Almost As Good as Being There - Seaboard Retreat

After the regional retreat was cancelled and the Seaboard events moved online, they have attracted many live participants as well as many who viewed the recordings of the sessions.  Many have already viewed Rabbi Cohen’s May 5 follow-up to his presentation at the 2019 Toronto Convention, available at

But also of immediate interest to FJMC regions and clubs is the outstanding training for new club leaders delivered by Past International President Mark Berlin on Wednesday, May 27 (see  Mark was a club President, Seaboard Region President, and held various FJMC International positions before becoming International President for 2009-2011, and he was the region’s Ma’asim Tovim honoree in 2017.  Among his many accomplishments, Mark created the Quality Club Award. His presentation was especially timely, with many clubs turning over their leadership around now.

Key Lessons for New Leaders

Mark’s presentation focused on orienting new leaders to important elements of managing a club well, and presenting themselves and the club in the best way possible, including:

  • Being a Jewish Role Model – respecting Jewish observance, knowing important blessings, the birkat, how to wrap, observing kashrut at club events (at least), and establishing relationships with other synagogue leaders and the rabbi. Encourage others to honor and bring respect to the club in your congregation, the FJMC, and the Jewish community.
  • Learning common sense actions for a leader – representing and programming for all members, using funds for common purposes, and delegating!
  • Thinking of ways in which you can promote the Men’s Club by tweaking your programs and innovating, being realistic about your resources.
  •  Developing and mentoring new leaders.
  •  Setting personal goals for your administration, and letting your Board know early exactly what your goals are. If you want to change policies or procedures, it’s best to do this at the start of your administration.
  • Establishing a budget early!  This is important. (see example in full text of Mark’s presentation.)

 Getting Involved with the FJMC, Regional and National

Mark reviewed Seaboard Region key activities, which have parallels in other regions:

  • Person-of-the-Year events, honoring someone who has worked a lot for the club and/or congregation.  Also at these events we are honoring men from Seaboard’s past who have contributed mightily to the FJMC, region, their clubs, and/or congregations, and calling this the Lifetime Achievement Society.
  • Biennial retreat, cancelled this year, but usually draws 50-60 men.
  •  REPRESENT! -  Sub-region gatherings of club officers to discuss regional activities and what individual clubs are doing, get some training and learn about FJMC.
  • $250 reimbursements. For the past several years the region has offered to reimburse clubs for up to $250 in the purchase of FJMC books, products, and tefillin (excluding yellow candles).  This helps clubs and the FJMC.
  • Seaboard website (  Info on region and individual club events.
  • Annual regional meeting.  This offers an opportunity for all of the clubs in the region to come together to talk over issues, share program ideas, and elect new regional officers.

Beyond the region

Mark stressed that Club leaders need to be involved with what’s out there in the greater FJMC world:

  • Getting members to understand the value of affiliating with the FJMC – how the region helps clubs financially and with intangible benefits such as events, training, program ideas.
  • Maintain regular contact with regional leadership – naming a contact person for FJMC and regional activities (yellow candles, convention, Torch Awards, Man-of-the-Year events.) Think about stepping up to regional leadership after leading the club.
  • Quality Club Award - it represents the fact that the club is doing the right things so that it can excel. Learn about the mandatory and optional criteria.
  • Torch Awards - the FJMC’s Oscars. Torch Awards is a competition in different categories in diverse areas. Clubs are encouraged to present winning programs at the convention’s Program Fair.


Mark noted that “whether you have already served part of your term as club president, are newly elected to that position, or are one of the club’s other senior officers, I have provided you with suggestions that will make your tenure more successful and will serve you in good stead as you proceed in life to new and greater challenges.  And don’t forget that your respective region needs men like you to help us help others to make their clubs all that they can be.”

A full copy of the text of Mark’s presentation, including a sample budget, can be viewed and  downloaded here.