J Living

MJCC Update: Pools to Reopen!

The Mittleman Jewish Community Center wants to share the following information with the community:

We are pleased to offer this update on the reopening of our aquatics programs, soccer leagues, and racquetball courts, as well as the expansion of our afterschool programs.

Our Aquatics team has been working hard as we prepare to welcome you back to the MJCC pools. Though the poor air quality throughout our area delayed our reopening schedule, we are back on track and completing the final training sessions this week. We cannot wait to see you! Here are a few things that you will need to know:

  • For either pool, you’ll need to reserve a time slot ahead of time on our website, which will give you 45 minutes at the pool. Click on Registration and sign in to reserve your spot or call the Welcome Desk at 503.244.0111.
  • Because of our need for increased spacing and cleaning, you will not be able to stay in the pool area before or after your reservation.
  • In our Main Pool, all lanes will be limited to one swimmer at a time. You will be able to reserve either an outside lane, so you will be near a wall, or an inside lane. To ensure physical distancing, odd-numbered lanes will start and finish at the shallow end and even-numbered lanes will start and finish at the deep end.  If you need to rest or do stationary exercises, you’ll also do that at the end from which you start.
  • We have a chair available for each lane for you to keep your belongings while you swim.
  • In the Warm Pool, we’ve added lane lines to create three sections, which will help everyone enjoy the water safely. You’ll be able to sign up for the area of the pool that best suits your workout needs.
  • Members of the same household who are on the same membership, including aides, can use a single area of the Warm Pool together, on one reservation. Families can also sign up for a time slot in the Warm Pool and enjoy open swim!
  • We will not be able to offer communal equipment in either pool, as it is difficult to fully disinfect. For both pools, we welcome you to bring your own equipment to help make your workout top notch.
  • If you use our pool lifts, please be aware that in order to keep our staff healthy, lifeguards cannot physically assist members at this time. As always, we welcome aides for members who need assistance.
  • Our locker rooms, locker areas, and towel service remain closed, and we ask you to arrive with your suit on under your clothes. We have new showers on the pool deck for you to rinse off before and after swimming, and we have changing stalls on the warm pool deck available to change afterwards. Please plan to bring your own towel.
  • Swim team is resuming, and Jennie Condon is contacting current swim team families directly.
  • Due to our check-in procedures, which include temperature screenings, the Warm Pool entrance will remain closed and all members will need to enter through our main entrance.
  • Private swim lessons are not yet available, but we look forward to offering them in the near future.

We are scheduled to open our pools on Tuesday, September 29, though we will be reaching out to members to schedule a small number of “by invitation only” appointments for the end of this week to allow us to fine-tune our processes.

Other programs are returning, reopening and expanding, as well! Soccer leagues are beginning in October, with all of the necessary health and safety protocols in place. We are excited to welcome our teams back and encourage new teams to check us out. If you are interested in soccer, contact our Sports and Recreation Manager, Ashley Scacco, at Reminder, all are welcome and you do not need to have a full team to join in; we can add you to an existing team. Also, racquetball reservations are now available for two participants not within the same family. Contact our Welcome Desk to reserve your time.

Our afternoon enrichment camps and youth activities are in full swing offering afterschool activities for children in grades K through 8. Sports Jumble, Arts and Creations, Sun Salutation, Mad Science, and Skyhawks sports are just a few of our many offerings. Check out our programs. We encourage you to register early, as space is limited.

We are thrilled that we are now permitted to offer the many programs that our community both enjoy and depend on. Beginning October 1, unless an online freeze account form has been submitted to our membership department, membership dues will be billed in their usual manner. For information on membership, contact


621 Organizations Awarded $25.7 Million in COVID Relief Cultural Support Grants

Photo: The labyrinth at Pacifica: A Garden in the Siskiyous in Williams, Oregon. Pacifica received a $43,348 CRFCS grant award. Photo by Cate Battles/ Argosy Odyssey and Josephine County Cultural Coalition.

