Rabbi Cahana, along with other clergy in Portland, recently spoke with the Portland Tribune about striving for a balanced lifestyle for their article, "If you're happy and you know it..."
"Michael Cahana, senior rabbi at Beth Israel in Northwest Portland, says he recently posted on Facebook when he took a trip to the beach. Congregants posted back, wishing him a good trip. But Cahana says he wouldn’t have publicly revealed his plans back when he was a rabbi at a large congregation in New Rochelle, N.Y.
“There’s kind of an ethos in New York about being ashamed of taking any personal time,” Cahana says.
Cahana thinks it’s easier for clergy to find a work/life balance in Portland than in more churchgoing cities because everyone appreciates lifestyle here.
As for the idea that clergy here are preaching to the uninterested, Cahana has a slightly different take. Many Portland Jews, he says, aren’t uninterested so much as they are unsure they want to engage spirituality in the traditional ways. In Portland, Cahana has been able to offer outdoor picnic sabbath services on the synagogue plaza, with kids and dogs running around and a wide variety of music because, he says, that fits in with the Portland culture.
“There’s a real hunger for meaning,” Cahana says. 'People here really do want to find meaning and when they can find it in a Jewish context, they love it.'"