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2009 Top-Rated Nonprofit

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

3 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


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.


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.


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.