Coronavirus Relief Fund Cultural Support (CRFCS) grant awards totaling $25.7 million will be distributed to 621 cultural organizations across Oregon through a partnership between the Oregon Cultural Trust and its County and Tribal Cultural Coalitions. The funds, allocated to the Cultural Trust for Oregon cultural organizations facing losses due to the COVID-19 health crisis, were made available through a $50 million relief package for Oregon culture approved by the Emergency Board of the Oregon Legislature in July.

“Many cultural organizations and institutions have closed their doors to help keep us all safe during this pandemic. These grants will mean that more than 600 Oregon arts and culture organizations across our state’s counties and Tribes will be able to keep up their vital creative work,” said Governor Kate Brown. “Everything from museums to fairgrounds to the summer events we all know and love can continue to enrich our lives—connecting us to one another and giving us the hope and inspiration we need.”

“These funds are lifeblood to Oregon’s cultural community,” added Chuck Sams, chair of the Cultural Trust Board of Directors. “While they won’t replace all the losses suffered during the pandemic, they will ensure Oregon culture survives this crisis. We are deeply grateful to the Oregon Legislature for making this possible.”

The largest award is $1.4 million to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry; the average grant award is $41,458. Just under $90 million in requests were received from 751 organizations; 130 organizations were ineligible for awards based on program guidelines.

“Due to the incredible need, we were able to fund a percentage of organizations’ eligible expenses,” said Brian Rogers, Cultural Trust executive director. “Smaller organizations received a higher percentage of their eligible expenses. The final awards represent a statewide, equitable distribution plan that was approved by our Board of Directors, the Governor’s Office, Business Oregon and our legislative sponsors.”

The organizations to receive funding include cultural institutions, county fairgrounds, cultural entities within federally recognized Indian Tribes based in Oregon, festivals and community event organizations, in addition to some for-profit organizations that have significant cultural impact in their communities. Awards will be issued directly to the organizations by their local County or Tribal Coalition.

Funding was determined based on eligible request amounts, an award allocation formula that established a base amount of funds per county or Tribe and the organization’s fiscal size. COVID-19 expenses previously reimbursed by other federal CARES Act programs were not eligible.

The intended use of the CRF Cultural Support funds is to provide financial assistance to cultural nonprofit organizations and community venues that have canceled or postponed public programming because of public health executive orders associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Guidelines for the funding are in accordance with the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

The legislation allows Coalitions to be reimbursed for up to 5 percent of their total grant awards for documented administrative expenses. Requests from Coalitions for administrative expenses totaled $209,515.

Below is a list of funds awarded per county; the full list of grant awards (listed alphabetically by county) is posted on the Cultural Trust website. The Mittleman Jewish Community Center received $21,332. 

NOTE: No applications were submitted from Gilliam County and the Tribes chose not to apply due to previously received CARES Act funding. Washington County, which serves as the fiscal agent for the Cultural Coalition of Washington County, chose not to participate in the CRFCS program; the Cultural Trust is currently working to identify potential solutions.


Mandy Patinkin Blows Shofar in TV Tribute to RBG’s Dying Wish

JTA — For Mandy Patinkin, blowing the shofar on TV was his way to help Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dying wish be heard.

Ginsburg had told her family shortly before she passed away on Friday that it was her “fervent wish” that she not be replaced until there is a new president.

Patinkin was appearing Sept. 20, the second day of Rosh Hashanah, on the MSNBC show “The Week with Joshua Johnson” with his wife, actress Kathryn Grody, to discuss their get-out-the-vote efforts in the November 3 elections when Grody noted Ginsburg’s wish.

“And I want her wish to be heard, so I will blow the shofar for her,” Patinkin said.

He then blew a long and clear “tekiyah” in honor of the Supreme Court justice.

“So now her wish will be heard,” the actor said, “and let it be heard throughout the land.”

