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Oregon Jewish Museum Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Museums

Mission: The Oregon Jewish Museum is the Pacific Northwest’s only Jewish museum, located in the region’s second largest metropolitan area. The Oregon Jewish Museum’s mission is dedicated to the preservation, research and exhibition of art, archival materials and artifacts of the Jewish people. It is the repository for archival documents, artifacts, and photographs concerning the history of the Jews in Oregon and endeavors to discover and collect all materials that may help to illuminate this history. Furthering its mission, the Museum brings innovative exhibitions about the history, culture and art of the Jewish people to this region—cultural enrichments that would be totally absent without its efforts. We aim to provide educational opportunities to a broad range of audiences, from youth to senior citizens, and those from all backgrounds.

Programs: Third annual sukkah pdx juried design-build exhibit, inviting designers,artist and makers of all backgrounds to propose contemporary responses to the traditional challenges of sukkah design (a sukkah is a temporary dwelling, traditionally erected each fall in observance of sukkot). Awardees of this juried competition create and install their winning sukkahs on the grounds of the oregon jewish museum. The structures are on exhibit for the week of sukkot, where they serve as the focal point for a weeklong series of events that a create contemporary context and connection to the themes of this ancient tradition,such as food and housing security.

three major exhibits launched this year include: ""settling in" ", "bat mitzvah comes of age" and "illuminated letters: threads of connection". "settling in" examined the experience and acculturation of immigrants to oregon through the lens of jewish experience. The exhibit focused on two groups: eastern european and russian jewish immigrants who were "americanized" through the neighborhood house, the settlement house founded in south portland in 1905 and later immigrants served through the immigrant and refugee community organization (irco). The struggles and triumphs of the early 20th century immigrants are compared with challenges and achievements of a contemporary and diverse group of immigrants from burma, cambodia, congo, cuba, eritrea, and somalia. Through their compelling and sometimes astonishing stories, the exhibit highlighted the old and new realities of the immigrant experience. "bat mitzvah comes of age" featuring the remarkable story of how, in less than a century, individual girls, their parents and their rabbis challenged and changed communal values and practice to institute this now widely practiced jewish ritual. "illuminated letters: threads of connection" artist sara harwin's long-time fascination with the intersection between language and art. Her work draws on the ancient tradition of illuminated manuscripts and encompasses large panels and hanging mobiles that use strong jolts of color, sacred imagery, pattern, and movement to achieve an innovative blend of visual and textual commentary on jewish life and thought.

our vibrant public programs include film screenings, concerts, lectures and discussions. Included were a film screening of shalom ireland, which included a theatrical reading from james joyce's ulysses, in partnership with corrib, portland's irish theatre; sunday music concerts, which bring the best of oregon's jewish musical talent, such as nationally recognized artist alicia jo rabins. Our programs and exhibitions reflect a variety of disciplines, including history, visual and bookmaking arts, art history, archival and collection management, music and other performing arts, film, literature, oral history, and the humanities.

other smaller exhibitions, music events, and lectures.

Community Stories

32 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

13

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Just heard about this contest and am excited to get in under the wire. The museum's interest in reaching and involving a younger audience is a really big deal. I participated in a confab representing 20s and 30s -- and their openness to our ideas and viewpoints was awesome. We held a huge street party this summer that was amazing. Hundreds came, we made art, danced, an amazing NY artist joined us, the music could have gone on all night. Thank you OJM.

15

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As a Portland area Jewish professional I often am in need of Jewish historical "stuff" - stories, facts, pictures, etc to keep my materials alive. OJM always has what I need, no muss, no fuss.

11

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I love how the Oregon Jewish Museum isn't just about Portland but now brings exhibits on the road to other parts of Oregon. I just saw the Sholem Aleichem exhibit here in Eugene and it made me think about how lucky we are that the people at the Oregon Jewish Museum are thinking outside the box. Sometimes we feel isolated here and they are helping us overcome that.

