About | Meet the founder, Jodi Berris

Who is behind Portland Jewish Events?

Jodi Berris and friends!

Jodi moved to Portland, OR in late November, 2004 in hopes of pursuing a career at Nike. While a temporary contract worker there, she met some people at a Federation Jewish Bar Night in May, 2005 that inspired her to do a 1-800-Shabbat event….an event that started with Shabbat services, then was followed by groups of 4-8 having Shabbat dinner with a host family, and then Jodi hosting a cocktail and dessert party for all participants that featured kosher jello shots, among other yummy treats and drinks.

The July, 2005 event was a success and drew 76 participants and 14 hosts families, even though Jodi didn’t even know that many people in her short stay in Portland thus far. With 3 new friends (Allison Mowday, Meagan Hessel, and Naomi Fink) stepping up to help her on that first event, and having a background in sports event planning and management with experience working the 2002 Olympics/Paralympics, 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and 2004 JCC Maccabi Games under her belt, she decided to pursue doing another event. Just after that first event, she was hired in to the Nike Sport Research Lab. Then she knew she’d be staying in Portland……now that she had fulfilled her dream of getting into and working for Nike.

The second event was another 1-800-Shabbat. 2 months later and with friends Meagan, Naomi, and now new resident Seth Feldman, they put on the Maccabees and Microwbrews: Hannukah and Hops on Dec. 24th during Hannukah.154 people showed that night and with a line out the door for over an hour and being over capacity in the privately rented Tucks Brewery, Jodi knew that this is what she would be doing in her spare time – planning and executing Jewish events for young Jewish adults in Portland.

Since May, 2005, Jodi has lead the force with friends Meagan, Naomi, Seth, Ben Olds, Sarah Lotstein, Lindsay Kohn, Ben Banner, Alison Donin, Aaron Imlah, and several other volunteers to bring many club/bar parties, sports leagues, Judaic events, meal placements for holidays, Israel trips, and some youth and master (40+) events. Some partnerships have included working with Rosy Rosenberg to bring the Israeli Club Nite series and Alysia Duckler to bring the Studio 54 party. On some events and projects, Jodi plans entirely on her own, and for others, she works with her friends and partners. All events generally follow the same fomula…targeted for Jewish young adults (singles and couples), 21-39, they cost $10 or less per event, are 100% strictly kosher, are accessible for all types of Jews, and are always fun! Jodi has been called “super religious, yet super party girl”…..and with that, she has been able to attract all types of people with her multiple event series. Event after event, they either sell out, where applicable, or are very well attended by cool Jewish people of all backgrounds.

In 2008, Jodi expanded her programs and founded the Moishe House – Portland at the start of the year. A few months later, she started the Portland Maccabi Club, a youth sport club for middle and high schoolers. At the end of the summer, she decided to bring an Oregon specific Birthright Israel trip to the area and since then, has staffed 3 trips herself and sent groups over 6 seasons of Birthright during 3 years.  

At the beginning of 2009, she  expanded the Portland Jewish Events line of events to reach out to the 40+ crowd.  In 2010, Jodi started planning her retirement from young adult Jewish community work.  After doing 10, 1-800-Shabbat events, 5 Israeli Club Nite dance parties, 5 Sukkah Hopping events for youth, 15 different sports leagues, a multitude of other progams, staffed Birthright trips, she thought it was time. 

Just as she had planned a final date to move out of the Moishe House in early 2011, she attended Keneski, a ski trip in Europe for young Jews from around the world, which inspired her to plan a 5 day Portland Outdoor Adventure Shabbaton, which she will be hosting in May, 2011 .  Retirement or just an encore presentation?  TBD……

Portland Jewish Events runs strictly on volunteers, including all of Jodi’s time, and is funded predominantly by unsolicited donations from people who like what she and her friends are doing. Since Jodi is, and has been, a part of both PJE and the Moishe House, some events are co-branded. It is important to know that not all events are co-branded and that different groups of volunteers assist with the planning and execution of the events under these 2 different brands. Also, there are different funding sources/systems for PJE and the Moishe House.

A little more about Jodi…..

Jodi has been fortunate to be invited to take part in several Jewish leadership training programs and conferences. They include:

Portland Jewish Leadership Institute (Portland, OR) – 2005-2006
Professional Leadership Project (USA) – 2007-Current
ROI 120 (Israel) – 2008
The Conversations (USA) – 2008
Wing 2008 (Europe) – 2008
Keneski 2011 (Europe) – 2011

When Jodi isn’t traveling for work, for fun, or for Jewish programs and conferences, she volunteers with the Portland Fire Bureau, is a Mt. Hood Ski Patroller, works out and plays sports excessively, attempts to play the drums and piano, and tries to party, dance, and have fun as much as possible.