Oregon Jewish Life Feb. 2020 Vol. 9/Issue 1

Page 1


Tu B'Shevat "New Year of the Trees"

WEDDINGS Our traditions • new • old • borrowed • blue


How Sterling Talent & J-Fell Presents are rocking our world

Jews & Muslims get real with Comedy For Peace

CON T E N T S Radical Revolution

Oregon Jewish Life February 2020 Shevat-Adar 5780 Volume 9/Issue 1



FEATURES COVER STORY The merger of two entertainment powerhouses


IN HIS OWN WORDS Finding my place and my voice


JEWS WITH ATTITUDE Janna Lopez helps those in a midlife identity crisis


BUSINESS Biz Ins & Outs


FRONT & CENTER Illuminated Letters returns to the OJMCHE Comedy For Peace

48 50

FOOD Chocolate Fondue A chocoholic’s dream – The Oregon Chocolate Festival

52 53

HOME & LIFESTYLE Celebrate Tu B’Shevat – the new year for trees






ACTIVELY SENIOR Helping to Right a Historic Wrong


WEDDINGS Tradition! 5 tips to enhance your wedding décor Know yourself… in relationships Wedding dress trends for the new decade As the saying goes…

26 28 32 34 42

JLIVING Previews Face & Places

58 60 FEBRUARY 2020

Tu B'Shevat "New Year of the Trees"

WEDDINGS Our traditions • new • old • borrowed • blue


COVER Ganit is wearing a dress by Enzoani

How Sterling Talent & J-Fell Presents are rocking our world

Jews & Muslims get real with Comedy for Peace




PU B LI S H E R Cindy Salt zman

A DV E R TI S I N G A N D E D ITO R I A L D I R EC TO R Cindy Salt zman


602-538 -2955 EDITORIAL: editor @ojlife.com ADVERTISING SALES: 602-538-2955 or adver tise@ojlife.com E VENTS: editor @ojlife.com BUSINESS: publisher @ojlife.com

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Oregon Jewish Life magazine in available online Mala Blomquis t

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A Prince Hal Produc t ion ( TGMR18) 2020-2021 MediaPort LLC All rights reserved The content and opinions in Oregon Jewish Life do not necessarily reflec t those of the publishers, staf f or contrac tors. Ar ticles and columns are for informational purposes only and not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Although ever y ef for t is made to ensure the accuracy of our published materials, Oregon Jewish Life, and its agents, publishers, employees and contrac tors will not be held responsible for the misuse of any information contained herein. The publishers reser ve the right to refuse any adver tisement. Publication of adver tisements does not constitute endorsement of produc ts or services. 6 FEBRUARY 2020 | OREGON JEWISH LIFE




ebruary is here, and so is our wedding issue. We have included a special section on weddings and marriage for the past eight years. This year we tried to freshen it up a bit. We hope you like it.

If you would like to share your marriage or wedding story with us, how you met, marriage advice (c’mon, how often do you get to give marriage advice), or a few photos, we would love to receive them and share in next month’s issue and social media. Please send it to Mala at editor@ojlife.com. Our cover story gives you an inside look into the lives and business of two of the top entertainment powerhouses in the Northwest, who happen to be Jewish. Becky Stroebel-Johnson and Jason Fellman. They share the reason behind the exciting merger of their two companies. Talk about “from strength to strength.” Thank you for reading, following and supporting us. To stay tuned to upcoming events, as well as highlights of past events, please subscribe to our weekly Happenings e-newsletter here. And don’t forget to check out our other themed e-newsletters at the same time. Thank you for reading, engaging, emailing and following us on social media. We don’t take it for granted.

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Have you visited orjewishlife.com lately? We have new content every day in addition to digital versions of each issue of Oregon Jewish Life. New things are coming and they will be announced on our website first.


WEEKLY Our first Change Maker Weekly is We received such a great response to our cover story in our November/December issue called “Tikkun Olam Top 10” that featured unsung heroes, influencers and change makers in our community. Since there are so many out there making a difference, we figured why wait until the end of the year to celebrate them. We have decided to introduce a new feature: Change Maker Weekly. Each week we will shine the spotlight on a different person in the community that you have recommended. To submit someone you think is worthy of the title, send us a few

Sallie Pearlman Cohen Sallie Pearlman Cohen is the founder of Positive Charge! PDX. Founded in the fall of 2016, they are a Portland 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that welcomes everyone to create a positive impact in the community and world. Their mission: to AMPLIFY KINDNESS! Positive Charge! PDX offers its own projects, as well as collaborating with partners like Community Warehouse and Giving Connection and a dedicated “angel core group” to create community, share good news and make a positive impact in our community and throughout the world. As Sallie says, “Beautiful people making such beautiful contributions to our world!” To learn more about Positive Charge! PDX, or to become involved, visit positivechargepdx.org.

lines about this special person and why they should be featured, along with a photo. You can even suggest yourself! Please send the information to editor@ojlife.com. Full disclosure – don’t be shy. We will be posting the weekly winner’s photo and info on Facebook and in our weekly Happenings e-newsletter.


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Finding my place and my voice by Cole Keister



here I grew up in rural Oregon people denied the Holocaust. I experienced a lot of anti-Semitism from people who really had never met Jewish people. I don’t identify as being religious, but being Jewish is an important part of who I am. I remember that starting around when I was just about 7, other kids would tell me I was going to hell for being Jewish, I would be gifted the bible or asked to come to church so that I could be “saved,” and I became very aware that I was different. When I got to middle school the anti-Semitism became more intense, I was called a kike, a dirty Jew, swastikas would show up on my things, and again every day I was reminded I was different for being Jewish. I didn’t do anything to the other kids and generally had a nice group of friends, but there wasn’t a day where my difference would go unaware. But I have to thank my mom who would always make an effort to come into my elementary school and teach everyone about Hanukkah. I think this made a big difference in our tiny community. Eventually, I went to college at Portland State University where I learned about Birthright Israel. In winter 2015, I left for my trip and went to Israel for the first time. I was an anxious 19-year-old who didn’t know anyone else going on Birthright Israel. It was a big deal for me to go, knowing no one and having no connections to Israel. I came to Israel with a lot of questions, misconceptions, and an open mind, completely unsure of what I would experience. I was surprised by the relief I felt being there and no longer feeling so different, it felt like a weight was gone that I didn’t realize was there in the first place. Plus, Birthright gave me the chance to do something independent in a safe but unfamiliar environment which showed me I can do more things like this in life. It was inspiring to go on a trip alone and have new experiences and create new connections at a young age. When I returned to Portland, I came back with so many questions about what I experienced and was able to keep in touch with the friends I had made on my trip. While I was excited for all of the new perspectives I had seen in Israel, sadly, the anti-Semitism wasn’t going away in Portland. BDS came to my campus right after I got back from Birthright. The language they were using was off-script. They were calling out Jewish people and weren’t even being anti-Israel, just straight up anti-Semitic. My first-hand experience in Israel gave me the confidence, and a newfound interest in Israel, that supported me to join the pro-Israel group. Four years later and I’m now president of this group, CHAI, the Cultural and Historical Association for Israel at Portland State University. It’s now my role to help create events, manage our social media, and continue outreach initiatives and collaborate with other groups to help show the real Israel. Cole Keister is a 2016 Birthright Israel alumnus. Reprinted with permission from Birthright Israel Foundation.




anna Lopez has more than 25 years in media, communications, and editorial endeavors. She has spent the last ten years as owner, publisher and editor of several regional magazines. As a word enthusiast, she’s helped multi-million dollar companies craft their stories. She currently leads workshops and coaches clients about midlife identity loss and grief. “My current passion is presenting to groups, both large and small, about the confusing nature of midlife identity,” she says. “We’re thirsty to connect, be seen, be heard and to be understood.” Janna’s taken years of experience, transition and challenge and translated them into her first book, Me, My Selfie, & Eye: A Midlife Conversation About Lost Identity, Grief, and Seeing Who You Are. With millions of women and men in the throes of a midlife identity crisis, Janna steps in to change the stagnant social conversation with straight talk, humor and insight. Me, My Selfie, & Eye helps readers understand what they’re really in – a transition of profound grief – and helps them develop awareness for a newer expanded sense of identity. Me, My Selfie, & Eye is for people in midlife who are: ANGRY at themselves but don’t always know why, or where to go from there. UNABLE to understand what’s going on. HIGH ACHIEVERS and those who have high expectations of themselves. GRIEVING the loss of an identity, often before they were ready to let go of it. USING tools from an emotional box that aren’t working anymore and don’t yet have new ones. FRUSTRATED with over-simplified candy-coated solutions to complex midlife problems. STUCK in a narrow or limited sense of identity and need a more expansive vision of themselves, for themselves. This book is ideal for people ages 40-60 years old, those with high-profile professional positions, recent empty-nesters, those wearing many social, familial, or professional hats, and anyone renegotiating their primary relationships. Me, My Selfie, & Eye provides clarity, strategies and recommendations within the dark confusion for how to take the next steps towards “seeing” one’s self again. Janna lives in Portland, has two children, a great husband, and three cats. She was recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and started graduate school to obtain her MFA in creative writing at the Pacific Northwest College of Art. Janna is also, “a tequila aficionado, ’80s-rock enthusiast, and recently denounced a falsely-held narrative that I’m a plant assassin and gave into the immensely gratifying task of caring for plants.” So far, so good.

