As a serial entrepreneur, Jamie Hogland lives by the mantra “if it doesn’t exist, let’s start it.” That’s how she ran a nationally-recognized bakery, decided to build a $15 million baseball/softball facility, and, this year, started her own Partner Organization for Momentum called Jewish Mothers of Oregon.
Jewish Mothers of Oregon will be an independent platform for mothers in Portland to connect and celebrate their Jewish identity together. Jamie is planning monthly meet-ups loosely tied to a Jewish value or tradition that will expand on the Year of Growth as part of the MOMentum Yearlong Journey.
In Oregon’s Jewish community, there’s a lot of emphasis on being part of a specific affiliation — whether through your synagogue or another group,” said Jamie. “I want to break that stigma, showing that you can be connected Jewishly without claiming membership to a certain organization.”
Jamie was raised in Portland, attended Jewish summer camp, and taught at Jewish schools in the area after graduating. But, as an adult, she’s struggled to find a sense of belonging in the local Jewish community. That’s why she decided to start her own initiative to ensure that all Jewish women in their community had a place where they could feel a sense of belonging and a part of something. Jewish Mothers of Oregon looks forward to running a MOMentum Trip to Israel this November.
Raising up women who chose their own path
One of the things that most inspired Jamie on her MOMentum Trip was hearing about the individual journeys that brought each woman to her own celebration of Judaism.
“I loved hearing stories about the paths that people chose,” said Jamie. “For the first time, I had the opportunity to hear about so many people’s Jewish journeys, whether they recently converted or were raised ultra-Orthodox. Women shared stories about standing up for themselves — and creating the journey they want.”
Jamie especially loved the accepting atmosphere that allowed for space to ask any type of question, she said. It was a supportive community ready to embrace each woman and all of their questions.
It wasn’t Jamie’s first time in Israel, since she participated on a Birthright Trip in what she refers to as the “MySpace days.” “The Birthright Trip was a cool experience, but I didn’t walk away with the Jewish identity I was hoping to find,” she said.
The MOMentum Trip went much deeper, and inspired Jamie to think about what Jewish rituals and values she would like to incorporate into her family, for her husband, who is not Jewish, and her 13-year-old daughter. She’s started baking challah and lighting the Shabbat candles, and said her trip inspired deep discussions with her daughter about what it means to be Jewish.
“Momentum brought many ‘aha’ moments,” Jamie said. “I chose a Hebrew name, and I started to toy with the idea of having a Bat Mitzvah. Now, my daughter and I are looking into having a double Bat Mitzvah together.”
On her MOMentum Trip, Jamie chose the Hebrew name “Ahava,” which means love, because she loves creating connections between people and fostering supportive communities. It’s the passion that drove her to start Jewish Mothers of Oregon and another initiative with her Momentum family called The Liyou Foundation.
The Liyou Foundation is in memory of Liyou, the sister of Momentum Portland Community Leader Kalkidan “Mimi” Ezra, who is an Ethiopian Jew. Liyou lost her life due to cardiac issues when she was just 20 years old. Mimi and Jamie created the foundation to run medical missions to Ethiopia focusing on cardiac care and bringing donated medical equipment to the country. They hope to go to Ethiopia in March with a group of medical professionals and lay-people, and work with a local hospital.
Jamie likes to keep busy, and part of her drive comes from her background as a competitive athlete. Today, she runs a consulting firm for small businesses and recently left a role where she oversaw the certification and development of soccer referees in Oregon. Her daughter plays softball at a competitive level, and after being forced to miss much of the year-round schedule due to weather conditions, Jamie was inspired to build an indoor/outdoor softball and baseball facility so games can go on, regardless of the weather.
Despite her busy schedule, Jamie is looking forward to gathering a cohort of local women for Jewish Mothers of Oregon and the MOMentum Trip in the fall, and connecting with other women on the West Coast who are also starting Momentum Partner Organizations.
“I was really inspired by Momentum because it’s all about bringing women together, and meeting them where they are,” said Jamie. She hopes that Jewish Mothers of Oregon will be a resource to help women navigate their Jewish identity in a warm and supportive environment, with no expectations or pressure, and no need to fit themselves into a certain box.
“I want everyone to know, however they are doing life, and however they are doing Judaism, is really wonderful,” she said. “We’re here to support and inspire each other.”