Eldest Wilhelm offspring returns to head JLI
By Deborah Moon
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Rabbi Motti Wilhelm, the eldest offspring of Chabad of Oregon founders Rabbi Moshe and Devora Wilhelm, has returned to Portland with his wife and daughter to head the Jewish Learning Institute in Portland.
Sponsored by the Rohr family, the JLI is a program of the Chabad Lubavitch movement for adult students pursuing intellectual and spiritual growth. Every 12 months, JLI offers a new series of three courses in more than 200 cities around the world. This fall, JLI’s new course “The Land and the Spirit” will begin in three locations in Portland Oct. 30 and 31 (see boxed story for details).
Wilhelm received his ordination in 2004 from Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, a former chief rabbi of Israel, after completing his studies at the Rabbinical College of America in Morristown, N.J.
He and his wife Mimi were married in February 2005. The couple moved to Portland with their 19-month-old daughter Sima in mid-September.
Wilhelm said he “very much” enjoys returning to the Portland area to live. The family is making their home in Lake Oswego, where they plan to network with that area’s Jewish community and encourage participation in Chabad of Oregon activities in the Portland metro area.
In addition to inviting people from Lake Oswego to join them for Shabbat and holiday dinners, Wilhelm also plans to bring some programs to Lake Oswego. One of the sites for this fall’s JLI class will be the Crown Plaza hotel in Lake Oswego.
Mimi Wilhelm, who has a bachelor’s degree in education from Empire State College in New York, is teaching at Chabad’s Aleph Bet Preschool, which sits on the campus of the Maimonides Jewish Day School in southwest Portland. She also attended college in Israel for one year and holds an Israeli teaching certificate.
A full-time teacher for four years, she said, “It seems like I was teaching forever before that at camps, Sunday schools … I love the kids.”
She plans to launch a Mommy and Me group for mothers with children from birth to age 3 in the Lake Oswego area. On Oct. 21, she will host an open house for those interested in learning more about the group, which will feature Hebrew songs and activities that implement Jewish culture. For time and location of the open house, call Mimi Wilhelm at 347-743-7698.
She is from Sharon, Mass., where her parents run the Chabad center. She said it has been “great” moving to a community where so many people know her husband.
Wilhelm was born in Melbourne, Australia, but moved to Portland as a young child when his parents came here as Chabad emissaries to open a Chabad center in Oregon. Since leaving Portland to continue his Jewish studies, Wilhelm has returned to the city where he grew up numerous times to help with Chabad programs here. For instance, he led Oregon’s summer yeshiva program for two years.
For the past two years he has worked and studied at the Midtown Kollel in New York City. Last summer he lectured and taught courses at the Summer Women’s Yeshiva in Sharon, Mass.
Wilhelm also returned to Australia in 2002-2003, where he edited a bi-weekly journal of Jewish thought and served as a youth group counselor for the Melbourne community.
Wilhelm’s return to Oregon as JLI director was made possible by a grant from the Rohr family, which created the JLI. Wilhelm said that under the grant, which was coordinated by Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, he will direct the JLI and teach two of this fall’s three classes. He will also develop other learning options and courses for the local community.
Wilhelm can be reached at JLI@ChabadOregon.com or 503-977-9947. For information on activities the Wilhelms are planning in Lake Oswego, call 503-381-7119.