J Living

First Israeli Baseball Player in Major League Gets First Win

Dean Kremer (photo credit: REUTERS)

Dean Kremer, the first Israeli to be drafted by a Major League Baseball team, made a stunning debut on Sept. 6 for the Orioles by dominating the Yankees in Baltimore for the first win of his career. Kremer outdueled New York’s two-time All-Star Masahiro Tanaka for 6 innings, giving up only one hit and one run while recording 7 strikeouts.

On a day that the Orioles saluted Cal Ripken Jr. by having their Iron Man throw out the first pitch to mark the 25th anniversary of “2,131” (his incredible record for consecutive games played), Kremer rekindled the hopes Orioles nation with dazzling first pitches of his own. Kremer struck out the Yankees leading hitter DJ LeMahieu as well as their HR leader Luke Voit, and then retired veteran Brett Gardner for a perfect 1-2-3 opening frame against the Bronx Bombers. In the bottom of the first, DJ Stewart lined a two-run homer off Tanaka, giving Kremer all the support he would need.

The first inning may have seemed like a dream for Kremer who began his day at the Orioles alternate training site, before being promoted and given the ball the very same afternoon. However, his second inning provided a “Welcome to the Show” wake-up call for the 24-year-old rookie. Kremer fell behind hitters, sandwiching two walks around a sharp single to load the bases. This led him to perhaps his finest moment of the game. Maintaining his composure, Dean allowed only a run-scoring ground out and struck out the last batter, stranding the tying run 90 feet away.

Kremer and Tanaka continued to trade goose eggs, with Kremer showing off his biting curveball and mid 90s fastball over the next 4 innings, living up to the hype that the right-hander had generated for himself over the last two seasons in the Minors and justifying the deal that brought Dean to the O’s in a rebuilding gambit that sent Manny Machado to the Dodgers. Last year Kremer complied a 2.98 ERA in 15 starts with their Double-A  Bowie Baysox, and the previous year, 2018, he led all Minor Leaguers with 178 strikeouts.

As the game wore on, Kremer showed his talent, retiring 12 straight Yankees after allowing his only run. Then in the top of the sixth, with Kremer nearing his target pitch count, while clinging to a narrow 2-1 margin, something happened that proved his heart is as big as his arm. Slugger Luke Voight was awarded a walk, benefitting from not one but two called balls that looked like strikes. With the tying run on base and lead run at the plate, Dean hung tough and got the final outs of his stint to preserve his lead- his last two strikes were a 96 mph fastball and a nasty splitter that gave him his seventh strike out.

The Orioles then added 3 insurance runs and their bullpen shut down the Yanks, preserving Kremer’s precious first win. After the game, Orioles Manager Brandon Hyde remarked that he was most impressed by Kremer’s composure

On Sunday, as Kremer took the mound in Baltimore, the Yankees’ TV broadcaster welcomed him with a hearty “Mazel Tov” and the Orioles flashed a Team Israel Mazal Tov Tweet. It was a holiday for Kremer and all of Israel. Born in California to Israeli parents Adi and Sigal, Dean was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 38th round of the 2015 MLB draft. He was the first Israeli to be selected in the draft, but he decided not to sign.

He was drafted again the following year by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 14th round and this time, did sign a contract.

Kremer is the second Israeli citizen – and first pitcher – to reach the majors. Ryan Lavarnway has played for the Miami Marlins earlier this year, now as an Israeli citizen after making Aliyah last winter to be eligible to suit up for Israel in the Tokyo Olympic Games.

In international competition, Kremer pitched for Team USA in the 2013 Maccabiah Games, winning a gold medal. Since then, he has pitched for Israel national teams five times, starting with the 2013 Under-18 tournament in Cyprus and then in the 2014 and 2015 European Baseball Championship qualification campaigns. He won the Most Valuable Pitcher award in both tournaments. In September 2016, Kremer recorded the last out against Great Britain at the New York Mets’ AAA Coney Island Stadium to advance the Israeli team to the next stages of the World Baseball Classic in Korea and Japan in 2017, where it finished sixth (with Lavarnway the team’s MVP).

