to stay and spent two and a half months experiencing Israel. Joyce says that now, “The Days of Awe have become a very special time of the year for me, not only as a Jew, but as a human being striving to be my best version of myself.” For the first few years, ALDF (initially called Attorneys for Animal Rights) was a group of attorneys who met monthly to study state and federal laws relevant to animals and the abuse animals suffer. In 1981 Joyce filed a case against the U.S. Navy to halt its plan to shoot approximately 5,000 feral burros at its Weapons Testing Center in China Lake, CA. The Navy had already killed more than 600 burros before Joyce filed the suit, which lasted eight months but ensured no more burros were killed. The victory netted the group a grant from the Animal Protection Institute, which enabled her to begin to work full time for ALDF, with a first annual budget of $12,000. Since then, the group’s website notes, “ALDF has sued to stop bear hunts, mountain lion hunts, the removal of wild horses from federal lands, and challenged the intensive confinement of farmed animals and even the ‘patenting’ of animals. We’ve assisted prosecutors in numerous cruelty cases, rescued animals from hoarders and saved the lives of many animals, including dogs, cats, birds, chimpanzees, horses and, of course, those beautiful burros.” Joyce lives in Petaluma, CA, but visits Portland three or four times a year to work at the Portland ALDF office, speak at the Center for Animal Law Studies and to visit family. One year she taught an animal law course at Lewis and Clark, commuting to town once a week. She was in Portland in October to deliver the keynote address for the First Animal Law Student Convention hosted by Lewis & Clark. She says Lewis & Clark’s Animal Law program, which ALDF helped found in 2008 and still funds, is “by far the most robust animal law program anywhere in the world,” though other universities including Harvard and Georgetown have started programs. Today more than 140 law schools offer at least one class in animal law. “One of the things I am enjoying about getting older is that a lot of the constant chatter in my head has fallen away – the doubts, the worries, the second guessing that defined my younger years,” she says. “I can see now that I’ve done exactly what I was put on this earth to do. I’ve been able to put my beliefs and values into action.” OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY 2018 51


Steer clear of scammers By Deborah Moon

About 25 Wondering Jews gathered one November evening to learn how to stay out of the clutches of scammers. Part of the Oregon Department of Justice’s mission is to prevent fraud and protect Oregonians. The DOJ is led by Ellen Rosenblum, the state’s first Jewish and first female attorney general. In November, her Director of Consumer Affairs Ellen Klem came to Neveh Shalom to teach seniors what to avoid. Wondering Jews is Neveh Shalom’s seniors group that hosts guest speakers at Congregation Neveh Shalom during the rainy months and organizes visits to area attractions during the summer. The group is open to all seniors in the community. “The audience was awesome,” says Klem. “They were very


Ellen Klem , above, tells Wondering Jews how to avoid being scammed

engaged and eager to learn. I had a blast.” Klem gave seniors a flyer (see box) to remind them when to hang up the phone to avoid becoming victims of fraud. “It was fantastic,” says Daniela Meltzer, Neveh Shalom’s membership and community engagement director. Klem also told the seniors six signs to identify a scam. “If you remember anything from this presentation, please remember Sign No. 4,” she said. “If somebody asks you to wire money or buy a prepaid card, 100% of the time – it is a scam.” The six signs are: 1: Scammers Contact You “Out of the Blue.” It could be a knock on the door, a phone call a piece of mail or an email you weren’t expecting. For example, you didn’t think you owed the IRS or a debt collection agency money, but they called claiming you could be in trouble if you don’t pay. 2: Scammers Claim There Is an “Emergency.” A scammer might warn that if you don’t respond immediately your prize winnings will be lost, or that a relative or friend is in trouble in a foreign country. If something prompts immediate action, be cautious. 3: Scammers Ask for Your Personal Information. Scammers often pose as banks, health care providers and government officials asking for identifying personal or financial information. Anytime someone asks you for this information, be suspicious! 4: Scammers Want You To Wire Money. You may be asked to wire money or purchase prepaid debit cards. This is the easiest way for scam artists to get their hands on your money, and it’s almost impossible to get it back once it has been sent. Don’t do it! 5: Scammers Tell You To Keep It “Secret.” By asking you to keep a transaction secret, scammers know you won’t have to respond to questions from family and friends who might see through the scam. Check with someone you trust before acting. 6: Scammers Make It Sound Too Good To Be True. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is! Use this simple mantra to help you detect and avoid scams. It’s always better to be cautious than to be a victim. For more information on scams or to file a complaint contact the Oregon Department of Justice online at or call 1-877-877-9392.


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Israeli journalist shares insights on Middle East, Trump and kibbutz life

By Deborah Moon

Israeli journalist Amir Tibon came to Portland to share his insights on the renewed draw of kibbutz life for young Israelis, the changing face of the Middle East and the peace process, but the topic that drew the largest audience was “Covering Trump’s Washington.” Amir is an award-winning journalist and Washington, D.C., correspondent for the Israeli newspaper, Ha’aretz. He was in Portland for the second annual Scholar-in-Residence program funded by the Suher family in memory of Yoni Suher, who was killed in a terrorist attack. “My mom is the younger sister of Yoni’s mom,” says Amir, adding Yoni’s death is still very emotional for the family. “I am very happy to be here to do an event in his memory.” This was Amir’s first visit to Portland, though he has heard stories of the area’s wonderful food and nature all his life from his aunt and cousins in Israel. “The most popular talk was what it was like for me to be an Israeli journalist writing about the madness going on in Washington,” says Amir. “People like hearing about their own problems from a foreign point of view.” Amir says he is fortunate that he can focus on four main areas of interest to his readers and not have to pay attention to “each and every distraction he (Trump) creates.” Ha’aretz readers are primarily interested in what Trump calls the “ultimate deal;” Trump’s actions on Syria and Iran; and Trump’s relationship with the American Jewish community. Amir says the “ultimate deal” doesn’t look promising at the moment. To Israel’s dismay, Trump has largely continued the Obama administration’s policy on Syria, and he is largely leav54 OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY 2018