17

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have served on the Board of Directors for 10yr I have worked on the Archives for 8 years. I have chaired two exhibits I have worked on fund raising

13

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We feel fortunate to live in a community (Portland, Oregon)where over twenty years ago a group of far sighted and persevering individuals felt the need and founded the Oregon Jewish Museum,the only Jewish museum in the Northwest.The exhibitshave been most educational,relating from various aspects the history of the Jewish community of Portland and Oregon. The Museum is ably led by our executive director, Judith Margleswho is responsable for the great approbation that the museum receivesthough in cramped quarters.We now look forward even greater achievments with our soon to be dedicated new space which will accommodate more exhibits and our archives. We have something to cheer about! Toinette and Victor Menashe

5

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

When I brought my 6th grade class to the museum's "Yes We Can" exhibit this past winter I was amazed at how much they learned about the history of discrimination and the status of minorities in Oregon. The Oregon Jewish Museum did an expert job in making this available to the public and with the teaching their staff provided to us. Thank you OJM.

8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My experience began many years ago with a position on the board. I spend a couple of hours, once a week, archiving the material of Portland Section National Council of Jewish Women & The Historic Neighborhood House. I'm part of a team of 4 who have been working on this project for 5 years under the expert eye of Anne Prahl, the curator. I am also an interviewer for the Oregon Oral History Project at the museum. I am so impressed with the staff, interns and volunteers at the museum for their tireless work in a setting that is anything but luxurious. I feel the museum is important for our state. Our Jewish population is small and our history is being well perserved by very capable, caring people.

5

Donor

Rating: 5

Here's what I love about the Oregon Jewish Museum: it is truly open to all, Jews and non-Jews alike! As someone who is married to a Non-Jew, and one who has a Jewish cultural (but not spiritual) identity, my spouse and I both feel comfortable and fully welcomed at the Museum! We've taken advantage of the Museum's varied offerings by attending stellar exhibits, compelling book discussions, scholarly lectures, astounding theatre productions, and moving musical events. The Oregon Jewish Museum reaches out to the entire community with a message of diversity, tolerance, and acceptance. We love it!

5

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My friend shlepped me to OJM to see the "48 Jews" exhibit by Jac Lahav and I was awestruck to see how they put on a show of the quality I have experienced in New York or LA major museum. I am looking forward to going back.

5

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The museum hosted an awesome street fair this summer which my friend invited me to. We ate donuts, did free art projects, and danced to 3 live bands. Hundreds of people filled up the street and created an energy I've never seen before in Old Town. I hope they do another event like this next summer! So much fun!!

