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March 2016

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) 

SNAP offers food benefits to eligible, low-income individuals and families. Oregon has had a higher proportion of households on SNAP than the U.S. as a whole since 2000 with one-third of households on the SNAP program. More than 50% of all U.S. citizens will use SNAP at least once during their lifetime but, living on the average benefit of approximately $4 per person, per day is not easy. Millions of low-income Americans are forced to make tough decisions on a daily basis to get by.

You can experience what its like to survive on $4 a day by taking the SNAP Challenge. Over the past few years, many people nationwide have voluntarily done this. Although most people take the Challenge for just one week, many participants say they learned firsthand about how hard it can be to avoid hunger, afford nutritious foods, and stay healthy on this government assistance program. Learn more about the SNAP Challenge here.

Meanwhile, as of this year some of the area's poorest SNAP recipients face losing even that meager amount. In Multnomah and Washington counties, the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) is re-instating a three-month limit on SNAP benefits for unemployed adults between 18 and 50 years old who aren't disabled or raising minor children. There are a few exemptions, and we encourage recipients to check with their worker to ensure their benefits will not be effected.  

According to Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon, 25,000 Multnomah County residents and 7,000 Washington County residents were sent notices about the upcoming changes. Meanwhile anti-hunger advocates are quick to point out that the SNAP program is not a charity. As with Social Security, taxpayers pay into this program and, when needed, can access those benefits.

The first wave of people will be cut off SNAP on April 1. As we brace for these changes, our Emergency Aid program is receiving an unprecedented number of requests and is already stretched to maximum capacity.

"We might not see any effects until mid-April or even mid-year when people start losing their benefits and we get more people needing meals at the food banks," says Myrma Jensen of the Oregon Food Bank.

For more information, visit Hunger Free Oregon.

If you know someone facing an emergency, Contact Maria Rehback at 503-226-7079, x 128 or

A Legacy Gift Is A Gift With Lasting Meaning
JFCS is pleased to be part of the Life & Legacy planned giving initiative, a partnership of Oregon Jewish Community Foundation and the Harold Grinspoon Foundation. The program is helping JFCS and nine other organizations in Oregon and Southwest Washington to integrate legacy giving into our culture in order to build our financial sustainability. Leaving a legacy gift is one of the most valuable ways to help JFCS continue to serve our community well into the future.

On February 17th, we celebrated our second year of participation in the Life & Legacy program with a reception to thank and honor our community's legacy supporters. JFCS Board Member Lee Cordova and his wife Sheri were among the Legacy Society members attending. Lee says, "Being active members of the Jewish community has enabled us to recognize the intergenerational needs of those in most of need of guidance and support.  As a physician in practice, I was able to see the social and physical needs of my patients during difficult times. We think of the selfless contributions that our parents made to their Jewish communities as we were being raised and we wish to ensure, through participation in the Life and Legacy program of JFCS, that future generations of our Jewish community will be served."
The JFCS Legacy Society has grown to include over 40 members who have provided us with Declarations of Intent to leave a legacy gift to our organization. Our goal is to garner another 10 commitments this year. As you assess your charitable goals, we hope that you will consider creating a legacy that will provide support for JFCS and benefit the people we serve for generations to come. 
For more information about leaving a legacy gift contact Carrie Hoops, Executive Director, at 503-226-7079 x113 or carriehoops@jfcs-portland.org

Guest Speaker Senator Ron Wyden has long been an advocate for the elderly. As the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Wyden is well-positioned to work on issues important to the poor and elderly. Sen. Wyden, whose parents fled Nazi Germany in the mid-1930's, was involved in helping Russian-speaking Jews to emigrate from the former Soviet Union. He will speak to the value of community-based services for the older population and their families highlighting the importance of the services JFCS provides to help our elderly thrive.  

There is no cost to attend this heart-warming event however, it is our major fundraiser for the year and you will be asked to make a gift to support our services.
Would you like to have a reserved table? Become a Table Host and invite nine of your friends and associates to join you for the luncheon. Click here to sign up. 
Would you like to help underwrite the cost of the event so that every dollar raised will go directly to our programs? For more information about becoming a sponsor, email development@jfcs-portland.org.

Questions? Contact Carrie Kaufman at 503-226-7079, x 118.

Remembering the Past, Celebrating the Future

Daffodils and cherry trees are starting to blossom in Portland, giving us hope that spring is just around the corner.  Later this month, Jews will celebrate Purim, originally one of several festivals to mark the end of the long, dark winter.  Purim falls around the time of the vernal equinox, and is celebrated each year on the 14th of Adar in the Jewish calendar. This year Purim begins on Wednesday
evening, March 23, and continues through Thursday night, March 24.

Purim is the most joyous of all Jewish holidays, a time when having fun is not only permitted-it's an obligation. It's a time for costumes, carnivals, parties, and masquerades. But these boisterous traditions have a serious origin.

Purim commemorates the Jewish community's narrow escape from destruction in Persia nearly 2,500 years ago. The tale unfolds in the Book of Esther, known as the Megillah, and ends with the hanging of Haman, the villain of the story. The Jewish people were saved from Haman's murderous schemes through the bravery and ingenuity of Queen Esther and her adoptive father, a Jewish warrior named Mordechai. 

Ever since, the Jewish people have turned a day that was nearly catastrophic into one of rejoicing. During the telling of the Megillah, the audience cheers the heroes and boos Haman, blotting out his name using gragers and other noise-makers. Many synagogues hold masquerade parties, along with prizes for kids and comic plays called shpiels. A feast is eaten on Purim afternoon-accompanied by plenty of laughter and drinking-and concludes with special triangular pastries called Hamantaschen. 

Along with the feast, there are several obligations associated with Purim, including public readings of the Book of Esther, delivering gifts to friends, and giving to the poor (matanot la'evyonim).  It's obligatory to give food or money to at least two needy people during the daylight hours of Purim. 

One of Purim's primary themes is Jewish unity and camaraderie. "Haman tried to kill us all, we were all in danger together, and we also celebrate together," says one writer.  Festivities aside, at its heart Purim is about caring and compassion for people who are less fortunate. Charity is a mitzvah the whole year round, but on Purim we give to whoever asks. 

Jewish Family & Child Service provides social services that improve the lives of adults, families and children in the Jewish and general communities. 

                                                                   JFCS is a subsidiary of Cedar Sinai Park


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