ing Iran to Congress. “Trump and the U.S. Jewish community is a huge story,” says Amir. “There is a big difference between how American Jews describe Trump and how Israeli officials describe Trump.” “Even prominent Republican Jews often attack Trump … and of course the Jewish Democrats (do),” says Amir. “Israel’s prime minister says Trump is our best friend.” That disparity can lead to “tension in our very important family relationship between Israeli and American Jews.” Amir says he’s not criticizing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu because he understands the importance of a good relationship with the U.S. president for Israel’s national security. Nonetheless, the situation causes friction. Amir says he does see hope for an eventual peace plan because of a shifting reality in the Middle East. “The dynamics of the Middle East are changing, and many opportunities are opening up for Israel in the Arab world,” says Amir. “Arab leaders see Iran and ISIS as very big threats and look at Israel as a potential partner against these more immediate threats,” says Amir. “In order to fulfill that potential, Israel needs to make some progress toward peace with the Palestinians. It is important to the Arab rulers that they don’t seem like they are betraying the Palestinians.” Amir says the progress doesn’t need to be a peace plan, but it will require Israel to take some difficult steps. Primarily, Arab rulers would like to see Palestinians allowed more land to build on around their communities, more independence for the Palestinian security forces and a halt to Israeli settlement expansion unless it is close to the border. Amir noted two Likud leaders – Sharon and Begin – took down settlements. “They made courageous decisions for Israel’s

Amir Tibon speaks on “An Israeli Journalist’s Perspective on Covering Trump’s Washington” at a Dec. 10 brunch at Congregation Neveh Shalom. Amir gave five talks to audiences totaling 600 people during the Dec. 8-10 Scholar-in-Residence program in memory of Yoni Suher, who died in a terrorist attack in Turkey in March 2016. Photos by Stephen Sirkin.

survival – not peace, survival,” he says. “I hope Netanyahu finds the same courage. I haven’t seen it yet.” “We also need the same courageous leadership on the Palestinian side, which I don’t see yet,” he adds. Questions and feedback from those attending all the weekend programs were very thought provoking. He says people from both the left and the right asked him tough questions. For instance, one woman said her adult child has no attachment to Israel “because of what you are doing to the Palestinians. Don’t you Israelis realize that is a big problem?” On the other hand, a gentleman said, “It’s very nice to talk about peace and opportunities, but you haven’t convinced me the Palestinians don’t just want to push Israel into the sea. How can there be peace?” “Both are good questions from opposite sides,” says Amir. “When people tell me they feel alienated from Israel, I tell them even if you don’t like the government, you should know you have many allies and partners,” says Amir, noting many organizations, groups and individuals in Israel work every day to try and advance peace. “I’m not going to discount America because of Trump. Doesn’t it make sense to apply the same logic to Israel and Palestinian leadership?” Amir is just finishing the first year of a two-to-three year assignment in D.C. When he returns to Israel, he hopes to continue writing for an American audience. He is also looking forward to returning to Kibbutz Nahal Oz next to Gaza, where he and his wife, Miri, moved in 2014, just after the war with

Gaza. After a 4-year-old on the kibbutz was killed by a rocket from Gaza, many young families moved away. “I was exposed to it as a journalist, and Miri and I made the rare decision to move there and strengthen this community in crisis,” says Amir. “We moved for ideological reasons, but stayed because it’s too much fun.” Amir compares living on a kibbutz to being on “Seinfeld,” where Kramer just walks into Jerry’s apartment without knocking. “That’s what a kibbutz is like; you don’t call your neighbor to make plans for next week, you just walk in and say we’re going to the pool, come with us.” Amir believes the renewed interest in kibbutz living is because it is a solution to the loneliness prevalent in the world today. “The kibbutz is all about community and being part of something.” Amir says he and Miri are also planning to return to Portland. While here they enjoyed Powell’s Bookstore, the farmers markets and especially the coffee – the best they’ve had in America. “It is personally important that CNS provide very high caliber educational experiences to the community, and Tibon fits this need perfectly,” says Neveh Shalom Rabbi David Kosak. “We were grateful that so many people from the larger community also came to hear and be enriched by these presentations. He is well-spoken, well-informed and quite entertaining. Needless to say, he was universally enjoyed by congregants.” OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY 2018 55


Israel trip inspires Portland woman to run for children By Deborah Moon

During a women’s trip to Israel two years ago, Shoshana Gordon was very impressed by the transformative care that children with disabilities receive from Shalva. In March she will return to Israel to run in the Jerusalem Half Marathon to raise funds for the group. “This trip had such a profound effect on me and going to Shalva was a true highlight,” says Shoshana of the October 2015 JWRP to Israel. “Shalva is an incredible place. It is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and cares for children from birth through 21 years. The staff is so loving and kind to both the children and their families. Their new state-of-the-art Shalva National Center opened in 2016, and they help literally thousands of children per week. It is both nondenominational and free. As soon as I heard about running with Team Shalva, I knew I needed to be a part of it.” Shoshana grew up knowing children with special needs. Her mother started two programs for youth with special needs – Tikvah Program at Camp Ramah to enable youth of all abilities to attend a Jewish sleep-away camp and the Independence Center to teach young adults with special needs how to live on their own in a safe and educational environment. “Because of my mom, I knew some kids were different than me/had special needs, but that didn’t make them less than me,” Shoshana says. “I was taught that we were all equal in G-d’s eyes. That is what I felt at Shalva while our group listened to their band and danced with the kids.” Shoshana moved to Portland in 1991 to attend Lewis & Clark College and never left after she fell in love with the city. She has been involved with NCSY, serving on the youth group’s annual fundraiser committee for the last nine years. She attends events with Portland Kollel and the Shine women’s group, which was started by women who have been on JWRP trips. She belongs to Congregation Shaarie Torah. Her oldest daughter is a graduate of Portland Jewish Academy, and she 56 OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY 2018

currently has a sixth-grader at PJA. Yet on the JWRP trip, Shoshana says she found a connection to Judaism she hadn’t had before. “I want to give back to Israel,” she says. “I want to give back to an organization that is helping children and their families.” She says she would also like to help the Jewish community of Portland be more welcoming and supportive of kids with special needs and looks forward to volunteering for that goal locally in the future.

