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JAN/FEB 2021

EDUCATION 2021: Cuisine done Light starts the New Year right

Educating in a new era

Join NCSY/JSU for “The Q”

NICOLE FRISCH Making the Human Connection

CO N TE N TS Oregon Jewish Life January/February 2021 Tevet-Shevat-Adar 5781 Volume 9/Issue 5




FEATURES COVER STORY Nicole Frisch: Making the Human Connection BUSINESS The Harold & Arlene CARE Foundation and Harsch Investment Properties donations make a difference in the community



FRONT & CENTER The Musical Midrash Project: Turning language into lyrics


FOOD Cuisine done light


ACTIVELY SENIOR FedEx delivers vaccines for Oregon’s seniors How to write an ethical will

48 49

JLIVING February is Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance & Inclusion Month 50 4





Israel 360: A Year of History, Culture and Politics The Q Virtual Escape the Room Event

52 53

EDUCATION 2021 Educating in the era of COVID-19 Online and hybrid learning tips for success Join Limmud’s virtual day of Jewish Learning NCSY is turning challenges into new opportunities A teacher’s (or parent’s) toolkit for student emotional wellbeing Study shows pandemic’s impact on Jewish education workforce Too Cool for School

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JAN/FEB 2021



Educating in a new era

Cuisine done Light starts the New Year right

She said yes! Now what? 40 JLIVING February is Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance & Inclusion Month 68

Join NCSY/JSU for “The Q”

NICOLE FRISCH Making the Human Connection

COVER Nicole Frisch





As far as Jewish politicians go, Thomas Jonathan “Jon” Ossoff is pretty forthright about his Jewishness and not afraid to stand up to anti-Semitism, especially when directed at him – as Senator David Perdue learned during their debate this summer. He accused Perdue of “lengthening my nose in attack ads to remind everyone that I’m Jewish.” Perdue took those ads down and refused to debate Ossoff for the rest of the campaign.   He has the potential to help bolster the relationship between the Jewish and Black communities. When Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock were elected to the Senate, they made history. A black man and a Jewish man representing Georgia? It›s amazing that in 2021, that is news, but it is. Both Ossoff and Warnock ran against two incumbents with deeper pockets and won. Their mutual victories sealed their place in political history and seemed to bring the Jewish and Black communities together to savor their success, a symbolic dual defeat against anti-Semitism and racism. Another bond the two men have in that Ossoff interned for the beloved civil rights activist and fellow Georgia Democrat, the late Rep. John Lewis, who was Raphael Warnock’s mentor. He is pro-Israel, has family in Israel and opposes BDS. And most importantly, he is not afraid to use his voice to support Israel.   Jon Ossoff’s father is Jewish (his parents escaped the pogroms in Russia). His mother immigrated to the United States at 23 from Australia. But because she was not Jewish, Ossoff converted to Judaism before his bar mitzvah.   He is helping to rally young Jewish adults to get involved politically. Jewish millennial men and women LOVE him. They identify with him and feel a certain pride that a cool, handsome, intelligent politician is Jewish. But much to the regret of many young Jewish women, he is taken. His wife, Alisha Kramer, is Jewish AND a doctor. So there’s that. His favorite Jewish food? Matzo ball soup. He is so enamored that he claims to enjoy it even during hot summer nights. In a recent interview in the Atlanta Jewish Times, he reflected on how Judaism has shaped his life. “It instilled in me a conviction to fight for the marginalized, the persecuted and the dispossessed.” Let’s hope that he remains committed to those convictions, and serves the American people well.

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JAN/FEB 2021 Oregon Jewish Life • Tevet-Shevat-Adar 5781 • Volume 9/Issue 5



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E D ITO R- I N - C H I E F Mala Blomquis t

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BUSINESS Jordan Schnitzer

Donates $100,000 to Oregon Ballet Theater & Oregon Symphony


n behalf of the entire Board of Directors at The Harold & Arlene CARE Foundation, Jordan Schnitzer announced on Dec. 18, 2020, the donation of $21,000 to the Oregon Ballet Theatre and $78,000 to the Oregon Symphony. “The arts have always been the heart and soul of any

Harsch Investment Properties Hosts

Food Distribution Event at Gresham Station Shopping Center

community,” says Jordan Schnitzer, President of The Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation and Harsch Investment Properties. “The arts inspire us; they take us away.” The funds will be distributed as $1,000 gifts to each of the 21 dancers for the Oregon Ballet Theatre (OBT) and


ordan Schnitzer, President of Harsch Investment Properties, announced a $20,000 donation to SnowCap Community Charities on behalf of The Harold & Arleen Schnitzer CARE Foundation. COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the way we all do business and has been the cause of heartache and food insecurity within the community. In response, Jordan felt the need to help this past holiday season by donating funds to support SnowCap Community Charities. Harsch Investment Properties hosted a food distribution event for low-income families and those affected by the COVID-19 crisis at the Gresham Station Shopping Center on Dec. 29, 2020. More than 628 families, including 2,729 individuals, went home with a box of fresh produce, meat and pantry essentials at the event. SnowCap will continue to serve East County additional food boxes over the next several weeks with the funds provided by the CARE Foundation. “On behalf of all of us at Harsch Investment Properties and our tenants at Gresham Station, the thought that our neighbors and friends in East County may not have enough food on their table this holiday season breaks our hearts,” says Jordan. “We are honored to work with SnowCap to provide the funding for 1,000 boxes of food that will be able to feed a family. There are always those who need a helping Volunteers distribute food at Gresham Station Shopping Center.



Harsch Investment Properties president Jordan Schnitzer (left) with Oregon Symphony President and CEO Scott Showalter gave performers $1,000 each. PHOTO COURTESY DEANN ORR

$1,000 each to 74 musicians with the Oregon Symphony. Any additional funds will be used to cover tax liabilities. The donation represents Jordan’s desire to support the Oregon Ballet Theatre’s dancers and Oregon Symphony musicians during this challenging time by presenting them each with a $1,000 “end-of-the-year” gift, thanking them for the vital role they play in our community. “It’s been very, very hard to keep hope alive and this very significant gesture is going to just brighten their lives,” says Kevin Irving with OBT. “We are grateful for the extra boost that this will give to our musicians at this difficult time of year until we can come back and perform again,” added Scott Showalter with Oregon Symphony. “At a time like this, those that can, must reach out and help others,” says Jordan. hand, but the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the need to reach out and help others. My philosophy has always been that those that can, must reach out and help others.” Founded in the 1960s, SnowCap Community Charities works tirelessly at their mission to provide food, clothing, advocacy and other services to those in need who currently live east of 82nd within Multnomah County. SnowCap is the largest provider of food assistance in the State of Oregon. Last year, SnowCap distributed more than 500,000 meals to over 116,000 local people in need. SnowCap’s food pantry, clothing, utility assistance and mobile delivery programs provide direct assistance to low-income people, with a focus on the most vulnerable populations, children and seniors. These direct service programs impact the lives of people who live in a world of food insecurity. “This donation could not come at a better time. Lowincome working families are struggling to make ends meet with many facing reduced and unpredictable work hours. Kids distance learning from home need nourishing food and seniors on fixed incomes are often facing tough choices when unexpected expenses come up,” says Kirsten Wageman, Executive Director of Snowcap Community Charities. “This generous gift is an encouragement to SnowCap and will provide over 3,000 people with plentiful food to brighten the end of a difficult year. We are grateful for this gift and for giving folks in need of something to celebrate!”









Making the

Human Connection N

By Mala Blomquist

icole Frisch jokes that she “fell into” the work that she has been doing for the past 15 years. She started in fundraising, and then as her yearning to make a more significant impact grew, so did the roles she took on. Wherever she worked, she grew the companies’ relationship with nonprofit partners, employee volunteerism and philanthropy.

continued on next page



Nicole has strong ties and deep roots in the Portland community. Born and raised here, she attended the Foundation School at Neveh Shalom, and worked at the Mittleman Jewish Community Center for several summers as a counselor. Nicole graduated from Brandeis University, which further crystallized her focus on social good and justice. All of this provided Nicole with a strong foundation, a powerful connection to the community and an understanding of how we must invest in, and support, each other. FROM POLITICS TO NONPROFITS Nicole came home from her sophomore year at Brandeis and was looking for a summer job that was more edifying than she had had in the past. She ended up landing a spot as an intern with Ted Kulongoski’s gubernatorial campaign. When the campaign learned that her major was in economics, she was sent to the fundraising department. She worked for the campaign for two months when a position came open, and they offered it to Nicole – the catch was that she could not return to college and had to stay through the election. That is what she did. “My ‘semester abroad’ was spending a year living at my parents’ house here in Portland and working on the Kulongoski campaign,” jokes Nicole. Ted won, and Nicole realized that she really enjoyed the experience. “All the people that I was working with, we believed in something,” she recalls. We weren’t cogs in a 14


wheel, I liked all my jobs before, but there was something about it like we’re making a change. This is something that’s going to have a legacy.” When she returned to Brandeis, she continued in the realm of politics. She did some consulting and kept doing fundraising. She worked for the Democratic Party of Oregon and went on to work on Nick Fish’s, z”l, city council campaign. She transitioned into working for nonprofits, working at Reed College and then at Portland Children’s Museum, but she still had the bug from working in politics to work on something more significant to make more of an impact. “When you work in fundraising for one organization, you have to focus on that organization. It’s hard to serve on committees or boards for other organizations,” says Nicole. “You have to invest where you work. And so I made the switch to corporate social responsibility and, went over to The Regence Group, a Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliate across four states.” When she started, they were in a transition with their team. They had just launched their foundation and were rebuilding their community investment program. “I got to be part of the redesign of the volunteer program and the redesign and launch of a number of other programs,” says Nicole. From The Regence Group, she moved to Bank of America. With more than 250,000 employees, she learned to navigate a company the size of a city. At B of A ,she was involved with corporate social responsibility, philanthropy and volunteering, and she also