Janna Lopez helps those in a midlife identity crisis


You can purchase Me, My Selfie, & Eye: A Midlife Conversation About Lost Identity, Grief, and Seeing Who You Are at Amazon, Barnes & Nobel Booksellers, BookBaby and Powell’s City of Books. For more information on Janna, visit jannalopez.com. OREGON JEWISH LIFE | FEBRUARY 2020 13



Arlene Schnitzer

Sharon Straus, Sunshine Pantry

Arlene Schnitzer donates $10 million to the Portland Art Museum The Portland Art Museum announced Jan. 21 that it received a $10 million gift from philanthropist Arlene Schnitzer – the largest contribution ever from an individual donor in the museum’s 127-year history. Schnitzer’s gift supports the museum’s ongoing “Connections Campaign” intended to bring together the two buildings on its campus through the new Mark Rothko Pavilion. Named after the famous 20th-century painter who grew up in Portland, the museum aims to use the pavilion to improve public access and bolster its endowment through the campaign. An official announcement of the public campaign is anticipated in 2021. Arlene Schnitzer’s relationship with the Portland Art Museum began when she enrolled as a student at the Museum Art School. She and her husband, Harold Schnitzer, z” l, along with their son, Jordan, have been close partners of the Museum for almost half a century. Their passion for art, and our city, led to leadership roles at the Museum. Jordan Schnitzer, Arlene’s son, announced the contribution at the museum Tuesday morning. The heir to one of Oregon’s top philanthropic families, Jordan, along with his parents, have made substantial gifts to the museum and other arts institutions in Oregon. Along with Schnitzer’s gift, U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Oregon, announced a $750,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in support of the museum’s campaign. portlandartmuseum.org

Sunshine Pantry is back up and running Family-run food bank Sunshine Pantry, owned by Sharon Straus, has reopened at its new location at 13600 SW Allen Blvd. in Beaverton. The pantry is open from 10 am to 2 pm Monday through Friday. Sunshine Pantry gathers, collects and purchases food and amenities to distribute to families in need in the community. They currently supply food, toiletries and clothing to more than 500 families a month. The pantry is always in need of volunteers, please contact 503-841-9418 for volunteer opportunities. sunshinepantry.org


David Block, M.A.

Rabbi Joshua Rose

JFCS hires new executive director Jewish Family and Child Service has hired David Block, M.A. as their new executive director starting February 17. David brings 20 years of executive level nonprofit human service agency experience. David’s previous position was as president and CEO of the Joint Initiatives for Youth & Families in Colorado Springs, CO. There he operated under the general direction of the board of directors and provided executive management and direction of the organization in accordance with the mission, vision and strategic plan of Joint Initiatives. David was also the executive director of Youth Shelters and Family Services in Santa Fe, NM and CEO of the American Red Cross of Wyoming. jfcs-portland.org

Rabbi Rose to leave Shaarie Torah in June 2021 Rabbi Joshua Rose has decided conclude his role as Shaarie Torah’s rabbi in June of 2021. Rabbi Rose and his family will stay in Portland and plan to remain connected to the Shaarie Torah community. The board has already begun the rabbinical search process with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (the umbrella organization for Conservative Judaism, of which CST is a member). The board is confident that this process will result in hiring a rabbi who will lead, instruct, and inspire our community, just as Rabbi Rose has done for the past 6 years. The Rabbi’s departure also coincides with a board decision to produce a multi-year strategic plan with the goal to

Alicia Hunt

create an innovative institution of Conservative Judaism. Our welcoming community, grounded in tradition, is primed to bring life, energy, and culture into CST and the wider Portland Jewish community. And we will have Rabbi Rose’s guidance as we undertake this planning process and the transition in general. “Being the rabbi of this storied shul has been the greatest privilege of my professional life. This is a one-of-a-kind community and you have given me, Channah and our boys more than we could ever pay back,” says Rabbi Rose in a statement. “Both Channah and I look forward to the blessings you and we will share together in the remainder of my time as the rabbi here.” shaarietorah.org

Alicia Hunt named as director of marketing at Koan Alicia Hunt is the new director of marketing at Koan software company. Koan assists companies through a leadership platform that helps teams achieve their objectives, uncover insights and stay engaged. Before joining Koan, Alicia was the marketing manager for machine learning and artificial intelligence at Amazon Web Services. She also was marketing manager at Gigapan, Inc. and marketing and communications specialist at Benchmade, Inc. Alicia earned her business and marketing degree at Trinity University in Texas, where she was captain of the Trinity’s varsity women’s tennis team and was a four-time AllAmerican. koan.co

HAVE BUSINESS NEWS TO SHARE? Send your "Biz Ins" to editor@ojlife.com OREGON JEWISH LIFE | FEBRUARY 2020 15





or more than 35 years, Sterling Talent, Inc. has been the preeminent entertainment talent agency in the Northwest. Sterling’s roster of clients includes names such as Nike, Microsoft, the Portland Trailblazers to Columbia Sportswear, Alaska Airlines and more. For a little over a decade, Sterling Talent has been working with J-Fell Presents, the Northwest’s preeminent concert promoter, booking agency and entertainment marketing agency. J-Fell Presents produces hundreds of concerts and festivals a year including, Harefest, the ’80s weekend at Crystal Ballroom, The Alladin and the Spanish Ballroom Tribute series, to name just a few. So who are the brains and talent behind these businesses that have been supplying the Northwest with top-notch entertainment for so many years? Becky Stroebel-Johnson is the CEO of Sterling Talent, Inc. and Jason Fellman is the musician, promoter and marketing genius behind J-Fell Presents. As of January 2020, these two trailblazers of the entertainment business have merged to create a powerhouse company that is uniquely qualified to offer both sides of the talent spectrum, both clients and artists, a seamless and successful model to success. In addition to their background as artists themselves, they share a common bond of business integrity, love of laughter and a shared background growing up Jewish in Portland. "Oregon Jewish Life" Publisher Cindy Saltzman was able to catch these two during a rare hour of free time to ask them about their businesses and the merger. CINDY: Becky and Jason, before we go into the merging of your two companies, tell us a little about how each of you got started in the music and entertainment business? BECKY: Since I was little, all I ever wanted to do was something in music, and I wanted to sing. When I was a senior in high school, I remember having a conversation with my parents about wanting to be a professional singer. My dad’s response was, “Well, you need to get your college degree and get a career, and if you want to do it on the side, you can.” So, I went to the University of Oregon and studied elementary education but never used that. CINDY: What kind of venues would you play? BECKY: Any event that needed to have entertainment! I volunteered and I was using tracks, and sometimes there would be a piano player, but I never said no because I loved to sing. After I got married, I decided to have a “‘regular’” job as an employment counselor. It wasn’t until I was facing a divorce and had a child to support, that I started looking at other options for work. I didn’t want anyone else raising my child but me, so I decided instead of an 8 am to 5 pm Monday to Friday job I would start singing at night, then I hired a live-in nanny, so I could be with my daughter during the day.

Becky Stroebel-Johnson

"...all I ever wanted to do was something in music, and I wanted to sing". OREGON JEWISH LIFE | FEBRUARY 2020 17


Jason Fellman of Stone in Love

I ended up traveling a lot on the hotel and resort circuit. I would take my daughter and nanny on the road with me with high chairs and all kinds of child paraphernalia. Driving in the car one day with my daughter, we drove past a Holiday Inn, and she said, “Look, mommy – holiday home.” That was one of the things that made me realize that I needed to stop singing on the road, and I was going to have to grow some roots. CINDY: So, did you stop singing at that point? BECKY: No, but the seeds were planted that I would need to do something else to ensure my child has a stable environment. When I was singing at the Red Lion in Portland, I was approached by Earl Palmer, who was known as the father of


modern drumming. I didn’t know who he was at the time, but soon learned that he was a member of an influential group of L.A. studio musicians called the Wrecking Crew. He was one of the people that record companies relied on to lay down the tracks of the popular artists that we grew up listening to. He convinced me to go to visit L.A. and rolled out the red carpet for me. I had this incredible opportunity to move the kids – as I had a second child by then – and myself to LA and work. I considered it and finally decided it was not fair to my children for me to take that opportunity. I knew that having just received my dream offer and refusing it, my priorities had shifted and it was time for me to open a new chapter. And I did. For more than two years, I would sing until 2 am, I would get to bed about 3 am, and I would get up at 6 am with the kids and work on Sterling Talent during the day until it

was time to go to work at night and sing. I used my singing money to start Sterling Talent.

understanding. But also how we advocate for the best possible musician experience when we’re talking to clients.

