Hillel comes to Portland campuses
By Deborah Moon
article created on: 2008-09-15T00:00:00
The 2008-09 school year has begun on Portland-area campuses with a new entity in place to reach out to the estimated 1,100 to 1,500 Jewish college students in the Portland metro area.
After a summer of fund-raising, planning and jumping through organizational and legal hoops, the Greater Portland Hillel opened its metaphorical doors Sept. 1 under the leadership of founding Executive Director Aaron Pearlman, who will transition into the post over the next six to 12 months from his position in the development office at Portland State University.
With administrative office space at PSU, the Portland Hillel also will serve students at Reed College, Lewis & Clark College and other campuses in the Portland and Southwest Washington metropolitan region.
This fall the Hillel will offer limited programming at the three main campuses with a full slate of Shabbat, holiday, social, cultural and social action programs to be launched in January 2009, said Pearlman.
Over the summer, Pearlman and founding board members Rob Shlachter, Jeff Nudelman and Rabbi Alan Berg completed Greater Portland Hillel’s articles of incorporation and completed an affiliation agreement with Hillel International giving it 501(c) (3) tax status able to accept charitable donations.
A student organizing committee (see related story at right) spent the summer organizing leaders on each campus and making plans for fall programming. On Oct. 9, Portland Hillel will host an all-campus Break the Fast barbecue. For details, visit www.pdxhillel.org.
On the fund-raising front, the Hillel received a $35,000 grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland.
The federation’s Governing Board resolved at its August meeting to provide a three-year, $35,000-per-year grant to help establish the new organization. The grant is to be taken from sources other than the annual federation campaign.
“We are proud to be a founding and funding member of what is sure to become an important organization in our community,” said JFGP Executive Vice President Charles R. Schiffman.
That grant followed on the heels of a $4,000 grant from the Oregon Jewish Community Youth Foundation, the largest grant it has awarded in its five-year history.
Additional start-up grants are being discussed with both the Harold and
Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation and the Holzman Family Foundation.
The federation grant was approved after presentation of a business plan that included excerpts from letters of support from several rabbis, educators and community leaders.
“I have always felt that the college years are the most challenging and significant ones in strengthening the attachment of young Jews to their heritage,” wrote Rabbi Joshua Stampfer, who briefly organized a Portland Hillel in the 1970s.
Rabbi Michael Z. Cahana wrote: “We all know that college years are crucial in the formation of a Jewish identity.”
Rabbi Arthur Zuckerman wrote: “We as a community must be investing in our students and our next generation.”
Rabbi Bradley Greenstein wrote: “I smile with ease and enthusiasm to know that our community is establishing a much needed Portland Hillel. … It is our young adults who are the caretakers of our people’s greatest vision.”
Professor Michael Weingrad, the academic director of PSU’s Harold Schnitzer Family Program in Judaic Studies, wrote about that campus’s growing need for a Hillel.
“The Judaic Studies Program at PSU teaches 250 different students a year… and is poised to grow to national status in the next few years as we add three full-time professors to the core faculty.
“As an academic department, we do not and can not address directly the social, cultural and religious needs of specifically Jewish students…
“We all know that Portland is an extremely attractive destination for Jewish students and young adults. To capitalize on this strength the city requires a dynamic Hillel, for which the Judaic studies department can provide academic, intellectual and logistical support as we work to enhance Jewish student life in a warm, mutually reinforcing partnership that will be exponentially greater than the sum of its parts.”
As Portland Hillel gears up for a full program schedule in January, Pearlman said efforts now turn to recruiting more student leaders and participants, as well as expanding the board over the next few months.
Pearlman brings to his new post extensive experience in working with young adults and fund-raising.
He has a master’s degree in social work from Columbia University and a master’s in Judaic studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he was part of the Federation Executive Recruitment and Education Program. Following graduation he served as the young leadership director at the San Francisco federation.
At PSU, Pearlman has served as Judaic studies community outreach director and has raised more than $3 million dollars for the university through his work in the development office. He is the current president of the Association of Fundraising Professionals-Oregon Chapter.
For more information on the Greater Portland Hillel, contact Pearlman at email@example.com or 503-725-8449.