From left: Nicole with husband, Casey Maharg, at the annual Race for the Roses; Speaking at the 2019 Raphael House of Portland gala; With sisters Lisa Frisch (far left) and Jennifer Frisch (center) at Jennifer’s swearing in as a judge. Jennifer lives in the twin cities in Minnesota, and Lisa recently moved to the Bay Area; With baby Jack, pre-COVID.

helped manage their diversity and inclusion programs. She engaged with senior leaders and learned the ins and outs of the business. “I also really learned the power of the story and how storytelling – making that human connection – truly impacts people. Both in terms of where they give but also in how they engage,” says Nicole. DRIVEN BY PURPOSE Nicole has noticed over the past 18 years that she’s been involved with philanthropy – people give differently now. “The way that people give and the why behind their giving is constantly in flux,” says Nicole. “Why people give was something that was part of my work at Brandeis. I was an economics major, and my minor was in cultural anthropology, and a lot of the work that I did was about gifts. What does a gift really mean in your culture? What is the expectation of a gift?” This year, she noticed a rise in donations to food banks, COVID-19 relief, racial justice organizations and relief funds for wildfires. “People in Oregon like to give locally, where other communities might be more prone to giving nationally,” says Nicole. “People also want to give as part of a community; it’s almost going back to the older model like mutual aid societies. You’re seeing a lot of giving circles.” If a group believes in a shared cause or mission, they are pulling their resources together. People don’t necessarily live in the same neighborhood as everyone in their synagogue anymore, so they are looking for other ways to create

community. “Also for millennials and those in Generation Z, the economy that we have been adults in is very different than the economy that boomers were adults in,” says Nicole. “The idea that however much you make in a year; you could buy a house for that same salary. That’s not how it is anymore.” Another shift for the millennials and Generation Z group is that they are also searching for a sense of community from their employer. “People want to believe that the work that they’re doing is benefiting the world. They want to know that they’re making an impact,” says Nicole. There’s a lot of interesting data. It used to be the number one reason why employees stayed at a company; the number one indicator of employee engagement was ‘I like my manager.’ Now it’s, ‘I feel like I belong at my company.’” Nicole advises that the best thing an employer can do for their culture and their company is to find ways to engage their employees. Whether that’s having a robust volunteer program that aligns with corporate values or matching gifts to support employee giving. Making nonprofit contributions as a company is also a great way to demonstrate your values and what you care about to employees. Volunteering, giving charitably, equity and inclusion, all fall under the umbrella of “purpose.” “I believe that purpose-driven companies are the future, and they’re especially attractive to both consumers and employees. Who doesn’t want to be part of something OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 15

“I also really learned the power of the story and how storytelling – making that human connection – truly impacts people.” Four generations of family. From left to right: Nicole’s mother, Francine; her sister, Lisa; Nicole (holding her dog); her sister, Jennifer’s daughter Lucy; Jennifer; Nicole’s maternal grandmother Rebecca Israel, z”l, and her father, Arnold z”l. bigger?’ says Nicole. “You don’t have to be a huge company to be purpose-driven, to engage with your community or to care about equity; you just have to start, and we’re lucky in Portland to have a lot of great resources and leaders who can help you along the way.” Nicole’s position currently is senior director of community engagement and inclusion for First Tech Federal Credit Union. where she has developed and grown the program over the last few years. “Today, we work with more than 100 nonprofit partners across our footprint who do amazing, community-centered work, and my team goes above and beyond to continue to evolve our program to best support our employee volunteers and the community,” she says. “I am constantly amazed by the generosity of our employees, and ways our community partners have continued to adapt and innovate to meet the challenges that 2020 presented.” VOLUNTEERING HER TIME In addition to her work with nonprofits in her professional life, Nicole is very involved and sits on the board of Raphael House of Portland and Free Geek. She was introduced to Raphael House seven years ago when she worked for B of A. Besides providing shelter to those impacted by domestic violence, they also have confidential advocates that work in Portland public high schools for students who might be experiencing intimate 16


partner violence or are in an unhealthy relationship. Raphael House also has advocates that work in healthcare clinics to support patients, doctors and nurses. They have programs to help individuals in recovery and support the broader community. Annually Raphael House serves 130 adults and children in their emergency shelter, assists 1,200 callers on a 24hour access line, supports 480 survivors with ongoing programming, and reaches more than 3,000 youth and adults with prevention education workshops. “I’ve always been passionate about supporting women,” says Nicole. “There was a study a long time ago that said, ‘One of the best investments that you can make is in a woman,’ because women reinvest in their communities at a very high rate. “I was ambassador board of the YWCA here in Portland when they had a domestic violence shelter. There was just something about the work at Raphael House that spoke to me. “It’s been such an honor to work with them, and to be the board chair.” Nicole is wrapping up her sixth year on the board at Raphael House, so this summer she will be off the board but is looking at ways to stay engaged with the organization. Not one to stay still; she is in the process of joining the board of Free Geek. Free Geek is a digital equity organization that launched on Earth Day 2000 as part of a community-wide public event and opened its doors five months later as a recycling and reuse drop-off facility for electronic waste. When you donate your old electronic equipment, they restore it and distribute it in the community to folks in need. “We’re short thousands of laptops for children and families that are all doing distance learning and working


from home. Free Geek is there to both recycle your old technology and as an organization focused on equity,” says Nicole. “How do we ensure that everyone has access to the technology that they need to live in the world that we’re in? The internet and having a computer is not a privilege anymore. It’s like having power and water in your house.” Nicole shares how amazing the board and leaders are at both organizations, Emmy Ritter, executive director at Raphael House and Hilary Shohoney, executive director at Free Geek. She talks about balancing your day with things that fuel you and things that take from you. “There’s always that work where you get out of a meeting, and you’re like, I feel drained. Then you can spend the same amount of time in another meeting, and you come out and feel energized – you’re ready to go,” says Nicole. “That’s what this work is like. It is so fueling to be able to be a part of such amazing organizations.” FAMILY FIRST Nicole’s mother is from Portland and has a large extended family in the area. That strong family network is something that strongly influenced her sense of community and Judaism. She also admits she learned a lot from watching her older sisters – seeing them work hard and become successful. But when asked who had the most influence on her growing up, Nicole admits it was her father, Arnold Frisch, z”l. “He really installed a lot of values in me around equity. I think that is what has driven so much of what I have done. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this over the last year since my dad passed,” says Nicole. Arnold was raised in Brooklyn in a family that didn’t have a lot and lost a lot of extended family in World War II. But he excelled in public education. He graduated high school at 15, he graduated from college at 19, and had a master’s degree in electrical engineering at 21. He was an inventor, a designer and an engineer. But also part of his success was instilling a sense of equity. “How do you help people who haven’t always been given a chance?” explains Nicole. “Really looking at fairness, and fairness is not that everyone gets the same thing. And equity is not that everyone gets the same thing. Fairness and equity are that everyone gets what they need.” Nicole jokes that they always like to say that. “My dad had a really big brain.” As she reflects on all the values that came from her father, she realizes one of her personal favorites – curiosity. “I feel like if you are not curious in this world, you are

losing out. There is so much to know about other people, how things work and how we can do better,” says Nicole. “I think about innovation, growth and learning. I think that is so critical to who I am and how I operate, also how I work with people. Being curious about the people that you work with and being curious about what they care about, that’s something that came from him.” Curiosity also comes in handy when you are a mother of a not-quite-one-year-old when the pandemic began. Nicole and her husband, Casey Maharg, welcomed their son Jack in April of 2019. She is grateful to live in Portland and raise Jack in Portland’s Jewish community. Nicole was also recently appointed to the development committee of the Mittleman Jewish Community Center and PJA. “I think that both institutions are just so critical to the fabric of Jewish Portland,” she says. She is excited that Jack gets to grow up at Portland Jewish Academy. “Something about that building just feels like home.” “We are so lucky that we have this happy, little person in our household. It’s just softened me in a lot of ways in terms of having a deeper understanding of how hard it is for so many people on so many different levels,” says Nicole. “I’ve always been Type A, valedictorian of my high school, straight A’s, color inside the lines – and the combination of becoming a parent and losing my dad and a pandemic in a very short amount of time – well, there are no lines anymore, and coloring in the lines isn’t how I want to be at this point in my life. It’s been an interesting time of transition.” Casey also helps to keep Nicole balanced. They went to elementary, middle and high school together and grew up in houses less than a mile apart, but didn’t know each other. When they met as adults, they connected the dots! “He is such a great partner and support, especially around my work. We bounce a lot off of each other and, working from home together the last nine months, have found that we are pretty good “co-workers,” though we work at different companies,” says Nicole. “I’m proud to say that some of my work has rubbed off on him, and he’s one of the leaders of his company’s equity and inclusion work, in addition to his full-time job, and it’s nice that we can support each other in that shared purpose.” She also hopes that we have a little more grace for one another after the pandemic, a little more understanding. “I feel like we can be a little bit more transparent about our struggles. Life is hard. There’s the hard stuff that happens. You don’t always have to have it together. And frankly, no one has it all together, all the time, and that’s okay,” says Nicole. “To be able to say, ‘I’m figuring it out,’ and to ask for help. I think that that’s a lesson that a lot of people have learned this past year for sure.” ç OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 17



Educating in the era of COVID-19 By Mala Blomquist


here’s no doubt that next to frontline workers, teachers have had the most challenging year of their professional lives, having to shift from in-person

to online learning in the blink of an eye. Still, teachers being the optimists

they often are, rolled up their sleeves and soldered on.

We posed some questions to teachers about the year 2020 and their plans for 2021.



“Moving forward, I know the power of creativity, community and how adaptable we are as species.” Cory Willson

has been a teacher since 1998. She is currently assistant director at the Foundation School.