CINDY: So, at that point, you realized that your dream was changing?

CINDY: What kind of musician are you – do you play or do you sing?

BECKY: Once I made the decision that I had to start the company, and put down roots in Portland, it was still hard to separate myself from the singing career because I loved it so much. It was almost like going through another divorce, separating myself from that experience. Then I got very sick and I lost my voice for a few months. It was a really bad flu, and I just could not sing. So it forced me to take that time while I was getting my voice back to focus on Sterling Talent. Once I started getting some bookings with Sterling, and the business was taking

JASON: When I graduated high school in 1991, I moved to Los Angels to go to a music school which at the times was a vocational school (now it’s a four-year university) called the Musicians Institute and I studied drums. At that point, I was already a teenager-in-a-band kind of guy. I was going to make it big and all that. After I graduated, I moved back to Portland. I did the band thing for a couple of years got pretty disenchanted with the whole thing. I was living at home and working at Burlington Coat Factory, and the band wasn’t going anywhere. So I enrolled in the University of Texas in Austin in 1994, and that same year, when I was 21, I started a business with a friend.

Stone in Love, a Journey tribute band; The Aladdin theatre in Portland OR.

off, my voice returned. I knew at that point that I was off and running and the business needed all of the energy I could pour into it, and that’s when I went full-time with Sterling. CINDY: Jason, I assume your story is a little different than Becky’s? JASON: Well, there are some similarities. We’re both musicians, that’s a key part of both our stories because it does influence how we approach our business – both in terms of how we interact with the musicians and the level of

That business ended up becoming a very successful, integrated marketing firm. The company grew and we were recognized as one of the 500 most influential companies in the world for multimedia at the time, along with companies like Microsoft, ATT and Disney. I did that for almost 10 years. We rode the dot-com wave up, we survived the downturn and then when we recovered and the company was healthy, I decided that it was time to move



Left to right: Rock violinist Aaron Meyer, Jazz musician, Tom Grant, 80's cover band, The Radical Revolution, Kalimba an Earth, Wind and Fire tribute band and guitar legend Jennifer Batten.

There is a band called 2 Live Crew, it's a really hard core rap group from the’ 90s. − Jason Fellman

So we call ourselves the 2 Live Jews. − Becky Stroebel-Johnson 20 FEBRUARY 2020 | OREGON JEWISH LIFE

on. I had always kind of wanted to move back to Portland. Austin was a little bit more of a pit stop for me of it just ended up being a 10-year pit stop. I moved back to Portland, and I was still doing some consulting and I started playing music again. I’d essentially set it aside but at this point, I was 31, my goals were different. Now it’s more of bucket-list thing – I wanted to have an album and to play some gigs. During this process, I started learning some interesting things about the music business and one of the things I learned is that musicians were woefully underrepresented, and not necessarily getting a fair shake. I discovered if you want to play in a club, you have to cover about four hours but if you’re an original band that’s really hard to do. So we started playing ’80s music for the last third of the night because I’m from the ’80s and I love ’80s music and it was a little angle to get people to stick around all night. Basically, we spun off as an ’80s band, called the Breakfast Club, and now it’s called Radical Revolution. It’s still going – I’m the co-lead singer and rhythm guitar player. I also play drums in a Journey tribute band called Stone in Love. Both these bands have been around for more than 10 years now. Those bands became the cornerstone of my music business that I didn’t set out to have. What would happen is that other musicians saw the success that my bands were having and they would approach me and say, ‘Hey, can you do this for us?’ and I thought well, maybe. I took on a project with a Guns n’ Roses tribute band called Appetite for Deception. This was my first project as a concert promoter, where I wasn’t playing in the band, and it was at the Aladdin Theater in Portland. We sold out, and at that moment, I had an epiphany. I looked around the audience and I recognized about a third of these people from my last Stone in Love show, and it dawned

on me that these bands have overlapping audiences. From there, I started growing as a concert promoter into what I am now – the number one tribute band concert promoter in the Northwest. All of a sudden, I was promoting all the shows. Becky was one of the first people to reach out and say, ‘We would like to book your band and maybe a couple the other bands you represent.’ I was on the artist side and Becky was on the side dealing with both buyers and artists. Over time, we ended up doing a lot of business together to the point where I was her biggest vendor and she was my biggest client. BECKY: One of the things that is often really frustrating with bands if they don›t understand how to market themselves – to make themselves attractive to the people that book events. Jason was able to take all of his marketing knowledge and turn it toward these music groups and have phenomenal success. CINDY: At this point, you both must have realized that you both were bringing some real strengths to the table that is going to make what you can offer as a team that much more attractive and effective. JASON: Eventually, my booking path led me to a place where I no longer became comfortable. My main thing was mostly tribute bands – a band that essentially plays the music of one artist. I was getting asked by clients to do things that I wasn’t qualified to do. I’ve always believed that if you’re going to charge somebody money to do something, you need to be bringing your best and so I asked Becky if she could help. We started pitching clients together and we were having success so you can see how this all came together. We were OREGON JEWISH LIFE | FEBRUARY 2020 21

THE MERGER marrying Becky’s deep history of working in the business 30 years and my marketing expertise, my exclusive roster of tribute bands. When we put all that together, it made a great value equation for our customers. The combination of the skill sets being complimentary and having the same business philosophies is what brought us together.

able to do those things for clients. I was going to be careful not to use too much hyperbole but I don’t believe that there’s anybody else in the Northwest that has our combined skill set. BECKY: I was going to say the same thing. JASON: You just never see it because they’re very different businesses. It was part of the reason why I also felt it was so important to get some separation between concert promoter and booking agency. You don’t usually have them in the same business, which we don’t, but we have them in the same ecosystem because we’re connected.

BECKY: A lot of times people will ask, ‘What do you do?’ and I’ll say, ‘I have a booking agency,’ and everybody always says that sounds like so much fun. They don’t realize that so much of that work is done in isolation on your computer and the telephone. When Jason and I started sharing our thoughts about our businesses, and decided to try and do some of these things together, it was so much better. JASON: And it was way more fun! It’s just so nice to be able to collaborate with somebody you know. We’re in a business where there aren’t very many of us, so finding people who can relate and understand the dynamics of the business that you’re in is rare. I enjoy being able to jump on the phone every day and brainstorm ideas for how we can help a client make their series better.

BECKY: I should clarify something. If you go to Jason’s promotion company, J-Fell Presents, you can see all the different activities. Then for the booking side of it, everything falls under the Sterling Talent umbrella.

Jason Fellman

BECKY: Another interesting thing I think about merging our two companies is that as much as Jason mentioned our core philosophies line up with each other, we also have very different perspectives on things, and so when you put them together, it gives us a much broader viewpoint. JASON: What we’re able to do now with this merger is bring both sides to the table. Not only do we have Becky’s 30 plus years of experience, but we also have my exclusive roster of bands. And on top of that, when a client buys from us – even if they don’t spend an extra dime – they automatically are going to get a certain amount of promotion from my other company. They’re going to be in the monthly email, on a weekly roundup calendar and they’re going to get the social media stuff. That’s something that is more powerful together, that we’re 22 FEBRUARY 2020 | OREGON JEWISH LIFE