Kremer speaks fluent Hebrew and had his bar mitzvah in Israel while spending time every year in the Holy Land. His positive attitude has made him a favorite among his teammates, coaches, and especially the Israeli kids he coaches when he’s here. On Sunday, Team Israel general manager Peter Kurz and Israel Association of baseball President Jordy Alter sent Kremer congratulations.

Kurz hopes to see Dean pitch for the blue-and-white at next year’s Olympics in Japan.  Beyond that, Peter dreams of a one-two righty-lefty starting combination of Kremer and Atlanta’s Max Fried anchoring Israel’s next WBC team. Why not? As Dean Kremer proved today with his first win, “If you will it, it’s not a dream.”


Ginsburg memorialized in Hebrew in the halls of the Supreme Court

Photo: Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt speaks during a private ceremony for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. Ginsburg, 87, died of cancer on Sept. 18. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)

By Julie Zauzmer, The Washington Post

As three days of ceremonial mourning began on Wednesday for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the first woman to receive the honor of lying in state at the U.S. Capitol, Hebrew words resounded in the marble hall of the highest court in the land.

The first words of the ceremony came from Jewish tradition, yet spoke specifically to Ginsburg’s life’s work. “Baruch dayan ha’emet,” Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt began the memorial service. “Blessed is God, the true judge.”

Ginsburg brought her Judaism into her chambers, where she hung the biblical words “Tzedek, tzedek tirdof,” which mean “Justice, justice shall you pursue.” On Wednesday, she was remembered in a ceremony for her family and her fellow Supreme Court justices as both an American luminary and a Jewish one.

“To be born into a world that does not see you, that does not believe in your potential … and despite this to be able to see beyond the world you are in, to imagine that something can be different: that is the job of a prophet. And it is the rare prophet who not only imagines a new world but also makes that world a reality in her lifetime,” Holtzblatt said, speaking of Ginsburg’s lifelong work to enshrine gender equality in the nation’s laws.

Holtzblatt, the rabbi who led the ceremony along with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., has personal ties to Ginsburg beyond leading Northwest Washington’s Adas Israel synagogue, where Ginsburg worshiped: Holtzblatt’s husband, a lawyer, clerked for Ginsburg.

Last Friday, Holtzblatt learned of Ginsburg’s death just as the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah began at sundown. She shared the news with her congregation during her live-streamed worship service, closing her eyes with emotion as she recalled taking her two young children to see Ginsburg’s chambers when her husband was a clerk. As Holtzblatt’s curious young daughter touched the photographs and memorabilia around the room, Ginsburg took the girl by the hand and shared with her what each object meant.

“She was kind. She was loving. She was deeply caring,” Holtzblatt said, recalling that when she and her husband attended a ceremony where Ginsburg’s Supreme Court portrait was unveiled, Ginsburg mentioned that she could not have served her country every day without her housekeeper’s help.

The rabbi and the justice co-wrote an essay in 2015 about the often-overlooked women of the Exodus story, which many families now read at their Passover Seders.

When she spoke on Wednesday about Ginsburg’s role in creating professional opportunities for women across America, Holtzblatt briefly touched on her own role. As co-senior rabbi of the 1,700-family synagogue Adas Israel, Holtzblatt is one of only a small group of women to serve as head rabbis of large synagogues in the Conservative Jewish denomination, which has ordained women as rabbis since 1985.

For Ginsburg to lie in repose at the Supreme Court on Wednesday and Thursday, then lie in state at the Capitol on Friday, her family chose to forgo the Jewish custom of a speedy burial, generally within three days of death.

Instead, they chose a memorial that infused Judaism into America’s rituals of mourning. Ginsburg’s rabbi chanted “El Malei Rachamim” (God full of mercy) and the 23rd Psalm as the Supreme Court’s justices bowed their heads, the words echoing off the columns and washing over the flag-draped casket.