Congregation Neveh Shalom’s Foundation School

in Portland is dedicated to providing an exceptional early childhood education for children ages 1 through 5. How have you been teaching lately? In-person, online or a hybrid schedule? We are teaching in person under an emergency license, but we were virtual last March through June. What were some of your biggest challenges teaching in 2020? What have you found to be some of your students’ biggest challenges? My biggest challenges have been learning everything needed to keep children, teachers and families safe and putting this knowledge into practice. Staying up-to-date, protecting teachers, providing mental health support for everyone we serve, and partnering with our families in new ways since they no longer enter the school. We all count on each other in new ways to stay safe in our school/community bubble.  For students, the challenges have seemed less. They are so resilient! There was some regression while kids were home through the spring and summer. Most children are naturally moving through the experience and telling us what they need. We create an environment for them to be safe, loved and free to express their experience. I see that they are taking cues from the adults, so if we are practice good self-care, we will know how to take better care of each other.   What are some positive takeaways from 2020 that you may utilize moving forward? We are looking for a silver lining all the time – and we find it! This year has allowed us to get creative because we threw away so many old practices and procedures. We’ve tried new things and made intentional choices that we would not have initiated if we did not have this big change in our world.  continued on next page  OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 19


The children bring their experience of the outside world with them into our school, and we get to hear them and tell their story without shying away from hard content and big feelings. Moving forward, I know the power of creativity, community and how adaptable we are as species. We’ve created a larger space for listening and participation as we’ve all been vulnerable and honest together. Through transparency, communication and courage, we have found many riches within ourselves and our community that will change our forward steps.    Children are very resilient, but do you have concerns about the long-term impact of this past year on your students? What are some positive effects you have noticed? I do not worry about the long-term impact because my worry does nothing to change whatever may come, but I know this will need our attention. I am curious about what our children will bring to us that we will need to be responsive to, but I know that whatever it is, we will adapt and heal together. All of us are resilient, and the evidence for this is astronomical! One of the positive effects I’ve noticed in people of all ages (myself included) is that we can do more than we think we can. This makes people adjust their thinking and allows them to believe new things beyond their habitual thought. THIS IS HUGE!   What are you doing to prepare for 2021? We are currently making plans for the next school year based on projections of vaccines. We are also ready to pivot back to online learning if we need to do that this winter. Mostly we are staying informed, creative, and putting one foot in front of the other each day. 20


Congregation Neveh Shalom’s Foundation School

How have you been teaching lately? Inperson, online or a hybrid schedule? In spring, online; in-person since September and now online again. What were some of your biggest challenges teaching in 2020? What have you found to be some of your students’ biggest challenges? Since I’m with very young children, the biggest concern was staying connected, helping support families trying to work while parenting/keeping kids occupied; everyone is afraid of someone they love getting COVID-19.   What are some positive takeaways from 2020 that you may utilize moving forward? Our community was enhanced in many ways by Zoom teaching this spring. There was a camaraderie that sprung up that has continued to flourish. A more realistic, “we are in this together,” not a “just teach my kid, please.” Children are very resilient, but do you have concerns about the long-term impact of this past year on your students? What are some positive effects you have noticed? Kids have been shocked to see my whole face if they catch me taking a sip of water, or have glimpsed me in a break area. I am worried about what social/ emotional learning is not occurring because we have these masks on, and kids aren’t learning how to read facial cues. I also worry deeply about the collective anxiety these kids absorb from their families and in the wider world.   What are you doing to prepare for 2021? I am upping my tech savviness, and creating alternative ways to connect for young children and families.

Carol Biederman has been in

early childhood mental health for 20 years and a preschool teacher for 4 years. She currently teaches in the 1’s classroom.

MAJOR IN S E I D U T S C JUDAI • Apply for the Harold Schnitzer Family Scholarship • Get $5000-$7000 in scholarship funds every year • Available to incoming students

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“Our community was enhanced in many ways by Zoom teaching this spring. There was a camaraderie that sprung up that has continued to flourish. A more realistic, “we are in this together,” not a “just teach my kid, please.” OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 21


Congregation Beth Israel’s Religious School in Portland, touches the heart and soul of every student through the study of Judaism. How have you been teaching lately? In-person, online or a hybrid schedule? The high school class has been entirely online this school year.

Ben Sandler

has worked in different capacities in the field of education since 1994. He is currently the education director for Congregation Beth Israel and also teaches in the HS Midrasha program as the core teacher for the eighth and ninth grade students.

What were some of your biggest challenges teaching in 2020? What have you found to be some of your students’ biggest challenges? While our Midrasha program strives to engage students in rich Jewish content from history to social justice, the core of the experience is connecting to a unique community of Jewish teens, and making lifelong friends. Building community and meeting people has been extra challenging this year, especially for our new students. Even with all the creative possibilities technology allows, the online modality makes connecting and being responsive, especially to subtler needs and interests of the students, challenging. What are some positive takeaways from 2020 that you may utilize moving forward? We’ve forged and expanded connections to national education webinars. Our students have had the opportunity to learn from talented individuals and hear from Jewish teens from all around the country. We’ve pivoted to smaller cooperative learning style instruction for specific topics of interest. Both of these opportunities allow our kids to connect with a wider scope of Jewish learning, and utilize a small group format for certain topics we’d like to carry forward. Children are very resilient, but do you have concerns about the long-term impact of this past year on your students? What are some positive effects you have noticed? I am truly awed by our students’ appreciation for all their blessings in life, even under the tremendous fear, isolation and disappointments they are experiencing during the pandemic. As we begin to better understanding the long-term impact on the kids, our Jewish learning communities are excellent places to move forward together and do the work both as individuals and as a community to heal, learn and grow. What are you doing to prepare for 2021? As educators, we need to continue to stay creative, be reflective in the work we do with students, engage in professional development, and prepare for multiple scenarios in terms of the physical learning environment for the coming school year.



“Our students have had the opportunity to learn from talented individuals and hear from Jewish teens from all around the country.” Congregation Beth Israel’s Religious School How have you been teaching lately? In-person, online or a hybrid schedule? We hold virtual class weekly for religious school. The teens have a mixed schedule of grade-level classes, national workshops, electives they choose, and community/fun time together led by our youth group, PARTY. What were some of your biggest challenges teaching in 2020? What have you found to be some of your students’ biggest challenges? Our biggest challenges as a religious school, I think, have been keeping up with the shifting needs of our families and balancing planning ahead with being responsive as things change so quickly – especially in the emotional landscape. I think our students have been faced with managing a ton of their own time; without learning the skills to do so. I imagine the new virtual routine, which is often entirely up to them being motivated, is tough for all ages. Most students have at least some idea of what works for them, but few of those things look the way they did before. What are some positive takeaways from 2020 that you may utilize moving forward? It’s become abundantly clear that our community truly enjoys each other, which is touching and fulfilling to see. As a synagogue, I think we will continue to lean on that as we move forward in finding ways to bring people together and build bridges for connection. I think we learned to focus our programming on lowering boundaries for congregants to build relationships with one another, and that will serve us well going forward. Children are very resilient, but do you have concerns about the long-term impact of this past year on your students? What are some positive effects you have noticed? Long term, I worry our students will be burnt out for a long while. I worry that the stress and the lack of clarity in so many parts continued on next page

Chelsea Ferguson has

been teaching for 8 years. She is currently teaching mixed high school (grades 8-12) students.


of their lives will lead to them being emotionally drained. I’ve noticed that students have a much lower threshold for what they think they can handle, and what feels comfortable. Teens are more likely not to push hard to do something because (I believe) they are just so tired from trying to make all the normal things work – which I empathize with as an adult trying to do the same thing.

What are you doing to prepare for 2021? We are thinking hard about what connection looks like these days and doing a lot of outreach to learn from what we’ve done already. We are planning big events one at a time, knowing that a lot may change. Our top priority is giving chances to be together (virtually or otherwise) as safely and as meaningfully as possible.

“Long term, I worry our students will be burnt out for a long while. ” 24


Maimonides Jewish Day School is a kindergarten through eighth

grade school committed to teaching the whole child, inspiring lifelong learning, and providing personalized, meaningful, and empowering Judaic and general studies education for a diverse community of Jewish children. How have you been teaching lately? In person, online or a hybrid schedule? I have been teaching in person since October, but also have a couple of students learning from home and joining class remotely. (Maimonides is also currently operating as an Emergency Child Care facility.) What were some of your biggest challenges teaching in 2020? What have you found to be some of your students’ biggest challenges? The biggest challenge I faced was initially switching to completely virtual teaching and learning to utilize the different platforms available. This happened in less than two weeks from the date the schools were closed in March 2020. It was challenging not to be with the students in person for the end of the school year in June, and not to have in-person interactions with students and staff. I think the students’ biggest challenges were much the same. They went from being in a school building with their friends and teachers to being isolated from those very people within one weekend. That is a difficult adjustment for young students. There was also a learning curve for students to understand how to navigate remote learning online and how to use the virtual learning platforms. Now that we are back to class in person, wearing masks all day is another challenge we are all facing. What are some positive take-aways from 2020 that you may utilize moving forward? Learning to be more flexible and allowing for a slower pace has been a positive outcome of 2020. I’ve also become more appreciative of the support and friendships of those around me and in the education community. I’ve also enjoyed learning new technologies that before 2020, I didn’t utilize and paid little attention to. With the speed of technological advancements, it’s become apparent that keeping abreast of these leaps is very important for educators, students and their families.

