Rob and Mara Shlachter will receive the Oregon Area Jewish Committee’s 2012 Maurice D. Sussman Award at a dinner in their honor Dec. 13 at the Mittleman Jewish Community Center.
OAJC presents the award annually in memory of the late Maurice Sussman to honor individuals whose personal lives and community contributions exemplify the high standards set by Sussman and the OAJC.
The Shlachters moved from Los Angeles to Portland in 1991 “because we thought it would be a better place to raise our kids, and we have not been disappointed,” says Rob.
A trial lawyer, Rob is a partner at Stoll Berne Lokting & Shlachter in Portland. Rob served as a board member of the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland for almost 20 years and was president from 2001-03. He was on the board of the MJCC during its renovation. He also helped establish Hillel in Portland in 2008, and presently is a member of the Oregon Jewish Community Foundation and Greater Portland Hillel boards.
Formerly a nurse who has been active in women’s reproductive rights since 1969, Mara is now a Judaic artist and active volunteer.
“Some of my earliest experiences in Portland were with OAJC,” says Mara. “Judy Kahn (area director of what was then known as American Jewish Committee-Oregon Chapter) and Wendy Liebreich both kind of took me under their wings.” One of those early experiences was to work on the group’s Anne Frank Exhibit, which was organized by Liebreich.
“The organization embodies so many of my own core beliefs: encouraging human rights, religious freedom and respect for all people, separation of church and state, strong public education for all children, dialogue to foster mutual understanding and working against hate crimes,” says Mara.
Mara also established a Portland team to compete in the Maccabi Games, a weeklong sporting event for Jewish athletes ages 13-16 held each year in North America. She served as the delegation head for nine years, recruiting Rob to serve as a coach during those years. Their son David and daughter Jenna both competed each year they were eligible. The couple has also co-coached Mock Trial for 15 years, starting when David and Jenna were on the teams at Catlin Gabel and later at Lincoln High School. Their teams won the state championship three years in a row.
The family have also taken two extended stays in other countries. In 1998 they moved to Israel for three months, and in 2003 they moved to Montevideo, Uruguay, to volunteer as a family in the Jewish community there. All four taught English at the Jewish day school and also volunteered at the Hillel in Montevideo.
The experience with a community-wide Hillel not confined to one campus inspired the couple to work for the establishment of the Greater Portland Hillel, which serves Jewish students on all Portland area campuses.
Both Rob and Mara say they are somewhat embarrassed to be honored for doing what they feel they should be doing.
“It’s embarrassing to be honored for doing what I love,” says Mara. “This is such a wonderful community to raise our children with so many role models who give so much of themselves … I’m honored to be among them.”
Co-chairs for the Sussman Award Dinner are: Marge Cohn and Marvin Richmond; David Lokting and Alysia Duckler; Bob and Rita Philip; and John and Rosemary Schwimmer.
The event begins with a cocktail reception at 6 pm, followed by dinner and program at 7 pm at the MJCC, 6651 SW Capitol Hwy. in Portland. For tickets, go to www.oajconline.org or call the OAJC office at 503-295-6761.