Implementation Guide

Table of Contents:

Should your club consider a Hearing Men’s Voices Series?

  • Are you looking for fresh and exciting programming?
  • Would you like to attract “fresh faces” to your Men’s Club?
  • Do you want an activity that is a “natural” for Men’s Club Programming?

If the answers to any of the above are “YES” then this guide will help you to develop and implement any of the programs in the “Hearing Men’s Voices” series.

What Should The Program Look Like?

  • Monthly dinner meetings at the synagogue
  • Breakfast Speaker Program (single event or series)
  • “First Tuesday” get-togethers at a private home
  • Series of short programs as part of regular club meetings
  • And many more!


Here are just some of the Hearing Men’s Voices programs that easily fit into various formats. For detailed implementation instructions see the specific programs as they appear in the books in the series. Your strategy for planning the program will vary with the type of program chosen.

  • Monthly Dinner Meetings. This should be a regularly scheduled event (i.e. “first Monday”). Dinner can be prepared by the Men’s Club or catered. Part of the “agenda” is for men to simply spend time with each other in informal conversation. After dinner the more “programmed” session begins. This is typically a “lecture/discussion” in that a speaker or facilitator will introduce a topic, give some background material, and then develop a discussion that will involve the men in attendance. The series can be moderated by one individual (the Rabbi for instance) or a series of leaders. Many, if not most of the Hearing Men’s Voices programs are designed for this format
  • Breakfast Speaker Program (single event or series). This is the “traditional” Sunday morning Breakfast speaker. Several related topics can be brought together as a “cycle” (health issues are particularly good for this), or these programs can be free-standing events.

“First Tuesday” Get-Togethers at A Private Home.

This format is the best for a more intimate type of sharing experience. The men who attend will, in essence form a “havurah” who will explore several issues in depth. It is important that for this type of program to work that everyone who attends understands the sensitive nature of the discussions and agrees to keep issues discussed private. Some groups have invited a facilitator (again the Rabbi would be ideal) to attend as an ongoing member of the group. Others have simply used the programs as a guide to discussion.

Series of Short Programs as Part of Regular Club Meetings.

These are short programs designed to be inserted into the regular agenda of the meeting to add a “study” component to the day. Usually under 15 minutes.

  • Doing Your Blessings
  • Writing an Ethical Will-spread out over a few sessions
  • Why Don’t Men Seek Health Care
  • Jewish Medical Directives
  • Men’s Health Information on the World Wide Web

Other Formats:

  • Health Fair-See “Body and Spirit”
  • Jewish Healing Service-Can be done as part of regular minyan
  • Seudah Sh’lish’t-Create a new tradition at your shul on Shabbat afternoon!
  • Keruv Mentor Program
  • Sensitizing the Board of Directors and Professional Staff to Keruv Issues

How to Get Started:

  • Obtain copies of the entire Hearing Men’s Voices Series. Call the New York office of the Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs at 1.800.288.FJMC or order via the website
  • Sit down with the Rabbi and other professional staff at your synagogue (Ritual Director, Family Educator, etc..) and exchange ideas about program format. Solicit suggestions for men who might be interested in these issues.
  • Appoint a Hearing Men’s Voices Chairman and Planning Committee. Try to involve men who are not in leadership positions or otherwise active in your club. Bring in the “fresh faces”.
  • As a committee, select the program format and program content. Decide on frequency of meetings, duration and venue. Once you have chosen the format you should focus on ways to identify YOUR target audience and on strategies to recruit them.
  • Obtain session leaders or speakers. Using local talent is wonderful or reach out to area professionals. Each lesson plan in the books details the needed leaders and their qualifications.
  • Spread the word. It is important to create a sense of excitement and interest in your Hearing Men’s Voices program.
    • Have the Rabbi give a sermon on Men’s Issues and/or have the Rabbi devote a column in the synagogue bulleting to the topic (see p. for samples)
    • Place boxed notices in the synagogue bulletin that look like advertisements.
    • Create flyers for supplemental mailings and for posting at the synagogue
    • Use the community email directory to spread the word
    • Create Press Releases for local newspapers-both Jewish and secular.
    • Have a phone squad for targeted invitations to those men who would most likely show interest. Involve the Rabbi if possible both for suggested names and to make personal invitations. This will vary with the type of program. Some programs, like a Sunday morning breakfast work well with a large audience in contrast to the more intimate discussion group options.
  • Secure Funding. Numerous family foundations exist in many communities that would support programming of this sort. Also seek an underwriter in your own community who would be willing to co-sponsor with the Men’s Club. Decide also if there will be a charge for the program, and if so whether it will be for each session or for the entire series (a single charge encourages men to continue attending).
  • Provide food. It is important that food be a part of any program. Whether it is lox and bagels, coffee and cake or beer and pretzels this should be a specific job for a member of the committee.
  • Keep Records. Be sure to keep records of your planning process and the programs. This will ensure that the program can be easily run in the future without the “start-up” planning. Keep copies of all flyers and publicity. Take photographs for posterity. Consider submitting your program for a Torch Award at the upcoming FJMC convention.