JASON: The easiest way to think about the difference is that if everything goes through Sterling Talent has a fixed budget, everything that goes through J-Fell Presents is the opposite of that; it’s always variable. There’s a risk component. It’s more like being an investor, each show has a risk and potential reward, and you are managing that on a continuum. A lot of the time as a concert promoter, I’ll lose money on a booking. That’s just the way it works. But the payout can be massive, if you do a good job, so part of the skill of being a concert promoter is to manage that risk. CINDY: Does anyone hire you separately now or does it go together? BECKY: It gives us leverage both on the booking side and also on the promotions side. It allows us to put those things together and offer the artist more dates, and also offer the buyers opportunities to get bands that they wouldn’t normally be able to get on their budget. JASON: And to that point, I think people are starting to realize that as we’re getting our summer concert series proposals out this year, is that a lot of the prices for these

higher-end bands that Becky used to book from me, now that we’re booking together the prices have come down. We were two different agencies before with double the commission; we took one of the commissions out of the picture. We’re OK with that because even though the margins come down on those bands theoretically, we can book them for more situations. It’s a win-win because a band might come down by 25% so we can get them more dates because they don’t cost as much, and the band gets paid the same. BECKY: And it allows our buyers to take advantage of that situation. JASON: Yeah, they’re definitely getting a rate that would be almost impossible to get from other agencies. CINDY: It seems as a business model, it would be hard to compete with you. JASON: We’ve created an unusual hybrid. It’s a very unique value proposition for the Northwest. BECKY: I want to add, because it may not be obvious, but one of the advantages for our buyers is that let’s say you were looking for a band for a wedding or corporate party and you call them and they’re going to give you a price, but I guarantee you 100% it’s not the same price that they’re going to give us. We’re not just a one-time buyer, we might be getting them 10 or 20 dates, and so they’re going to give us special pricing and so that helps our customers. A bride hired a particular band and when I hear what the fee is that she is paying, it’s usually almost twice as much as it might have been had they gone through an agency. But the common belief is don’t use an agency because they’ll add on commissions. That is a fallacy. We’re going to go direct to the band because first of all, we only work with the best bands, and secondly, those bands have mutual respect with us and they will offer us pricing that nobody else is going to get. So there is a big advantage in going through an agency. CINDY: What has been the biggest challenge in the business? BECKY: One of the challenges in doing what I do is making sure that the quality of the artists we present to our clients is consistently high. Not only do we want to maintain a high quality in the artists that we are presenting, but as former artists ourselves, we want to do the best we can for our artists to help them make a living and continue to make their art. We also work with a lot of corporate buyers, parks and recreational districts, so it’s important that we’re getting our clients the best bands we can at the best price. You want to do the best thing for your buyer, and we also want to do really well for our artists. It can sometimes be a little bit challenging. JASON: We both have long-standing careers and relationships and there has been a lot of excitement in response to our merger announcement. But the challenge is just the sheer volume of deal flow. Since the merger, we are also merging systems and putting new ones in place while we are experiencing significant growth in terms of booking volume. It’s a good problem on the whole.

"I would sing until 2 am, I would get to bed about 3 am, and I would get up at 6 am with the kids and work on Sterling Talent during the day until it was time to go to work at night and sing. I used my singing money to start Sterling Talent." − Becky Stroebel-Johnson

BECKY: January is one of the busiest times of the year because everybody that’s having summer events is getting those in place now. As soon as New Year’s is over, we OREGON JEWISH LIFE | FEBRUARY 2020 23


get this influx of clients who want to get their concert series lined up and get everything put together, and they wanted it yesterday, so that’s been a challenge. CINDY: On a more personal note, Jason, are you married? Do you have kids? Did you grow up in Portland? Do you celebrate Jewish holidays? By the way, I heard you make a mean latke during Hanukkah. JASON: Yes, and Israeli chicken – those are my two goto’s. I was born in Portland. I went to Beaverton High School and I’ve got a wife and a 12-year-old daughter. I had my bar mitzvah with Rabbi Stampfer and Cantor Dinkin at Neveh Shalom. I went to preschool and kindergarten there, too. Rabbi Isaak was the officiant at our wedding. That’s the abridged version of my story. CINDY: What is Israeli chicken? JASON: It’s barbecued chicken, marinated in olive oil, garlic, cumin and paprika. You marinate it for a while and then you grill it.


I grew up in a family of cooks, and I just like the zen of cooking. We’re in a business with a lot of details, and we both work from home so imagine that you’re working your basement and you’ve got all these hundreds of shows you’re dealing with, and all of a sudden I’m in the kitchen my daughter’s running around and I gotta cook. It’s nice to put on the chef hat and focus on what you’re doing. It clears the mind really quickly. CINDY: So cooking is one of your ways of relaxing. JASON: Yes, and for me, I have the good fortune of still being able to play the music and do that part of it. But the business is my social life, my hobby and my living all in one. It’s what everybody wants, right? So I never take that for granted. Other than that, exercising and cooking and family time are my centers of relaxation. My world is relatively compact because so much of it is fed through music. My social circle and my avocation and my business are all fluid in the same thing, so it’s cool. CINDY: Becky, tell us a little bit about your background.

Shoot to Thrill, AC/DC Tribute Band

BECKY: I grew up in Salem and was affiliated with a synagogue there, then I moved to Portland. Although I have never joined a synagogue here, I feel quite bonded with the Jewish community in many ways. In fact, we call ourselves, 2 Live Jews.

people I grew up within the Jewish community are very hard working, very committed, very ethical. I feel like that’s a common thread that we have that was formed from our Judaism. Commitment to doing what it takes to do a good job and getting things done right.

JASON: There is a band called 2 Live Crew, it’s a rap group from the’90s. So we are the 2 Live Jews.

BECKY: Yes, and before this merger, I used to do a lot of stuff with national acts, and so you find yourself in a situation where you’re calling the major agencies like William Morris to get information about the artist that you’re going to book. Many of them are Jewish and without having ever met them before you start talking to them and strike a bond, and you find a commonality between you and you feel like you’ve known them forever. That part of it has been really fun for me. It’s actually been important in some situations, and you just feel that immediate bond. Even in the roster of artists that we book here in Portland, there are so many that are Jewish.

CINDY: Have you ever been exposed to anti-Semitism in the business? On the reverse side, how has Judaism positively informed your life? JASON: Actually, a huge percentage of the booking agents are Jewish. The stereotypes of Jews being prominent in the entertainment business is there for a reason. It is a reality. I haven’t personally experienced any kind of antiSemitism affiliated with the business but obviously it is out there. I think in terms of values. You would laugh if you saw all the various hours of the day and days of the week that Becky and I exchange notes, emails and ideas. I think that our culture, the work ethic, is the thing that comes to mind. Most of the

JASON: Yes, and the band leaders in particular. For more information on the merger, upcoming events, or artists, visit j-fell.com or sterlingtalent.com.



TRADITION! There are many traditions that are unique to a Jewish wedding.

Whether you grew up immersed in the Jewish religion

and culture or barely attended temple, you may wish to incorporate Jewish wedding traditions into your big day. Depending on your subculture (Ashkenazi or Sephardic), your l

evel of orthodoxy and whether or not you are marrying a fellow Jew, these traditions may be optional or mandatory.


SIGNING THE KETUBAH The ketubah is a symbolic Jewish marriage contract that outlines the groom’s responsibilities to his bride. It dictates the conditions he will provide in the marriage, the bride’s protections and rights, and the framework should the couple choose to divorce. The ketubah isn’t actually a religious document, but part of Jewish civil law – so there’s no mention of God blessing the union. Signing the ketubah is one of the oldest Jewish wedding traditions, dating back two thousand years. The couple, the officiants, and witnesses all sign the ketubah prior to the ceremony. BEDEKEN Bedeken means “checking,” and this practice dates back to biblical times. According to one legend, it began after Jacob was tricked by his fatherin-law Laban into marrying Leah, who was presented to him as an already-veiled bride. Only after the ceremony did he discover that she was not Rachel, his intended bride. In another story, the first time in the Torah that we learn of love between two people is when Isaac and Rebecca meet. Out of modesty and humility, Rebecca lowers her veil and Isaac is so taken by her aura and beauty that he falls to the ground. If a bride is to be veiled, at some point before the ceremony – either before for after the processional – her intended places the veil over her face. CIRCLING Among Ashkenazi Jews it is customary before entering the chuppah, for one partner to circle the other seven times, known as hakafot. This process alludes to the seven days of creation and as a reminder that marriage is itself a process of creation. Some couples choose a twist on this tradition by circling each other to demonstrate equality in their relationship. If this is the case, the bride circles the groom three times, the groom circles the bride three times, and then they circle each other once. OPENER - PHOTOGRAPHER JENN WAGNER • JENN WAGNER STUDIO • JENN-WAGNER.COM FLOWERS LARA LAKI • LAKI EVENTS AND DESIGN • LAKIEVENTSANDDESIGN.COM/

SHEVA B’RACHOT The seven blessings, called the Sheva B’rachot, come from ancient teachings. They are often read in both Hebrew and English, and shared by a variety of family members or friends, just as friends and family are invited to perform readings in other types of ceremonies. The blessings focus on joy, celebration and the power of love. They begin with the blessing over a cup wine, then progress to more grand and celebratory statements, ending with a blessing of joy, peace, companionship, and the opportunity for the bride and groom to rejoice together.

TALLIT A tallit, or fringed prayer shawl, may be used in several ways as part of Jewish wedding traditions. A tallit may serve as the top of the chuppah. A bride may also give her groom a tallit as a wedding gift. During the final blessings, the couple’s parents may wrap the tallit around the couple’s shoulders as a symbol of unity and being surrounded by love.

