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US Senator Ron Wyden Meets With OAJC Policy Committee

OAJC’s Policy Committee Co-chairs, Jeff Reingold (also our new President of the Board) Elaine Cogan, Advisory Council member Rabbi Michael Cahana and Executive Director, Joanne Van Ness Menashe represented OAJC at two different meetings last week with our U.S. senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden.  photo

 OAJC was pleased to be at the table with Federation’s CRC and Education & Advocacy Committee representatives speaking with a unified voice in the Jewish community. We have collaborated on many projects over the years and we share common concerns for our world today; we believe we are a stronger voice when we speak as one.

 OAJC chose three issues on which to focus our advocacy, education and outreach efforts this year:

  • Anti-Semitism/Israel Advocacy
  • Food Insecurity in Oregon
  • Marriage Equality

OAJC played a notable role in the recent successful process to overturn Oregon’s constitutional ban on same sex marriage. OAJC filed an Amicus Brief in support. The attorneys presenting the arguments were focused on the reasoning that Oregon’s constitutional ban on same sex marriage is a violation of the constitutional guarantee of equal protection under the law for gay and lesbian couples. (Read more details in last month’s E.D.’s Notes on our website).

 OAJC is thrilled that Oregon’s ban on same-sex marriage has been deemed unconstitutional and proud of having taken action in support of this issue!

We shared our recent success with the Senators and then brought forward our other focus issues. OAJC requested:

  1. Support at the Federal level for legislation positively affecting food insecurity
  2. Support for OAJC’s position on the current situation with Iran as it poses a threat to Israel. Summarized here:

 OAJC strongly supports the “core principles” in the Menendez-Graham bipartisan letter signed by both Wyden and Merkley and 81 other senators.

  1.  Iran has no inherent right to enrichment under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty
  2. Any agreement must result in the dismantling of Iran’s nuclear weapons program and prevent it from ever having a uranium or plutonium path to a nuclear bomb
  3. Iran has no reason to have an enrichment facility and must give up its heavy water reactor
  4. Iran must submit to a long-term and intrusive inspection and verification regime to achieve the goal described in the Joint Plan of Action of “reaffirming that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek to develop nuclear weapons”
  5. Moreover, Iran must not be allowed to circumvent any sanctions imposed by the U.S. and others.

OAJC’s Policy committee will be following up with both senators on these issues and taking an active role in making our voices heard. 

Jennifer Lleras, Trainer & Organizer, Western States Center Presents at OAJC's Lunch & Learn Program


The summer Lunch & Learn; Facing Race: Opportunities for Allies in the Movement for Racial Justice was held at Perkins Coie on June 18th, with snacks and drinks provided compliments of Misha Isaak/Perkins Coie. It was a beautiful space with plenty of room for the 20 attendees. We had representatives from several outside organizations including: DEQ, City of Portland Auditors Office, Friendly House, Voices Matter, Inc., “United to Understand Racism” and Melton Institute.

 The presenter from the Western States Center led the group through a quiz – Oregon Today: Communities of Color in the Beaver State, testing our knowledge of current statistics and issues facing people of color today in Oregon. It is known as the “most depressing quiz.” Here are some key points that followed the quiz:

  1. The demographics of Oregon are changing rapidly
  2. The disparities we see in education, economics, civil rights and health are the result of institutional and structural racism and can and should be corrected
  3. Public policy made by the OR legislature is a critical way to address current disparities and ensure new disparities don’t begin

 The goals of Facing Race Oregon are:

  1. Help legislators understand the need for stronger racial equity policy in Oregon
  2. Promote a rich conversation about what that can and should look like in Oregon
  3. The “report card” is a tool that shines a light on the ways in which lawmakers made gains in promoting the health and well-being of communities of color and where there are areas for improvement.

 We then reviewed some of the improvements in passing laws that address racial equity in 2013 compared to 2011. In 2013 there were 18 out of 21 bills passed compared to 10 out of 23 in 2011.

 The call to action for the group was learning about a current Referendum Petition # 301 – Support the Oregon Safe Roads Act. This requires all drivers on the road to pass a driver’s test and get auto insurance which will reduce accidents, make our roads safer and protect everyone using our roads from preventable injury or financial loss.

Each attendee was given the opportunity to sign on to the petition. There is also a need for organizations to endorse the referendum and our Policy committee will be reviewing the issue and signing on if approved.

 For more information on this referendum go to YES on Oregon Safe Roads at: Info@OregonSafeRoads.org





2014 - 2015 Jewish Holiday Calendar

The Oregon Area Jewish Committee Mission: Through Jewish Values, Oregon Area Jewish Committee advances social justice, human rights, religious liberty, support for Israel, mutual understanding and democratic principles.

 The Jewish religion celebrates a number of special days of observance. These dates occur according to the Jewish calendar. Thus, the Jewish holy days fall on different dates from year to year within the Gregorian or Christian calendar. Traditional observance of the Jewish holy days calls for abstaining from work, school, and other everyday activities, and for participating in religious worship. These days are not viewed as “vacation” or “free time.”

When the Holy Day Begins

Every Jewish holy day begins at sunset of the previous day. Holy days conclude after sunset on the designated day.

For example, in 2014 Yom Kippur is observed on a Saturday, but begins on Friday evening and concludes Saturday night after dark. That entire time is considered holy – the evening is just as important as the daytime. It is imperative that schools avoid conflicts on the eve of a holy day as well as on the holy day itself.

 Scheduling School Activities

The law requires schools to provide make-up opportunities for students who are absent due to religious observance. However, there would be less disruption for students and teachers if the major Jewish holy days were taken into account in the scheduling of exams and assignments.  Non academic activities such as back-to-school nights, band or choir concerts, photo days, school dances, etc., are also important to students, parents and teachers. Please remember to check the Jewish Holy Day Calendar (page 2) when scheduling all school related activities.

 Levels of Observance

There are three major branches within Judaism: Reform, Orthodox, and Conservative. All three consider the holy days to be special religious events. Each, however, has its own degree of observance regarding work and school on holy days. As a result, the number of days which a holy day may be observed varies from person to person, depending on level of religious observance.

Please go to "Resources" at the top of the home page and click on Jewish Holy Day Brochure.  There you will find a link to download the 2014 - 2015 calendar.

Through Jewish values, the Oregon Area Jewish Committee advances social justice, human rights, religious liberty, support for Israel, mutual understanding, and democratic principles.

Email us at:  info@oajconline.org

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