Call to Action

Amid wildfires, Oregon Hillel students register voters

With the pandemic and wildfires wreaking havoc across the country and Pacific Northwest, Jewish students at the University of Oregon and Oregon State are channeling their emotions into strategic action by registering their classmates, friends and family to vote in the presidential election.

Talia Leider

In fact, the Oregon Hillel has registered more peers than any other Hillel nationwide on 180 campuses participating in Hillel International’s Mitzvote campaign. Oregon Hillel’s Social Justice Springboard Fellow Talia Leider says registering peers and equipping them with crucial voter resources provides a critical and productive outlet for students amid a semester of uncommon uncertainty. Lieder notes “Instead of slowing us down, the fires have served as motivation for us to keep doing the work. Working on the MitzVote campaign has given the students a sense of agency amid so much uncertainty.”

MitzVote is a non-partisan get-out-the-vote campaign that provides college students with the education and resources they need to mobilize and vote in the 2020 election. Over 700 people across the country are using MitzVote’s customized Motivote platform so far, with more joining daily.

Election day is Nov. 3
Registration deadlines
Online: Oct. 13
By mail: Postmarked by Oct. 13
In person: Oct. 13
Absentee ballot deadlines
Return by mail: Received by Nov. 3
Return in person: Nov. 3 by 8:00 p.m.
Additional information
Oregon’s early voting is by mail. Ballot drop box sites are open 18-20 days before Election Day, depending on your area. Oct 28 is the last day ballots can be mailed. After this date, ballots must be put into a drop box.
Health and Fitness

Another First in Israel: Telemedicine for Women’s Health

If you thought fintech was cool, wait until you hear about femtech: cutting-edge, high-tech ob/gyn treatment. Originally devised as a way to keep patients and physicians safe during COVID, femtech will eventually bring first-rate OB/GYN care to women in developing countries.

In just under a year since its opening, the ARC Innovation Center at Sheba Medical Center has been spearheading pioneering innovation in digital health — locally and in collaboration with other top medical centers globally. Last month, ARC@Sheba launched the world’s very first Women’s Health Innovation Center, directed by Dr. Avi Tsur, an OB/GYN and high-risk pregnancy expert, affiliated with Sheba’s Josef Buchmann Gynecology and Maternity Center, directed by Professor Eyal Sivan. Having recently returned from a 3-year stint at the prestigious Stanford Medical Center where he was a visiting clinical fellow and research fellow, Dr. Tsur says that the brand-new Women’s Health Innovation Center will provide women from across the country with quality OB/GYN medical treatment via the latest high-tech solutions employing artificial intelligence, telemedicine, precision medicine and more.

Avi Tsur, M.D.

“Providing remote health care with the use of telemedicine will enable us to ensure the safety of our patients in the era of COVID-19 – but regardless, it’s certainly better for a woman to monitor herself at home for 10 minutes than to have to wait for 4 hours in the clinic,” said Dr. Tsur. “In terms of our long-term goals, it will enable also women who live at a distance to be able to benefit from our treatment.”

With the help of the very latest, cutting-edge technologies for remote health care, the center will deal with various categories of women’s health, including high-risk pregnancies, postpartum follow-up, contraception, IVF, gynecological oncology and more.

At the event launching the center, Dr. Tsur presented many of the new technologies, explaining how his team integrates solutions developed by different startups. “For each specific field, we first perform a pilot study to see how the technology plays out in the clinical setting. Depending on the circumstances, patients can now have part of all of their ‘visits’ performed from home.”

Many doctors have mixed feelings about treating patients remotely, and Dr. Tsur is no exception. “Telemedicine creates new challenges because part of our clinical skill depends on being in the same room with the patient. I think that we need to leverage the new technology so as to overcome the associated disadvantages,” he said, clarifying that at the end of the day, it’s about providing patients with the best treatment. “Clearly, we will never compromise; telemedicine is meant to enhance treatment; when the need arises, we will convert a telemedicine visit to a real visit.”

