The sun is obscured by the moon during a solar eclipse as seen from an Alaska Airlines commercial jet on Aug. 21. Photo by Jim Urquhart/Reuters

Eclipse travelers greeted with anti-Semitic banners on Oregon highway overpasses

Signs with anti-Semitic messages were hung on highway overpasses in Oregon ahead of Monday’s eclipse.

The banners were hung on two northbound highways, which were heavily travelled by California tourists heading to the state to get a better view of Monday’s expected solar eclipse, according to local reports.

The banners read, “UNJEW HUMANITY,” “Eclipse Whitey,”  “Jewish Financing Available” and “Resist Racial Eclipse,” the Oregon Statesman Journal reported on Saturday. They were taken down later on Saturday.

Neo-Nazi Jimmy Marr of Springfield, Oregon, who goes by the Twitter handle @GenocideJimmy, appeared to take credit for the banners Sunday evening on social media, reported.

Beth Dershowitz of Sacramento told the Oregonian in an email that the banners upset her, her husband Michael, and their children during their family road trip on Saturday. She said her husband took photos of the banners to show state transportation officials.

“I cannot believe that we still have to face this vicious anti-Semitism in such a public place in 2017,” she wrote. “We want to expose this hatred so people stop pretending like it isn’t happening in our own backyards.”

In June, a sign blaming Jews for the Sept. 11 attacks was hung from a pedestrian bridge over an interstate highway in Portland, Oregon.

Oregon Jewish Museum gets permanent home

The nomadic Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education will have a new and permanent home next year.

The museum’s executive director Judy Margles and board chair Elaine Coughlin announced Wednesday the purchase of a $5 million space in Oldtown at the former location of the Museum of Contemporary Craft, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.

For more than 25 years the museum had been renting spaces around Portland, but for the first time will be able to settle into a permanent and much larger space where it will also be able to house its own permanent exhibits.

Rabbi Joshua Stampfer founded the museum in the late 1980s to educate the public about Jewish art and history with a program of temporary exhibits. Over the years it came to focus more specifically on Oregon’s Jewish history.

The move will more than double the space from its current 6,900 square feet to 15,000, allowing the museum to have more extensive exhibits, as well as a 100-seat auditorium, a small cafe and a gift shop.

Margles said that the new location will give them the ability to house core exhibits. Margles said they are assembling an exhibition about the Jewish experience in Oregon, about discrimination and the history of the Holocaust, “but through the eyes of our local survivors,” Margles told OPB.

According to the Jewish Federation of Portland, the city’s Jewish population is nearly 50,000, including a recent influx of Orthodox families.

Oregon occupation leader Bundy urges remaining protesters to go home

The leader of a month-long armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon on Wednesday urged remaining protesters to leave the site and go home, a day after his arrest and the death of a supporter.

Ammon Bundy, who was taken into custody with several members of his group at a traffic stop along Highway 395, north of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeast Oregon, urged federal authorities to let his comrades leave the compound without being prosecuted. 

“To those remaining at the refuge, I love you. Let us take this fight from here. Please stand down… Please go home,” Bundy said in a statement read by his attorney, Michael Arnold, following a court hearing. 

A total of eight occupiers had left the compound by late on Wednesday and three were arrested, including Jason Patrick, who had been with Bundy's group in Oregon since the beginning and was acting as a spokesman for the holdouts, the FBI said in a statement.

It was unclear how many people remained inside the refuge.

Brandon Curtiss, a member of the Pacific Patriots Network, which has been acting as an intermediary between law enforcement and Bundy's supporters, said the FBI informed him of Patrick's arrest. 

The three taken into custody face a federal charge of felony conspiracy to impede federal officers.

Patrick told Reuters by telephone on Wednesday that some protesters were leaving, but rejected the word “surrender.”

“I don't know what surrendering looks like,” he said. “They're walking through the checkpoint and going home. That's what I've heard unless I'm being lied to.” 

Citing the investigation, authorities declined to say what led to the fatal shooting of a member of Bundy's group, identified by activists as Robert LaVoy Finicum, a rancher who acted as a spokesman for the occupiers. Bundy's brother, Ryan, was wounded during the traffic stop.

The protesters were each charged in U.S. District Court in Portland with conspiracy to use force, intimidation or threats to impede federal officers from discharging their duties.

The defendants were ordered held without bail until a detention hearing set for Friday.

The Malheur takeover, which started on Jan. 2 with at least a dozen armed men, was a flare-up in the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion, a decades-old conflict over federal control of millions of acres in the West. 


At a news conference earlier in the day, state and federal authorities pleaded with the remaining occupiers to quit their protest, saying they were free to leave.

“Let me be clear: It is the actions and choices of the armed occupiers of the refuge that have led us to where we are today,” said Greg Bretzing, special agent in charge of the FBI's office in Portland. “They had ample opportunity to leave the refuge peacefully and as the FBI and our partners have clearly demonstrated, actions are not without consequences.”

Federal officials say they had probable cause to arrest Finicum, who told NBC News earlier this month that he would rather die than be detained.

At the same news conference, Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward, his voice breaking, said, “I'm disappointed that a traffic stop yesterday that was supposed to bring peaceful resolution to this ended badly. Multiple law enforcement agencies put a lot of work into putting together the best tactical plan they could, to take these guys down peacefully.

“This can't happen anymore. This can't happen in America and it can't happen in Harney County,” Ward added.

Reactions to the takeover from residents in Burns, about 30 miles (48 km) from the refuge, have included sympathy for the imprisoned local ranchers whose plight began the protest, to distrust of the federal government, and dismay at the armed occupation by individuals seen as outsiders.

Many residents said an armed protest was taking legitimate grievances too far, and leaders of a Native American tribe have urged the occupiers to leave, saying they were scaring the community and that the protesters' ignorance of the region's real history was offensive.

Oregon wildlife refuge occupiers denounce U.S. government

The leaders of a group of self-styled militiamen who took over a remote U.S. wildlife refuge center in Oregon over the weekend said on Monday they acted to protest the federal government's role in managing millions of acres of wild lands.

The anti-government occupation, which began on Saturday at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, 30 miles (50 km) south of the small town of Burns, was the latest skirmish over federal land management in large tracts of the West.

A protest leader, Ammon Bundy, told reporters outside the occupied facility on Monday that his group had named itself “Citizens for Constitutional Freedom” and was trying to restore individual rights. Bundy and law enforcement officials declined to say how many people were occupying the center.

About half a dozen occupiers could be seen outside the facility on Monday, with some manning a watchtower and others standing around a vehicle they had used to block the road leading to the building. They chatted quietly among themselves. None was visibly armed.

The FBI said it was seeking a “peaceful resolution to the situation.” It declined to give details on how the U.S. government would deal with the occupiers. No significant law enforcement presence could be seen at the site.

The occupation followed a demonstration in Burns over the imminent imprisonment of local ranchers Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son, Steven Hammond, who were found guilty of setting a series of fires. Through an attorney, they have dissociated themselves from the occupiers.