4

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I was working on an essay about minorities in Oregon and called Oregon Jewish Museum. The curator and one of the interns helped me find exactly what I needed both within and outside the museum. I can't thank them enough.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In 1966 I joined the faculty of Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon - quite a transition for one born, raised, educated, and employed on the east coast. I retired at age 65, following a 5-year reduced load phase out. My family and I affiliated with the Portland Jewish community immediately after arriving in Oregon, and have participated in many Jewish events over the years. Driving time from our home to Congregation Neveh Shalom, our present affiliation, is 45-60 minutes, depending on traffic, which has somewhat limited our involvement. During my retirement phase-out I had more free time and began to do more volunteer work in Portland. Rabbi emeritus Joshua Stampfer of Congregation Neveh Shalom , provided leadership in creating the Oregon Holocaust Resource Center (OHRC), the Institute of Judaic Studies, and the Oregon Jewish Museum (OJM). We joined all three organizations as they were established and have maintained our membership through the years. I donated a desktop computer, which I had built and used in my teaching and research, to OHRC in response to an appeal in their newsletter. Then I began to volunteer there on a weekly basis, initially to set up the computer and install software. Next I became involved with their ongoing Oral History project, making duplicates of their collection of audio and video cassette tapes, then transcribing them. Following retirement and the relocation of OHRC to Pacific University, I was able to volunteer on a daily basis and expand my activities. Before long, I created and managed the OHRC website, edited and published 2 quarterly newsletters, and created and maintained membership and mailing list databases. I continued this full-time volunteering for another 3 years, but following a change in Board of Trustees membership, appointment of a new Executive Director, and a shift of priorities, I was no longer comfortable with working conditions and ended my stint at OHRC. In a few months an ad appeared in Art and Artifacts, newsletter of the Oregon Jewish Museum, seeking a volunteer to assume management of the Museum's website (www.ojm.org). The timing was perfect: I applied, was accepted, and served as webmaster for over 10 years. I received instructions from the Museum Director, from the Curator, and from the Office Manager for updates and changes to the website. Given limitations of time and resources (from its inception the Museum has been seriously underfunded), I was limited to one afternoon per week. The Museum lacked suitable computer hardware and software, I carried my instructions home and did the webmastering there, often working well past midnight. In time I began receiving my instructions more and more via email and doing all the work at home. One of the Museum's deficiencies was a working flatbed scanner. Having had some experience with such a tool, I could recommend to the Director a specific make and model that would serve our needs, and she was able to find a donor to purchase that very tool. I was able to "show the ropes" about using the scanner to the three ladies who formed the permanent staff, all of whom quickly learned and became expert. This has proved a godsend to the Museum, which takes pride in its vast photographic archive, which documents the Jewish experience in Oregon from earliest times to the present. With the new scanner, and a great deal of time, this entire archive has been scanned and digitial images stored to hard drive. Over the years I used many of these digital images on our website. By a stroke of luck, the Curator's father is a professional photographer. When he visits his daughter in Portland (from Chicago) he brings along his bag of cameras, lenses, and lights, He generously donates his time to photographing all the items in the Museum's collection. So our photographic collection now includes digital images of all objects in the archive. During my tenure as webmaster, I uploaded the entire collection of archive images to the website. Another ongoing OJM activity in which I play a significant role is an oral history project. Beginning in the early 1970's and extending into the early 1980's, long before the birth of OJM, some perspicacious Jewish women began recording, on audio cassettes, personal memories of elderly Jewish Oregonians. An effort was made to have these tapes transcribed and safeguarded. After OJM was created these old tapes and transcriptions came into its possession, and the oral history project was resumed. Many of the old tapes showed signs of neglect and appeared fragile. I learned of this oral history project when I began at OJM, and how anxious the director was to duplicate as many of these old tapes as possible and to preserve them in a carefully controlled enviornment. When the Director approached me about doing the duplicating, I researched the matter and became convinced that since newly minted cassette tapes deteriorate with each playing and have a limited shelf life, even if unused, a better approach would be to digitize the recordings, do some sound editing, and then burn them to CD's. I was able to pursuade the Director and I obtained (out of pocket) a dubbing audio cassette player, and on eBay (also out of pocket) 200 Kodak gold and silver recordable blank CD's (with a projected shelf life of more than 100 years). During my volunteer days at the Museum, I carefully duplicated old tapes. At the end of my shift I took the duplicate tapes home with me. At home I played the cassettes with my home stereo player coupling the line out jack to the audio in jack of my desktop computer, and digitizing and recording the audio using the open source sound recorder/editor, Audacity. I used Audacity to improve sound quality, then saved the edited file in .WAV format to my hard drive. Next I used the Nero Burning ROM suite to burn the file(s) to the Kodak CD's. On my next trip to the Museum I returned the duplicate cassette tapes and delivered the CD's of the interviews. This first phase of the oral history project generated nearly 200 CD's. I am now involved with phase 2, having learned much about sound recording and editing, and about burning CD's. The current phase involves use of inkjet recordable CD's and my home Epson direct CD printer. Within the past year the Director found the resources to obtain a couple of digital voice recorders, which the Curator and I have been promoting for several years. Now our interviewers can generate high quality digital audio on the recorder's memory, which I can then download onto my computer hard drive, edit, and burn to CD, avoiding the need to make cassette duplicate tapes and try to record from them. I have already made nearly 200 more CD's from this second phase, and there are many more subjects to be interviewed.

