Social Playground

Heeb Remixed, the first event of Oregon Jewish Museum’s Six: Social Playground series, attracted more than 100 young adults for a music-filled night at Holocene Feb. 2.

By spotlighting Jewish talent and Portland culture, OJM hopes to attract the hard-to-reach demographic of 20- and 30-something Jews in Portland with its Six: Social Playground series. The first night in the series featured emerging Jewish musicians and songwriters including folk-pop band Weinland, Gideon Freudmann of the Portland Cello Project and St. Even.

Presented by the OJM with funding from a Community Impact Grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland, the event endeavored to “create a space where all Jews could come together no matter their place along the Jewish spectrum,” said Sandra Preston, OJM program coordinator.
Attendee Scott Zacks has been frustrated by the lack of events for 20- and 30-somethings in Portland: “There really has not been much for our age group. I hope this (Six: Social Playground) is a new start.”

Robin Denburg echoes Zacks’ sentiment and adds, “This should be a great experiment. It has all the right ingredients – hip club, good music and great drinks.”

St. Even, the nom de guerre of singer and songwriter, Steve Hefter, whose album Spirit Animal was voted #2 Album of the Year for 2011 by the Willamette Week music staff, opened the night. He was followed by Gideon Freudmann of the Portland Cello Project and Cellobop. Freudmann’s unique style of play and innovative compositions captured the attentive crowd as they mingled and sipped drinks.

Headliners and guest curators, Weinland took the stage led by co-founders Aaron Pomerantz and Adam Shearer. Pomerantz was especially excited about the evening after taking a five-month break for the birth of his first baby. “I’m really excited. It is really great to look out and know it is a predominantly Jewish crowd – what a unique night!”

Attendees clearly shared in Pomerantz’s excitement as they sipped special Manischewitz cocktails created by the Holocene bartenders and nibbled on delectable knishes. Christine Warne came out to support the Oregon Jewish Museum and over a “Man-Up” cocktail – blackberry Manischewitz, orange bitters, vodka, lemon and ginger ale – enthused, “I’m having a fabulous time. I hope the event series is successful.”

The Six: Social Playground series celebrates the next generation of Jewish talent in the fields of music, food, sports, film, independent media and design. It’s clearly off to a great start.

The second event on March 28 (press day for this issue of OJL) is an evening of independent film and media at the McMenamin’s Mission Theater. Attendees were expected to watch short works and clips before hearing from the local artists behind them as they sipped beer. The clips include the works of Alicia J. Rose and Rachel Blumberg among others. It is moderated by Boaz Frankel, local filmmaker and host of The Pedal Powered Talk Show.

Preston hopes to work with creative partners to curate each event and create programs where people redefine Jewish identity on their own terms rather than in the terms of what others expect.

The next Six: Social Playground event will be a movie night May 14 about a work-in-progress film by New York-based director Lacey Schwartz. Schwartz is director/producer of “Outside the Box,” a documentary that traces Schwartz’s upbringing in a white Jewish family and her discovery at 18 that her biological father is black. It follows her personal exploration of her mixed-race identity and her connection to other black Jews in America. More information on the film is available at outsidetheboxfilm.com.

Portlanders can look forward to the other events in the series including ones about food, sports and design. Organizers hope they draw as many newcomers as the Heeb Remixed event.

Jen Salzburg said it was the first time she had been to a Jewish event in Portland, “I heard about the music and decided to come. I am really enjoying it and hope there will be more like it.”

For information on upcoming Social Playground events, contact Preston at education@ojm.org or 503-226-3600.

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