CHUPPAH The ceremony takes place under a chuppah, or wedding canopy, which represents God’s sheltering presence in the lives of the couple, as well as the new home they will build together. The presence of family members under the chuppah, as well as its lack of walls, signify that family and friends will always be welcome in the couple’s home. A tallit (prayer shawl) that has special meaning to the couple can serve as a chuppah as can a handmade quilt or other covering. Some wedding canopies are not free-standing, requiring four individuals, generally friends or family members of the couple, to hold the poles to which the chuppah is affixed.

HORA AND MEZINKE The celebratory dance at the reception is called the hora where guests dance in a circle. Oftentimes, you will see women dancing with women and men dancing with men. The bride and groom are seated on chairs and lifted into the air while holding onto a handkerchief or cloth napkin. There is also a dance called the mezinke, which is a special dance for the parents of the bride or groom when their last child is wed.

BREAKING THE GLASS At the end of the ceremony, the groom breaks a glass (usually wrapped in a cloth napkin or bag to avoid injury!) with his right foot. There are many interpretations of this ritual. Some consider it a reminder of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, the most holy place in all of Jewish history. Others explain that the fragile glass reminds us of the delicate nature of marriage, which must always be cared for and cherished. At the sound of the breaking of the glass, guests traditionally clap and yell “mazel tov,” to offer congratulations and good luck to the couple.



Tips to Enhance Your Wedding Decor Courtesy Family Features Wedding days are meant

to be filled with love and celebration, and what better way to ring in the new stage of life as newlyweds than with a well-decorated venue to match the joyous occasion. Whether a couple is on a tight budget or picky when it comes to theme ideas, these decorating tips can help add more flair for the big day.


Many couples choose wedding venues that require immense amounts of decorations, but a venue with organic scenery or a beautiful view can help alleviate the stress. Consider having the ceremony near a garden or beach with enough natural surroundings to keep guests in awe.




Tips to Enhance Your Wedding Decor PLACE ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS AROUND THE VENUE With any wedding, you want the day to feel personal and intimate for the couple and guests alike. Consider decorating the venue with engagement photos of the soon-to-be spouses as they popped the question. This can allow the newlyweds to reminisce while guests view those cherished moments and revel in the occasion.

Mark Spencer Hotel Portland, OR 30 FEBRUARY 2020 | OREGON JEWISH LIFE

ADD CLASSIC LIGHTING At times, finding the right lighting to match the mood of a wedding venue can be tricky. In this case, less may actually be more. Try opting for a classic candlelit ceremony or reception to create a more romantic setting. This can save both money and countless hours spent attempting to configure elaborate light fixtures, and also provide a timeless feel. CHOOSE TABLE ACCESSORIES THAT POP Leave guests in amazement as they make their way to their seats for the reception with beautifully decorated tables. Table accessories can be anything ranging from patterned table runners to flowers in full-bloom placed in simple, elegant vases. If you are not having a formal sitdown reception, try using paper lanterns or hanging flowers from the ceiling to create an eyecatching atmosphere to remember. MAKE THE CAKE A CENTERPIECE Wedding cakes are almost guaranteed to be filled with flavor, but they can also serve as a decorative centerpiece for the reception. Choosing a cake topped with flowers, highlighting bright colors and placing it in a prominent spot at the reception can grab guests’ attention while also keeping them eager for a bite.



Know yourself…. in relationships By Dorice Horenstein


just had the most wonderful evening the other day. Five couples got together for dinner at a Chinese restaurant. It was so much fun connecting with some friends I have not seen for a while. What I noticed is that collectively we have been married for over 180 years!!! Yes! Some of us only married for 22 years and others for over 46 years. Can you imagine that? As my husband tells me, “You have been married to me 2/3 of your life!” So, naturally it got me thinking what makes some marriages last and others to break down. Not only that, but in the last month I have spoken with several people, men and women, who told me that their marriage is “on the rocks.” My heart ached for them and I hugged them and tried to give them my support for the daily struggles they are going through…so – back to my million-dollar question – what keeps a marriage happy and strong? I came up with a few ideas that are connected to my Jewish identity, values and thoughts that are instilled in me because of my background. And naturally, I am happy to share it with you!


When I got married, I attended a synagogue that has a Jewish phrase right by the ark in which the Torah is placed. The phrase is, “Know before whom you stand.” When I saw this phrase for the first time, I was a newlywed and it made an impression on me. Knowing before whom we stand, knowing God, invites us to ponder, knowing who we are, know yourself ! I think when we begin a life with a partner, we also need to continue to get to know ourselves. And that means to really really know ourselves. If we don’t, how would we expect our partner to know us, to know our desires, to know our wishes? It is easy to put the blame on others… but do we have a part in it?


“Love your neighbor as yourself.” I want us to focus for a second on the second part. As yourself. The basic requirement, the way I view it, is: in order to be in a good and healthy relationship, we’ve got a love ourselves first! I don’t mean it in a narcissistic way, but I do mean it with


truly deep intention. Loving ourselves does not mean that everything we do is amazing, or, for that matter, right. We can and will make mistakes; we are human being living and functioning in this universe with other beings! By loving ourselves, we value ourselves. We believe we should have a seat at the table. At the same time, we believe that our partners have a seat at the table. “If I’m not for myself, who will be for me.” Ultimately, it is up to you, up to each one of us to take care of ourselves. We can’t and shouldn’t expect other people to make us happy, to make us loved. Only we have the power to internalize this feeling. This power belongs only in our court. Our strength as well as challenge is to convey that feeling and that sense of security in a relationship. I believe a good marriage brings out the love and acceptance so both partners feel loved. And when both feel loved, it is so much easier to give love. That is where heaven meets earth- the feeling of giving and receiving, of acceptance and harmony, of love and forgiveness, going back and forth between the couple.

So, as I sat and dined with my friends and remembered other friends who are going through the pain of separation, I ask and beg for myself to never lose a sight of who I am, my wishes, wants and desires, and also understanding that my partners needs that as well. I cried with my friends who are not sure about the future of their marriage. I cried with them, and for them; For lost time, for a missed opportunity to put their own stake in the ground and be able to say “this is me, this relationship if for me, after all – the world was created for me.” But that is the ultimate journey of life. To be able to see where we veered off, to correct course, and to move forward. And moving forward, kadima, always mean to take what was ancient, kadum, with you. Remembering what brought us to a tough situation, learn from it, and grow from it and with it. May we all have a clearer path ahead.

Hilton Hotel Downtown, Portland, OR 32 FEBRUARY 2020 | OREGON JEWISH LIFE

Bob and Dorice Horenstein on their wedding day. Inset: Bob and Dorice today.

DORICE HORENSTEIN Dorice Horenstein is a Jewish educator, turned speaker and author of Moments of The Heart: Four Relationships Everyone Should Have to Live Wholeheartedly. For more information, visit doricehorenstein.com or jewisheducationservices.com.




Wedding dress trends for the new decade By Mala Blomquist New decades always bring new fashion trends, and wedding dresses are no exception. Bridal Fashion Week happened in New York in October 2019, and those designs are emerging from the runway for those brides planning a 2020 wedding. There are six fundamental wedding gown style silhouettes: empire, A-line, ball gown, trumpet, sheath and mermaid. But there are as many variations to those basic styles as there are brides.


Here’s some inspiration that you may want to incorporate into your gown – remember it’s about your day and what you want to wear.

SLEEVES – THEY’RE BACK Reviving ’80s fashion is usually not a great idea, but there is a new take on the voluminous sleeves and cuts from four decades ago. Puffy sleeves are becoming a focal point on dresses. (It’s hard not to immediately think of a “Seinfeld” episode when you hear puffy sleeves, huh?) Created with flowing fabrics and structured shapes, these sleeves range from dramatic to divine. Some of the examples are puff sleeves that complement a sleek corset ball gown, oversized sheer lace on a fitted gown, voluminous sleeves on an ultra-glam gown or cuffed puff sleeves in a sheer tulle fabric for a feminine touch. None of these even remotely resembles the horrible sleeves from your

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family’s wedding albums. OREGON JEWISH LIFE | FEBRUARY 2020 35


CAPES AREN’T JUST FOR SUPERHEROES Capes may not be new to bridal fashion, but if you need more coverage for a sleeveless or off-the-shoulder gown at a winter wedding, this makes for a striking look that also emphasizes the gown underneath. Capes have also become a more modern alternative to the traditional veil. Fabrics for capes range from sheer lace to silk adorned with embellishments. The length can also vary from cropped capelets to floor-skimming designs that attach at the shoulder so that they can be ditched for the dance floor.