NBC News reported that the father and son turned themselves in as planned on Monday at a federal prison in California. Their lawyer did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The occupation is the latest wrinkle in decades of conflict between ranchers and the federal government over Washington's management of hundreds of thousands of acres of range land. Critics say the federal government often oversteps its authority and exercises arbitrary power without sufficient accountability.

Bundy is the son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, whose ranch was the scene of an armed demonstration against federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) officials in 2014 that ended with the authorities backing down, citing safety concerns.

That standoff had drawn hundreds of armed protesters after federal agents sought to seize Bundy's cattle because he refused to pay grazing fees. 

Jon Ritzheimer, a Marine Corps veteran who traveled from Phoenix to take part in the occupation, said the Constitution was under attack from the U.S. government, and that he and his companions were “trying to restore this land to the people.” 

In Burns, home to 3,000 people, residents voiced sympathy for the Hammonds but also expressed frustration at the occupation, which some locals viewed as the work of outsiders.

“I agree they shouldn't have to go back to prison. I get why they're here,” said Patrick Wright, a 33-year-old taxi driver, who said he knew the Hammonds. “Taking over the refuge and threatening gun violence is a little extreme, but it's getting them heard, that's for sure.”

The takeover drew criticism on social media, with some users asking if the occupiers would have been treated differently if they had been black or Muslim. 


The Hammonds were found guilty in 2012 of setting a string of fires, including a 2001 blaze that federal prosecutors said was intended to cover up evidence of deer poaching, that wound up burning 139 acres (56 hectares) of public lands.

The younger Hammond was initially sentenced to 12 months in prison and the father three months, below the federal minimum for arson. But in October, a U.S. district judge increased the sentences to five years.

The Hammond ranch borders on the southern edge of the Malheur refuge, a bird sanctuary in eastern Oregon's arid high desert, about 305 miles (490 km) southeast of Portland.

Both father and son are members of the Oregon Cattlemen's Association (OCA). The group said on Monday that it would continue to assist and represent them “solely through avenues that are in accordance with the law.”

“OCA does not support illegal activity taken against the government. This includes militia takeover of government property, such as the Malheur Wildlife Refuge,” the association's president, John O'Keeffe, said in a statement. 

“Obviously we're aware of the situation and concerned about it,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. He said President Barack Obama had been briefed on the situation, adding: “This ultimately is a … local law enforcement matter.”

Republican White House candidates Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida expressed sympathy for the protesters' concerns but urged the group to remain peaceful and follow the law, according to media reports.

The refuge, which encompasses 292 square miles (75,630 hectares), was established in 1908 by U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt as a breeding ground for greater sandhill cranes and other native birds.

Multiple fatalities, wounded as gunman opens fire at Oregon college

A gunman opened fire on Thursday at a community college in Oregon, killing 13 people and wounding some 20 others, in the latest mass killing to rock a U.S. school, officials and local media said.

There were conflicting reports on the number of casualties and wounded at Umpqua Community College. The state's attorney general told the local NBC affiliate that 13 people had been slain, 20 wounded and the shooter was killed.

The suspect was not identified but CNN reported it was a man in his late 20s.

Douglas County Commissioner Chris Boice said the shooting left about 30 casualties, but he could not immediately say how many of those people died and how many were injured.

The shooting is the latest incident of gun violence in the United States, raising demands for more gun control and more effective treatment of the mentally ill. Recent episodes of gun violence include the massacre of nine people at a South Carolina church last spring and the killing of five U.S. servicemen in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

CNN reported that one of the wounded was a female who had been shot in the chest. The Oregonian said that at least six patients were critically injured in the shooting, citing an official with Life Flight.

The Douglas County Sheriff's office said on Facebook that officers had responded to a shooting at the college following 911 calls at 10:38 a.m. local time (1738 GMT).

Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg said on Facebook that the hospital had received nine patients from the shooting and had been advised that three more were en route.

“Please continue to pray,” the hospital said.

Local media reported that authorities were combing through the campus, which serves more than 13,000 students, 3,000 of them full-time. Fall term began at the college on Monday.

The Douglas County Sheriff's Office said students and faculty members were being bused to the nearby fairgrounds where they could be picked up.

President Barack Obama was briefed on the shooting by Lisa Monaco, his homeland security adviser, a White House official said.

The FBI said agents were responding from offices in Medford, Eugene, Salem and Portland.

The Oregonian said agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were also en route to Roseburg, a city of about 20,000 people some 260 miles (418 km) south of Portland.

In 2012, seven students at the small Christian college Oikos University in Oakland, California, were shot dead by a former student, marking the deadliest outburst of violence at U.S. college since April 2007, when a student at Virginia Tech University killed 32 people and wounded 25 others before taking his own life.

Obama: gun laws must be changed, gun owners must speak up

President Barack Obama on Thursday angrily called for stricter U.S. gun laws after the latest mass murder in Oregon and took aim at the powerful National Rifle Association gun lobby for blocking reform.

Appearing in the White House briefing room with a grim expression and an angry tone, Obama said it was not enough to offer prayers after major shootings continued to occur regularly throughout the country.

“As I said just a few months ago, and I said just a few months before that, and I said each time we see one of these mass shootings, our thoughts and prayers are not enough,” Obama told reporters after the latest shooting at a community college in which 13 people were killed and some 20 people were wounded.

“It's not enough,” he said.

Nodding to the arguments that such shootings are often committed by the mentally ill, Obama said it was clear that anyone who commits such crimes had a “sickness in their minds.”

“But we are not the only country on Earth who has people with mental illnesses who want to do harm to other people,” he said. “We are the only advanced country on Earth who sees these kinds of mass shootings every few months.”

Obama spoke mainly without notes, angrily anticipating the arguments that gun advocates would brandish in the wake of the shooting. He said he knew his opponents would criticize him for politicizing a tragedy.

“This is something we should politicize,” he said, calling on Americans of all political stripes to hold their elected leaders accountable for acting on the issue.

Obama called on gun owners who use weapons for hunting, sport and protection to question whether the gun lobby represented their views. He did not mention the National Rifle Association by name, but his comments were clearly directed at that organization, which has broad political influence in Washington.

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden made a concerted push for broad gun control reforms after the 2012 Newtown, Connecticut school shooting of young children that shocked the country. They were unsuccessful.

Obama said he would continue to bring up the need for reform every time such a shooting took place, but the White House has made clear that it was unlikely to attempt another broad push on gun control through the Republican-led U.S. Congress.

At Cannabis Seder, Bob Marley tunes and a blessing over the weed

This seder included a legal disclaimer.

“The cannabis products at this Seder are available to OMMP cardholders only,” the sign at the check-in table read, referring to the state of Oregon’s medical marijuana program. “All others consume at your own risk.”

The fine print explained the facts: While Oregon voters legalized recreational marijuana use last November, the measure wouldn’t take effect until July 1. Portland’s district attorney had vowed not to prosecute in the meantime, but the message was clear: If I wanted to get stoned on pot chocolates, the hosts of the country’s first official Cannabis Seder bore no responsibility.

