A coalition of Jewish teachers, organizers, business people, and friends have been professionally and informally organizing and hosting innovative Jewish events on Portland’s East Side for over 10 years. We have brought together hundreds of Jews by hosting Passover seders, monthly Shabbat dinners, summer outings, and outdoor High Holy Days services. These events have increased participants’ connection with Judaism, and created a strong and vibrant Jewish community. Many members began as unaffiliated Jews and have since joined synagogues; others have found in these events meaningful ways to practice Judaism outside of synagogue life. In addition to this informal organizing one of our members also works for a local congregation and serves as a liaison between congregations in Portland and the more informal Jewish community. Jewish community leaders have long recognized the need for an East Side Jewish community space that provides programming, activities, and religious events that respond to the needs and interests of the East Side Jewish population. The last page of this proposal lists more information on the authors of this proposal.
Permanent Jewish spaces, both religious and non-religious, have proven to be excellent organizing tools to bring unaffiliated Jews of all ages together. The Moishe house model, developed over the past 10 years, demonstrates this clearly in Portland and other cities. In the summers of 2014-2015, we also had a pilot project on Portland’s East Side called Mikdash that offered innovative programing and, importantly, provided a hub for our growing community and garnered the support and enthusiasm of funders and young Jews alike. Synagogue-led groups would also be able to make use of this space, and benefit from its location.