Children are very resilient, but do you have concerns about the long-term impact of this past year on your students? What are some positive effects you have noticed? I am concerned about the anxiety level I’ve seen in some students. I feel that being isolated from their friends and the school community may leave long-lasting effects on students’ anxiety levels for those still learning remotely. It also has left many feeling uncertain about the future. Positive impacts of this past year have been in strengthening family ties and taking a slower, more thoughtful approach to our day-to-day lives and the people and activities with which we fill them. What are you doing to prepare for 2021? I am continuing to keep up with changes in technologies and new online education platforms, as well as immersing myself in learning how to spot potential emotional issues students may exhibit while their world is so uncertain. It’s even more important to have a deeper understanding of a child’s social and emotional growth during such upheaval in their daily lives.

Karen Brenner

has been an educator for nearly 20 years in both private and public schools. She currently teaches the Upper Elementary class which encompasses third through fifth grade.

“I’ve also become more appreciative of the support and friendships of those around me and in the education community.”



Online and hybrid learning tips for success By Ilana Lowery




t looks like distance learning is here to stay for a while longer – be it through hybrid instruction, cohorts of students divided into small groups, or a completely off-campus learning experience for kids. Parents and caregivers have many questions about how to make sure students are engaged and benefiting their learning experiences, no matter what they look like. “It’s complicated because schools are trying to make the best decisions with so many factors to consider,” says Victoria Saylor, Arizona regional manager for Common Sense. It is especially complicated for parents who need to work outside the home, and it is equally difficult for educators with the back-and-forth changes for classroom instruction. One of the primary concerns for teachers is students’ lack of adequate devices for learning and access to reliable broadband or Wi-Fi connections. There still are significant challenges for those who do have connectivity and computers, including motivation and students understanding instructions for any asynchronous lessons. A key for a successful hybrid learning experience is for teachers to increase family engagement with clear communication, making sure parents are aware of expectations and where to find the help they or their kids need. Additionally, parents should take advantage of any office hours their child’s teacher has, attend virtual parent/teacher conferences, and stay up to date with emails or texts. “Staying organized, keeping routines and setting norms/expectations for remote learning is going to be vital,” Saylor says. Additionally, for teachers, be creative and stay current on the best education technology tools to increase student engagement and consider using breakout rooms for the older students to collaborate, being mindful of their social and emotional well-being. Some suggestions include Flipgrid, a fun recording tool that can keep kids connected as they respond to a question or lesson. The app is a good way to stay connected and empower students’ voices. There are also student engagement platforms, such as Nearpod and Pear Deck. 

“I believe kids of all ages can thrive in a blended learning environment,” Saylor says. In fact, teachers have been doing this for years at their school campuses. A blend of teacher-directed lessons and small group instruction can offer opportunities for collaboration, as well as online activities. Of course, there will be different models that schools and teachers use depending on students’ needs. Students enrolled in special education classes, for example, must have equal opportunities for learning in any hybrid or blended-learning environment. Focusing on what needs to get done, doing a really good job at it, finding ways to make learning engaging by using easy and fun ed-tech tools, and being mindful of students’ social and emotional well-being are going to be what helps us get through this,” she says. “Teachers are being asked to do something that most had never done before and were not trained to do. I think finding a tool that is easy for teachers, students and families to use will make all the difference in how quickly our families will adapt,” Saylor says. Be prepared for things to change continuously; try to be flexible, she adds. One tool parents and educators can use is the free education portal created by Common Sense Media called Wide Open School (wideopenschool.org). The site curates an open collection of online and offline learning experiences and referrals to social and community services for kids and families. The site is intended to keep students learning, engaged, and emotionally strong during the pandemic and beyond, and designed in a flexible and modular fashion to evolve over time.  The site was launched at the start of the pandemic to complement and supplement the solutions that districts and schools are implementing. The content and distribution are coordinated and curated to reflect the very best from leading media and tech companies, education publishers and nonprofits.  Common Sense partnered with more than 75 organizations, including the American Federation of Teachers, Apple Inc., Boys and Girls Club of America, Child Mind Institute, Crisis Text Line, Facing History, Google, Head Start, Khan Academy, LEGO Education, National Geographic, Raising a Reader, Sesame Workshop, Playworks, PBS Learning Media, Scholastic, TIME for Kids, Zoom and more. From using video to project-based learning, here is a link for great distance-learning tools. For families looking for support in the transition to virtual learning to help their kids think critically and compassionately about what they see online, click here. continued on next page OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 27



Common Sense offers these basic techniques to help their kids stay motivated during their online learning time: THE BASICS: • PROVIDE structure and routine. Sticking to a schedule provides the stability kids need to keep their eyes on the prize. Plus, it minimizes their instincts to go rogue. When expectations are set, it›s more likely they’ll be met. • ESTABLISH accountability. Maybe you can’t motivate your kid—but their best friend can. Have them schedule daily check-ins over text or social media with a friend. Accountability helps kids realize they’re not alone and gives them a tangible reason to work hard. • INCENTIVIZE. Kids may be motivated by rewards, but you want to make it feel as though they›ve earned their treat (or you’ll end up in a vicious cycle). If they finish one packet, they get a half-hour on the tablet; two packets, 45 minutes; etc. (Screen-time rewards may not be your usual motivation go-to, but we are in unusual times!)

MAKE IT SPECIAL: • MARK the occasion. Give kids something to look forward to. Plan an (online) family/friend celebration, like a virtual class party or a Zoom dance. Or do a family movie night and let them choose what to watch. • LET them see progress. Use a calendar or other visual aid to mark time so they can see how much they’ve accomplished and how much more there is to go. • DO a related activity. Build upon and extend what they’re learning with a natural connection. If they’re learning about the solar system, let them stay up late and use an astronomy app to map the night sky. ADDITIONAL COMMON SENSE MEDIA ARTICLES AND RESOURCES: Tools to Help Kids Stay Focused During Distance Learning Tips for Using Google Classroom for Distance Learning Best Tools for Virtual and Distance Learning 28


MIX IT UP: • BE willing to experiment. If a kid struggles with reading a book, turn it into a readaloud or get an audiobook. If math is “too boring,” do the problems on a whiteboard or outside using sidewalk chalk. A change of scenery can do wonders for a kid’s motivation. • BREAK up the day. If you have some control over when they do the work, break things up a little. Let them have a slower-paced morning and do their work after lunch. Agree in advance: “If you take the morning off, you still have to get your schoolwork done before you can play online with your friends later today.” • CHANGE the timing. There›s nothing magical about the hours of 8 am to 3 pm – that’s when we’re all used to school happening. Of course, if your kids are in online classes, you have to accommodate those schedules. But for things like working through a packet of assignments from a teacher, there’s no harm in experimenting with different times of day. Sometimes the change is all it takes.

Ilana Lowery is the Arizona director at Common Sense Media. Common Sense Media is a national nonprofit organization based in San Francisco that works to improve the media and education landscape for kids, families and schools. They focus on helping kids, educators and parents thrive in a world of media and technology.

M Enrichment programs at Maayan Torah Day School By Mala Blomquist

Above: Rabbi Shalom Skolnik with a student at Maayan Torah Day School. Left: Better Together student Ezekiel Esterman prepares a personalized package to be sent by a senior participant.

aayan Torah Day School, a Jewish Day School in Portland, offers a learner-centered style that focuses on each student’s needs and progress, creating engaging classrooms and substantive learning for kids in preschool through eighth grade. Maayan Torah had implemented some programs to further instill leadership qualities in their students and teachers. Rabbi Shalom Skolnik is part of the Teacher Leadership Cohort with Legacy Heritage Foundation for teacher leadership. The Legacy Heritage Instructional Leadership Institute supports Jewish day schools in delivering excellence in the teaching of Judaic studies. It provides high-quality professional learning that inspires teachers, and thus students, to delve deeply and meaningfully into the study of our sacred texts. More than 80 day schools across denominations have participated in the Institute’s professional and leadership programs to elevate their teaching of Tanakh and rabbinics, helping them meet their expectations of excellence for Judaic studies. The Legacy Heritage Teacher Institute is comprised of three tracks of teacher professional development ( Jewish text; arts and teacher leadership). Programming offers classroom teachers an opportunity to participate in specially designed educational programs at Hebrew University, Camp Stone, or Brandeis University. The programs share a common goal of raising the quality of instruction and learning through intensive training, mentoring, and developing and implementing of sustainable, replicable, innovative curricula and programs. Rabbi Skolnik is also leading a school-wide program called Konei Olam. This curriculum is geared to students in grades two through four. This series satisfies a systematic study of  jurisprudence, philosophy, psychology, religion and sociology; helping young people develop the ability to make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, interdependent world  based on the eternal truths of Torah and mitzvot. The students in the middle school grades at Mayan Torah have also been involved with the Legacy Heritage Foundation Better Together program, a schoolbased Jewish intergenerational program that pairs together young Jews and older Jews for meaningful in-person interactions (during non-COVID times). The students prepared care packages and sent postcards to senior citizens across the United States. Malky Weisman, Judaic enrichment teacher, organized this project. For more information on the offerings at Maayan Torah Day School, visit maayanpdx.org. OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 29








virtual day of Jewish learning










By Mala Blomquist


ust because we can’t gather in person doesn’t mean we can’t learn together!” is the opening line on Limmud AZ’s event information page. The annual day-long event of Jewish learning usually attracts hundreds of attendees with presenters from all walks of Jewish life who speak on a wide range of topics. This year’s event will be held online on Feb. 21 from 9:45 am to 2 pm. “Because it’s virtual, we have more speakers from out of town,” explains Sandy Adler, Limmud AZ team leader. “It’s a really cool opportunity to learn from people who we don’t necessarily get here.” The list of speakers include Janette Silverman, professional genealogist at Ancestry.com; Laura Geller, rabbi and Wise Aging expert; LaNitra Berger, scholar, educator and social justice advocate and David Singer, rabbi and national director of Limmud North America, along with authors from the Jewish Book Council, ASU Jewish Studies professors, and local clergy and thought leaders. Limmud means “to learn” and is an international movement that began in Great Britain in 1980. Today, there are Limmud communities in 40 countries, including Israel, and more than 20 cities in North America. New this year is the creation of Limmud North America. Until now, Limmuds in the United States and Canada had to rely on Limmud.org out of London to start their chapters and for support. “When we started, Suzanne (Swift) and I went to New Orleans, and we met with the British people who were there from Limmud.org and they helped get us started,” says Sandy. “Although we are still a part of the international organization, there is somebody who’s there to help support us in North America. It’s much more convenient than having to deal with someone internationally.” Suzanne is the director of the Jewish Book Council Networks and is currently serving on the board of directors for Limmud North America. Limmud AZ is using a professional who manages conferences and breakout sessions virtually for this event. This format has already been used successfully for various virtual events by Limmud North America. The sessions will be scheduled as they have in the past, with people picking the sessions they want to attend. “We’re starting at 9:45 am for kind of an introduction, and then there are four sessions after at 10 am,