Heading into the airy warehouse where the third night seder was held, I ran into Roy Kaufmann, one half of the married couple behind the evening’s festivities. Roy – a seasoned activist – co-founded the advocacy group Le’Or, which since its founding last year has worked to put marijuana legalization on the Jewish communal agenda. (JTA profiled the organization in February.)

The Cannabis Seder for a New Drug Peace —  billed as a place for “an honest Jewish conversation about topics we were taught were strictly taboo – about drugs, race, and justice,” marked Le’Or’s inaugural event. (Kveller, earlier this month published an April Fools post “Blazin’ Seder: How to Incorporate Marijuana Into Your Passover Celebration.”)

But the Le’Or event, which brought together about 50 people, was no joke.

Seated around reclaimed hardwood tables, seder-goers passed bowls to celebrate Oregon’s newfound cannabis freedoms, and twice sang Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” along with a vocal soloist. (“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery/None but ourselves can free our minds.”)

When it came time to begin the seder and say the blessing over the wine, a new tradition was added to the service: reciting the blessing over the weed.

In the absence of a prayer for cannabis, Kaufmann – author of the Drug War-themed Haggadah that guided our seder – borrowed from the Havdalah ritual. The prayer  — “Blessed are you, Lord, our God, the king of the world, who creates myriad fragrances” —  traditionally recited over the fragrant spices at the close of every Sabbath became the defacto ganja blessing.

“Given that cannabis is one of the most fragrant of spices,” the seder book read, “this is a fitting blessing for tonight’s celebration.”

The evening’s major sponsor and president of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap Company, David Bronner, was seated at my table, along with his partner in hemp activism, Adam Eidinger. Eidinger had flown in from Washington D.C., where he led last year’s successful campaign to legalize recreational marijuana use in the nation’s capital. (Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap Company provided seed money to found Le’Or.)

Other seder guests included Marsha Rosenbaum and Amanda Reiman of the Drug Policy Alliance – a driving force behind marijuana legalization efforts nationwide – and Diane Goldstein, a 53-year-old retired police lieutenant from Rendondo Beach, Calif., who traded in her badge to speak out against the Drug War. The ongoing four-decade “war” has resulted in prison time for an unprecedented number of Americans convicted of drug-related crimes.

At the Le’Or seder, while some Passover rituals were left intact – the washing of the hands, for one – most were subject to reinvention. Even the seder plate looked different from all other seder plates: As a symbol of freedom and protest, a marijuana leaf had been substituted for the usual piece of lettuce.

By the time the seder meal (wild-caught salmon) was finished, glass Mason jars previously stuffed with Oregon’s Finest sat empty, and the spread of dark chocolate truffles “made with full extract cannabis oil,” according to the Leif Medicinals label, had been plundered.

What remained was a sordid array of hemp wick, unopened jars of cannabis butter, and a room full of activists who committed to ending America’s Drug War in the name of the Jewish ideal of Tikkun Olam, or building a better world.

Is a new Jewish Portland rising in the east?

Until recently, Jo Borkan was thinking about leaving Portland.

She had lived in the city almost her whole life and owns a house on the city’s east side. But Borkan craved a connection to Judaism, and she couldn’t seem to find one that fit with her spiritual explorations into yoga and meditation. Despite her love for Portland, she mulled a move to New York or to the Bay Area.

However, in August, Borkan began co-leading Havdallah Yoga, a group that gathers each Rosh Hodesh, the beginning of the Jewish month, for a combination of yoga and Jewish ritual. Participants meet in a converted industrial building, and are guided through a yoga practice that incorporates Jewish themes and rituals. In December, for example, yogis were encouraged to bring Hanukkah menorahs, which lit up the otherwise dark space. A Havdalah service follows the month’s routine.

These days, Borkan, 30, says she no longer thinks about leaving Portland to find her Jewish community.

“Honestly, at least for now, [Havdallah Yoga] has totally filled that need,” she told JTA.

And Borkan is far from the only one connecting to Jewish practice in nontraditional ways. Portlanders can celebrate Jewish holidays with ice cream sundae tasting menus; fill their growlers at a kosher, community-supported nanobrewery; or take part in a Jewish “gap year” program for recent high school graduates that combines social justice work with Jewish study.

In addition to embodying Portland’s famously quirky and creative culture, these points of connection represent a deeper transformation in Portland Jewish life. After decades in which Jewish life was concentrated on the city’s more sedate west side, a new, grassroots-oriented brand of Judaism is now taking form east of the Willamette River, reshaped by the people who live there.

Historically, Portland’s Jewish community has largely lived on the west side of town and that is where the mainstream Jewish institutions — the JCC, the federation, the community day school and most of the major synagogues — still reside. This, traditionally, has been the prosperous side of town, which includes the downtown business district, a number of upscale suburban neighborhoods and Portland State University.

However, in 2011, the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland’s population study came out — and the findings were shocking. At 47,500, the number of Portland Jews was nearly twice as large as previously thought. What’s more, the vast majority of these previously unaccounted-for, and largely unaffiliated, Jews resided east of the Willamette River.

The ensuing communal discussions over outreach to Jews on the east side seemed to divide the city’s Jews into two categories: traditional vs. innovative, established vs. unaffiliated, older vs. younger.

There is even a divide over whether or not such a divide exists.

“I’m not sure there’s any difference — I think there’s a perception that it’s different,” said Marc Blattner, chief executive officer of the Portland federation, who helped publish the study that has kicked off so much discussion. “I just worry that the east side gets a lot of play because it’s the sexy side of town.”

Sexy, as in when the foodie website Eater recently listed its Essential 38 Portland Restaurants, 32 were east of the Willamette. When Jerry Seinfeld came to town to film his show “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” with comedian and “Portlandia” star Fred Armisen, they got coffee, lunch, and even visited a high-style taxidermist/toy shop, all without venturing to the west side of town.

Unlike Blattner, many of the city’s Jews insist that the divide isn’t limited to geography.

“There really is a sense that there’s a different energy on the east side,” said Ariel Stone, rabbi of Shir Tikvah, the sole synagogue on Portland’s east side. “What we joke about is that it’s an east side attitude or a feeling. You can be a west sider and have it.”

Jewish life on the east side has a long history of ups and downs. For 75 years, up until 1986, the area was home to a synagogue, Tifereth Israel.

“It was a dying congregation,” said Eric Kimmel, 68, a children’s book author, who moved to Portland’s east side in 1978, lured by the then-cheap real estate. “One of the older members would lead the service, and he didn’t see so well, so he would skip pages, and we would be so jumbled up.”

After Tifereth Israel closed in the 1980s and was absorbed into another congregation, Jewish life on the east side was sparse. A havurah started in the 1990s, called the Eastside Jewish Community of Portland, but it has since closed.

However, the east side of Portland more generally was experiencing a revival, as transplants helped mold the freewheeling, do-it-yourself ethos that has become central to Portland’s image.