FLOWER POWER You don’t have to just carry flowers on your wedding day; you can wear them too! You can go for an all-over floral print (perfect for a garden wedding), or choose a 3-D floral appliqué, floral lace embroidery, hand-painted flower detailing, beaded buds or a tulle flower belt added to a sheath gown. Take the unique choice of a flowered dress one step further by matching the style of the flowers on your gown to the flowers in your bouquet. Your dress can also inspire the rest of the flowers from table settings to décor. It’s a detail that will make everything come together beautifully.

Swarovski Bridal Gowns OREGON JEWISH LIFE | FEBRUARY 2020 37

BLUSHING BRIDE Blush gowns are not new to the dress scene, but its updated counterparts buff and ginger (a tone between blush and champagne) complement a wide range of styles and skin tones, making it a favorite alternative to white. Perfect for a bride looking for something a little out of the ordinary, this color pairs well with bolder tones or metallic. It just stands out a little more than ivory or alabaster.

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DITCH THE DRESS Dresses aren’t your only option for your walk down the aisle; meet the wedding suit. This borrowed-from-the-boys option has taken on innovative approaches. It’s not all about slim pants and blazers – styles vary from tuxedos to jumpsuits and even the dress-suit hybrid. Make it more feminine by adding a veil. If you still think a suit isn’t traditional enough, wear one to your rehearsal dinner, or after the ceremony, change into a suit jacket that doubles as a mini dress. You’ll be more comfortable dancing the night away.

Naheem Kahn

Galia Lahav



LACE – CLASSIC OR FUNKY From classic Chantilly to ornate three-dimensional, lace is a fabric that will never go out of style. Lace can be added as a simple embellishment, an insert, sleeves, or the whole gown. For something different, opt for a short or tea-length, lace wedding dress. A lighter style can also help you stay cool during a summer wedding. There is also a surprising trend if you search for “crochet wedding dresses” or “macramé wedding dresses” on Pinterest or Etsy. You will see a wide variety of beautiful gowns that look nothing like your grandmother’s bedspread or a hanger for plants.

Limor Rosen


LOTS OF LEG I don’t know if Angelina Jolie’s leg originally started this trend, but legs are on display again. Whether it’s short hemlines, thigh-high slits, or high-low hems, brides seem to be showing more calves and thighs. This look can be subtle yet sexy with a slit on the front, side or center of the skirt and works on almost any silhouette. And you get to decide just how much skin you want to show with how high it goes.

Alessandra Rich



As the saying goes

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Illuminated Letters returns to the OJMCHE


ortland artist Sara Harwin’s work Judaism.” The project presents 18 core concepts of “Illuminated Letters” will once again be Judaism through an artistic lens. A Judaic artist featured at the Oregon Jewish Museum whose ceremonial and ritual artwork is used in and Center for Holocaust Education. synagogues and homes across Oregon and around This time, the exhibit is displayed in the front the country, Sara knows the impact art can have window of the museum as part of the city’s on understanding and emotions. Winter Light Festival and will be activated in She was featured on the February 2014 cover the evenings from Feb. 5 through 29. of Oregon Jewish Life, and at that time Sara said Sara’s artistic career has been devoted to creating about the exhibit, “This project is something I am imagery that celebrates transcendent and spiritual presenting to the Jewish world at large in the hope Sara Harwin experiences. She uses many different media to shape people will find it useful and inspirational and a way her vision of elegant simplicity that is the result of of connecting,” she says. “I want to bring people to a in-depth study. “Illuminated Letters” was originally installed at deeper understanding and engagement in Judaism.” OJMCHE in 2014 as a single set of panels. That work has since “Illuminated Letters” is an artistic lens into the journey of continued to develop into a sacred spiritual environment. creation. Light is represented in the form of ancient Hebrew The work draws upon the ancient tradition of illuminated letters within the Heavens. These illuminated letters gather manuscripts and sacred geometry, creating large panels and into groups of three, forming 18 root concepts found in the hanging mobiles. The imagery uses strong jolts of color, (sacred Torah. The letters of these roots (shoreshim in Hebrew) attach imagery), pattern and movement to achieve an innovative blend to multi-faceted geometric forms, which fall through the of visual and textual commentary on Jewish life and thought. atmosphere to Earth. Sara utilizes diverse techniques, including acrylic painting, According to Sara, this new installation, “Brings the story paper cuts, mixed media and fiber art. to a new audience by being included in the Portland Winter Sara created the exhibit “to be a visual entry point to Lights Festival 2020, which is all about light and lighting up 48 FEBRUARY 2020 | OREGON JEWISH LIFE

FRONT & CENTER NOON TIME TALK WITH SARA HARWIN WHEN • Feb. 12 Noon-1 pm WHERE • OJMCHE 724 NW Davis St. Portland TICKETS • Free and open to the public This talk is part of the OJMCHE series of informal lunchtime conversations. Bring a lunch or buy a brown bag lunch in Lefty’s Cafe and join us in the museum’s auditorium for a lively give and take as we share and explore ideas, experience and expertise. INFORMATION • ojmche.org/events

the darkness,” she says. “(It) brings additional words to tell the story of the ‘Letters of Light’ in the Heavens.” Sara is excited to be giving a noontime talk on Feb. 12. “This talk will showcase the additional components that have been added to the first panels bringing the whole into a ‘sacred space,’” she says, “I will support the talk with scale models and an architectural video of the intended space and flow.” For more information on Sara’s work, visit illuminatedletters.net.



Comedy For Peace Two years ago, Dotan Malach arrived in New York City where he has been working as a comedian, writer and producer. In March 2019, he established a new project, Comedy For Peace.


omedy For Peace is a comedy show that combines the best Muslim and Jewish stand-up comedians for an inspiring, funny and unforgettable evening. The show contains a rotating line-up of comedians who offer a variety of perspectives uniquely theirs, giving audiences a different perspective. Their first performance was in New York City on March 18, 2019, and it attracted more than 250 audience members. The primary goal of Comedy For Peace is to demonstrate how Muslims and Jews can collaborate, standing on one stage, having fun and laughing, without politics getting in the way. Comedy For Peace is an accessible and meaningful







interfaith show that bridges gaps between diverse communities, working from the belief that together, through the art of comedy, they can make a difference. The show features five comedians, and for an hour and a half, audiences can put aside their biases, hurts, and worries, and laugh while listening to an important message. “So far, the show has garnered terrific interest, allowing me to have the support of the UJA, NY, and the Jewish Agency for producing the first few shows,” says Dotan. “This success has given me the strength to continue with this blessed project. Through humor, we find that at the end of the day, most people just want to live together in peace.” During November 2019, the troupe performed in Connecticut and Baltimore. Their first West Coast Tour will run Feb. 4-9 with performances in Santa Cruz, Davis, Stanford and Irvine, CA, and Portland, OR at Portland State University on Feb. 7. To watch a trailer for the show, or for more information, visit comedy4peace.com.


WHEN: Feb. 7 at 7:30 pm WHERE: Native American Student Community Center, Portland State University • 710 SW Jackson St., Portland TICKETS: Free admission INFORMATION: 929-293-3048 or comedy4peace.com HOSTED BY CHAI - PORTLAND STATE UNIVERSITY




Chocolate Fondue By Mala Blomquist


here may be no dessert that says, “I love you” more than chocolate fondue. Fondue is versatile enough to be a romantic dessert for two or a fun time for the whole family. The best part is that you get to linger, talk and genuinely enjoy the food and the people around you. If you are intimidated by fondue – don’t be! It’s effortless to prepare and looks impressive, and you don’t even need a fondue pot – a small slow cooker works just as well. Use your imagination with your dippers too. Pineapple dipped in warm chocolate is exquisite and frozen cheesecake takes two wonderful flavors to the next level.