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

I brought my class to an exhibit at Oregon Jewish Museum. It was a super way to get my kids engaged in the issue of tolerance and to examine the Oregon's history of diversity and intolerance. The conversations extended for days after our visit, thanks to the great presentation by the director, Judy Margles, and the thorough exhibit. It was presented in an attractive, accessible manner that the kids could understand and appreciate - and I could too!

5

Client Served

Rating: 5

When I was doing research on Portland history in the early 1900s, Oregon Jewish Museum provided me with many excellent first-hand accounts and photos - they really rounded out my knowledge of the period.

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I cannot say enough about the Oregon Jewish Museum. I first became involved with OJM as a volunteer when I was in college, helping to catalog and prepare archival material, and doing research for exhibits. The wealth of primary resources, in the form of interview transcripts, ephemera, primary documents and artifacts makes OJM an invaluable resource for anyone doing research on Jewish life in the Pacific Northwest. Exhibits at OJM are consistently thoughtful, as well as well presented and well-researched. Their presence is especially important in the relatively young town of Portland, with its youthful population and rapid development. Alas, my present schedule prevents me from volunteering at OJM, but I continue to benefit from the excellent exhibits and from their fine work with the schools in the Portland metro area.

5

Board Member

Rating: 5

I am a new member of the Board of Directors. In my short time on the board, I am very impressed with all aspects of the museum. The entire staff is very dedicated and has great vision as to what the museum is and can be to the community. They are currently in the process of moving locations and all programs, events and exhibits have been carefully planned to provide the best space for the museum. They are continually working on new programs to involve and benefit the community. The board is also very involved and enthusiastic about every aspect of the museum - from fundraising, exhibits and communtiy outreach. All in all, I am happy to be involved and look forward to my future experiences with Oregon Jewish Museum.

5

Former staff

Rating: 5

The Oregon Jewish Museum is exceptional in everyway: innovative programming and community events, thought provoking exhibitions, dedicated resource to the greater Northwest, and unsurpassed staff. I had the privilege of interning with OJM a few years ago, and I saw the great lengths that the staff and board members go to make this institution accessible, relevant, and inviting. The evidence of this is their brand new building that they will be moving into this winter. I cannot say enough good things about OJM, their board, staff, volunteers, and the work that they produce. Any community would be lucky to have an institution like the Oregon Jewish Museum.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a new resident in the Portland area and am not familiar with local Jewish history. My volunteer experience in the archive department has been extremely informative and interesting. I work in a very amiable atmosphere which certainly has a bearing on my continuing involvement in the museum for many years to come.

5

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

This organization produces creative and stimulating exhibitions on a shoestring budget. I know the staff to be talented and dedicated and I've always enjoyed working with them.