Limmud AZ Virtual Day of Jewish Learning WHEN

Feb. 21, 2021 from 9:45 am-2 pm COST

$18 through Jan. 31; $25 from Feb. 1-20; $36 on Feb. 21 INFORMATION

Visit limmudaz.org or contact info@limmudaz.org 11 am, noon and 1 pm,” explains Sandy. When held in person, Limmud AZ always supplied a kosher lunch. “Needless to say, if you want a kosher lunch, you’re going to have to make it yourself at home,” jokes Sandy. Limmud AZ also utilized a crew of volunteers to handle the registration desk and direct people on the day of the event, but this year, it’s just been Sandy, Suzanne and

Meghan Dorn Jalowiec handling the online traffic. Sandy says that they have put a call out for volunteers to monitor or host the individual presentations. “If you’ve never been to Limmud or if you’ve always wanted to try it, here’s a great way to do it,” says Sandy. “It’s very reasonably priced, and if you have friends in other places who might want to hear some of these presenters, they can join you.”

OUT OF ARIZONA A stepping stone to unique and alluring works of art

Jewelry made from semiprecious stones that have been cut and polished by hand. Each piece is unique and a one-of-kind work of art. Many of the stones have been collected by hand in the desert Southwest by the jewelry maker. Many stones are set in sterling silver.

outofarizona.com OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 31






is turning challenges into new opportunities By Mala Blomquist


ike many other aspects of student life in 2020, at-school clubs also had to go virtual when the pandemic hit. Jewish Student Union (JSU) clubs were no exception to this change. West Coast NCSY runs more than 67 JSU clubs – on public and private high school campuses in Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. Under normal circumstances, JSU clubs would attract Jewish students and non-Jewish students who wanted to learn more about Judaism. “When they were coming, they came for the bagels, but they stayed because of the experience,” says Meira Spivak, director of Oregon NCSY/JSU and northern district manager of West Coast NCSY. Meira Spivak, director of Oregon NCSY/JSU and northern district manager of West Coast NCSY; Members of the Leadership Institute pack boxes for JSU club members for Hanukkah; Kids from JSU clubs across Portland meet on Zoom. 32


Camp Kesher But without the lure of food and being able to hang out together physically, Meira knows that the kids that show up on Zoom really want to be there. “We’re running a lot of clubs; it is interesting how all these challenges have brought on new opportunities,” says Meira. One of these new opportunities is the start of the Leadership Institute. In the past, the clubs’ leaders would have some leadership roles, but this year, they’re going to be “stepping up their game” and running the club. The leaders will meet weekly for Jewish learning and the tools they need to lead the club. “They’re not just left by themselves. Our staff is there for everything, and the leaders are able to take on a lot more leadership responsibility,” explains Meira. “They might run a larger chunk of the program or the activity, whatever it is, they will take the lead.” Anyone signed up in the Leadership Institute program at the beginning of the year is offered a significant discount to attend a leadership summer program in Israel where the young adults focus on their own leadership and learning, to better grow as a person. Even though they cannot meet in person, the leaders did get together for a socially distanced project when they realized that some of their club members might not have everything they needed for Hanukkah. They packed more than 70 boxes with craft materials to make your own menorah and paint a Hanukkah picture, candles, dreidels, latke mix and more and handdelivered them to people in their area. “It was really meaningful that they did that,” says Meira. “And the fact that they showed up with smiles on a Sunday morning and not only packed the boxes, but delivered them. I don’t think we would have had that in a regular year. I was very impressed.” Hopefully, there will be another program where NCSY kids can gather together – Camp Kesher. Camp Kesher began in 2019, and while in 2020 it was

a virtual program, it hopes to return to in-person for 2021. Meira is the director of Camp Kesher and said the camp started out of a conversation she had with a 14-yearold boy. She ran into the boy and asked him what he had been doing Jewishly since his bar mitzvah. His response was, “Nothing. I mean, honestly, my parents forced me to do that. I hated every minute of it, and I was done after that.” “That’s the story of so many Jewish kids,” says Meira. “I feel that if we don’t make Judaism fun and exciting and relevant from the time their kids, and if kids don’t know the “why” of why we’re Jewish – they’re not going to stay Jewish. Everything just has to be fun – so we opened this camp for kids.” Camp Kesher will be offered this year from July 25 through Aug. 8, 2021, for current third through ninth graders and allows kids to spend two weeks connecting with nature, their peers and their Jewish heritage. And because Camp Kesher is an official national NCSY summer program, and NCSY has its own infectious disease specialist on staff, they will follow state guidelines and get national direction from NCSY regarding COVID-19. Meira made a decision early on to stay positive and move forward doing meaningful programming. “I spent time developing my skills and getting training, which helps in a lot of areas in terms of the leadership opportunities and our management team,” she says. “It makes me feel whatever I’m doing when I spend my days, whether it’s fundraising or management. It’s just knowing that this program is happening, and it’s successful, is what gives me the drive and the strength to keep going.” For more information on Oregon NCSY, visit oregon.ncsy.org; for West Coast NCSY, visit westcoast.ncsy.org and for Camp Kesher, visit c ampkesher.ncsy.org. OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 33

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A teacher’s (or parent’s) toolkit for student emotional wellbeing


By Dr. Anne Andrew

nxiety and stress in teens is an epidemic, and has been well-documented. A 2014 survey revealed that 83% of teens reported schoolrelated stress. Now with COVID-19, increases in gun-violence and racial tensions, the numbers are likely to be even higher. Are there some things that teachers can do to play a role in their student’s mental wellbeing? This article will point to several strategies that can and will make a difference. Firstly, as parents and teachers, it is important to take a 34


look at our own fears around Covid-19 and school... We need to be clear about what those fears are so we can help our children and students to understand theirs. We may experience a whole range of emotions and feelings from sadness, to anxiety to despair, perhaps disappointment, but underneath those what is the actual fear? Is it a fear of death? A fear of losing a loved one? Is there a sense of loss - loss of a secure future, loss of normality, loss of control? Is there a sense of shame? Or a sense of being a victim? We need to be able to understand


and address our own fears so that we don’t pass them along and add to the fears of our students. Doing our own inner work is the best way to help others especially our children. Our students are coming to school with all sort of questions playing in their heads, consciously and subconsciously. Will I be popular? Will I be safe? Do I have what it takes to get good grades? Is my future secure? Will anyone notice I gained ten pounds? How will I achieve my goal in these circumstances? How will I be judged? School is a place that students come to be evaluated academically by their teachers, and socially by their peers and even by their parents. Many students actually believe that the love of their parents depends on their grades. It is as if the school environment is designed to stack them up on ladders which they have to scramble up as far as they can. Many students give themselves the message that their worth depends on the opinion of others and on their achievements. That’s why, I believe the most effective way of helping our students to reduce their stress levels is to help them understand that their worth is intrinsic. They have inherent worth just by virtue of being human. One baby is not worth more than any other as we are taught at the beginning of the book of Genesis and in the charter of human rights. Inherent worth is something they don’t have to earn and can never lose. This goes right to the root of their being. I’ve witnessed the power of this concept to change lives and be the catalyst for recovery from depression, anxiety and even addiction. Understanding our inherent worth, to the exclusion of other ideas about ourselves such as that we are worthless, not good enough, or that we don’t belong, is the antidote to any of the negative core beliefs we or our students may have and allows positive transformations to happen. Here are a few strategies for calming stress levels in the classroom:


Mindfulness or meditation. These techniques bring us to the present moment, a place of safety and calm, by focusing on our senses and our breath. Take a mindful moment at the beginning of each block to reduce student anxiety and improve their ability to concentrate. Simply ask students to close their eyes, focus on their breathing, notice their touch points (places where their bodies are in contact with the floor, the chair or other surfaces), and have them take some deep breaths making

the exhale longer than the inhale. This need not take more than a minute or two, but done regularly will make a big difference.


Gratitude gives us a felt sense of our inherent worth and it is good for mental and physical health. Establish a gratitude practice at the end of each block or at the end of the last block. The key to a great gratitude practice is to be specific. You go first and give an example of gratitude that is related to the lesson you just taught such as: “I’m grateful that the chemistry we learned today helps scientists to understand global warming”, or “I’m grateful for the astonishing blue color of copper sulphate”, or “I’m grateful that sodium chloride tastes great on French fries.”


Be careful with praise. Students can become praise-dependent, associating the amount and quality of praise with their worth. So, if a student gets a good mark on an assignment ask about the work rather than automatically praising. What did they find most interesting? Was there anything that surprised them about what they learned? Is there anything they’d do differently next time? This way you’ll get to know more about your student or your child and it helps the student to figure out what it is that they are passionate about and how to go about achieving the goals they set for themselves.

4 5

Remind them directly: Your worth does not depend on your grades, nor by your musical or sporting ability. Your worth just is and it is infinite.

