Eastside Jewish Community of Portland Adopts New Name:
Eastside Jewish Community of Portland – whose mission, since its founding in 1992, is to “further the spiritual, educational and cultural experience of our Jewish community” – has recently adopted a Hebrew name - “Eastside Kehila.”.
The primary reason this change was proposed is that we were seeking a greater connection with Judaism by incorporating Hebrew into our name. The word, ‘Kehila,” means ‘community,’ so the original name -in a sense - is preserved, only it is now stated in Hebrew.
Another factor influencing the Board of Directors to approve the name adoption was that “ Eastside Jewish Community of Portland”, as a name, was too long and as most people simply abbreviated it to EJCoP, it did not convey our deep roots in the traditions and teachings that originate in the Hebrew language.
The adoption of a Hebrew name was raised as an agenda item at our 2008 Annual Meeting, and was voted on by all attendees. The name has been registered with the State of Oregon.
Eastside Kehila was founded in 1992 by an informal group of Jews residing east of the Willamette River, who felt geographically isolated from the major institutions of Jewish education, culture and service. The first monthly meeting – September 20, 1992 – was held at the Friends Meeting House in Southeast Portland. Forty people attended the gathering.
The Eastside Kehila incorporated on July 27, 1993 and was granted 501 (c)(3) status by the Internal Revenue Service in May 1994. The organization is registered with the Oregon State Department of Justice, Charitable Activities Section.
At its inception, the activities of Eastside Kehila were limited to a monthly newsletter, monthly meetings to address "the social and cultural needs of Eastsiders," and celebrations of such holidays as Sukkot, Hanukkah, Purim and Passover. Those celebrations continue to be a major part of our overall program. In 1993, Eastside Kehila began meeting monthly for Shabbat dinners at various local restaurants. The focus was primarily to provide an opportunity for Jewish people living in the eastern part of Portland to socialize together.
In 1997, the organization held its landmark first Shabbat Service. This Friday night religious ceremony was well attended and positively received. The attendance and interest led to re-thinking the original purpose and mission of Eastside Kehila. The necessity for it to address the religious and ritual needs of the membership was identified. During 1999, the organization launched a pilot project offering monthly Shabbat Dinners followed by Shabbat Services. The pilot was designed to determine interest and need among Jewish people living in east metropolitan Portland and such adjoining cities and towns as Gresham, Sandy, Fairview, Troutdale and Wood Village. The responses to the pilot program validated the need for a tangible social and religious connection to Eastside Jews, most especially among elders, newcomers, the unaffiliated and those who have limited access to existing Jewish institutions.
In 2000, through the generosity of the Jewish Federation of Portland, Eastside Kehila received important recognition as a vital religious resource. It received a grant entitled The Shabbat Experience. This elevated status and the funds provided by Federation enabled us to better actualize the purpose of our organization, which is embedded in our mission statement. The funding of The ShabbatExperience allowed the Jewish population of the Eastside metropolitan area to enjoy connecting to pray, sing, rejoice and share a Shabbat meal. It also helped strengthen the connection between Eastside Jews with the greater Jewish community, a connection that seems remote to many Jews living on the Eastside.
In 2001 Eastside Kehila received a second grant from the Federation and will be sponsoring a series of educational classes that will be held on the Eastside beginning in 2002. Other activities have taken place that has created a greater awareness and sense of connection between the Jews on the Eastside to the greater Portland Jewish community. Eastside Kehila has participated in each of the three Jewish Festivals that have been held on the Eastside at Reed College.
Eastside Kehila has conducted food drives that have netted over eight tons of food for the needy. It has participated in Operation Shoebox and have sent hundreds of shoe boxes filled with life’s basic essentials to the children of Honduras. We have participated in the Federation’s Annual Campaign and assisted the Brentwood-Darlington Community Center by providing culinary assistance for their annual fundraising dinner auction and their fifth anniversary dinner. Eastside Kehila has become a member agency of the Oregon Jewish Community Foundation. Eastside Kehila actively participates in the Community Relations Committee, the Congregation President’s Committee, the Jewish Women’s Roundtable, and the planning committee of the Jewish Festival.
Flip Frisch is Spiritual Leader for Eastside Kehila.