5

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The Oregon Jewish Museum, with its exhibits and archives, has enabled me, and others like me, to connect with the lives, experiences, struggles and contributions to the greater society of Jews during the last 150 years, not in some far off places but right here in our own state. Much of the material the Museum has gathered and displayed was previously unknown to most of us. It has provided me, my family, and other families, among them non-Jews, with a greater understading of "our" role in Oregon's history.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This wonderful organization has always done remarkable work on a small budget because of the strength of passionate, hard-working volunteers and passionate, highly competent staff. I have volunteered in many capacities -on committees, on the board, on the executive board as President - and enjoyed working with this organization because of the obvious dedication and hard work of volunteers and staff. Everyone involved, and there are A LOT of us, seems clear about the mission of the organization: preserving and presenting the history of the Jews in Oregon to our own community and to the wider community. The organization brilliantly combines exhibit presentation with archival preservation. I feel great pride and satisfaction from my involvement with this young (21 years old), vibrant, growing, gem of an organization.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In September of 2008 I was named the Sara Glasgow Cogan Scholarship recipient and began an internship with the Oregon Jewish Museum. Through my internship I have been given the opportunity to grow and tackle new challenges. My major task has been to research and assist in the development of an upcoming exhibit on Jewish professionals. My internship ended in January but I continue with the museum on a volunteer basis. I have been working with OJM for a little over a year now and what keeps me coming back is every day I learn something new. As a non native Portlander OJM has been an invaluble resource for me in getting to know about, not only the Portland Jewish community but about Portland itself. It is, in no small part, through the comittment and dedication of the director, the entire staff and fellow volunteers of OJM that this is possible.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The OJM fulfills an essential role in the local Jewish community by acquiring and exhibiting material related to the Jewish experience in Oregon over the last 150 years and by providing a venue to discuss contemporary local and national issues. When it moves to larger quarters in a few months, these activities will only increase and expand. As a new-to-Portland volunteer working with the archives and interviewing interesting natives, I have become immersed in the community's history and its people, much to my enjoyment and enlightenment. The OJM is a wonderful place run by a dedicated staff and engaging interns and volunteers. It can only get better in its new space.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am pleased to share my experience with OJM over the past many years and highly recommend it. OJM plays a unique and important role in the Portland/Oregon Jewish and non-Jewish communities. It serves those who are looking to understand the Jewish experience, both locally and nationally; to experience an art museum show in an intimate setting; and to use valuable research resources. Those who work and volunteer at OJM bring a high level of enthusiasm and commitment -- and the upcoming move to a new space will only enhance the many things OJM provides to the community.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

Portland has a rich and varied Jewish history and presence. Temple Beth Israel just celebrated its 150th birthday, having had noted Rabbis including Stephen and Jonah Wise. South Portland was a thriving ethnic community with Jews, Greeks, Italians and other immigrants who enriched this older German Jewish community. All of this is diligently being recorded and revitalized by the Oregon Jewish Museum which has an incredible education and outreach, as well as archival program. On top of this it has initiated art exhibits of national significance, such as a nationally traveling Arnold Mesches exhibit. This small museum is the glue which holds this vibrant Oregon Jewish community together. Now that it is moving into a wonderful new facility - four times the size of its present facility - it will play an increasingly important part in the lives, not only of the Jews of Oregon, but for all Oregonians!

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a writer and I have been blessed to use the human and archival resources of the Oregon Jewish Museum for a range of projects including a book, "The Spark and the Light: The Leo Adler Story" (which led to the Oregon Public Broadcasting Oregon Experience Program "Leo Adler"). I continue to use their resources for a variety of other research projects on Jewish families in Oregon. I could not do my work without them. When I started work on the Leo Adler project, I was unsure about what resources might be available in Portland. Leo Adler (1895-1993) lived all of his 98 years in Baker City in the eastern part of our state. When I went to the Museum and told the Director Judy Margles what I was doing, she smiled and said "Yes, we have a few things" and introduced me to Anne Levant-Prahl. Scrapbooks were pulled out, oral history transcripts were presented to me and boxes and photograph came down from shelves. Broad pieces of the Adler family history could be found from a range of sources, but the resources of the Oregon Jewish Museum allowed me to weave those pieces together. I had the thrill of looking at family letters from Jacob Adler (Leo’s grandfather) to his son and daughters in Oregon (who emigrated from Germany in the 1870s) telling them when they should observe the anniversary of their mother’s death. Many of the letters were written in German and the folks at the Oregon Jewish Museum put me in touch with translation services that allowed me to dig deeper. There are other museums in Oregon with larger archives, bigger facilities, and more staff, but for me the Oregon Jewish Museum has always been the best “connector” museum. It opens up questions for me and helps me blaze a trail toward answering those questions. I always feel welcome when I come to do research and I value the interest of the staff in my work. Since I am not Jewish, I appreciate the staff’s willingness to answer my questions about areas that I am unfamiliar with. I truly value the ways that the Oregon Jewish Museum has helped me to connect with a range of different worlds and I hope your assistance will help them connect with even more.