Deemphasize grades. Be very specific about what is being evaluated. You might say: “The results of this test will show me how well I’ve taught the material, and how I can help you best. It’ll show you how well you understand the material, how well your study habits worked, how motivated you are to succeed in this subject. It is not a judgment or a measure of you.”  By helping students to know and deeply understand that their worth is inherent and doesn’t have to be earned, we can alleviate stress, anxiety and depression in adolescents and teens.


Anne Andrew has a Ph.D. in geology and over 20 years’ experience working as a school principal. Today, Anne runs What They Don’t Teach in Pre-Natal Classes: The Key to Raising Trouble-Free Kids and Teens workshops for parents of elementary school age children. She has written a book on the same topic. For more information, visit anneandrew.com.



Study shows pandemic’s impact on Jewish education workforce


new report shows the changing landscape of Jewish education from the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on Jewish educators – from a shift to more full-time work, to a rise in demand for essential Jewish education services, to a growth of national educational offerings, and more. Led by CASJE (Consortium for Applied Studies in Jewish Education) and conducted by Rosov Consulting, the study, “Facing the Future: Mapping the Marketplace of Jewish Education during COVID-19,” draws on interviews and focus groups from this summer with individuals who hire Jewish educators in overnight and day camps, Hillels, day schools, congregations and afterschool programs, JCCs and early childhood centers. “This is an exceptionally difficult time to be leading a Jewish educational institution,” says Alex Pomson, Ph.D., principal and managing director of Rosov Consulting. “This study is the story of the pandemic through the eyes of the workforce in Jewish education. Community leaders, parents with young children, and the youth themselves are both drivers of change affecting educators and are impacted by these changes too.” “It is both instructive and inspiring to learn how Jewish educational and communal leaders are finding creative 36


ways to reorient in this moment,” adds Arielle Levites, Ph.D., managing director of CASJE housed at The George Washington University. “We were struck by how extensively educational leaders are in touch with each other across the country for input and inspiration. There is always more than one way forward. And, as this report shows, there are also structural elements regarding how Jewish education is organized that create particular challenges and opportunities for different kinds of programs and institutions. Patterns emerge even as each community has its own unique makeup.” Facing the Future shares data in eight communities, but the researchers believe they are representative of more widely occurring changes and trends, including the following:   1. COVID-19 HAS EXACERBATED PREEXISTING FEATURES OF THE JEWISH EDUCATION MARKETPLACE.   The supply of and demand for Jewish educators already was strongly colored by local circumstances. The pandemic’s uneven impact across the country aggravated those features.   Having more leeway to offer in-person services than public institutions has been a boost for some Jewish afterschool programs, congregations and day schools. In some regions, demand has increased for these offerings, resulting in organizations hiring up in order to keep pace.   In other parts of the country, providers in these same sectors are in some cases cutting back their staff in order to make ends meet due to uneven or declining demand.   2. THESE DIFFERENCES HAVE BEEN FURTHER ACCENTUATED BY ANOTHER PHENOMENON. THOSE SECTORS THAT PROVIDE SERVICES THAT PARENTS CAN’T DO WITHOUT – CHILDCARE AND DAY SCHOOL EDUCATION –SEEM TO BE EMERGING FROM THE PRESENT MOMENT IN MUCH BETTER SHAPE. They have responded to the moment vigorously, although exactly what business models will prove sustainable for the early childhood sector is uncertain.   Those sectors whose services are perceived to be a luxury or whose value is not fully appreciated – congregational schools and local-level youth work stand out in this respect – have been severely challenged and have seen significant cuts in staff.

The landscape in respect to these sectors being challenged will likely look quite different once the pandemic is over.



Even with communities experiencing their own unique challenges, the researchers identify some general patterns around the hiring practices and needs of Jewish educational institutions: 3. WHETHER PROVIDERS ARE STAFFING UP OR STAFFING DOWN, THEY ARE NOW MORE LIKELY TO LOOK FOR FULL-TIME THAN PART-TIME STAFF.   When in-person programming is offered, health regulations make it riskier for employers to hire part-time staff and also make the work less appealing to the part-timers.   When programs are remote, organizations can add to the hours of their best performers, wherever they’re located, and offer a product of consistently higher quality.   This shift from part-time to full-time staffing is of more than technical significance. Many education leaders have long argued that it would be difficult to professionalize the field of Jewish education when filled with so many part-timers. The current moment has a created a chance to take a significant step forward in this respect.   4. WHATEVER THE STATE OF DEMAND FOR THEIR SERVICES, THERE IS ALSO TREMENDOUS CONSISTENCY IN TERMS OF WHAT EMPLOYERS ARE LOOKING FOR AMONG THOSE THEY HIRE.   No one knows if or when they may have to switch from in-person to remote programming, or how long they will have to continue in remote mode. They want to make sure their staff have the technological know-how to deliver education under any circumstance.   No less important, and in some sectors even more important, employers are looking for staff who are responsive to the social and emotional – mental health – needs of participants. Children, young adults and parents have been traumatized by their experiences of the last six months, and educators need to be sensitive to these circumstances. Today, this is their first order of business whichever population they seek to engage.   CASJE’s multi-year research project examining the career trajectories of Jewish educators is generously funded by the William Davidson Foundation and Jim Joseph Foundation.  OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 37

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She said yes! Now what? By Mala Blomquist


ou’re engaged – mazel tov! After the engagement usually comes the beginning of a joyful journey planning your wedding. That was until COVID-19 arrived and changed everything – rendering social gatherings, including weddings, nonexistent. Many couples have been impacted, countless weddings have been postponed, and although there’s a vaccine timeline on the horizon, when will we feel safe to go back to weddings as usual? Because love most certainly isn’t canceled, and that includes the joyful journey of planning your wedding. According to the website, The Knot, 35% of couples who had upcoming weddings in 2020 have postponed them to 2021 or later. And for those planning their wedding in early 2021, 43% are planning to add a virtual component for guests that can’t attend in person. Still planning on an in-person wedding sooner than later? Of people surveyed who were supposed to attend a wedding amid the coronavirus pandemic, 71% of guests 40


say it’s important to receive information on health and safety measures before RSVPing. Even more specifically, 63% of guests want to know your mask policy, and 60% want to know the size of the guest list. It’s an unpredictable time for all, and the question of what’s next is faced by couples, wedding pros and even guests. If you have a planner, talk to them regularly as new information is continuously available. Event planners and officials can determine, in collaboration with state and local health officials, whether and how to implement these considerations, making adjustments to meet the local community’s unique needs and circumstances. As of Dec. 4, 2020, venue capacity data for Oregon differs by county and risk level. Check with your local government website for updated restrictions. You can certainly continue planning, even if you have to push your date back further than you anticipated. But for those who don’t want to wait, many couples have come up with creative substitutions. Like everything else, there’s always a Zoom wedding option or a driveby so that your friends can share their congratulation via car horn. Some brides and grooms have scaled down their guest list and included just immediate family, outdoors, masked and socially distanced, with a grocery store cake and photographs taken via iPhone. Any decision to hold an event during the COVID-19 pandemic, no matter how large or small, should rely on a risk-based approach. WHO has provided guidance on how such a risk-based approach can be taken. According to the CDC, the risk of COVID-19 spreading at events and gatherings increases as follows: fLowest risk: Virtual-only activities, events, and gatherings.

fMore risk: Smaller outdoor and in-person gatherings in which individuals from different households remain spaced at least 6 feet apart, wear masks, do not share objects, and come from the same local area (e.g., community, town, city, or county). fHigher risk: Medium-sized in-person gatherings that are adapted to allow individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and with attendees coming from outside the local area. fHighest risk: Large in-person gatherings where it is difficult for individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and attendees travel from outside the local area. If you decide to postpone your big day, remember you’re not alone! Your day will come, and when it does, it will be amazing. Who knows? Maybe yours will be the first wedding that people attend post-pandemic. When we can all come together and celebrate again, there will be nothing else like it.

I am attending a small gathering or an event such as a wedding, a party or sports tournament. What precautions should I take to protect myself and others from getting infected with COVID-19? Always check local regulations before attending an event. Stay at home if you are feeling unwell. Always comply with the following 3 basic preventive measures: Maintain at least 1 meter distance from others, and wear a mask if you cannot guarantee this distance. Cover a sneeze or cough with a tissue or bent elbow, and immediately dispose of tissue in a closed-lid bin. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, or with a hand sanitizer

I am organizing a small gathering or an event such as a wedding, a party or sports tournament. What precautions should I take to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among guests?


Always check local guidelines before planning your event. Brief guests about precautions before the event starts; during the event, remind guests of these precautions and ensure they are followed. Choose outdoor venues over indoor spaces – if indoors, ensure the area is well-ventilated. Minimize crowding by staggering arrivals and departures, numbering entries, designating seats/places and marking the floor to ensure physical distancing between people of at least one meter. Provide all necessary supplies – hand hygiene stations, hand sanitizer or soap and water, tissues, closed-lid bins, distance markers, masks.

409 SW 11TH AVE. PORTLAND ı 503.224.3293

for reservations visit markspencer.com OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 41


“Creating an emotional, personal connection to the words that is different from how you experience it any other way.”