Fundraisers for Shalva

All proceeds go directly to Shalva and are tax deductible

SPIN CLASS Stephanie Auerbach and Shoshana Gordon will lead a spin class 4-5 pm, Jan. 21, at Vortex Cycle (4710 SW Scholls Ferry Road, Portland). Cost: $20 in advance and $35 at door (if space is available). Call 503-297-3479 to reserve a spot.

BUNCO PARTY FUNDRAISER Open to all levels, including those who have never played before. Snacks and drinks provided. Prizes will be given out for most buncos, most wins and most losses. 7 pm, Saturday, Jan. 6, in Southwest Portland. Cost: $25 in advance and $35 on the day. Location: TBD in SW Portland. Sign up and pay on shoshanag and write “bunco party” in the comments.

DONATE FOR SHOSHANA’S RUN Shoshana will join Team Shalva for the Jerusalem Half Marathon in March. Donations:

By Rebecca Ross

Coaching for Peace

In the summer of 1997 when I was 8, my family moved from Miami to Givat Ze'ev, a large West Bank settlement northwest of Jerusalem. Part of my acculturation process involved learning to dislike both Arabs and Arabic.  My six secondary school years in Jerusalem largely coincided with the Second Intifada. That is, the period in my life when I spent the most time on busses (as many as six a day because of my own basketball practice) was also the period when many busses were attacked. I woke up every day fearing that a suicide bomber would decide to explode himself on my bus on my way to school. I used to see every Arab on the street as a terrorist; I was suspicious of all Arabs – men, women and even children. When the mother of one of my high-school classmates was killed in a suicide bomb attack, I was traumatized. I became convinced that Arabs were our enemy and that they were malicious, horrible people who just want to kill all the Jews. In August 2014 I moved back to Jerusalem to play on the city's professional women's team. My basketball career has always included coaching as well as playing, so I accepted a position to coach the 9th-10th grade girls’ team that is part of the same club as my professional team. I had heard that the girls’ team had Arabs on it, but that fact didn't really register with me until my first practices with the team, when I heard the Arab girls speaking Arabic with each other. From practice to practice and without even noticing it, I found myself thinking a lot about my Arab players. Because they are simply great girls. Girls who just want to play ball and have a fair shot at success in life, and yet who were born in a very complicated place that doesn’t give them a real chance to succeed. The integrity of our team was tested a few years ago when early one morning four people were killed in a terror attack at a synagogue about an 8-minute drive from the gym where we practice. I was shocked and hurt when I first heard about the attack, but when I showed up to practice later that day, everything was normal. By then everyone knew all the details of what had happened, but I didn’t mention the attack – I decided to leave all of the politics off the court. The girls practiced normally; they smiled and enjoyed it as usual. After that practice I understood that even though we live in “war,” we can still make a difference through the small things. Peace is a very big word, but I believe that until we have peace, we need to learn how to live together and get along. When I see my young Arab players getting along so well with my Jewish players, it gives me hope and fills my heart with happiness. Almost every kid loves sports, and sports are an amazing way to bring all the different peoples, cultures and religions together.

If someone had asked me a decade ago on my bus to school if I could ever imagine myself studying Arabic, I would have looked at that person as if they were insane. And yet that is what I am now doing. The author of my Arabic textbook (an 89-year-old French monk named Yohanan Elihai, who has lived in Israel since 1956) writes that "language is the key to the heart." My heart was opened by my Arab players, and so it feels natural for me to want to learn how to communicate with them in Arabic. I guess when you come from love, and basketball is my love, anything is possible. Play ball. Ela'ab eltaba. Rebecca Ross is the daughter of our regular Israeli correspondent Teddy Weinberger. She is a professional basketball player in Israel and also a much sought-after coach. Rebecca is in the middle of her fourth year coaching for PeacePlayers International, in which Jewish and Arab children play basketball together.



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Southwest Growth

Two Jewish congregations, Congregation Kesser Israel and Congregation Ahavath Achim, recently shared plans to expand their facilities on Capitol Highway in Southwest Portland. A third congregation in Southwest Portland, Congregation Neveh Shalom, shared its ideas for creatively coping with growth at a national conference in December.

