The Challenges of Success

Oasis Songs: Musings from Rav D
Friday, May 4, 2018 /
 19 Iyyar 5778

Mishnah Berurah class will resume on May 6th. Drop-ins are welcome.

Summary: Rabbi Kosak offers a heart-felt farewell to a long-time tenant of our building.

I am pleased to announce that a new local kosher product is now on the market for the gluten-intolerant and insensitive. New Cascadia is a wonderful bakery that has been making artisanal slow-rise breads for some time. They are now under the supervision of Oregon Kosher, and all of their bakery products are certified kosher. Currently, they are running through old stock packaging that does not have the Oregon Kosher symbol on the label. Despite that, Rabbi Tzvi Fischer has assured me that we can all use their products without hesitation.

It is also worth noting that we periodically review security issues and maintain active relationships with the Portland Police. This past week, I met with some officers to gain a sense of any potential risks to the Jewish community. The good news is that there are currently no active threats we need to be concerned about; nonetheless, we will continue to monitor and be proactive with our security concerns. If you ever see anything that raises an issue for you, please reach out to Fred, me or any of our capable staff so that we can address it. 

The Challenges of Success

Success has its challenges. Managing the growing pains that accompany it is one of the most obvious of those tasks. On the regional level, Portland’s success as an urban center has put tremendous pressure on our transportation system, housing costs and therefore our homelessness crisis. Our ability to continue to grow will depend on how we alleviate those bottlenecks and better provide for those essential resources.

Those same pressures exist within the Jewish community. Over the past seven years, Ma’ayan Day School has been operating out of classrooms in Congregation Neveh Shalom’s building. It has been a wonderful partnership, and over these years, both institutions have been blessed with much success and growth. Ma’ayan started with forty odd students, and now has over 100 students.

Simultaneously, Neveh Shalom’s Foundation School has also grown from around forty students to more than one hundred, while its Aliyah and Tichon programs service over 225 students.

We are both extremely grateful for the success of our schools. That blessing, though, has continually created space challenges for each enterprise. Through tremendous creativity, financial resources and construction acumen, Neveh Shalom has carved classrooms and facility space seemingly out of thin air.

Yet there are now no more solutions within the building proper. The current year already is seeing those challenges, as Neveh Shalom was forced to reduce the number of classrooms that Ma’ayan had requested for its own program. After much healthy and vigorous internal discussion Neveh Shalom’s board came to the following painful decision:

Given the consistent growth mentioned above, Congregation Neveh Shalom (CNS) notified the leadership of Ma’ayan at the beginning of January, 2018 that Neveh Shalom would need all of its space for the coming academic year and would no longer be able to house Ma’ayan. Although contractually, either party only was required to give two months notice, the leadership of CNS wished to provide as much lead time to Ma’ayan’s leadership and did so very shortly after it reached a consensus on its duties to its in-house growing needs.

When Ma’ayan received the notification, its leadership was understandably concerned. They were not sure if they would be able to locate a new space in the given time frame.

They reached out to CNS’s professional team wondering if there was any chance that the decision could be delayed or if some portion of the school, particularly the older students, might still be able to continue their education in the building. CNS went back to the drawing board. Although it posed some risk to Neveh Shalom’s programming, CNS leadership extended itself and agreed that they would make four classrooms available to Ma’ayan. We did so because of our commitment to and belief in the value of Jewish education.

As Spring approached, Ma’ayan became increasingly worried that they would not be able to locate a suitable alternative location. Many conversations were held between CNS and Ma’ayan, and some creative possibilities remained on the table for both the short and longer term.

While those discussions were being held, Ma’ayan leadership simultaneously engaged in a full and active search for a building that would meet their needs both for the immediate and the foreseeable future. Over a month ago they notified us that they had a very active possibility and more recently informed us that they indeed had secured a new home in Lake Oswego. Yashar koach to Ma’ayan, and to those who have stepped up to provide the resources necessary for this next logical step in Ma’ayan’s success!

I find this moment bittersweet. Speaking personally, I love having our building full with young kids engaged in Jewish learning. One of the special features of Portland is how well different “flavors” of the Jewish community get along. In too many locales, Jewish denominations don’t interact. We are fortunate that there are many forms of cooperation in place in our city. The idea of CNS being a hub of Jewish life is so appropriate to our “big tent” ideology. Yet how can I be anything but pleased that it was the combined success of Foundation School, Aliyah/Tichon and Ma’ayan which led to a new campus for Ma’ayan?

Let me offer my best wishes to Aviel and Rabbi Brodkin, Rabbi Kalter, Rhonda Depew and the entire staff of Ma’ayan as well as to their students and families. I wish you only hatzlacha and mazal. We should all be blessed to go from “chayil l’chayil”–from strength to strength.

Shabbat shalom,

Rav D

Shabbat Table Talk

  1. What was a real success in your life? How did it present new challenges that you were not prepared for?
  2. What do you think will be the next new chapter in your life? Who or what will you need to say goodbye to?

If you’d like to continue this discussion, follow this link to CNS’s Facebook page to share your own perspectives on the topics raised in this week’s Oasis Songs. Comments will be moderated as necessary.

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