Sample Session 1:  “The First Kiss”


Format: Group Discussion (Ideal size 15-30 men)
Materials Needed: Handout of Biblical Text (Included in Hearing Men’s Voices Book)
Leader: Anyone familiar with the text and able to facilitate a group discussion.
Time: 60-90 Minutes

Quiz Time:

When is the first time in the Bible that two human beings kiss each other?


So Jacob served his father food and drink. When Isaac finished, he turned to his son, “Come close and kiss me my son”. So Jacob went to Isaac's side and kissed him.

I am sure that you are all familiar with this story that appears in the Parasha of Toldot. Yet behind this touching climax is a story of high drama and unresolved conflict. A story of conspiracy, of deception, and perhaps of disappointment.

Let me read you the entire story:

And it came to pass when Isaac was old and his eyesight had dimmed, he called Esau to him, his older son, and he said, “My son.”

And Esau answered, “Here I am.”

Isaac said: “Now here I have grown old, and do not know the day of my death. So now…. go out into the field and hunt me some game, make me a dish such as I love… that I may give you my blessing before I die.

You all know what happens next. Overhearing this conversation, Rebecca moves into action. She carefully instructs Jacob in what to say or do, and dresses him in goatskins to give him the feel and odor of his brother the hunter. She quickly prepares a feast for Jacob to serve his father.

Jacob went to his father and said, “Father”.

And he said, “Yes, which of my sons are you?”

Jacob said, “I am Esau, your firstborn; I have done as you have told me. Pray sit and eat of my game, that you may give me your innermost blessing”

Isaac said, “Come closer that I may feel you, my son—whether you are really my son Esau or not.”

So Jacob drew close to his father Isaac who felt him and wondered, “The voice is the voice of Jacob, yet the hands are the hands of Esau”. So he did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like those of his brother Esau. He asked him: “Are you really my son Esau?”

“I am”

“Serve me and let me eat of my son’s game that I may give you my innermost blessing” So he served him, and he ate, and he brought him wine and he drank.

Then Isaac said to him, “Come close and kiss me my son”. Jacob went up and kissed him. And he smelled his clothes and blessed him.

Let’s stop right here.

Jacob is probably leaning over or kneeling next to his father who is in bed. Their faces touch. Jacob kisses Isaac; presumably, Isaac kisses his son in return. If you are Jacob how do you feel at this moment?

And the story concludes:

And he smelled his clothes and he blessed him saying: “Ah the smell of my son Esau….the smell of the fields that the LORD has blessed.

Now if you are Jacob, how do you feel?

Suggested answers:

  • Jacob wants to be blessed for himself. To be loved for himself.
  • This blessing is meaningless-it wasn’t meant for me
  • I’m not ready for a blessing
  • You know, this was the first time I kissed my father. Now he’s dying
  • Embarrassed, silly-I knew that it wouldn’t work
  • I knew that my father never really loved me maybe I’d be different
  • What do I need his blessing for anyway
  • I wish the kiss were meant for me
  • If I had my own sons I wouldn’t do this to them!