INGREDIENTS 1 cup (8 ounces) heavy whipping cream 12 ounces high-quality semisweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces (you can also use a mix of 6 ounces semisweet and 6 ounces milk chocolate) 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt For dipping: sliced banana, pineapple, berries, pretzels, pound cake, angel food cake, marshmallows, cookies, cheesecake, etc. DIRECTIONS Prepare all of the items for dipping. The preparation of the fondue goes quickly so you will want to have all the fruit and other dippers ready ahead of time. Heat the heavy cream in a pan over medium-low heat until hot and bubbles form around the sides of the pan. Do not bring to a boil. Add the chocolate to the pan. Turn off the heat. Stir until completely smooth. Stir in the vanilla extract and salt. Pour the mixture into a fondue pot or small slow cooker to keep warm while serving. Serve immediately with dippers. 52 FEBRUARY 2020 | OREGON JEWISH LIFE

A Chocoholic's Dream -

The Oregon Chocolate Festival The Oregon Chocolate Festival is celebrating its 16th year in 2020. Held at the Ashland Hills Hotel & Suites at 2525 Ashland St. in Ashland, the event features mouth-watering creations from dozens of West Coast chocolatiers. The Oregon Chocolate Festival is held Friday, March 6 through Sunday, March 8, and includes not only tantalizing varieties of chocolates; but several events like Spa Chocolate Cocktail Party for adults and the Chocolate Heaven for Everyday Cooks workshop. Each year, another chocolate art piece is displayed in the hotel lobby. Workshops on Wine and Chocolate pairings, educational sessions, including one about the History of Chocolate and chef demonstrations, are sprinkled throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday. The Chocolate Maker’s Wine Dinner kick off the weekend on Friday night, and a Charlie’s Chocolate 5K and 10K Run/ Walk and the Chocolate Brunch start the festivities on Sunday morning. There’s something for everyone! Your love of chocolate is also helping us spread love and support to the very little ones. In previous years, the Oregon Chocolate Festival has donated over $10,000 to the Asante Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Medford, Oregon. For a complete schedule of all the events happening during the festival, visit oregonchocolatefestival.com. ARIZONA OREGON JEWISH LIFE | JANUARY 2020 53

Home & Lifestyle

Celebrate Tu B’Shevat – the new year for trees


he 15th of Shevat on the Jewish calendar – celebrated this year on Monday, February 10 – is the day that marks the beginning of a “new year” for trees. Commonly known as Tu B’Shevat, this day marks the season in which the earliest-blooming trees in the land of Israel emerge from their winter sleep and begin a new fruit-bearing cycle. Tu B’Shevat also begins the new year for the purpose of calculating the age of trees for tithing. Lev. 19:23-25 states that fruit from trees may not be eaten during the first three years of the tree’s life; the fourth year’s fruit is for God, and after that, you can eat the fruit. Each tree is considered to have aged one year as of Tu B’Shevat. So, if you planted a tree on Shevat 14, it begins its second year the next day, but if you plant a tree two days later, on Shevat 16, it does not reach its second year until the next Tu B’Shevat. In the 16th century, the kabbalists of Tzfat (the city of Safed) in Israel created a new ritual to celebrate Tu B’Shevat called the Feast of Fruits. Modeled on the Passover seder, participants would read selections from the Hebrew Bible and rabbinic literature, and would eat fruits and nuts traditionally associated with the land of Israel. The kabbalists also gave a prominent place to almonds in the Tu B’Shevat seder, since the almond trees were believed to be the first trees in Israel to blossom. Carob, also known as bokser, became another popular fruit to eat on Tu B’Shevat since it could survive the long trip from Israel to Jewish communities in Europe. Participants in the kabbalistic seder would also drink four cups of wine: white wine (to symbolize winter), white with some red (a harbinger of the coming of spring), red with some white (early spring) and finally all red (spring and summer). The Tu B’Shevat seder has increased in popularity in recent years. The modern Tu B’Shevat seder retains some kabbalistic elements – and still very much a ritual that connects the participant to Israel – but today, the seder is often interwoven with an ecological message as well. More recently, Tu B’Shevat has developed into an ecological holiday that reminds Jews of our connection to the earth and our role as caretakers of the environment. It’s an opportunity to raise awareness about and to care for the environment through the teaching of Jewish sources celebrating nature. Some modern practices include donating money to plant trees in Israel or planting trees locally. Another custom is to eat a new fruit on this day, particularly from the kinds that are singled out by the Torah in its praise of the bounty of the Holy Land: grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates. If you don’t usually celebrate Tu B’Shevat, consider it this year by planting a tree or trying a new fruit!




Helping to Right a Historic Wrong

Aviva Silberman believes that Holocaust survivors deserve to live in dignity and comfort By Sharon Gelbach


he statistics are grim: a quarter of Holocaust survivors in Israel and a third of those in the US are living in poverty. These now-elderly people, who experienced some of the worst traumas in modern times, are subsisting on so little they can’t afford both food and medicine, or dental treatment, or house repairs, or to replace a broken appliance. Many are childless; many are the last remnant of their extended families, with no support network to advocate for them in their twilight years. According to attorney Aviva Silberman, founder of Aviv for Holocaust Survivors, an organization that helps survivors apply for special benefits, thousands of Holocaust survivors fail to take advantage of the compensation that’s legally coming to them. “They simply don’t know about the benefits and what they’re entitled to, what forms to fill out, how to fill them out, or where to submit them,” she says. There are several reparation payment or allowance programs available to survivors living around the world; however, deciphering the fine print as to who is eligible for which payment, which forms need to be completed; and what supporting documents must be provided for each can be overwhelming. Aviv for Holocaust Survivors was founded in 2007 with the goal of helping Holocaust survivors access the benefits available to them. In its 13 years of operation, with the help of five lawyers and hundreds of volunteers, Aviv has helped 65,000 survivors actualize their rights and access more than $1.2 million payments and allowances completely free of charge. NO LONGER RELUCTANT Silberman explains the roots of this rampant poverty: “Due to their wartime experiences, some survivors continued to suffer psychological and physical problems that hindered their ability to work. This pattern has also carried over to the next generation.” In the past, many people opted not to accept money from Germany, irrespective of their financial situation, observes Silberman. “Today, however, survivors realize that they are not helping anyone by refusing the money, and that at their stage of life, they certainly deserve to enjoy a higher standard of living.” In addition to not knowing how to go about accessing payments and reparations, Silberman says that survivors are often fearful that by applying for additional benefits they will lose what 56 FEBRUARY 2020 | OREGON JEWISH LIFE

they already have. In reality, however, about half the survivors who are assisted by Aviv are, in fact, eligible for more than they are currently receiving. “We encourage survivors to inquire about their benefits. In many cases, what they were told several years ago about not being entitled, has changed.” A case in point, and one that affects thousands of survivors globally, is the new law, from July 2019, recognizing 20 Romanian cities as being ghettos. The significance of the revised legislation cannot be overstated: survivors from Romania who previously were not eligible for any of the German “rentas” or pensions, are now eligible for various grants and monthly allowances. Leah, a survivor from Ramnicu Sarat, Romania, had previously fallen between the cracks in terms of receiving any financial aid, due to various technical and bureaucratic reasons. With the help of Aviv’s attorney Yael Gertler, she was able to receive a lump sum of $2,800 as well as a monthly allowance of $1,100. “Finally, at the age of 89, I’m finally recognized as a Holocaust survivor!” Leah says. “For decades, Germany never acknowledged the suffering we endured in Romania. I’m gratified that I am still alive to see Germany taking responsibility for what they did to us!” DAUNTING RED TAPE Holocaust survivors and their children are often daunted by the seemingly endless paperwork and complex bureaucracy associated with applying for compensation. Working for 13 years with a team of professional lawyers, Aviv for Holocaust Survivors is uniquely positioned to assist survivors receive what is coming to them, thereby improving their quality of life immeasurably. Gila, an 84-year-old survivor from Bulgaria, suffers various ailments along with dementia. For many years, she received a $700 monthly reparations allowance. In view of her mother’s degenerating state, Gila’s daughter Ronit requested an increased stipend from the government, but was turned down because they said Gila did not meet the necessary criteria. It never occurred to Ronit to try again, until she spoke to Linda Levy, one of Aviv’s consultants, who investigated the case and discovered that Gila had spent the war years in the ghetto in Sophia. Familiar with the updated rights due Holocaust survivors, she applied to various agencies including the Israeli Treasury and the German government. The applications were approved, and Gila began to receive $2,000 monthly from the Israeli government, as well

as a lump sum of $16,700 and another $90 monthly allowance from Germany. Thanks to the extra income, Ronit can now afford to give her mother the best care available including costly treatments to ease her health issues.

Aviv for Holocaust Survivors founder, Attorney Aviva Silberman with survivor Yaffa Einhorn. PHOTO COURTESY AVIV FOR HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS

Attorney Liora Zamir with Henia and Aryeh Klatsch. PHOTO COURTESY AVIV FOR HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS

IN THE WAR IN UTERO One of the more unexpected criteria for eligibility is “one who was a fetus at the time their mother suffered persecution by the Nazis.” Henia Klatsch, a survivor from Haifa, was born just two months after the end of World War II. Her parents had survived the Holocaust by hiding together with their two children in the home of a Polish family. Henia grew up with parents and siblings who emerged from the war alive in body, but severely scarred emotionally. After a turbulent childhood, Henia married Aryeh, also a Holocaust survivor. A chance visit to the Aviv Entitlement Center in Haifa proved to be life-changing for the Klatches. Attorney Liora Zamir informed Henia that she might be eligible for Holocaust reparations due to her having been an unborn baby while her mother suffered persecution, and thus began a protracted bureaucratic process that included procuring several hardto-get documents. “I wanted to give up a hundred times over, but Liora never let me,” Henia shares. “She fought like a lioness on my behalf ! It’s only thanks to her caring, and her professional, devoted service that my application was eventually approved.” The couple, which had previously subsisted only on Aryeh’s reparations, received a substantial financial boost. “A stone has been lifted from my heart,” Henia says. “I never had a childhood, but no one acknowledged my suffering before. This allowance is helping us make ends meet, and now I can even give something to our grandchildren, something that had not been possible before.” Aviv for Holocaust Survivors works to raise public awareness of the rights of Holocaust survivors and to make that information freely accessible. The organization operates 18 Entitlement Centers, in collaboration with local municipalities and the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, to assist survivors in actualizing their rights. Aviv’s lawyers accompany survivors throughout the process, providing all services completely free of charge. For more information, visit avivshoa.co.il. OREGON JEWISH LIFE | FEBRUARY 2020 57



Beyond the Pale brings its BalkanKlezmer fusion to the Western U.S.