Kesser Israel kicks off capital campaign to expand shul By Leanne Dall

My family joined Congregation Kesser Israel 20 years ago. As immigrants from South Africa, my parents appreciated the committed and welcoming community, as well as the traditional services. At that time, the 100-year-old synagogue was in its original location in South Portland, where it had been founded by immigrants who were committed to establishing an Orthodox synagogue. My brother, sister and I became part of the “Kesser Kids,” and our weekly synagogue visits on Shabbat served as an infusion of Judaism into our lives. In 2006 Rabbi Ken Brodkin led the community in a move to the heart of the Jewish community in Southwest Portland, making Kesser more accessible as a center of Jewish life. Initially, during its transition, Kesser held services at the Multnomah Arts Center, and for the first time in my life, I realized that Kesser Israel was more than just a synagogue – it was a community. Kesser purchased its current building in 2007. Shortly after the congregation’s move, I left Portland to attend university in Montreal and Toronto. Wherever I went, I told people about my community back home, Kesser Israel, and its unique role in Portland as an Orthodox synagogue serving Jews from all backgrounds. When I moved back in 2014 with my husband, I was impressed to find that since Kesser’s move, the community had grown tremendously. Today, we have outgrown our building. Now 125 member families span all ages and demographics. Every Shabbat morning, the stroller parking area is full, on Chagim it is standing room only in the sanctuary, and the crowded weekly Shabbat Kiddush is replete with treats and conversation. As my daughter plays with her friends, singing Jewish songs and Tefilot at “Kids’ Time,” the children’s program, I reflect fondly on my time running around the old Kesser social hall with my cousins and friends.   Holidays at Kesser are also an experience, complete with spirited services, community celebrations (such as the Chanukah Bash and Sukkot Falafel Fest) and kids’ programming.  Kesser


is the place where my family celebrated my bat mitzvah, my mother’s wedding, our daughter’s naming and our son’s bris. We love participating in the community’s simchas. My husband attends the minyan daily, and there is a full calendar of Torah study programs. Kesser also meets everyone where they are with year-round programming such as the summer BBQ. This comprehensive experience makes Kesser Israel an integral part of the Portland Jewish community and is what inspired new members, Amy and Adam Sohn, to choose Kesser Israel. “Kesser is a community, education center, social platform and source of inspiration,” they say. “Kesser is a special and diverse synagogue that impassions us to build our Jewish identity and that of our children. We grow with every event and holiday.” My own family’s experience is similar. Every day, we take advantage of what the Kesser community has to offer. Today, Kesser’s growth has brought it to another crossroads: the congregation has plans to significantly expand its building. Kesser Israel is engaged in a capital campaign to raise a minimum of $1.5 million. During the silent phase of the campaign, more than $900,000 has been raised. The public phase of the campaign will launch at a community open house Jan. 11. This adult-only event will feature renderings, details of the planned renovations, an open bar and hors d’oeuvres. The building plans include renovation of the current facility into programming space and building a new and larger onsite sanctuary. There will be classrooms, a Jewish children’s library and programming space. “Our goal is to build a synagogue for the Portland community where we will inspire Jewish lives for many generations to come,” says Rabbi Brodkin. Sharon Stern, a lead philanthropist in the campaign, says, “Our family has always supported community building in Portland. We could not think of a more fitting way to honor our father Jerry Stern's blessed memory than by participating in this project and helping expand Kesser Israel's capacity as a vital part of our Jewish community.” A couple of months ago, I couldn’t help but smile as my 2-year-old glowed with pride over the decorations she made and hung in the Kesser sukkah. I know that Kesser Israel now provides my family with so much more than a weekly infusion of Jewish pride. At a time when American Jews are facing an identity crisis, I turn to Kesser Israel as the base of my family’s Jewish existence, and when I do so, I know it is so much more than a synagogue.

Kesser Israel Open House

Capital Campaign Kickoff Celebration All adults welcome Thursday, Jan. 11, 7-9 pm Congregation Kesser Israel, 6698 SW Capitol Hwy., Portland RSVP by Jan. 3 to or 503-222-1239

Ahavath Achim President Charles Levy in the Sephardic congregation's small Hillsdale location.

Ahavath Achim plans for vibrant future By Deborah Moon

Congregation Ahavath Achim is taking a three-pronged approach to a more vibrant, sustainable future for Portland’s Sephardic community. The congregation was founded in 1910 by Jews arriving from Turkey and the Isle of Rhodes. After being forced to relocate by urban renewal, the congregation dedicated its Byzantine-inspired synagogue on Barbur Boulevard in 1965. The red-roofed “beehive” is a well-known landmark sitting under the aerial tram between Marquam Hill and the South Waterfront. Now shifts in Portland’s Jewish population have inspired another move. For several years, the congregation has considered selling the synagogue on Barbur Boulevard to move to the Hillsdale building where it holds Shabbat services. With Rabbi Michael Kaplan’s recent announcement of his family’s intent to make aliyah in June and four-term president Charles Levy’s announcement that his family is moving to Hong Kong for two years, the congregation is looking for new leadership. The third development is the first Jewish heritage tour to Morocco being organized by the Sephardic Cultural Center of Oregon, which was founded on the congregation’s 100th anniversary. Charles, a native of Morocco, will lead the 14-day tour of discovery April 11 to 25. “Our small but mighty community is changing,” says Charles. “We have a core of Sephardic people who want to preserve their culture.” The four-term president plans to stay involved with the congregation’s transition via phone and frequent trips, even after his family’s move to Hong Kong this summer, where his wife, Jo, will serve as an Intel vice president for two years. He says he hopes most of the decisions regarding the building will be completed before his departure. “On Dec. 6 we had our annual membership meeting in which we made a presentation to our members about the status of the sale of our Barbur Boulevard synagogue building and some preliminary plans for our future,” says Charles. OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY 2018 59

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Charles Levy’s family visited Morocco last year. In April he will lead a Jewish heritage tour of his native land for the Sephardic Cultural Center of Oregon.