Some congregations began to notice that a growing number of their members lived on the east side. When the Reconstructionist synagogue Havurah Shalom bought its own building in the 1990s, it made sure to buy in the Pearl District, on the west side but close to the river, so as to be accessible to its burgeoning east side population.

Then, in 2002, several members from a west side synagogue split off and founded Shir Tikvah, a nondenominational synagogue. They rented space from a local church.

“We found out there was an east side Jewish population before the study was done, because we put out a shingle and they started coming out of the woodwork,” said Stone.

In response to the population study, the federation and several west side synagogues began hosting events on the east side. However, while some initiatives, like the PJ Library — a program that distributes free Jewish-themed children’s books, including Kimmel’s, via local Jewish institutions — have transitioned over successfully, some of the efforts have seemed more successful at bringing west siders to the east than at galvanizing unaffiliated east side locals. And two years after a family foundation helped arrange a $35,000 grant to help support Jewish life on the east side, there’s still money left — waiting to be used, said the federation’s Blattner.

One boon to east side Jewish life came in the form of Nate DeGroot, a rabbinical student at Hebrew College in Boston, who fell in love with the city while working there one summer. Struck by what he saw as a lack of engagement among many younger, east side Jews, DeGroot, with the help of some federation funding, returned the following summer to focus full time on founding and organizing Mikdash as a center for east side Jewish life.

DeGroot focused on identifying and talking to Jews — urging them to connect other passions in their lives to their interest in Judaism. For example, when he found out that east sider Jared Goodman was staging dessert events with multi-course tasting menus of ice cream sundaes, built around various themes, DeGroot worked with him to develop a series of sundae events for the Jewish holidays. He also helped Jo Borkan, along with co-founder Yael Pidnosky, to develop Havdallah Yoga, and he still talks with the two via Skype every month.

“Nate was so instrumental because he continually repeated back to us, ‘I’m glad to be a support, but you guys know what you’re doing,’” said Borkan.

However, DeGroot has since moved to Israel to pursue his studies for a year, and he will not be ordained for another year after that, leaving Mikdash’s board members to carry the torch in his absence.

And yet his work, and his support from the federation, has also spurred some resentment from some long-time east siders.

“It’s interesting that an outsider is getting [federation funding] while people who live here and have made a commitment to the community are not getting that kind of support,” said Sonia-Marie Leikam, an east side resident, Shir Tikvah board member and co-founder of Leikam Brewing, a kosher-certified community-supported nanobrewery. She stressed that she likes DeGroot personally and thinks he has done valuable work, but she wondered why the federation turned to him, rather than active members of the Jewish community already living on the east side. “It’s more like – ‘Hey guys, we’re right here in your backyard.’”

Despite some tensions, Jewish life is undeniably burgeoning on the east side. Two new Jewish preschools have opened in the past several months. Shir Tikvah, at 165 families, has expanded by 10 percent in the past year and is looking into purchasing a building of its own, though it may take the form of a flexible community space rather than a traditional synagogue structure.

Still, Blattner says it is too early to tell what the future of the east side will be and how well the recent burst of new activities can sustain itself.

“They’re all so brand-new that I’m hoping in five to 10 years not only that they’re there, but that they’re mainstays all over town,” said Blattner. “That would be a blessing. But let’s see.”

Governor of Oregon resigns amid scandal about fiancée

Gov. John Kitzhaber, long regarded as a wily survivor of Oregon politics, resigned Friday amid a spiraling crisis that included a criminal investigation of the role that his fiancée played in his administration as well as crumbling support from his Democratic Party colleagues.

It was a steep and rapid fall for Mr. Kitzhaber, 67, a former emergency room doctor who just last November won an unprecedented fourth term as governor. His resignation means that Kate Brown, the Oregon secretary of state and a fellow Democrat, will become governor, in accordance with the succession plan in the state constitution.

Read more at The New York Times.

Portland preschool pushes boundaries of Jewish outdoors education

Even on a cold, gray and rainy morning, the children from the Gan Shalom Collaborative School are outside, seated under a wood-framed shelter topped by corrugated plastic.

With their teacher, Sarabel Eisenfeld, they grate potatoes for latkes, then cup their hands beside their heads to put on their “Shema ears for deep listening” before turning their attention to the world around them.

“I hear a crow!” Forrest says.

“I hear some birds singing,” Pfeifer chimes in.

Next they turn their attention to the weather.

“It’s a cold day. That’s why we have our jackets on,” Marlen says.

Founded by Eisenfeld and director Katherine Morse-Woods as an “earth-based” preschool, Gan Shalom was created to put its students in touch with the patterns of nature — and in so doing, with the rhythm of the Jewish year.

Students spend most of their time outdoors, where they gather for story time on stumps, bake challah or apples in a wood-burning oven and tend a vegetable garden alongside more standard preschool fare.

Gan Shalom has just three students, though enrollment may get a boost next year when parents become eligible for a $2,000 tuition voucher from the Portland Jewish Federation for first-time Jewish preschoolers.

It represent a small, experimental take on the possibilities of a Jewish education at a time when schools, Jewish and not, are increasingly integrating gardening, and outdoors education more generally, into their curricula.

“I think that it has become a much larger issue in the secular world, and Jewish early childhood educators have said this is a natural fit for us,” said Lyndall Miller, program director of the New York-based Jewish Early Childhood Education Leadership Institute. “Judaism is a very sensory, spiritual kind of adventure. Few things are more sensory than being in a garden.”

Eisenfeld and Morse-Woods are not your garden-variety Jewish educators. Both reside in intentional communities — residential collectives typically organized around some shared cause or spiritual orientation. Gan Shalom is housed at Beit Shlomo, the community created by Morse-Woods and her husband in their Victorian duplex in southeast Portland shared with two other Jewish families. The couple are also working to develop an acre and a half of forest land outside Seattle into a spiritual retreat center complete with a mikvah.

In January, the school will move two miles away to Foster Village, the community where Eisenfeld lives with 10 others. Created by combining two housing lots, Foster Village features an elaborate permaculture garden with ducks, chickens, a beehive and a sophisticated composting system.

“We can deepen our reverence and connection with creation when we’re part of it and comfortable with it,” Eisenfeld told JTA. “When we grow this food and we say a blessing for this food, you feel it more.”

In many nursery schools, this takes the form of comparatively modest vegetable gardens. Gan Shalom’s more adventurous embrace of gardening and the outdoors is of a piece with Portland, where the pursuit of local food, urban agriculture and low-impact living has become the stuff of parody.

It’s even more true on the city’s more alternative and experimental east side, where Gan Shalom has become the first Jewish preschool. A second east side Jewish preschool, Tree of Life Montessori, will open in January. Its founder, Ariel Cohn, is the mother of a current Gan Shalom student.

“People are not super religious,” Woods-Morse said of southeast Portland. “We are trying to strike that balance where we create rituals for the kids, weaving things into their daily lives without being really didactic.”

