Frequently Asked Questions

The Eastside Jewish Commons is a progressive, visionary community space. We imagine (and hope!) that you have lots of questions about what this space will look like and how it will function. We’ve listed some answers to our most common questions here, but if you have additional questions please get in touch!

Hasn’t this been tried already? Seems like I’ve heard of various efforts before.

Numerous individuals and organizations have made attempts over the past couple of decades. Several are renting space, but none have been able to succeed in creating a permanent home.

How many Jews are on the Eastside, and where do they live?

Based on the 2011 demographic and opportunity study sponsored by Jewish Federation, approximately 23% of Portland’s Jews live on the Eastside. In addition to these approximately 10,800 Portland Jews, there are 2,800 people who are not identified as Jewish living in households with Jewish members.

Close to one thousand households have become engaged in EJC to date. This map indicates relative distribution of participating households. Please make sure you are have participated in our community survey and share with others who may be interested.

Where is the space?

We will be actively looking for space starting in Fall of 2019. Our goal is to be within 18-20 minutes’ drive of most Jewish households on the eastside. If you want to make sure your address is counted in our survey, please participate in our community survey. We will also send you the latest updates on the status of our location search.

Is this the same thing as a community center? Like the Mittleman Jewish Community Center?

No. Unlike JCCs, we will not be a membership organization, and we will not have a pool or gym. We will be a space at which our community partners, including MJCC, will offer programs and activities to all who wish to attend.

Buildings are expensive to maintain. Don’t we have enough in Portland already?

While westsiders enjoy extensive infrastructure, we have none on the eastside. The result has been a high level of disengagement. That is why we have taken a collaborative approach and seek to provide one single roof under which many organizations can offer religious, spiritual, social, educational and cultural options. We are essentially setting a stage on which others will act. Through this approach, we will be able to engage and deepen eastside Jewish life, for generations to come.

Is this a new synagogue?

No. Numerous existing synagogues will be offering religious, spiritual, social, educational and cultural options. EJC will provide an amazing array of options, allowing Portlanders to engage with many different aspects of Judaism.

Where does something like this exist already?

Similarities can found at the 6th and I Synagogue in Washington DC, Taborspace in Portland, the Muslim Educational Trust in Tigard, and Sketchpad in Chicago. These are places where community groups engage in programming under one common roof, and where collaboration and community engagement are high priorities. Co-working and events spaces also offer a related construct. If you are aware of models we should be thinking about, sign up here and send us a message.

What is the timeframe?

It is very hard to know, but we are looking at 2021-2023 for our opening. In the meantime, we see an opportunity to build community through this website, social media, and occasional programs. Sign up here to receive future EJC program announcements and community-building opportunities.

How big will it be?

We are anticipating an early childhood education center of approximately 10,000 sq. feet that could accommodate 60-90 children. The space for the remaining activities will be in the range of 15,000-20,000 square feet. The goal is maximum use of space at all times. Other than the pre-school classrooms, kitchen, and cafe, the rooms will be multi-purpose and flexible. Usable outdoor space is a priority as well.

How will I get there?

We are seeking a space with good access to transit, well located from a pedestrian and bicycle standpoint, and with plenty of parking.

How much will it cost, and who is paying for it?

We are doing our due diligence on the overall business plan for EJC, based on its size, quality, location and operating model. Currently, we envision a space that will be affordable for community partners to use, and which will NOT require membership for public access.

Funding for EJC development has come primarily from early investors who have contributed anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000 to support planning efforts. Members of the EJC Board of Directors and partner organizations have committed a minimum of $1,800.

If you are interested in supporting EJC, please donate here or contact Mark Sherman at mark@mshermanconsulting.com.

Are contributions tax deductible?

Yes. Eastside Jewish Commons is an official 501(c)(3).

Which programs will be offered at the EJC?

Everything and anything Jewish, whether cultural, social, spiritual, or educational. Our community partners have identified a rich suite of potential program offerings, including:

  • On-site high-quality childcare and preschool.
  • Regular programs for children, teens, and adults provided by more than 12 Jewish community partners.
  • On-site commercial kitchen, providing quality food and beverages and catering for
  • Friday night dinners, private celebrations, and community gatherings.
  • Multiple service options on Shabbat and holidays.
  • A social action hub.
  • A cultural hub for films, concerts, lectures, and more.
  • A learning center for all ages.
  • A program site for children and teens when schools are out.
  • Elder programs for social connection and links to needed services.
  • Regular yoga and movement programs.
  • A social hub across the spectrum of Jewish life.

Please get in touch if you have program suggestions!

Who is leading this?

EJC is currently being run by a Board of Directors of community volunteers.

Which organizations have been involved so far?

Click here for the latest list of EJC partners. If you are a representative of an organization that you think should be involved, please sign up and send us your suggestion.

Will I need a membership?

The EJC will be for everybody who is interested in Jewish community life. You will not need a membership to participate.

Which synagogues are involved?

We have developed partnerships with multiple synagogue organizations including Westside based synagogues with active Eastside membership: Congregations Neveh Shalom, Havurah Shalom, and Shaarie Torah, in addition to Congregation Shir Tivah, which is based on the east side and has played an important role in advancing the Commons concept. Many congregations plan to hold regular services at EJC. If you want to know more about your synagogue’s participation, send us a message.

How can I get involved?

EJC is counting on the help of the community to spread the word and foster support for this effort. You can help by sharing this information with others:

  1. Please share a link to this website with others who might be interested in building Jewish life on Portland’s Eastside.
  2. Follow EJC on Facebook and share our posts with others.
  3. Fill out our community form, which will also add you to our email list.

If you are interested in supporting EJC as an investor, please contact Mark Sherman at mark@mshermanconsulting.com.

What about security?

Security is of utmost importance. We have built a security budget into our business plan and have specific site selection criteria that factor in security considerations.

How will you find a location?

Our property search is led by board member Jeffrey Weitz of NorthRim Properties. Jeffrey is well known in the Jewish community for his building development assistance to organizations such as BB Camp, Rachel’s Well, Neveh Shalom, MJCC, and Kesser Israel. In addition, we are reaching out to property owners and developers for input and guidance, as well as partnership. If you have ideas for locations, specific buildings, or potential partners, please contact us!

How much will it cost to rent space from EJC?

It is premature to determine the price of using EJC. However, the goal is to raise enough money to be able to offer our community partners affordable space.

Who will rent space from EJC?

A Jewish early childhood education provider, numerous synagogues, Jewish-themed programs and organizations, community members for lifecycle events, and more.