“We received a purchase offer from a government entity that also includes a generous relocation package, and we are in the process of negotiating the final details.” The proposed sale includes an option for the congregation to use the Barbur building for the next couple of years as the Hillsdale location is remodeled and expanded to include a sanctuary. Charles says the Ahavath Achim board will update members and the public with more details after the sale has closed. Over the next few months, Charles says he and the board will meet with Ahavath Achim members and others interested in a Sephardic future to determine what needs need to be met in the new sanctuary and in the leadership. Many of those who want to attend services at a Sephardic synagogue now live in Southwest Portland, so Hillsdale is more accessible by foot than Barbur. In terms of building needs, Charles says, “We’ve been trying to find the best avenue for our community to keep our synagogue and Sephardic Cultural Center running for the next 100 years.” Charles says that a primary consideration is making the congregation self-sustaining with income beyond that from the congregation’s small membership. Current tenants of the Hillsdale building are the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland, the Portland Kollel and the Everything Jewish store. Plans are to maintain the rental space and find ways to expand the congregation’s small space there to include a sanctuary that can seat about 70 people and a small kitchen and dining area. “We want to be nimble,” says Charles. Many Ahavath Achim members also belong to a second (predominantly Ashkenazi) synagogue and send their children to religious school there. “We are everywhere – Neveh Shalom, Beth Israel, Havurah, Shaarie Torah,” says Charles, who also belongs to Neveh Shalom and serves on the board of the Jewish Federation. He encourages others to come and listen to Neveh’s new cantor, 60 OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY 2018

Eyal Bitton, who has a Sephardic heritage and incorporates some melodies familiar to Ahavath Achim members. New leadership might be another rabbi, a hazzan and/or an executive director to run programs. “I believe we need somebody who is going to come make Ahavath Achim their home,” he says, adding member input is being gathered to determine what a new leader needs to provide. Charles says he believes maintaining a Sephardic minyan and offering cultural programming to maintain the Sephardic culture need to be key priorities. The Sephardic Cultural Center hosts an annual film series from November through April to share Sephardic stories and issues with the entire community. It also collaborates with other organizations to present educational programs of Sephardic interest. And this April, the center is organizing a Jewish heritage tour of Morocco. The country, where Muslims and Jews have long lived together in peace, is a popular destination for Israelis, with about 50,000 visiting each year. Charles was born in Essaouira, Morocco, where he attended yeshiva and became a leader of the Moroccan Jewish Boy Scouts. He moved to Israel at age 17 for college and then moved to San Francisco, where he founded several entrepreneurial businesses. When Charles and Jo decided they wanted to live in a smaller community to raise their children, Jo Levy transferred to Intel’s Oregon headquarters in 2005. The couple took the four youngest of their five children to Morocco for a vacation last year. Now Charles is looking forward to sharing those same sights with his Portland community in April. He also plans to offer future Jewish heritage tours to Morocco from the United States, and while in Hong Kong he will promote tours to Morocco, which recently waived visa requirements for China. For more information on the tour or Ahavath Achim leadership and building plans, contact board member Richard Matza at 503-318-3732 or Charles at 415-235-5491.

Neveh Shalom shares innovation, translation and blessings By Mel Berwin

In many ways, Congregation Neveh Shalom does not represent a typical Conservative synagogue. At a time when many congregations are losing members (studies show membership in Conservative synagogues fell by 21% in the past generation), CNS has a large and thriving membership, with more than 350 children in preschool and K-12 education programs. As many congregations struggle with nontraditional populations in their membership, CNS has long welcomed gay and interfaith families – at least 10% of our families are interfaith or dual heritage. Despite not being at the center of the hub of Conservative Judaism, however, CNS can’t be ignored on the map of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism; that was obvious at the USCJ convention held in Atlanta in December. CNS was represented by one of the largest teams of professional and lay leaders at the convention. Fred Rothstein, Daniela Meltzer, Rabbi David Kosak, Rabbi Eve Posen and Leah Conley attended as staff, and Jason Kaufman, Glen Coblens, Liza Milliner, Mark Kalenscher and Jennifer Kalenscher represented the CNS board. The convention, called “Daring Together” aimed for attendees to “tackle big questions facing kehillot [communities] and leave inspired and empowered with new ideas, strategies and skills.” Two Neveh Shalom education professionals – Rabbi Eve Posen (assistant rabbi, formerly rabbi of education and youth) and Leah Conley (director of early childhood education) – led the workshop “Turning Barriers to Blessings.” While I wasn’t able to attend the conference, I helped plan the session, which represents the work we have done as an education team to bridge certain gaps and meet our congregational challenges in innovative ways. Even as our congregation celebrates many successes, our education team has faced challenges. In a large congregation, we often feel that each smaller community operates in a “silo” and doesn’t get to know the other communities. For example, our ALIYAH kindergarten through sixth-graders, who attend education programs on Sunday mornings and weekday afternoons/evenings, don’t get to know older members of the congregation who primarily attend on Shabbat and holidays. Six demographic groups use our small sanctuary at different times during the week, and the groups sometimes compete for a sense of identity in the space. These problems speak to a large, busy congregation with many demographic groups, but they invite frustrations and conflicts. As a team, Rabbi Posen, Leah Conley and I decided to find ways to turn barriers like these into blessings for our whole community. Our goal: to find creative ways to build greater appreciation and connection within our congregation.