After the relocation, Eisenfeld hopes to further push the boundaries of Gan Shalom’s mission by having children spend virtually their entire day outside. There is a porch where they can go when it rains and a small cabin, currently a guest bedroom, that can function as a warming shed on cold days. The kids can cook outside using a concrete wood-burning oven — decorated with a molded concrete octopus — or a portable stove. They can even relieve themselves outside in compost toilets.

Eisenfeld’s approach to teaching has been shaped by her own experiences as a trip leader for the American Jewish World Service and her work at The Farm School, an educational farm in Athol, Mass.

She recalls her first Rosh Hashanah at the educational farm.

“I was picking apples and I was harvesting honey from the bees, and I never felt more Jewish,” Eisenfeld said. “Our holidays are really based on the seasons, and that was my first experience of that.”

Gan Shalom’s plans for the future are modest, expanding from two days a week to three, though the school day will still be restricted to four hours a day, in part for regulatory reasons.  The school is hoping to bring in other families; Cohn’s child will leave in January to attend Tree of Life.

Meanwhile, the transition is underway. At Beit Shlomo, the bamboo structure for growing green beans is being taken apart. At a Hanukkah party at Foster Village, the children chase the ducks and light the candles. As the sun sets, Pfeifer is reluctant to leave, but his mother reassures him.

“Don’t worry,” she says. “We’ll be back in January.”

Three teens shot outside Portland, Oregon, high school

Three teenagers were shot and wounded on Friday near a Portland, Oregon, alternative high school, police said, and officers were searching for a suspect who ran from the scene following the gunfire.

The two boys and one girl shot outside Rosemary Anderson High School in north Portland were “conscious and breathing” as they were rushed to a local hospital, the Portland Police Bureau said in a tweet.

A spokeswoman for Legacy Emanuel Medical Center confirmed that the hospital was treating three patients from the incident but declined to give out any information on their condition, citing medical privacy laws.

It was not immediately clear if the victims were students at Rosemary Anderson, but police said they ran to the school following the shooting, shortly after noon, and were treated there as it was immediately placed on lockdown.

The shooter ran from the area, police said, and officers with search dogs were combing nearby neighborhoods for the suspect.

“Officers have cleared the school. Area is safe and secure,” the police bureau said on Twitter, adding that it was not considered an “active shooter situation.”

The Portland Oregonian newspaper reported that a female student was struck in the chest and a 17-year-old was shot in the back. There was no immediate information on the third victim.

The paper said FBI agents were on the scene to assist police and that investigators believed the suspect has ties to a street gang. Parents were reunited with their children at a staging area several blocks from the school.

Aly Wright, who works at the Coffeehouse Five cafe near the school, said her customers heard several gunshots, followed by the quick arrival of police.

“This whole block is on lockdown,” she said.

The neighborhood has a history of gang violence, said Johnny Bradford, a Portland minister interviewed by Reuters near the scene.

The shooting is “really surprising because it's really been good for the last couple of years,” Bradford said.

Jefferson High School and Portland Community College were also placed on lockdown for about two hours before resuming classes, and streets around Rosemary Anderson were blocked off.

Rosemary Anderson is an alternative high school serving up to 190 “at-risk” students, many of whom are homeless or who had been expelled or dropped out of Portland's public high schools, according to the school website.

Eight chefs’ new Chanukah delights, one for each night

This year, Chanukah and Thanksgiving coincide: Chanukah is celebrated for eight days by candle-lighting, gift exchanges and eating foods fried in oil, an ancient custom, commemorating a miraculous event at the Temple in Jerusalem, while the Thanksgiving meal reminds us of our American heritage. Both offer a special time to reflect on our traditions and enjoy a family meal. 

Of course, the favorite Chanukah food is latkes, most often made from grated potatoes and served with sour cream, preserves or applesauce.

This year I decided to interview some well-known chefs and restaurateurs for some new and different ideas. The result was more than I bargained for. I never dreamed there could be so many sensational new recipes, and an added bonus was the delicious new sauces these food experts provided to serve with the latkes.  

I am featuring eight chefs and their recipes, one for each night of the holiday. Our family is also celebrating Thanksgiving a day early, on the first night of Chanukah, since our family is traveling from Northern California as well as Washington and Oregon to be together for this special celebration.     

Michel Richard, who was the chef/owner of Citrus while in Los Angeles, has just opened his new bakery, Pomme Palais, and restaurant, Villard Michel Richard, at the Palace Hotel in New York. Always looking for ways to reduce the use of butter and cream, he developed wafer-thin, super-crisp Oven-Fried Potato Latkes, which have absolutely no resemblance to the old-fashioned, heavier and more caloric ones. They are also a perfect dish to serve with your Thanksgiving turkey meal.

Bruce Marder, the innovative chef of Capo and the Brentwood Restaurant in West L.A., came up with Two-Tone Potato Latkes, made without eggs, which he serves with salmon caviar to celebrate Chanukah and Thanksgiving . 

Chef Jonathan Waxman’s restaurant, Barbuto, in New York City’s West Village section, serves Italian-inspired cuisine. Several years ago he shared this Red Pepper and Corn Latkes recipe, served with a creamy corn sauce, which has become a staple for our Chanukah menu.   

Michel Ohayon, chef/owner of  Koutoubia in West L.A., offers another substantial main course for Chanukah: Moroccan Ground Beef and Potato Latkes, which he suggests should be served with harissa, a spicy-hot chili pepper sauce that can be found in most Middle Eastern markets.

When your guests arrive, offer them a large bowl filled with thin home-fried potato chips that our foodie friend, home cook Luigi (Lou) Liuzzi created. It is one of his many innovative food experiments that we continue to enjoy.

Chef Brett Swartzman is a chef with passion. Originally a native of Chicago, he is creating his second Chanukah celebration at the Brentwood Country Club.  They love his Potato Latkes With Granny Smith Applesauce, and this year he is going to surprise them with Sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts).  

Chef Robert Bell, owner-chef of Chez Melange and Mama Terano, both in the South Bay, prepared an unusual potato latke recipe on my TV show “Judy’s Kitchen” many years ago. Thinly sliced russet potatoes are arranged in layers in a skillet to resemble the pedals of a flower, then baked in olive oil until crisp. It’s always a tasty dish to serve during the holiday. 

Josiah Citrin, chef-owner of Melisse in Santa Monica, serves his family’s traditional potato latkes, using a special French cheese. This is a recipe that his French grandmother, Simone, prepared for Chanukah, and she always served it with fig compote.

With these eight exciting latke recipes, it is a perfect time to plan a festive latke party for your family and friends. Keep the menu simple — after all, the latkes are the real stars, and a hearty soup or salad may be the only addition needed. If your latkes are served for dessert, invite guests to drop in after dinner for latkes, tea and coffee.

Preparation can be made easy by using your food processor or blender, and remember, many batters may be made in advance, then fried at the last moment. In planning your Chanukah party, don’t forget to include the traditional songs, the custom of giving Chanukah gelt (foil-wrapped chocolate coins) to the children and exchanging small gifts.


