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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.