At the USCJ, the CNS educators introduced these examples and facilitated a discussion. They modeled an approach that Leah created for staff meetings with her 29 Foundation School teachers to hear colleagues and offer advice. Each of the 40 workshop attendees were encouraged to consider the barriers and challenges in their congregations, and to offer ideas and advice to creatively approach these problems. Reflecting on the session, Leah says, “It was striking to me that so many of the participants, representing congregations large and small from across the country, struggle with many of the same problems. Over and over, we heard about challenges around space, around conflicts between different demographic groups, and around how to be a place where old friends meet and yet new members are welcomed.” Rabbi Posen adds, “Our participants thanked us for modeling a system to actively listen and engage in the next part of the conversation. People told me it was a revelation to have a rabbi involved in the day-to-day conversations and logistical frustrations in the congregation. It’s important that the solutions come from staff across the spectrum of roles.” So how did we turn our own barriers to blessings in our own community? We created intergenerational programs so our school children interact with and share stories with older members of our congregation. Our second-graders share personal family narratives with Sisterhood and Men’s Club members in an annual program, and our seventh-graders interact with “mavens” from our community throughout the year. As for the sanctuary space: last year our preschool “Shoreshim” group created a beautiful community Omer Calendar, so that each of the groups that use Zidell Chapel during the week participated in checking off the seven weeks of Omer between the holidays of Passover and Shavuot. These projects have, practically and symbolically, brought together the different groups. The USCJ convention included classes on “disruptive innovation” and processes of transformation, encouraging congregations to find a programming niche. Rabbi Posen says she preferred a different take on innovation presented at the closing plenary. Rabbi Posen shares Rabbi Noa Kushner’s conclusion: “I don’t like the word innovation because it implies we need to create something new. I prefer translation because our job is to translate our beautiful and rich heritage into meaningful ideas and practices for our community, in today’s world.” Whether innovating or translating, we can strive to find blessings and create deeper connections from even the most mundane challenges we face on a daily basis. Mel Berwin is director of congregational learning at Congregation Neveh Shalom in Portland.


ask helen

A Nosh of Jewish Wisdom: Dear Helen:

How do you set goals for the New Year, beyond losing weight packed on during the festive season? I’m feeling adrift and want to hit the reset button on how I relate to the world. Hoping To Be Resolute

Dear Resolute:

Your answer comes in two parts: setting an intention and setting guidelines to manifest that intention. The Hebrew word kavannah means intention. It’s like a vow, a serious decision made in a serious way, after lots of preparation, even if that getting ready might look like lots of pacing and trying every other possible option first. You need to identify what kavannah resonates in the marrow of you. I’d recommend getting a journal, writing 2018 firmly on page one and setting aside a little time each day to write until you find clarity. Your kavannah doesn't have to be as simplistic as “lose a pants size,” but it might be “develop a healthier relationship with my body and food.” For example, more than a year ago I set a kavannah of writing a book to address the deeper issues people ask me about and that I think about in my life. My kavannah is to write my truth simply and clearly. It's taken longer than I anticipated, because the deeper I go, the more I’ve had to work on my own issues. Also, because I want to articulate a process to help folks clear barriers that keep them from being happier, not just cross “publish book” off my to-do list. While writing, I revisited the 10 commandments I wrote in 2000, when I launched my alter ego at The original 10C were: (1) Ask for what you want; (2) Think strategically; (3) Treat other people well; (4) Keep asking questions; (5) Work every angle; (6) Use charm and chutzpah; (7) Say what needs to be said; (8) Enjoy the ride as much as the win; (9) Make your own good luck; (10) Believe in yourself. I’ve since changed number 5 to “Know your values,” because what seemed flippantly cute in 2000 sounded too self-serving 62 OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY 2018


in 2017’s harsher realities. Also because it’s even more important now to know what we believe in, for our own lives and for society. Ask Helen helps folks navigate the external world, while the book is more about our emotional and spiritual innards. The hidden truth is that you can’t ask for what you want until you know yourself well enough to know what that is. When you’re setting a kavannah for change, your values are an important place to ground your plans. So here’s my prescription for manifesting whatever kavannah you want to set for yourself this year: write your own 10 commandments. Be very clear this is not the work of an evening with your journal and a bottle of wine. It's an ongoing process that’ll be most useful if you’re muttering to yourself and editing them regularly. Look at them weekly at first, then every few months, to see if you’re actually living by them. If not, ask what you would change in you or them. You can also use this exercise for the various microcosms in your life, like time management, nutrition and exercise choices, and commitments to your family, career or spiritual practice. I started a practice this year of setting (and reviewing) my 10C for various sectors of how I live. In the process, I found synergy in how certain practices evolved and aligned with my core values. I’m hoping that’s what the book will help folks do for themselves. Good luck with both goal setting and goal manifesting. Be sure to calibrate your expectations so that you don’t fall into the typical January trap of fleeting and failed resolutions. Give yourself ample helpings of both time and forgiveness to do better and to fail, to refocus yourself and to practice change in small steps so the kavannah that you set for 2019 reflects your progress.


A resident of Eugene since 1981, Helen is a member of Temple Beth Israel. She claims to have black belts in schmoozing, problemsolving and chutzpah. Email your questions to


Explore Morocco with Charles Levy April 11-25

Mega Challah Bake returns Feb. 1

14 Days and 13 Nights, 24/7 guided tour and transportation From the gateway city of Tangiers to Berber villages, experience the best of Morocco’s past and present from a native Moroccan whose family has lived there for generations to today.

Two years ago the Mega Challah Bake was a wonderful evening of unity – women coming togather to make challah from across the community.  This year the Mega Challah Bake returns in conjunction with a visit from Rochie Pinson, author of Rising: The Book of Challah. Rochie will be on a tour of the Northwest and will stop in Portland. She will speak and do a demonstration at this year’s event at 7:30 pm, Feb. 1, at the Mittleman Jewish Community Center. During the event, women will make their own dough and braid their own loaves of challah to take home to bake for Shabbat dinner. Extra dough will be available for those who want to bake an extra loaf to give a friend Chabad of Oregon and the MJCC are sponsoring this year’s program. Co-sponsors include the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland and the Oregon Jewish Community Foundation. Other organizations are invited to participate as sponsors and on the planning committee. Cost to participate is $18. RSVP to: challahbakeoregon@ or 503-358-7000.