3

Board Member

Rating: 5

The Oregon Jewish Museum is one of the most dynamic museums--if not the most dynamic one-in this community. It consistently does more with less to serve its constituency and the larger community by its innovative and imaginative exhibits and outreach programs. Some years ago the staff and board realized that it could do more to enrich the local culture by telling the story of the Jewish community in exhibits of its own history than by a constant stream of costly traveling exhibits. It has now achieved a great balance between telling our Oregon stories and exposing us to the glories of Jewish culture from the wider world. At the same time, OJM has created a dedicated cadre of future OJM members by curating an annual exhibit of objects and documents from the families of students at the Portland Jewish Academy with stories told by the students themselves. The enthusiasm and energy this event generates every year belies the staid images of the usual museum experience. Finally, the enormous work the staff and board have put in to secure a new and exciting building for the museum, which came to fruition this month, will leverage previously undreamed of opportunities to better serve the Oregon Jedwish community.

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Oregon Jewish Museum is the "little engine that could" - and is - and will! Its current space, ableit limited, is a remarkable beehive of activity out of which come originally curated art exhibits hanging, alternatively,with traveling shows and cutting-edge artists whose work is not otherwise available to see in the Pacific Northwest. It is thus an educator to its viewing public as well as to the many school children who regularly visit. In the Oregon spirit, OJM works as a local pioneer in the field of preserving Jewish memory while embracing the future, as it moves to triple its size and expand its outreach opportunities to even more graphically tell the story of Oregon Jews - those who came early, those who are here now and those yet to come. Founded on a shoestring as a museum without walls, 21 years ago next spring, its volunteers continue to do the heavy lifting supported by an extraordinarily dedicated staff and by partnerships with local institutions both small and large.

4

Board Member

Rating: 5

I'm a board member of the Oregon Jewish Museum for the past year. The Museum has been a part of my life since if was founded as a visitor to its many exhibits, lectures, and the growing archives. The Museum is housed in a 1,800 square foot space. After many years of searching it will move into newly renovated space this Dcember of 6,500 square feet. The Museum will now be able to correctly house its growing archives, show multiple exhibits simultaneously and also house it's staff in offices. Along with the Museum, OJM will house the Oregon Holacaust Resource Center in the same building. A show of true collaboration. This is an exciting time for the Oregon Jewish Museum and the Oregon Holacaust Resource Center.

4

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As an historian researching western Jewish communities, the OJM has provided an invaluable resource through its archival collections. The curator/archivist has been incredibly helpful, knowledgeable, and accommodating. While they are limited in space (a problem soon to be rectified), they have created interesting and very professional exhibits on local Jewish history.

4

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been exposed to the Oregon Jewish Museum through my work as a history professional in Portland, Oregon, and I have been impressed by the quality and quantity of programming, exhibits, and collections initiatives they provide the community -- especially with such a small staff. The museum's director works to make all members of the community welcome and to broaden understanding of the depth and complexity of Jewish experience in the Pacific Northwest, echoing broader trends in the historical community that seek to extend study throughout the twentieth century. I am particularly impressed by the substantial oral history program, a vital aspect of historical documentation that would not be accmomplished otherwise.

4

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The Museum team of professionals and volunteers works miracles with a very tight budget and very small space. The exhibitions that have been created over the years are absolutely first class. The Museum could not do what it does without the energy and creativity of an incredible group of volunteers. Thanks to them and the supporters in the community, the Museum will move to a new, larger location in December 2009. The Museum plays a vital role in both the Jewish and secular communities as a resource and collaborator for cultural and educational programming.