1 pound (about 4 medium) potatoes, peeled
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Sour cream and diced cucumbers

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Cut the potatoes into long, thin strips, about 1/8-inch wide, by hand or using your food processor’s julienne or shredder blade. Place potato strips in a bowl of water to cover. Before cooking, drain potatoes, then dry well in a lettuce spinner or with a clean kitchen towel. 

Place a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil and heat. Add the potatoes and stir-fry until tender, about five minutes. Turn the potatoes out onto a baking sheet and push the strips together to form a rectangle or triangle, about 1/4-inch thick. Roll using a rolling pin to flatten further.  

Oil a large baking sheet. Cut into the flattened potatoes by pressing down on a fluted cookie cutter, creating 2 1/2- to 3-inch rounds.  Using a spatula, transfer the latkes to the prepared baking sheet. (This can be done in advance.) 

Before baking, season potatoes with salt and pepper. Bake in the preheated oven until crisp and brown on both sides, about 30 minutes, turning the latkes halfway through. Transfer them to a serving platter, using a metal spatula. Serve with sour cream and diced cucumbers. 

Makes about 8 servings


1 large russet potato, peeled
1 large sweet potato, peeled
Salt and pepper
Olive oil for frying
Salmon caviar

Julienne potatoes lengthwise into long matchsticks, either with a knife, food processor with julienne attachment or mandoline.  Place in large bowl, add salt and pepper to taste, and mix well.

In a cast iron skillet or on a griddle, heat olive oil. Shape potato mixture to form pancakes about 2 inches in diameter. Fry on one side until brown, then, using a metal spatula, carefully turn and flatten with the back of the spatula and brown on the other side.

Place latkes on heated plates and serve immediately with salmon caviar.

Makes about 12 latkes.


Creamy Corn Sauce (recipe follows)
1 red bell pepper
3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup flour
Olive oil for frying
Salt and pepper
Salmon caviar (optional)

Prepare Creamy Corn Sauce; set aside.

Roast red pepper in a 375 F oven for 40 minutes, turning once.  Skin will puff and brown. Peel off the skin, remove the stem, and discard seeds. Puree in blender or food processor. 

In a large bowl, combine the red pepper puree, egg yolks, milk and corn kernels; mix well. Blend in the flour. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold egg whites into red pepper mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  

In nonstick or heavy skillet, heat 1 to 2 tablespoons oil.  For each latke, spoon 2 tablespoons batter into the hot oil and fry on both sides until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Repeat until all batter has been used, adding more oil to skillet as needed to keep latkes from sticking 

Serve with Creamy Corn Sauce and top with salmon caviar, if desired.  

Makes about 24 latkes.    


2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup corn kernels
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup cream
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons minced chives

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet and saute corn kernels until tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and saute diced red bell pepper until tender, about 2 minutes. Set aside.

In a saucepan, heat vegetable broth and simmer until reduced to about 1/2 cup. Add sauteed corn and bell pepper.  Blend in cream and simmer until thickened.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, and stir in chives. Serve warm.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.


2 pounds potatoes
Oil for frying
1 medium onion, diced
Salt and pepper
1 pound ground beef
1 tablespoon minced onion
1/2 teaspoon each minced fresh parsley and fresh cilantro
Pinch nutmeg
Pinch mace (optional)
Pinch saffron (optional)
1 egg

In a pot, boil potatoes for 45 minutes; peel and mash. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet and saute diced onion until soft.  Add to potatoes with salt and pepper to taste. Cool.

In a skillet, brown ground beef, minced onion, parsley, cilantro, nutmeg, mace and saffron, until no juice remains. Cool mixture and transfer to a food processor. 

Using the knife blade of a food processor, blend meat mixture with egg. 

Using a heaping tablespoon of mashed potato mixture, place in palm of hand and place a teaspoon of ground beef mixture in center. Roll potato mixture around meat mixture.  Flatten between the palms of your hands.       

Fry in oil in nonstick skillet, or deep-fry until brown and crisp. (These can be prepared in advance and warmed in the oven, or served cold. ) Serve with harissa.  

Makes about 10 latkes.    


4 russet potatoes
3 to 4 cups olive, peanut or canola oil for frying
1 tablespoon salt

Peel the potatoes and slice them very thin using a mandoline or a sharp knife. Places the sliced potatoes in a bowl of cold water. Pour oil into fryer or large pot and heat to 375 F.

Dry the potato slices between two clean kitchen towels and place some into the not oil. Do not overload.

Fry for five minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer the chips to a large cookie sheet lined with paper towels and sprinkle salt onto the chips. Continue in batches until all the chips are cooked. Place the chips carefully into serving bowl — do not dump them from cookie sheet, as you do not want pour the excess salt from the sheet into the bowl. 

Makes 6 to 8 servings.


2 tablespoons active dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water (100 to 110 F)
1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar, plus more for rolling
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons unsalted margarine, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons salt
3 cups vegetable oil, plus more for bowl
1 cup seedless raspberry jam

In a small bowl, combine yeast, warm water and 1 teaspoon sugar. Set aside until foamy, about 10 minutes.

Place 2 1/2 cups flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the center; add eggs, yeast mixture, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, margarine, nutmeg and salt. Using a wooden spoon, stir until a sticky dough forms. On a well-floured work surface, knead until dough is smooth, soft and bounces back when poked with a finger, about 8 minutes (add more flour if necessary). Place in an oiled bowl; cover with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place to rise until doubled, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Using a 2 1/2-inch-round cookie cutter or drinking glass, cut 20 rounds. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise 15 minutes.

In medium saucepan over medium heat, heat 3 cups oil until a deep-frying thermometer registers 370 F. Using a slotted spoon, carefully slip 4 rounds into oil. Fry until golden, about 40 seconds. Turn doughnuts over; fry until golden on other side, another 40 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet. Roll in sugar while warm. Fry all dough, and roll in sugar.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a No. 4 tip with jam. Using a wooden skewer or toothpick, make a hole in the side of each doughnut. Fit the pastry tip into a hole, pipe about 2 teaspoons jam into doughnut. Repeat with remaining doughnuts. 

Makes about 24 doughnuts.


4 russet potatoes, scrubbed and thinly sliced
8 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 F. 

Brush a nonstick skillet with a small amount of olive oil and arrange the potato slices in a ring, overlapping until the entire surface is covered. Pour a thin stream of olive oil over the potato slices until completed coated (use most of the 8 tablespoons). Repeat with another layer, brush with remaining olive oil, and fry on medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes.

Transfer to the oven and bake for 20 to 30 minutes until potatoes are cooked through. Using a metal spatula, transfer potatoes to a cutting board and cut into triangles. Repeat with the remaining potato slices.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.


2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and grated
1 medium sweet onion, peeled and grated
1/2 pound Tomme Rabelais, grated (Salers or a firm Tomme de Savoie can be substituted)
1 large egg
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground white pepper
Olive oil for frying

Place small batches of grated potatoes in the center of dishtowels, and wring excess liquid from the potatoes. Transfer potatoes to a large bowl and repeat the process with the remaining potatoes. Add the onion, cheese, egg, salt and pepper to the potatoes and mix well to combine.