Extended topics:

  • How many men in this group have ever blessed their children? Do so regularly?
  • How many were blessed by your fathers? How did it feel?
  • What Blessings Do We Need From Our Father?
  • How Did Our Fathers Disappoint Us? How do we deal with that?
  • Why do sons need a blessing today?
  • Did Jacob need to be prepared for this blessing? Where was his father during this prep time?
  • Who was Jacob’s mentor? Can you have a blessing before you have a “rite of passage”? (remember the angel comes later)

Sample Session 2:  Midlife Job Loss

Program F: Midlife Job Loss
Purpose: To Explore How job loss affects our lives
Format: Discussion
Facilitator: Anyone comfortable in leading and facilitating a discussion.
Setting: Comfortable roundtable setting. Dinner meeting in shul, a private home or over a casual meal at a restaurant. Allow 60 to 90 minutes for discussion.
Materials: none

This program part of a series of discussions about the place of work in our lives. Facilitator should start the session with:

”Welcome to this Hearing Men's Voices series. Tonight we continue our exploration of how our "work lives" and “non-work" lives interact and affect each other. There just a few ground rules. First and foremost is that we respect each others privacy. What is said in this room stays in this room. I hope that each of us will feel comfortable speaking freely. I also ask that your comments reflect your personal experience rather than your opinion about the topic generally or about what others have said." [Note to facilitator: it may be important to redirect speakers who offer opinions rather than personal stories].

Facilitator should introduce the topic as follows:

"We are here today to talk about how job loss affects the rest of our lives. This will be a rather open ended discussion and so I invite you to tell us about your personal experience".

Potential questions to encourage discussion:

  • Has anybody recently lost their job?
  • How has the loss of your job affected your identity?
  • How did you tell your family?
  • How did being out of work affect your relations with your spouse? Your children? Your parents?
  • For those of you who have lost your job-has anybody totally changed careers?
  • Did the career change affect your self identity?
  • How did you deal with the loss of your job with your friends? Your synagogue community? Were they helpful? How could they have been more helpful?

How did you feel about re-entering the job market? Has rejection gotten easier or harder?

Sample Sermon, Press Release and Bulletin Inserts

Note: This is an excerpt from the newsletter of Congregation Adath Jeshurun in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. Your or your Rabbi might want to include something like this in notifying your congregation about your plans for programming about Men’s Issues. This material may be used as a “sermon” from the pulpit or (as it appeared) as a bulletin article.

I began to think about fathers and sons when I read an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer Sunday Magazine on the weekend of Father’s Day this year. Written by William Ecenbarger, it was entitled “Fathers and Other Strangers”.

In the article, he quotes Dr. Samuel Osherson, author of a volume entitled “Finding Our Fathers, who said,” Fathers are important figures in everyone’s lives, but fathers are often mysterious and silent, particularly to their sons. What happens to men in their lives is often linked to unfinished business with their fathers.”

As I read the words, I began to reflect on my own relationship with my father, and, as the father of sons, with my children. What is, I wondered, the unfinished business with my own father, and how has it affected my life? What unfinished business will my sons have with me, and how will it affect them?

I have been doing some reading on the subject over the summer and I want to share some thoughts with you about fathers and their sons before Yizkor on Yom Kippur afternoon.

Much has been written about the Jewish mother. And, truth to tell, women’s issues have dominated the Jewish agenda for the last fifteen years.

But little has been written about the Jewish father, and, belatedly, I have come to the conclusion that we need to talk about men’s roles in the synagogue in the aftermath of the radical changes leading to female empowerment in the last fifteen years.

While I will introduce the topic on Yom Kippur, I am looking forward to a study group which I will be conducting on Sunday mornings in the winter and spring which will be “For Men Only” in which we use biblical stories as a take-off point for discussing our own feelings as men, as fathers and as sons.

I look forward to your reactions to this pre-Yizkor talk, and I hope that it will open for us a new avenue for dialogue on an important issue that faces us as individuals.


“We believe that the time has come for men to assess how they view themselves, their families and how they understand synagogue life. The challenge today is to gain insights that will enable men to find new comfort and meaning within an ever-changing religious and secular environment”, stated Joe Schwartz President of the Men’s Club of Temple Beth Tsouris.

The Men’s Club, an affiliate of the Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs, the male volunteer arm of the Conservative/Masorti Movement, will sponsor a series of activities and programs on the following dates (fill in) based on the theme “Our Fathers, Ourselves: What Do We Want From Our Fathers, What Do Our Children Want From Us?” Noted (fill in name and credentials) will “kickoff” the event with an address titled (fill in).

The purpose of these programs is to provide men with new insights about these important issues. It is also hoped that they will have a better awareness and understanding about their roles as fathers, sons and husbands.