The Portland Mitzvah Network Wants You

Come one, come all. The Portland Mitzvah Network’s website is up, running and waiting for you to join. Sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland and developed by representatives throughout the Jewish community, this online, easy-to-use, automated matchmaker provides one-stop shopping for hands- on volunteer opportunities. Visit and check out the setup. Volunteers and community organizations are encouraged to sign up and register their specific needs.

Select “For Volunteers” to find three types of prospects. A calendar shows pop-up spots for those with an hour or so to spare. Ongoing opportunities lists long-term projects for Portland Mitzvah Network organizations like Jewish Family and Child Service, Hillel and synagogues. All local secular and nonsecular organizations that encourage Jewish values are welcome to join. The Out-of-Network search taps into volunteer jobs throughout the city and world. How about an offbeat working holiday in Israel or a chance to help feral cats? Can’t find just the ticket? No problem. Your registration includes details like interests, hours per month, times of day, age requirements and more. When a volunteer opportunity comes up that matches your search, the organization will receive an alert.

The project’s possibilities excite JFGP President and CEO Marc Blattner. “The federation is not solely a fundraising organization,” he says. “We believe in helping to create a vibrant Jewish community through participation, whether it be philan- thropy, committee involvement or hands-on volunteerism. And, we look forward to engaging many more people in the Jewish community.” Cedar Sinai Park Community Life Director Kathy Tipsord agrees. “So many different Jewish groups rely on volunteers,” she says. “There was a need for a common place to look, a clear- inghouse for people to say, ‘I have time,’ or ‘my children need a community service project for school, but they don’t know who needs what.’ We (Cedar Sinai) might need someone to say kiddish in our dining room, help make seder plates or work on the interpretive trail. We have many family projects.”

JFGP Community Engagement Director Caron Blau Rothstein and project chair Jon Caplan sought input for months before deciding on the best path. They chose to affiliate with Hands On Greater Portland (, which has united volunteers and organizations for years and has an easily leveraged database. They understand the benefits of making helping easy. “How about your children need a service project for school or your organization’s annual auction needs a one-time videographer,” Caron says. “Or, let’s say your synagogue is involved with social action. They cook for a homeless shelter, work on habitat projects or sponsor blood drives. Join the Portland Mitzvah Network and people who never come to Saturday morning service will hear about these opportunities.”

As with others involved in the project, Caron stresses the need for everyone’s involvement. The platform is ready to roll; now it’s up to the community to jump in with volunteer prospects and offers to help. “In this day and age it’s important for the health of organizations and for everyone’s happiness to offer your time and talent to helping others,” she says. “That’s the notion of tikkun olam.”

WHAT: Volunteer orientation sessions to explore the Network’s website with prospective volunteers.
WHEN: May 8, 14, 20 & 30; Times: TBD

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