Heat 1/4 inch of oil in a heavy 12-inch skillet (cast iron works best). Add the potato mixture by 1/4-cupfuls to the hot oil. Lightly flatten with a spoon, and cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Turn the latkes over and cook until golden and cooked through, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Repeat process until all of the potato mixture is used. Serve warm.  

Makes about 24 latkes.

Judy Zeidler is a food consultant and author of “Italy Cooks” (Mostarda Press, 2011). Her Web site is

Portland-area paper to shut down

An Oregon Jewish paper, The Jewish Review, will close in January after publishing for more than 40 years.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Portland announced last week that it would cease publication of the semimonthly.

According to the Federation, the paper was a victim of the economic climate and the changing newspaper industry. Closing the paper will free $100,000 for other projects, the federation said in its announcement.

A new publishing group, MediaPort, had informed the federation’s board of its intention to publish a monthly Portland Jewish magazine.

Oregon panel coaxed to table resolution slamming Israel

Jews in Eugene, Ore., persuaded the local human rights commission to suspend for now a resolution condemning Israel for its flotilla raid last year.

More than 70 members of the local Jewish community, including officials of the local federation and community relations council, attended the commission’s meeting Tuesday evening.

“When you act without listening to the other side, you do not act in good faith,” Rae LaMarche, the president of the Lane County federation, told the meeting, according to the Eugene Register-Guard.

The commission suspended drafting the statement pending further comment from the community, the Register-Guard said. It was acting on the request of a local pro-Palestinian group, the Al-Nakba Awareness Project.

Israel raided a flotilla of aid ships attempting to breach its blockade of the Gaza Strip on May 31. In the ensuing violence nine Turks, including one Turkish American, were killed.

Max Forer holds the line for Oregon in BCS title game

The offensive line doesn’t deflect potentially game-winning passes or snag interceptions, throw precision passes to receivers who race into the end zone or take handoffs and run through defenses for the score.

The offensive line is not a glamour position. The offensive line protects the quarterback and opens holes for running backs.

The offensive line is the perfect place for Max Forer.

“My personality is to protect people,” Forer said. “The way we [offensive linemen] are, the way we’re built, our job is to protect. We sacrifice as much as anyone, that’s our job. It’s a fulfilling job for me.”

Forer, 22, a Santa Monica High School graduate and senior at the University of Oregon, is about to go out on top. His two-time Pacific-10 Conference champion Oregon Ducks, No. 2 in the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), will face off against the top-ranked Auburn Tigers during the biggest showdown of the bowl season — the BCS National Championship Game in Glendale, Ariz. on Jan. 10.

“The offensive line sacrifices the most because they get absolutely no return on the glory,” said Forer, paraphrasing former NFL coach Tony Dungy, who spoke to the Ducks earlier this year. “Everyone else gets stats, but the only return they get is winning. For the offensive line, their success is the team’s success.

“Someone has to do it, and it might as well be me,” Forer said.

On Jan. 1, 2010, the walk-on center for then-seventh-ranked Oregon snapped the football to and blocked for former quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who burst into the end zone for a 17-16 lead in the 96th Rose Bowl.

Forer, a fan of his father Jeffrey’s alma mater, UCLA, had long dreamed of playing in the Rose Bowl.

“I did exactly what I was trained to do,” said Forer, who took the field for that go-ahead drive in the third quarter, replacing starting center and roommate Jordan Holmes.

Oregon offensive line coach Steve Greatwood said Forer has considerable experience at this level, which was evident in last year’s Rose Bowl.

“We finished off the drive, and we ended up getting a touchdown out of it,” Greatwood said. “That kind of reliability and dependability is crucial to that position.”

Ohio State came back to win the Grandaddy of Them All, 26-17.

But the No. 2 Ducks haven’t lost since.

Indeed, 12 wins later, the BCS National Championship showdown with Auburn looms. This BCS title game is a first for both teams.

“If, God forbid, something happens to Jordan in this game, the national championship, I will be ready again,” Forer said.

Division II and III programs were interested in Forer out of Santa Monica High School, but he wasn’t about to give up on his dream of playing Division I football, specifically in the Pac-10, the conference of his beloved Bruins.

He approached Kermit Cannon, the youth athletic trainer for the Santa Monica school district for the past 18 years, to train him one-on-one.

“He had a real desire to play football, so he found me. I looked at him, and my first impression was, ‘Easier said than done,’ ” Cannon admitted. “I said, ‘OK, I’ll work with you, one-on-one, no charge.’ I just wanted to see what kind of heart he had.

“He had more heart than almost anyone I’ve ever trained,” he said.

Cannon, a track star at Culver City High School in the 1980s, worked alongside Forer as his training partner, just as he had done with current Carolina Panther Geoff Schwartz, who played right tackle at Oregon out of Palisades High School.

“I can’t say enough about his work ethic,” Cannon said of Forer. “He got after it. He was focused. I’d think, ‘I hope this kid quits, ’cause I’m tired!’ ”

And when Ducks defensive backs coach John Neal, recruiter for the Southern California region, gave Forer the opportunity to walk on, Forer’s dream came true.

“When I first saw him, I thought, ‘I don’t think this kid’s gonna make it past the first week of fall camp,’ ” Greatwood said. “He’s persevered and hung in there and got himself ready to play technically and mentally and physically.”

Forer acknowledges that, at 6-foot-3, 275 pounds, he’s undersized for an offensive lineman; teammate Mark Asper is 6-foot-7, 325 pounds.

“While I might be smaller, I have to make up ground in other categories. Since I’m not gonna be the strongest and biggest, I might as well be the fastest and most technical,” said Forer, whose times this winter in the short shuttle and L-runs were the second-fastest among Oregon’s offensive linemen.

Even as a back-up, Forer faced constant competition from scholarship players gunning for his spot on the two-deep. Sometimes it was tough on Forer mentally to get through practices.

Forer’s Jewish faith sustained him through times of trial.

“I remembered the teachings of my rabbis, how to overcome all odds and become successful,” said Forer, a member of Leo Baeck Temple.

During his time in Eugene, Ore., Forer says he found a solid Jewish base with his campus Hillel.

He also forged a bond with fellow Jew and offensive lineman Schwartz; the two went to temple and observed holidays together until Schwartz departed for the NFL following the 2007 season.

“It’s tough to be a Jewish athlete, so it was good to have a companion,” Forer said.

And his roommates — Holmes, offensive tackle Bo Thran and backup quarterback Nate Costa — don’t mind the mezuzah on their door.

“My Jewish faith is definitely a component of why I’ve become who I am,” Forer said.

Four years of hard work paid off on Aug. 11, when head coach Chip Kelly announced that Forer was one of four walk-ons to earn a scholarship.

“Once I began the journey and set to work so hard, to actually have it pay off with such a reward, that was one of the most fulfilling things I could hope for,” Forer said.

But Forer knows that his future is not in football. He’s planning to take the LSAT and apply to law school, following in the footsteps of his father, who played football at UCLA in the late 1970s before becoming an attorney.

