Charlie Schiffman, longtime head of Portland Jewish federation, dies

Uriel Heilman

(JTA) – Charlie Schiffman, who served as the head of the Jewish federation in Portland, Oregon, for nearly a quarter of a century, died suddenly at age 69.

The cause was a heart attack, his family said. He was buried Wednesday in Jerusalem.

A native of New York, Schiffman served as executive vice-president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland from 1987 to 2010. Before that he directed the Jewish federation in Columbus, Ohio, and earlier was the assistant director of the federation in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Schiffman had a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, where his family moved when he was 10, and a law degree from the University of Memphis.

A staunch Zionist, Schiffman traveled to Israel more than 40 times and lived there twice, from 1983 to 1987 and from 2013 until his death. He made his home in Pisgat Ze’ev, near Jerusalem.

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In his retirement, Schiffman hosted a radio show called “The Teacher and the Preacher,” which brought Jews and Christians together to discuss issues of the day.

“It is rare that a community is fortunate enough to have a leader who defines what leadership is all about, who reflects the best of Jewish values, who inspires those around him, who stands tall as a moral compass,” the Portland federation said in a statement.

Schiffman is survived by his wife, Marsha Weil Schiffman; his mother, Ethel Schiffman; his daughter, Nili Isenberg; a sister, Celia Goldstein Fried; and two grandchildren.

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