The Musical Midrash Project: Turning language into lyrics By Mala Blomquist 42



ark Sherman has combined his love of Jewishness and the Torah with his songwriting ability to create The Musical Midrash Project. What started initially as a personal meditation project left unfinished years earlier, Mark revisited the melodies he began during the High Holidays in 2018. The result is 54 songs, some just in demo form, that correspond with the weekly Torah portion or parashah. “I was looking for a lyrical, kind of loveliness in the language because I always loved it, and I know that many other people find it intimidating,” says Mark. “So I thought, ‘I’m going to look for something that sounds beautiful, something lyrical. And I’m going to see if there’s a musical idea that comes to me around that text.” Mark was very steeped in music as a child. “I heard classical music. I heard a lot of old folk music as well as new folk music of the time.” Mark enjoyed the music of great singer-songwriters like Paul Simon and Cat Stevens. He also realized the importance of Jewish music, and even when he didn’t feel like he understood the Hebrew very well, he understood the emotion of the song. “The way it brings people together is also very powerful for me,” says Mark. “I have a very strong musical orientation and have enjoyed writing songs.” He has written and recorded children’s songs for Portland Jewish Academy in the past. Mark has also been a regular leader of services at Cedar Sinai Park for more than 20 years and is the cofounder of the downstairs minyan at Congregation Neveh Shalom. His songs are not an English translation, but an interpretation using the rhythm of the Hebrew words as a guide for the melody. “There’s this powerful, beautiful text that touches every kind of emotion, feelings and transformation points,” says Mark. “All of those relationships

are there in the text, and in the music, I look for that emotional connection, along with the story. Not just ‘What is the story? But how is it trying to move us?’” At the end of the Book of Genesis, he shared his songs with a small gathering, where he received enough encouragement to keep going. Still, he wanted to try out these songs on an audience as they were developing week by week, as he had initially experienced the process, instead of just sharing them in full cycles. The Musical Midrash Project has also become a hands-on family affair with support from Mark’s wife, Gail, and their children Ilana, Ben, Ayala and Nomi. In fact, Ilana created the logo and Ayala designed the website. “Over the course of this past year, this little experiment has surprised me with how strong it has become,” says Mark. “People have appreciated the songs, and it’s developed a really loyal following.” When the pandemic began, and Mark couldn’t bring people together physically, he started creating Zoom events. “It’s showing me that the songs do have an impact for people – that it can do for others what it did for me,” he says. “Creating an emotional, personal connection to the words that is different from how you experience it any other way.” So he started a weekly live session. Every Sunday morning at 8 am, and every Monday evening at 6 pm, he’ll do the same basic session. “One for morning people and one for evening people,” he says. “For some people become it has become a ritual part of their week. Their connection to Judaism during this period when everything’s shut down,” says Mark. “Their love for the songs has really made a difference for me and how I experience them myself.” For more information on the Musical Midrash Project, visit musicalmidrash.com.



Cuisine done


etween the holidays and COVID-19, there may be more reasons to push the restart button on healthy eating for 2021. Since we still can’t physically travel, these recipes will give your tastebuds a culinary journey without the guilt!


This healthy chicken taco soup gives you all the flavor of a taco in a quick and easy soup!



INGREDIENTS: 1 tablespoon avocado or coconut oil 1 small yellow onion, diced 1 small red bell pepper, diced 1 small green bell pepper, diced 5 cloves garlic, minced 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts 1 1/2 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste) 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1 teaspoon chipotle powder 1 teaspoon paprika 2 teaspoons cumin 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 1 – 15 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes 2 – 4.5 oz cans green chilies 1/4 cup fresh lime juice 32 ounces chicken broth Cilantro, for serving Diced red onion, for serving Lime wedges, for serving INSTRUCTIONS: Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add in the avocado or coconut oil. Next, add the peppers, onion, and garlic to the pot. Saute for 3-4 minutes until the onions start to become translucent. Add the chicken breast, canned tomatoes, canned green chilies, spices, lime juice, and chicken broth to the pot. Stir until well combined. Bring the soup to a rolling boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Allow the soup to simmer for 30 minutes or until the chicken is tender and easy to shred. Transfer the chicken breast from the soup to a small bowl. Use two forks to shred the meat. Add the chicken back to the soup and stir until well combined. Serve the soup with fresh cilantro, diced red onion, and fresh lime wedges. Enjoy! Recipe courtesy of All The Healthy Things.



This copycat recipe for Noodle & Company’s Penne Rosa is a healthy, quick, and super tasty dinner to feed to yourfamily. INGREDIENTS:

1 tablespoon olive oil 4 cloves garlic, minced 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes 8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced 2 medium tomatoes (about 1/2 lb.) chopped Salt and pepper, to taste 4 cups fresh spinach 1/2 cup marinara sauce 12 ounces whole wheat penne, cooked 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese INSTRUCTIONS: In a large skillet with a lid, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add in garlic and red pepper flakes, cook for 2 minutes or until garlic begins to soften. Add in mushrooms, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, or until mushrooms begin to release their water. Add in spinach and cover skillet. Let spinach wilt for 2 minutes. Remove lid, and stir in the pasta sauce. Remove the skillet from the heat, and let rest for 5 minutes. Stir in the Greek yogurt, and then add the penne. Stir until sauce is mixed well and all pasta and veggies are coated. Heat until just warmed through. Divide into pasta bowls and serve topped with parmesan cheese. NOTE: You might be tempted to skip the resting step before adding the Greek yogurt—don’t! At high temperatures Greek yogurt breaks down and curdles. Give the dish a few minutes off the heat before stirring in the yogurt to avoid chunky sauce. Recipe courtesy Cassie Johnston for Wholefully 46


INGREDIENTS: 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts (cut into 1/2 inch strips or cubes) 2 tablespoons cornstarch 1 pinch each salt & pepper 1 tablespoon olive oil or sesame Cooked white rice for serving Small bunch spring onions scallions, chopped For the sauce: 3 tablespoons soy sauce 2 tablespoons honey 1 teaspoon sriracha add more for more heat 1 teaspoon fresh ginger grated 1 clove garlic minced 2 tablespoons sesame seeds 1 tablespoon sesame oil INSTRUCTIONS: In a medium bowl, combine the soy sauce, honey, sriracha, ginger, garlic, sesame seeds and sesame oil. Set aside. In a large bowl combine the chicken, cornstarch, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Heat a large pan over high heat for at least 2 minutes. Add oil and chicken to pan. Stir-fry chicken for 5-6 minutes or until it’s golden brown. Add the sauce and allow the sauce to simmer for 3-4 minutes or until the sauce is thick and sticky. Remove chicken from pan, sprinkle with chopped spring onions and more sesame seeds if desired. Serve with hot white rice or noodles. Recipe courtesy Layla for Gimme Delicious


This sesame chicken is one of those meals that you can whip up in just about 20 minutes, in on pan, easy clean up. The chicken is cut into small bite size pieces so it cooks fast and the yummy sesame sauce comes together in under a minute.



FedEx delivers

the first shipment of vaccines for Oregon’s seniors and healthcare providers. The Vaccine Campaign of Our Lifetime In what Oregon Governor Kate Brown calls “the vaccine campaign of our lifetime,” seniors and their frontline caregivers in long-term care facilities are the first ones receiving the life-saving COVID-19 vaccine in Oregon. The CDC added Consonus Pharmacy to its short list of “trusted and approved providers” after learning about the Oregon Company’s expertise in geriatric pharmacy, record of flawlessly delivering high-touch pharmaceutical services, and its ability to operate with the logistical precision that’s critical for safe, effective distribution. Consonus Pharmacy will first launch the FDA emergency approved Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to seniors and staff at Consonus Pharmacy customers, including Marquis facilities in Oregon. Marquis, a fifth generation Company operates 23 senior care facilities across the country, is the largest provider of senior care facilities in Oregon, and owns Consonus Pharmacy. Oregon’s Consonus Pharmacy is one of only seven independent pharmacies – apart from retail giants Walgreens and CVC – to make the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s list of approved and trusted providers of the vaccine. “We applaud Oregon Governor Kate Brown for being the first Governor to officially recognize the urgent need 48

to prioritize our state’s seniors and their health care workers,” says Phil Fogg, president and CEO of Marquis Companies and the vice-chair of the American Health Care Association. “Governor Brown’s decision allows Marquis Companies and Consonus Pharmacy to combine and mobilize our 30 years of expertise caring for seniors, delivering high touch pharmaceutical services and our ability to operate with critical precision needed to provide these life-saving vaccinations. We’re humbled to be part of this historic campaign of delivering what we believe is one of the greatest scientific achievements in history.” Oregon’s Governor calls it the “light at the end of the tunnel.” “We have an excellent vaccine distribution program and we’re working with our partners, including pharmacies, hospitals and our health care providers across the state,” said Governor Kate Brown in a recent COVID-19 briefing. “The vaccine won’t help us from the pandemic, the vaccinations will. I’m hopeful we can celebrate next year’s holidays with our families and friends.” “We’re hopeful that most of the long term care workforce and residents will be vaccinated by March 1,” says Rosie Ward, senior vice-president of strategy with the Oregon Health Care Association, which advocates for Oregon seniors. “We want to applaud Consonus Pharmacy for their quick


FedEx delivers the first shipment of vaccines for Oregon’s seniors and healthcare providers. and professional work with distribution efforts in this monumental and lifesaving campaign.” After nine months of coordinating with state and federal health agencies, Consonus Pharmacy teams in geriatric pharmacy and on-site care, software technology, data analytics, and logistical operations are ready to roll. They are responsible for: safely storing the COVID-19 vaccines in Consonus Pharmacy’s ultra-cold storage facilities; reporting required vaccination data to local, state, territorial and federal jurisdictions within 72 hours of administering each dose; and following all Centers for Medicare and Medicaid COVID- 19 operational standards. To administer the required two doses, Consonus has coordinated three, onsite clinic visits with each federally matched customer in December and January. “We want to stress the vaccinations are just the first step in our nation’s road to recovery,” says Fogg. “All of our facilities will continue stringent infection prevention protocols. We can’t wait for the day we can reunite residents with their loved ones and the COVID-19 vaccine is going to make that happen much sooner.”