Dr. Tsur conveys his excitement with the center’s many new projects, devising solutions to new and old problems. One example: an AI model that Dr. Tsur developed together with Dvir Aran, a data scientist (PhD) from the University of California, San Francisco, to predict shoulder dystopia in labor. “Until now, this potentially life-threatening complication was considered unpredictable, but we developed a technological model to predict it. We were then able to validate that model with our ongoing collaboration with Stanford, the University of Texas, and UCSF.”

Dr. Tsur during COVID-19 C-section. “Even in the era of maternal-fetal telemedicine, some things will still need to be done in person.”

According to Dr. Tsur, that collaboration doesn’t end there. “We can also develop various high-tech solutions one step further using AI, extended reality and other tools. That’s the most exciting aspect of collaboration.”

At the launching event of the Women’s Health Innovation Center, Dr. Tsur described the various high-tech gadgets that enable women with high-risk pregnancies the luxury of staying at home to self-monitor. “Remote monitoring of vital signs, blood count- and glucose monitoring, fetal monitoring and sonographic evaluation all reduce the need for high-risk and post-date pregnant women to attend the clinic in person, while the situation is constantly assessed either by AI methods or by an obstetrician who is online,” he said.

One of the inherent challenges is responding to a deceleration in fetal heartbeat when the woman is not in a hospital setting. “But that is no different from a situation where a woman would be monitored at an outpatient clinic,” Dr. Tsur pointed out. In both instances, she would be rushed to the hospital if the need arose.

Another pilot study involves discharging women about eight hours after delivery, instead of the usual 36 to 48 hours. The pilot is investigating a comprehensive telemedicine solution aimed at replacing hospitalization with at-home follow up and early detection of the most common postpartum complications— surgical wound infection, thromboembolic complications, breastfeeding difficulties and postpartum depression.

The concept of telemedicine is generally thought of as a diagnostic tool between the physician and the patient. But one of Dr. Tsur’s pilots involves a system that enables image-sharing between physicians. Thus, an obstetrician performing an ultrasound in one venue can share the imaging online, in real-time, with top experts anywhere in the world, who can then offer guidance, such as for better positioning and the like.

Plans are in the pipeline for various other projects, including gynecological oncology remote evaluation, a pilot to be led by Dr. Jacob Korach employing an AI-enabled device for self-examination. The success of these pilots will determine the use of these technologies also in developing countries where women lack access to first-rate medical care.





Talking Gender with award-winning filmmaker Em Weinstein

Photo: Filmmaker Em Weinstein

Em Weinstein always dreamed of making a film in the picturesque The Dalles, OR, when they would spend summers there as a child. “I have spent a lot of time in the absolutely gorgeous, Eastern Oregon countryside, which is such a beautiful part of the world,” says Em. “I always wanted to shoot out there because it’s just a stunningly, beautiful landscape and a part of the country that is very interesting in many ways.”

Although Em was only involved in theater in high school, they studied filmmaking in college and received a master’s degree in directing from Yale School of Drama in May 2019.

In August, their latest film, “In France, Michelle is a Man’s Name,” was awarded the Grand Jury Prize at the Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ Film Festival. This prize officially designates the film as an Academy Award-qualifying title for Best Live Action Short Film.

It was a massive surprise to Em because Outfest is such a large festival and this was the premiere of the film. “I’m very grateful,” they say. “I feel like short films have taught me so much, and this one especially was super challenging to make and a great experience.”

The “super challenging” part included shooting the entire film in three days across several locations: The Dalles, Tygh Valley and Dufur, Oregon; Goldendale, Washington; and at Mary’s Club, the oldest strip club in Portland, Oregon. There was also rain, a 40-person crew stuck in a tiny motel and car problems.

“Everything that could go wrong, did,” recalls Em. “But it was an awesome experience because everyone pulls together and makes it work, despite all odds.”

The inspiration behind “In France, Michelle is a Man’s Name” was that Em wanted to tell the story about a transgender masculine character, unlike anything seen in the mainstream media. They wanted that main character to be played by Ari Damasco, who Em’s known since 2009.

