Women's Impact

Rabbi Shawn Fields-Meyer returns to Portland Feb. 27 to help women explore how their grand efforts and subtle gestures impact the world.
“Ripples of Hope – Waves of Change” is the theme of this year’s Impact event at the elegant Nines Hotel. The Jewish Federation of Greater Portland annually hosts a Women’s Philanthropy program to connect and inspire Jewish women in the community.
“It is energizing to be in a room full of creative, generous, mindful and dedicated women who have all come together to share their passion for a common cause: Our Community,” said Robyn Spring, who is cochairing the event with Kathy Davis-Weiner and Evelyn Maizels.
Fields-Meyer likes to relate the tale of the Hasidic master Rabbi Bunim of Pshis’cha who famously said that everyone should have two pockets; one to contain a scrap of paper with the message “I am but dust and ashes,” and the other with “The world was created for my sake.”
“This is the tension of human existence,” says Fields-Meyer. “On the one hand, we feel powerless – the world spins and we can do nothing about it; on the other, we make grand gestures, trying to change our world in significant and permanent ways. When we fail to change everything, we often feel that we can change nothing. But the Jewish tradition reminds us that the truth lies in between.’
Just as a pebble thrown into the still pond sends ever-expanding ripples that touch every shore, the smallest act can build and join other ripples to create waves that can sweep away obstacles.
“Every act does have an impact,” says Fields-Meyer. “We are utterly powerful, but our power can often come from gentle, subtle and unrecorded deeds. I look forward to exploring these ideas – and how they each of us can help better the world in ongoing ways.”
Currently Fields-Meyer serves as school rabbi at the Milken Community High School and is an instructor in Bible at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies. She frequently serves as scholar-in-residence at congregations around the country, addressing issues of prayer, spirituality, parenting and technology. But returning to Portland has special meaning to her.
“Oregon runs in veins,” says Fields-Meyer.” My father’s Russian great-grandfather, Joseph Nudelman, arrived in Portland in the early 1900s. On my mother’s side, I’m a third-generation Portlander. …Many of my family members still live in Portland: aunts and uncles, cousins, and a large extended family. In addition, my husband’s parents and siblings and our nieces and nephews all live in Portland.”

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