How to Write an

Ethical Will By Martina Merashi

cY our personal values and stories of how you’ve lived those out cR eflections on loss or failure and how you grew from those experiences cW  hat you are most grateful for in life cH opes and wishes for your loved ones’ futures cW  hat beliefs are most important to you cH ow you want to be remembered

What is an Ethical Will? In Jewish tradition, ethical wills included end-of-life planning items like burial preferences, last wishes, debts or obligations to be paid, and instructions for family members on carrying out religious traditions. For centuries, these tzava’ot documents have been the way Jewish seniors pass on their wisdom to loved ones before they die. These days, ethical wills have become less about instruction and more about crafting a legacy letter; imparting familial blessings, righting wrongs, sharing wisdom and reviewing one’s life stories. Furthermore, it is often easier for a person who is uncomfortable broaching certain memories or topics to leave those details in a letter for their families to be read after they’ve passed away. Whereas legal wills deal with material assets and valuables, ethical wills deal with one’s mortality and values. Typically written as a letter to one’s children or grandchildren, they are an opportunity to reflect on one’s life, what has been most important to them, what they’ve learned, what they are sorry about, what their hopes are, what want their loved ones to know, etc. Decide What You Want Your Ethical Will to Include There is no specific template to be followed when it comes to ethical wills. Enjoy the freedom and flexibility to craft a letter that is as simple or elaborate as you want it to be. It doesn’t even have to be on paper. You could record your words with audio or video instead. Some people choose to approach their ethical will like writing a memoir or love letter, while others follow a basic Q&A worksheet. The most important thing is that the person creating their will gets to communicate the values, life lessons and experiences they want to pass on to future generations. To help you get started, you could include things like: c Special memories of your past and present cT he best advice given to you or that you have to give cY our proudest achievements and what you learned from them

cA ny disputes you want to resolve, forgiveness you want to ask for Writing about regrets or family secrets can bring about some level of peace and understanding for the family if worded thoughtfully and carefully. However, one should strongly avoid coming across as judging, critical, manipulating, blaming or saying, “I told you so.” Have a Working Draft Started Early It is best to start writing your ethical will long before you’re at death’s door. In the same way that legal wills are continuously revised and bring people significant peace of mind, ethical wills also provide reassurance to an individual should their time come earlier than expected. It’s likely that the more time you spend reflecting on your journey, values, and wishes for your loved ones, the more intentionality you’ll approach everyday life with. It may just encourage you to live your life as you wish to be remembered. Share it with Someone Barry K. Baines, author of Ethical Wills: Putting Your Values on Paper, suggests that individuals should show their ethical will to a trusted friend or family member before passing it on. We might have unintentionally written more about one child than the other, came across as too judgemental in one part, or have forgotten to include an important experience. Getting a second pair of eyes on our writing can help us avoid these things and improve the depth and meaning of our legacy letter. Additionally, if you get stuck or are having trouble deciding what to include or how to format your ethical will, seeking the help of a counselor, rabbi, friend or professional writer can be hugely beneficial. A simple Google search will reveal that there are lots of books, workshops and articles on writing ethical wills. OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 49


February is Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance & Inclusion Month


ewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion Month ( JDAIM) is a unified effort among Jewish organizations worldwide to raise awareness and foster acceptance and inclusion of people with disabilities and mental health conditions and those who love them. JDAIM is a call to action for all of us as we act in accordance with our Jewish values, honoring the gifts and strengths that we each possess. Established at JFCS in 2009, JDAIM is observed during the month of February. The mission of Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion Month is to unite Jewish communities worldwide to raise awareness and champion the rights of all Jews to be accepted and included in all aspects of Jewish life like anyone else. People with disabilities make up the world’s largest minority group. Globally, around 10% of the world’s population lives with a disability of some kind. Twenty percent of people in the U.S. have some disability and 1 in 10 suffer from a severe disability. Over 10% of people in Israel have some form of disability that can make life’s daily activities a struggle. These statistics are just the beginning. Take into account the family, friends, and loved ones of those with disabilities who are also affected and these numbers skyrocket. Why Participate in JDAIM? By participating in Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month, we (and you!) do the following: † Raise awareness of how people with disabilities and mental health conditions have been regarded by Jewish and secular society and how that impacts our own actions. † Underscore the importance of choosing one’s own Jewish journey. † Encourage Jews around the world to become genuinely empathetic and welcoming toward people with disabilities and mental health conditions. † Urge Jews to welcome people with disabilities and mental health conditions into their communities and personal lives. † Include people with disabilities and mental health conditions in all aspects of communal life. † Advocate for the rights of people with disabilities and mental health conditions. † Support people with disabilities and mental health conditions to make their own decisions about how they want to belong to their Jewish community.



Jewish Values-Based Disability Awareness Lesson Plans Use these free downloadable lessons during JDAIM or any time of the year! Created collaboratively by the Jewish Special Needs/Disability Inclusion Consortium, these sets of lesson plans include age-appropriate lessons from kindergarten through high school that use Jewish values to help students learn about the importance of disability inclusion. PreK-Grade 3

D Adam Yihidi Nivrah 1 (PreK) D Adam Yihidi Nivrah 2 (PreK-Kindergarten)

A sample of our programs this year include: p Five mental health activity games for children, teens and young adults at home or via Zoom p Mental health program for teens and young adults (includes an interactive activity, printable materials and discussion prompts) p We Can Find a Way, a children’s picture book sponsored by RCII showing ways to be inclusive of everyone. (Includes activity guide and nook reading and guide for Zoom) p Collaborative program with PJ Library’s The Mitten String

D B’tzelem Eloheim (PreK-Kindergarten) D Purim – Being Seen (K-3rd Grade)

To learn more, visit shabbattogether.com.

D B’tzelem Eloheim (Grades 1-3)

For more information on Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance & Inclusion Month, visit inclusioninnovations.com/jdaim.

D Adam yehidi yivra (Grades 1-3) Grades 4-7+ c V’ahavta l’reiacha kamocha (Grades 4-5) c Purim –Being Seen (Grades 4-6) c Tzedek-Justice (Grades 4-6) c Kol Yisrael Araveem Zeh B’zeh (Grades 6-7) c Purim–Inclusion (Grades 7+) c Tzedek-Justice (Grades 7+) All Grades , JDAIM Coloring Book ShabbaTTogether The Ruderman Chabad Inclusion Initiative is celebrating the 3rd Annual ShabbaTTogether, a Global Shabbat of Disability Inclusion and Mental Wellness on February 12, 2021. Jewish communities around the world on six continents are planning events and programs for a global Shabbat of unity focusing on disability inclusion and mental wellness. This year, mental health has become an even more important focus as the whole world is currently struggling to find a balance and maintain our own mental wellness in these challenging and uncertain times. COVID-19 has hit every community hard and for those who have a disability or history of mental health conditions, the struggle can be even more difficult. The ShabbaTTogether resources this year are created with virtual programming in mind.




A Year of History, Culture and Politics


he 2021monthly Israel360 events will focus on historical, cultural and political aspects of Israel. On Jan. 30 the special virtual event will feature The Mystery of Herod the Great: Film and Colorful Insights by Rob Kahn, Rabbi and Israeli Tour Guide. Every visitor to Israel cannot but be awestruck by the 2,000-year-old monuments built by Herod. He greatly enlarged the Second Temple atop the vast Temple Mount platform with the sacred Western Wall as part of its base. He constructed the luxurious three-tiered palace at Masada. Out of nothing, he engineered the port city of Caesarea to honor Caesar Augustus and chose as his own tomb the magnificent Judean desert refuge of Herodium. No builder before or since has left a greater footprint in the land of Israel. But he was also a paranoid maniac that had his own children and his beloved wife executed. Herod was both admired and despised, engendering hatred as well as fear. Whether he was even Jewish is a matter of debate. He ruled as king of Judea for 34 years. Rabbi Rob Kahn, son of Garry and Judith Kahn, a licensed Israeli tour guide who lives in Jerusalem, will introduce us to this colorful, though enigmatic, figure and offer thoughts and answer questions following an insightful film on Herod’s life and career.

The Mystery of Herod the Great: Film and Colorful Insights by Rob Kahn, Rabbi and Israeli Tour Guide 52


Date: Sunday, Jan. 30 at 11 am Location: Zoom To reserve your space, please register at: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/ tZAvfuqhpzgpGtdexMHbxEwTV0Nx4AIrbZbH For more information, contact Lisa Marie Lynch at receptionist@nevehshalom.org; or 503-246-8831.


verything has been different in the COVID-19 era, including fundraising events. The Oregon NCSY annually holds “The Q,” a fast-paced, interactive trivia competition as their primary fundraiser. Rather than come up with another event, Meira Spivak, Oregon NCSY/JSU director, decided to take on the challenge of bringing The Q online. “I want this to be amazing. If there’s going to be one good virtual event – this is it.” She jokes that even though this a virtual event, it costs more to put on than an in-person fundraiser. They’ve rented a recording studio and they are also providing incredible food baskets. Since NCSY and JSU are all about giving Jewish experiences that are fun and engaging for teens, the fundraiser needs to be fun and relevant for adults. In the past, teams of eight worked together to solve trivia questions. This year, each group will be placed in their own breakout room with one person assigned as “captain” and responsible for submitting answers. These answers help the team progress to the escape room, where they will race against the clock to exit the room first. The advantage of the virtual event is that you can invite your friends from other states to be on your team. “We have people – even though it’s late – joining from New York and Israel. People who are connected to the community,” says Meira. The funds raised from the event will help support all the NCSY programs that cover kids in middle school through college. “It’s such a fun event; everybody loves it,” says Meira. “I’m so happy that we can provide something for people to get excited about.”

The Q Virtual Escape the Room Event The Q WHAT: The Q is the best multimedia trivia competition and by far the hippest event of the year. All proceeds go towards supporting the work NCSY. WHEN: Jan. 23 at 7:30 pm WHERE: The comfort of your home! MORE INFORMATION: oregon.ncsy.org/theq


Profile for JewishLifeMagazine

Oregon Jewish Life Jan./Feb. 2021 Vol. 9/Issue 5