“I hate to see it end,” said trainer Cannon, who saved money this past year to fly up to Eugene for Senior Day in November, Forer’s last home game.

For now, Forer is proud to be a part of Oregon’s rise to the heights of college football.

“To say I’m on a team that’s been the best in the Pac-10 for the last two years and is going to the national championship, it’s surreal,” Forer said. “To come home and I’m on top, the team’s on top, it’s a feeling I’ll never forget.”

Oregon governor defends Israel ties

The office of Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski defended a trade agreement it signed with Israel.

A coalition of pro-Palestinian groups in Portland criticized Kulongoski, a Democrat, for the Oct. 27 memorandum of understanding “to develop and strengthen economic, industrial, technological and commercial cooperation,” according to a release posted Wednesday on the Salem News website by Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights, or SUPER.

SUPER and other groups say such agreements are out of place until Israel ends “its occupation of Palestinian lands,” ends “the second-class citizenship status of Palestinians,” and honors the “‘right of return’ of displaced first-generation Palestinian refugees and their descendants.”

The last condition is generally seen as a proposal for a binational state that would replace Israel, where Jews would soon become a minority.

In a response to the group, the governor’s office said the agreement “is in the best interest of the people of Oregon. Israel is a strong and democratic friend of Oregon and the United States. This agreement will build on our existing trade relationship with Israel, open up new opportunities to share information and foster commercial ties in areas that are vital to Oregon’s economic future.”

Nation & World Briefs

‘Paradise’ Golden; Weisz Blooms

The Golden Globe awards, often seen as a curtain raiser and preview of the Oscar ceremonies, picked a tense drama about two Palestinian suicide bombers as best foreign language film on Monday night, while shutting out Steven Spielberg’s “Munich.”

“Paradise Now” by director-writer Hany Abu-Assad is the first Palestinian film to receive wide critical recognition and is considered a serious contender for Academy Award honors.

“Munich,” the controversial movie about the Israeli hunt for the killers of its athletes at the 1972 Olympics, was earlier nominated in two categories. Spielberg vied for best director and Tony Kushner and Eric Roth for best screenplay, but none got the final nod from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which sponsors the Golden Globes.

In the movie acting categories, Britain’s Rachel Weisz, the daughter of Jewish refugees from Europe, received the best supporting actress award for her role in “The Constant Gardner.” Philip Seymour Hoffman was honored as best actor in the title role of “Capote.” In some references, Hoffman is listed as Jewish, in others as of mixed Catholic-Protestant background.

Paul Newman, who is half-Jewish, was recognized as best supporting actor for his role in the television movie “Empire Falls.” — Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Oprah Selects Wiesel Book

Oprah Winfrey will visit Auschwitz and make Elie Wiesel’s “Night” her next book-club selection. The New York Times reported that Winfrey, the talk-show host, will visit the site of the death camp with Wiesel later this month. “Night” chronicles Wiesel’s experiences at Auschwitz and Buchenwald. The edition of the book selected by Winfrey is a new translation by Wiesel’s wife, Marion.

High Court Upholds Suicide Law

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Oregon’s assisted suicide law. The high court ruled Tuesday that Oregon’s law, permitting doctor-assisted suicide, was not a violation of federal drug laws. The Orthodox Union had filed a brief in the case, siding with the federal government and against euthanasia. Numerous other Jewish groups chose not to weigh in on the case, but have been interested in the case’s impact on end-of-life issues, a controversial subject in the Jewish community.

Six justices ruled in favor of Oregon, which allowed doctor-assisted suicide in a 1994 ballot initiative. Justice Anthony Kennedy said former Attorney General John Ashcroft went “beyond his expertise” in enforcing drug laws to prevent the Oregon decision. He was joined by Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

Chief Justice John Roberts joined Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas in dissent.

Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency


The See Season

There is a remarkable place I go to, about once a year. It is a spot on the Oregon coast. And I mean, literally, a spot. When I stand on that spot,

I can see the whole world — all of it.

Straight ahead, I see the Pacific Ocean, waves rhythmically approaching and departing, humming a calming melody. Far in the distance, the ocean meets the horizon, and they melt together into a line of perfect milky blue beauty. I turn slightly to the left, and take in the dark, 10-story-high jagged rocks, partially eroded by centuries of contact with the water. They are lifeless on their peaks but play host to starfish and sea anemones at their feet.

Directly behind me, a neighborhood of houses. In one of them, many loved ones are collected — at this moment just waking up together, and discussing the swift recent departure of a flock of sea gulls and the possibility of locating crab shells on the beach. Behind the houses is a forest — a deep, damp, evergreen Oregon corridor — perched just above the sea line. And to my right — really, at my feet — I observe a small creek, originating from that perched forest, carrying its tiny stream from far away into the great, rushing ocean. Around the creek, and in it, are hundreds of smooth stones, created from years of weathering. The stones await the arrival of my young son, who will spend hours among them, touching them, moving them, tossing them back into the water.

From that spot I can see the whole world. I can see life and abandonment and flight. I see unspeakable beauty and I can see years of confrontation. I can see love, togetherness, petty arguments and laughter. I see things that never change and things that never stay the same. And I can see isolation and community, growth and stagnancy, big picture and tiny details.

And all from standing in one spot.

This week’s Torah portion starts with a potent word: re’eh — see. God says to the Israelites: You have the opportunity to experience the bounty of blessing, or to feel the burn of curse — it is up to you, dependent on your behavior. And God begins this speech with the word re’eh. God says: See. Open your eyes! Take a look. Israelites, re’eh: For a moment, stop moving. Stop walking, stop running, stop eluding, stop covering, stop blocking. Plant your feet firmly on the ground. Just see. Look around. Stand in place and use your sight. There are visions to behold. Pictures to take in. Details to note.

This command is not just for the Israelites wandering in the desert, but for us, too.

Sometimes this is the hardest of all the Torah’s commands — harder than keeping kosher, praying regularly, giving tzedakah, teaching our children and lighting Shabbat candles. It’s hard, because most of us don’t like standing in one place for too long. And when we do, we prefer to have our eyes closed.

But the Torah’s job is to challenge us toward kedusha, to encourage us to wrestle with human nature. See, the Torah says, because once you have really looked, you will comprehend both the blessings and the curses. You will understand the light and the darkness around you.

As the month of Elul — preceding the High Holidays — draws near, we enter a season of seeing. In the coming month, find a spot for yourself. Look at your ocean. Be baffled by the enormity, and its raw, impossible beauty. Note time’s erosion of some things and its fertilization of others. See, too, the small trickle feeding into the enormous sea. Consider each rock that is part of the stream. Observe the constancy of the evergreens of your life. And crane your neck to really look into your house. What is going on in there?

This month, find yourself the spot from which you can see your entire world. Re’eh — look — to begin the work of teshuvah.

Rabbi Shawn Fields-Meyer is founder and facilitator of Ozreinu, a spiritual support group for parents of special-needs children. She can be reached by e-mail at