Highlights: Visit the ancient roman ruins at Volubilis founded in the 3rd century BC

Camel (or 4X4) ride to the Sahara desert and star gazing dunes of Erg Chebbi Visit the grandiose Mosque Hassan II and the Royal Mausoleum

Overnight in Tangiers, the gateway to Morocco for Jews expulsed from Spain in 1492

Travel back to the middle ages in the labyrinth medina of Fes

Second PDX Business Breakfast Jan. 24

Building Bridges Between Oregon and Israel is the theme of the second of three PDX Business Breakfasts presented by the Mittleman Jewish Community Center. The breakfast will be 7:15-9:15 am, Jan. 24, at the Sentinel Hotel, 614 SW 11th Ave., Portland. After time for networking and breakfast, the program begins at 8 am. Dan Schoenbaum will lead the discussion of "Why I Chose Portland over Pardes Hanna or Silicon Valley" in a conversation with Skip Newberry moderated by Steve "Rosy" Rosenberg. Dan Schoenbaum is the CEO of Cooladata. Cooladata is a big data behavioral analytics platform for online web and mobile applications. It covers all infrastructure components for cloud-based analytics and data warehousing. Dan joined Cooladata with more than 23 years of building, growing and leading high-growth SaaS (Software as a Service) companies. Born in Israel, he served as a First Sergeant in the Israeli paratroopers. Skip Newberry is president and CEO of the Technology Association of Oregon. He is a frequent speaker on technology trends and topics, economic development, public-private partnerships and civic innovation. Before joining the TAO, Skip served as an economic development policy advisor to Portland Mayor Sam Adams, where he helped create Portland's first comprehensive economic development strategy in 16 years, recognizing software as a key industry cluster. Steve "Rosy" Rosenberg has been the principal of Aspen Investment Group for the last 20 years, involved in the acquisition, development or financing of real estate, with development emphasis in hotels, industrial sites and condominiums. Individual tickets are $36. Registration is available at

Charles Levy, 415-235-5491

Richard Matza, 503-318-2732

Munich to Portland: A Painting Saves A Family

IS, Oregon Jewish Last Chance to see I AM TH and: A Painting Artists and Munich to Portl ns close February 4. Saves A Family. Exhibitio

nesday and Sunday, led public tours at 1pm on Wed Join us for staff and docent e lunch in Left y’s Café. hav kin Family Gift Shop and Ton Ron the in p sho to ly ear come

I AM THIS, Oregon Jewish Artists

724 NW Davis St., Portland, OR 97209 | 503-226-3600 | OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY 2018 63

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Beit Am breaks ground in Corvallis

Beit Am’s first president Jackie Gordon, 90, shows off a drawing of Beit Am’s new home. The Oct. 8 groundbreaking drew participants from Beit Am and the local faith and civic community including Corvallis Mayor Biff Traber.

The Beit Am Mid-Willamette Jewish Community broke ground on its new building in Corvallis on Oct. 8. For 35 years Beit Am has been operating out a modest residential building. With 140 families, that location has long been too small for the community’s events. The new 6,700-square-foot synagogue, located on a 5-acre parcel Beit Am purchased in 2000, will provide a venue for Jews living in Benton, Linn and Lincoln counties to worship, learn and enjoy fellowship. With the larger capacity of our new building, Beit Am looks forward to hosting a range of events and activities for our members and others in the Willamette Valley, such as adult education classes and events, Jewish arts and culture events, and community activities aimed at community development and social justice. Beit Am has undertaken an ambitious capital campaign to fund the new building. Largely through the generosity of members, Beit Am has raised approximately 90% of the $2.65 million fundraising goal, and are appealing to the broader Jewish community to reach the finish line. To learn more about the new building, read construction updates or make a donation, visit 64 OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY 2018

FACES & PLACES AUTHOR VISIT – Author Eric Kimmel talks to students at Maimonides Jewish Day School about how he became an author. He also talked about some of his stories and told students everyone can succeed if they only try.

BELLY LAUGHS AT GALA – The Jewish Federation of Greater Portland’s annual gala drew 300 people, who contributed more then $800,000 to federation’s 2018 Campaign for Community Needs. Above, special guests Joel Chasnoff and Chef Einat Admony made sure the crowd enjoyed some Belly Laughs during the evening of comedy and Israeli cuisine. Enjoying the social hour from left are Mark Zeitzer, Jeffrey Robinson, Duncan Gilman, Rabbi Eve Posen, Julia Robinson and Mindy Zeitzer. The event was chaired by Lauren Goldstein, Glen Levy, Sandra Lewis, Ronnie Malka and Susan Shleifer and the meal was provided by Century Catering.

DREIDELMAN – Rabbi Chaim Wilhelm and Dreidelman dropped by the Katu Channel 2 studio to talk with Afternoon Live host Tra’Renee Chambers about Chanukah.

NAZI LOOTED ART – Attorney Donald S. Burris shares an incredible true tale with 128 people who attended a Dec. 5 program at the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education. Burris is one of a small group of American lawyers who have dedicated their careers to the fight to repatriate Nazi looted art. He told the crowd about his firm’s well-known and successful attempt to retrieve the “Woman in Gold” painting for its rightful owner, Maria Altmann. The fate of looted works of art has been especially controversial. Transnational claims for the recovery of artwork, particularly iconic pieces, are still in some contexts sometimes perceived as unseemly or directly conflicting with national heritage and the legitimate interests of cultural institutions.

RETRO AUCTION – Finalists in the ’80s Costume Contest get into the spirit of this year’s Portland Jewish Academy Auction on Dec. 10. The 56th annual auction was chaired by Carol Richmond and Stacey Oller. PJA Principal Merrill Hendin and PJA Executive Director Steve Albert thank the 350 people who turned out to raise $825,000 to enable the school to continue to educated capable and confident students who have strong values. OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY 2018 65

Through Jan. 17


Jan. 21 Rachel’s Well Community Mikvah Grand Opening. 2 pm tours; 3 pm ribbon cutting; 4 pm A Conversation about Mikvah panel discussion; all at the mikvah, 6655 SW Capitol Hwy. RSVP for tours to

OJMCHE Presents two new exhibits: “I AM THIS: Art by Oregon Jewish Artists” & “Munich to Portland, A Painting Saves a Family.” Guided tours 1-2 pm, Sundays and Wednesdays.

