Articles by Polina Olsen


Orthodox beat booms out of Portland

Think you’ve heard it all? Have a listen to beatboxing. Also known as vocal percussion, it replicates the sounds and rhythms of drums along with noises that heretofore humans didn’t make. Portland has a recognized expert rising from our own Laurelhurst neighborhood, Portland Jewish Academy and Grant High. An Orthodox Jew, Ilan Swartz-Brownstein, also known…


Rabbi Ariel celebrates 25 years

When Rabbi Ariel Stone came to Portland in 1995, she found a city undergoing rapid sophistication and change. She remembers being told that she arrived only six months before good bread came to town. Now, celebrating 25 years since her ordination and 13 years as spiritual leader of Congregation Shir Tikvah, Rabbi Ariel continues transitioning…


Their Chuppah is Forever

Every time Cantor Barbara Slader helps a couple plan their wedding, it brings back the joy of her own. Those memories of her 1991 wedding include family, flowers and the centerpiece, a chuppah created by Barbara’s friend, artist Jane Levy Campbell. In fact, handmade chuppahs have become a tradition and ritual for many Portland couples….


Father and daughter team up for Toot and Shoot

They started with one wedding and then it snowballed. Toot and Shoot, the father/daughter, musician/photographer team was a hit. Based in Los Angeles, they worked mainly in the entertainment industry doing weddings and bar mitzvahs for the stars. When they moved to Portland in 1986, they continued commuting to Los Angeles and working locally. While…


With Life & Legacy the future happens now

Only humans imagine the future. Parents make decisions with the present and future in mind. Oregon Jewish Community Foundation does the same. The Life & Legacy program, a partnership of OJCF and the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, helps local organizations promote bequests and estate gifts to the Jewish community to ensure a Jewish future for generations…


Isaac Brynjegard-Bialik blends tradition with pop culture

Jewish-themed papercuts generally don’t conjure up visions of Star Trek. References to Jews beautifying commandments with this colorful, baroque folk art date to 1345. Symbols and inscriptions include biblical passages, Stars of David and the Zodiac – complete with fantastic animals. Captain Kirk and his Starship Enterprise are unlikely candidates. Unless, of course, you’re Isaac…


Portland Welcomes the Society Hotel

The Mariner’s Building at NW Third Avenue and Davis Street originally provided a rooming house for seamen and respite from the booze, gambling and other vices in Portland’s notorious downtown district. Built in 1881, by 1938 messages written on the walls included “The Frisco Kid stopped here … headed South.” During the 1960s and ’70s,…

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