Beyond the Pale, Toronto’s award-winning acoustic-roots ensemble known for its unique take on klezmer, Balkan and Romanian music is bringing its string- and reed-powered sound

to the U.S. West Coast with an 11-date tour of venues and festivals. While the band is kicking off its 22nd year together and has previously toured extensively in the U.S., these will be their first-ever foray into the musically rich Pacific Northwest. The occasion has prompted BTP co-founder and mandolin player Eric Stein to reflect on the band’s longevity, and how klezmer (east European Jewish instrumental folk music) has evolved over the band’s lifespan. “When Beyond the Pale started in 1998, the klezmer music scene was still something of an obscure, countercultural insurgency, existing on the fringes of both the Jewish community and the broader music world. In the last couple of decades, that’s all changed. The music has blown up in myriad directions, and klezmer seems to be everywhere these days, sometimes in the least expected places.” They band will perform on Sunday, Feb. 16 at 7:30 pm at the Old Church Concert Hall at 1422 SW 11th Ave in Portland and on Feb. 17 at 7 pm at Temple Beth Israel at 1175 E. 29th Ave. in Eugene. For more information, visit beyondthepale2020. rockpaperscissors.biz.

Stephanie Pollak shares her story at Ahavath Achim Stephanie Pollak comes to Congregation Ahavath Achim for three special sessions Feb. 21-22 to discuss loving and losing someone to addiction and her journey of self exploration during that challenging time. On Friday, Feb. 21, there will be a presentation and dinner, “Pain, Perseverance, Purpose – How Addiction Took My Husband, and How I Chose to

Save My Own Life.” The cost is $18 per person or $54 for a family; RSVP by Feb. 18. For Shabbat morning on Saturday, Feb. 22, there will be a presentation and lunch, “I Asked God for a Waterfall of Blessings, and He Gave it to Me.” Then on Saturday evening the program concludes with an evening round table discussion for women only, “Positive Body


Image and Self Care.” “I’m so excited to bring out Stephanie Pollak, a very special and dear friend of mine, to share her powerful story and wisdom with our community.” says Eve Levy, women’s program coordinator at the Portland Kollel. For more information or to RSVP to any or all of the events, contact info@ ahavathachim.com.

Shomrei Teva Tu b’Shvat Hike and Seder Tu b’Shvat begins the evening of Feb. 9, and what better way to celebrate this most nature-oriented of Jewish holidays than with a hike and seder from 1 to 4 pm on Sunday, Feb. 9. Join Shomrei Teva and friends for a classic Tu b’Shvat hike from Congregation Neveh Shalom at 2900 SW Peaceful Lane in Portland to the Hoyt Arboretum at 4000 SW Fairview Blvd. in Portland and back. A seder will follow the hike with ritual foods, drinks, readings and singing. There is a modest fee to help cover the cost of food and drinks. A RSVP is required. For more information, contact Yaakov Epstein at yaakovme@gmail.com.

Southern Rites opens at OJMCHE In “Southern Rites,” American photographer Gillian Laub engages her skills as a photographer, storyteller, and visual activist to examine the realities of racism and raise questions that are simultaneously painful and essential to understanding the American consciousness. The project began as an exploration of racially segregated proms and homecoming rituals in one community in rural Georgia. Gillian continued to photograph its residents for more than a decade, recording their experiences in their own words as she created a portrait of an American town. In the process, she investigated the racial tensions that scar much of American history. This exhibition runs from Feb. 5 through May 24 in the main gallery of the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education at 724 NW Davis St. in Portland and is organized by the International Center of Photography and Curator Maya Benton. “In ‘Southern Rites,’ Gillian engages her tremendous skills as a photographer, filmmaker, and visual activist to examine the realities of racism and raise questions that are simultaneously painful and essential to understanding the American consciousness,” says Maya Benton. The exhibition is also accompanied by Laub’s HBO film – praised by the New York Times film review as “Riveting...In a calm, understated tone, Southern Rites digs deep to expose the roots that have made segregated proms and other affronts possible. Southern Rites is a portrait of the inequities that lead to disaster on the streets of cities like Baltimore and Ferguson.” Every Wednesday at 2 pm there will be a free screening of the HBO film “Southern Rites” by Gillian Laub. The film follows the weekly 1 pm public tour. Please call 503-226-3600 to confirm screening. For more information on the exhibit, visit ojmche.org.

JAM Art Show and Sale

Join the Mittleman Jewish Community Center at 6651 SW Capitol Hwy. in Portland for the ninth Jewish Arts Month (JAM) – the annual exhibit of paintings, fiber, beadwork, metals, glass, ceramics, and more co-sponsored by ORA: Northwest Jewish Artists and the Mittleman Jewish Community Center. This year’s show takes place in the MJCC lobby from Sunday, February 2 through Friday, February 28. Different sets of between four and six artists will display their work each week. Everything displayed during JAM will be for sale. Members of ORA will be on hand, selling their art work, answering questions, and accepting commissions throughout the show. A portion of the proceeds will benefits the MJCC. For more information, visit oregonjcc.org OREGON JEWISH LIFE | FEBRUARY 2020 59




Becky DeCesaro of First Republic Private Wealth Management was the featured speaker at the Oregon Jewish Community Foundation’s Professional Advisors Group luncheon.

BRIDES FOR A CAUSE – Hundreds of brides-to-be

braved the cold to attend Brides for a Cause’s 7th Annual Dress Dash in Portland. It was a record-breaking morning, selling 141 wedding dresses in just 4 hours.


Goldman and Karen Twain were among the school superintendents that came together for the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators conference at Salishan Resort in Lincoln City, OR.


MAKING GOD LAUGH – Actors, from left, Griffin Kelly,

Bethany Spanier, Francine Raften, Ray Klemmer and Robert Madrigal performed “Making God Laugh” at Sandy Actors Theatre in Sandy, OR.

WORK FOR THE WORLD – Families of Portland Jewish Academy came together on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to complete projects benefitting various community organizations.


Jan. 30, Cantor Ida Rae Cahana sang in concert with the Portland Youth Philharmonic at Congregation Beth Israel.


Articles inside

Face & Places article cover image

Face & Places

pages 60-62
Previews article cover image


pages 58-59
HOME & LIFESTYLE Celebrate Tu B’Shevat – the new year for trees article cover image

HOME & LIFESTYLE Celebrate Tu B’Shevat – the new year for trees

pages 54-55
A chocoholic’s dream – The Oregon Chocolate Festival article cover image

A chocoholic’s dream – The Oregon Chocolate Festival

page 53
ACTIVELY SENIOR Helping to Right a Historic Wrong article cover image

ACTIVELY SENIOR Helping to Right a Historic Wrong

pages 56-57
Illuminated Letters returns to the OJMCHE article cover image

Illuminated Letters returns to the OJMCHE

pages 48-49
Chocolate Fondue article cover image

Chocolate Fondue

page 52
Comedy For Peace article cover image

Comedy For Peace

pages 50-51
As the saying goes article cover image

As the saying goes

pages 42-47
5 tips to enhance your wedding décor article cover image

5 tips to enhance your wedding décor

pages 28-31
IN HIS OWN WORDS Finding my place and my voice article cover image

IN HIS OWN WORDS Finding my place and my voice

page 12
JEWS WITH ATTITUDE Janna Lopez helps those in a midlife identity crisis article cover image

JEWS WITH ATTITUDE Janna Lopez helps those in a midlife identity crisis

page 13
Wedding dress trends for the new decade article cover image

Wedding dress trends for the new decade

pages 34-41
Tradition article cover image


pages 26-27
BUSINESS Biz Ins & Outs article cover image

BUSINESS Biz Ins & Outs

pages 14-15
COVER STORY The merger of two entertainment powerhouses article cover image

COVER STORY The merger of two entertainment powerhouses

pages 16-25
Know yourself… in relationships article cover image

Know yourself… in relationships

pages 32-33