“We’re getting trans stories for the first time, but very often they’re about trans women, or they’re about coming out stories – a simple narrative around what it means to be trans,” says Em. “Even though it was amazing that there’s more representation now than ever, I still felt that there wasn’t a lot of nuanced stories.”

In the film, Ari plays Michael, a young trans man, who returns home to the rural American West after years of estrangement from his parents. Em wanted to portray that the idea of acceptance is a lot more complicated than we think it is. “It takes a lot more work and is really mired in our understanding of what gender is – which is super complicated,” shares Em.

While “In France, Michelle is a Man’s Name” is just beginning the film festival circuit for the season, Em is also working on various other projects. They recently did a Zoom benefit that featured a selection from their play “Soldiergirls,” a musical based on real letters that explores love, liberation and lesbianism in the Women’s Army Corps in World War II.

Em wanted to figure out a way to keep their theater projects rolling despite note being allowed to gather in a public space, but Zoom presents its own set of challenges when it comes to bringing people together for a performance.

“It’s very complicated. I think there are ways that we can do it, though,” says Em. “Ways to reinvent what it means to be alive and what it means to be together in a room but still to make theater. So I’m hopeful that we’ll figure out ways to keep doing it, but it’s definitely a challenge.”

Em is also currently working on a television show with Imagine Entertainment, a production company founded by director Ron Howard and producer Brian Grazer.

They explain that the show is about queer history and is based in the early 1960s. “It’s a drama, crime, teen, soapy show,” explains Em. “ I’ve written  a pilot and then basically a bible for the whole first season.”

Em wrote the script about a year ago and will soon begin pitching it to networks. “I’ve been doing rewrites with them (Imagine Entertainment), so that’s been an amazing process. And one that I’m totally new to, so it’s been really interesting.”

Em is hoping that since the process is so time-consuming that by the time the pilot gets picked up and they start shooting, “it’ll be a different country and that slightly different world.”

They admit that the pandemic takes its toll on the creative process. “(My creativity) changes every week. There are times when I totally access it and weeks where I have no desire to write or to work. I think it’s just about responding naturally to these crazy circumstances and trying to be really generous with ourselves.”

Em also admits that they miss going to synagogue on Friday nights that that their “Zoom synagogue habits haven’t been good in quarantine.”

Having grown up committed to the religion and the culture and having a Jewish Studies minor in college Em embraces Judaism as a big part of their identity.

“As I get older, it just means more and more to me,” shares Em. “Even though I don’t necessarily address it head-on in my work, I feel like being Jewish is a lot about asking questions, being curious and being a citizen of the world ­– both morally and in terms of curiosity and learning – so that’s a big part of who I am and it’s very important.”

To find more about Em and their upcoming projects, visit


Trailer: In France Michelle is a Man’s Name from Em Weinstein on Vimeo.


Biz Ins

JFCS hires new finance manager

Lori Martin, CPA, MBA, became the finance manager for Jewish Family & Child Service in late August. Lori has spent the last 17 years working for nonprofit organizations in the Portland Metro area. She was the financial director at B’nai Br’rith Camp for the last two years.

In addition to serving as finance manager for JFCS, she is an adjunct faculty member at Portland Community College. Lori teaches accounting and finance courses part-time to undergraduate students through online modality.

She is a Certified Public Accountant and received her master’s degree from Marylhurst University.

“We are thrilled have Lori Martin join our team as the finance manager,” says JFCS Executive Director Ruth Scott. “She comes with years of expertise and will be responsible for the financial wellbeing of the organization. Along with her keen eye for details, Lori will enhance JFCS by overseeing financial transactions, budget development and analysis and supervise our payroll process.”

Lori has been a resident of Oregon since moving here from Colorado in 1994. She is very active with bicycling, walking, quilting, preserving memories through scrapbooking, and her newest sport, Enduro motorcycling, which she does with her husband, Michael.

