May 15, 2007: Local News
Outreach leader speaks to federation June 11
By Paul Haist
A man whose mission is to bring Judaism to interfaith families and to unaffiliated Jews will be the featured guest June 11 at the 2007 annual meeting of the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland.
Rabbi Kerry M. Olitzky is the executive director of the Jewish Outreach Institute. He was invited to keynote the local federation's annual meeting as part of the federation's continuing effort to build bridges between various segments of the Jewish community here.
Dr. Olitzky will lead a dialogue in the first half of the annual meeting, which will be a meeting of the federation's Leadership Council.
The Leadership Council helps set the community agenda by providing input to the federation's Governing Board from a representative cross-section of the community.
During the second half of the upcoming meeting, which will be open to the public, Olitzky will address issues surrounding community-wide collaboration and creating a more welcoming community.
The topic is timely in Portland since the Leadership Council brought Portland-area rabbis together with the local Jewish community's secular leadership last January at the previous meeting of the Leadership Council.
The purpose of that meeting, hosted at Congregation Shaarie Torah, was to explore options for greater cooperation between the rabbinic, congregational and secular segments of the Jewish community, ending what one participant called "community fragmentation."
The January session concluded with a promise by JFGP President Bob Philip not to lose the momentum generated by that session.
The annual meeting and Olitzky's appearance is the next major step in the communal effort at bridge-building and cooperation.
Before heading up the JOI, Olitzky served as vice president of the Wexner Heritage Foundation, the premier adult Jewish learning and Jewish leadership program in North America.
Previously, he was national dean for adult Jewish learning and living at the Reform movement's Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.
The Jewish Outreach Institute was created in 1988 to develop Jewish community-based outreach programming. Its efforts have led to the creation of scores of Jewish outreach programs from coast to coast, especially focusing national attention on opportunities for including the intermarried in the Jewish community.
The JFGP annual meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. for the Leadership Council.
The public session, including special programs and the business meeting, will begin at 7 p.m.
Both sessions will include refreshments—"heavy hors d'oeuvres" at the first session, and desserts at the second session.
This year's meeting will witness the return of the Jack W. Olds Young Leadership Award, which will be presented to two individuals this year. Also, special recognition of one longtime Portland Jewish leader is planned for the event.
The event will take place in the ballroom of the Mittleman Jewish Community Center.
There is a $10 charge for those attending either or both sessions, to help defray the cost of food.
Reservations are required for members of the Leadership Council. RSVP online at www.jewishportland.org or by phone, 503-245-6219.