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The Jewish Oregon Story


Ellen Eisenberg

Published in Cooperation with the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education

7 × 10. 40 B&W photographs. Tables and charts. Notes. Bibliography. Index. 336 pages.

2016. ISBN 978-0-87071-869-4. Paperback, $24.95.

ISBN 978-0-87071-870-0. e-book, $11.99.

The Jewish Oregon Story traces the history of Jewish Oregonians and their communities during a period of dramatic change. Drawing on archival sources, including a collection of over five hundred oral histories, the book explores how Jewish Oregonians both contributed to and were shaped by the “Oregon Story,” a political shift that fueled Oregon’s—and particularly Portland’s—emerging reputation for progressivism and sustainability.

Historian Ellen Eisenberg examines a community grappling with, and increasingly embracing, change—from the dramatic national shifts in women’s roles and intergroup relations to local issues such as the razing of the historic South Portland Jewish neighborhood. An original community musical—Whatever Happened to Old South Portland?frames the creation of a new Portland Jewish identity, which emerged out of the ashes of South Portland, tapping ethnic expression as an antidote to suburbanization and assimilation.

Chapters on involvement in liberal politics and advocacy for Israel explore communal engagement that reflected national trends, but, beginning in the 1980s, was increasingly shaped by emerging local progressivism. A final chapter charts recent shifts in Oregon Jewish geography, demographics, and organizational life, exploring the rebirth of smaller communities and the embrace of post-denominational Jewry, spirituality, and an ethos of environmentalism and inclusion.

Member of AAUP