Call to Action Charity

The snowball effect of kindness

Photo: The sky in Molalla has an orange hue from the nearby fires.

Leah Klass in an entrepreneur and advisor who is passionate about helping migrants and refugees connect to the resources they need, advocating for those who have the least voice in our community.

Last week, she felt overwhelmed by all of the tragedy befalling her state and thought, “I have to do something!”

She started by reaching out to the United Way of Salem.

“I saw that they were collecting supplies, so I called them, and they said, ‘Oh, you’re from Portland. A lady from Portland just called, her name is Sallie,’ and I said, ‘I know her.’”

It turns out, the Sallie they were talking about was Sallie Cohen, founder of Positive Charge PDX.

Leah in front of her van packed with supplies.

Leah reached out to Sallie and Sallie told her that she was getting ready to post something on Positive Charge PDX’s Facebook page about coordinating a donation effort.

On Saturday, Sept. 12, Leah joined a group of nine other vehicles on a caravan to Molalla, OR in Clackamas County. “I thought, ‘How desperate is the mother of remote learning elementary students to get out of the house that I am willing to drive into a fire,” joked Leah.

“It’s not very far from Portland, but the air is orange, and there’s ash on the ground. You can see your footprints in the ash as you walk.”

When Leah returned home that evening, she had heard that farm towns in the southern part of the state had been destroyed, and she immediately thought, “Oh, my gosh. What about all the migrant workers?”

Then she read an article in The Washington Post by Samantha Schmidt that addressed this very issue.

“There’s a federal migrant worker education program, and I called into the school in the area and left a message,” says Leah. When she didn’t receive a return call, she did further research and found out that the school had burned down.

Leah tried to look up who she could connect with next. She wrote to a reporter in the Ashland area, and he gave her number to a high school teacher who, in turn, connected Leah with a woman who’s in charge of their migrant education program at their school.

“I told her the work that I do, and I told her how important these communities are to us and how we want to help the most vulnerable,” says Leah. She told Leah that their real need is housing, that they don’t have a place to store donations.

“I sent her the photos of our Positive Charge drive from Saturday. I said, ‘Look, this is what we can do, please, let us know if you do have a list of immediate needs.’”

The woman provided a list, and Leah forwarded it to Sallie. That night, Sallie posted on her Facebook page that they were going to help migrant workers, and is anyone interested?

This location is four to five hours south of Portland, and within a short period of time, Sallie had multiple people willing to drive.

Again, Leah found herself in the parking lot helping fill up trucks and vans of the people who were going to make the 250-mile journey south.

“I noticed someone in the parking lot pointing in my direction because I am the liaison, and they walked over and said, ‘Would it be possible for us to donate our doublewide trailer?’ and I just burst into tears. You know, it’s like it was my birthday,” says Leah.

“I was just overwhelmed. I told all these other people in the parking lot how amazing that was. And then someone else said, ‘Oh, we might have more resources for you like that, too.’”

The next day, Leah wanted to check in and thank one of the drivers, who was a principal of an elementary school in Newberg, not far from Portland. She wrote back saying that many of her families had been evacuated, and they’re down on their luck. She went on to explain that here’s a significant migrant worker population in her area.

“So I said, ‘How can we help?’ She said, ‘Oh, you’re busy. I said, ‘No, how can we help you?’ I mean, this is what we can do. We can act quickly, we can call on the community, and we can see what response we’re going to get,” says Leah. “I think we’re going to do something for that school community. I think a lot of people are really moved by the idea.”

Leah comments that the community’s response has been amazing and even during the quarantine when people may feel disconnected, the desire for community building is still there.

And even though she is new to working with Positive Charge PDX, she says what a pleasure it has been to participate. “It gives you that – that’s exactly the name of it, right? –  it gives you a positive charge.”

Leah suggests donating directly to Unete: Center for Farm Worker and Immigrant Advocacy if you would like to help the migrant workers impacted by the fires.