Israel360 Presents: Bridging Identities: On Being LGBTQ, Jewish and Pro-Israel. 7 pm in the Stampfer Chapel of Congreagation Neveh Shalom. Explore the progress of the LGBTQ community in Israel featuring Arthur Slepian, the founder and president of A Wider Bridge, a pro-Israel organization that works to deepen the connections between the LGBT communities of Israel and North America. Free. nevehshalom. org/israel360

Jan. 3

Jan. 11

Giving Care and Caring for Ourselves: A Series on Rituals & Resources for End of Life. 6:30-8 pm tonight and Feb. 7 in Zidell Chapel at Congregation Neveh Shalom. Explore Jewish end-of-life traditions that provide spiritual, logistical and ethical frameworks for walking through the process of grief. jbezodis@

Kesser Israel Open House. See page 58

Drop off books for the PJA/MJCC Book Sale at the Member Services Desk at MJCC. 503-2440111

Through Feb. 4

Jan. 5 Bunco Party fundraiser for Shalva. See page 56 Kabbalat Shabbat with Ilene Safyan. 6:15 pm tonight and Feb. 2, at Congregation Neveh Shalom. 503-246-8831

Jan. 7 Fitness Palooza at the MJCC. Try out classes 11 am-1 pm. 503-244-0111 or Pirkei Imahot Book Talk. 6:30 pm. Study Rabbi Posen and Lois Shenker’s book (second in series of four talks) For location, RSVP: PirkeiImahotBookClub2017

Jan. 8 Mussar with Rabbi Joshua Rose. 2:30-3:25 at MJCC. Self-awareness and personal development grounded in deep reflection on Jewish texts and on spiritual. Free. 503-5353555

Jan. 9 Sephardic Film Series: THE LAST JEWS OF BAGHDAD. 7 pm at Congregation Ahavath Achim, 3225 SW Barbur Blvd., Portland. The story of more than 160,000 Iraqi Jews and their persecution, torture and escape from Iraq between the years of 1940 and 2003. Followed by dessert and talk by producer Carol Basri. Free. 503-750-0888 66 OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY 2018

Nosh & Drash with Rabbi Eve Posen. 3 pm at MJCC. Topic: Jewish Texts and When Does Life Begin. Free. 503-244-0111

Jan. 12 MLK Shabbat Service. Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell, from Alabama, speaks on the civil rights movement at 6 pm at Congregation Beth Israel, 1972 NW Flanders T., Portland. Free. 503-2221069

Jan. 17 Engage, Enrich, Enliven, Enjoy! with Ruth Tenzer Feldman. Series begins today and continues 6:30-8:30pm Wednesdays through Feb. 21 at Congregation Neveh Shalom. Child's play for adults interested in exploring ways to cultivate creativity, broaden their perspective, foster mental flexibility and reduce stress. CNS members $36, non-members, $54. RSVP by Jan. 12 to Author Talk with Nicole Krauss. 4:15pm, Room 102 at Neveh Shalom

Jan. 17 Watch a live stream of New York Times bestselling author Nicole Krauss in conversation about her newest novel, Forest Dark, at the Jewish Theological Society. kgoldhammer@

Your Genes, Your Health. See page 40 Spin Class fundraiser for Shalva. See page 56

Jan. 22 IJS Annual Meeting featuring Joshua Safran. See page 10

Jan. 24 PDX Business Breakfast. See page 63

Jan. 25-Feb. 11 2.5 Minute Ride: A complex, funny, searching play about 74-year-old Holocaust survivor’s trip to an Amusement Park presented by Profile Theatre. or 503-242-0080.

Jan. 28-30 PJA/MJCC Used Book Sale at the MJCC. 503-244-0111

Jan. 30 Sparks of the Tradition: An Evening of Jewish Storytelling. 7 pm in Stampfer Chapel, at Congregation Neveh Shalom. Storytelling class culuminates with nine talented tellers sharing stories. Reception with light refreshments. RSVP requested:

Feb. 1 Mega Challah Bake. See page 63 Walk In The Shoes Of A Dyslexic: A simulation. 6:30-8 pm at Park Academy, 1915 South Shore Blvd., Lake Oswego. RSVP: 503-594-8776 or

Feb. 8 Nosh & Drash with Rabbi Eve Posen. 3 pm at MJCC. Topic: How to be a Friend. Free. 503-244-0111


Oregon Jewish Life wants to help you spotlight your organization's events in our magazine each month. As the lifestyle magazine serving the Jewish communities of Oregon and Southwest Washington, we are a resource for you to share your programs with the Jan. 20-Feb. 18 community. If you want your events included in our monthly Magellanica, a five-part adventure to the ends calendar, please enter them online by the 10th of the preceding month. Each week we also select events of the earth by Oregon playwright E.M. Lewis. At from our online calendar to include in our weekly e-newsletter. Artists Repertory Theatre, 1515 SW Morrison. To obtain a password to enter an event on our online calendar, visit: or 503-241-1278 After you submit the form, we will send you an email with instructions for posting future events. Relevant events posted by Dec. 10 will be included in the PAGE 29 January issue of the magazine.


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Oregon Jewish Life January 2018 Vol. 6/Issue 9  
Oregon Jewish Life January 2018 Vol. 6/Issue 9  

Jared Blank overcomes Dyslexia and sets off to run so others can read