Our First Six Months

agouraguy's picture

In this Blog I’d like to review the progress we’ve made in accomplishing our plans and objectives, since we’re now six months into our two-year term.  You may recall that at Convention and in my first Blog, I described three focus areas that we planned to work aggressively during this administration:  growth, club support, and programming.  Here’s how we’re doing thus far:

1.       Growth:  This includes increasing the number of clubs as well as the membership in each club.  In order to increase the number of affiliated clubs, our Region and Club Services team is working proactively with the leadership of each region to develop and implement plans to identify and contact candidate clubs to promote the benefits of joining FJMC.   At the same time our team of consultants has been trained in effective techniques to grow our clubs, and they have started to work within each region to help our clubs increase membership, using the various tools that we developed last year as part of our Membership Campaign (promotional video, marketing brochure, training materials – all on our website).  We are of course relying on each of you to work in your clubs to recruit new members!  If you need any support, just contact Allan Gottesman, our VP Region and Club Services, at agottesman@fjmc.org.

2.       Club Support:  This covers several activities designed to add more value for our clubs.

  • We’ve restructured our Consultant and Region and Club Services teams to be better integrated and to work more collaboratively with the Regions to ensure that we can strengthen clubs that are having challenges as well as those that are strong but want to become even stronger.   In addition to the support available to help clubs grow their membership, our team of consultants are frankly “champing at the bit” to work with every club that wants or needs help. 
  • We retained an independent (but volunteer) business consultant to review operating procedures in our NY Office in order to enhance productivity and improve customer service.   The study was just completed, and resulted in several recommendations which are now in the process of being implemented.  These will make the office staff more efficient, allowing them to devote more time to club requests and issue resolution.
  • We continue to work on implementing our new membership database system, which will ultimately provide more accurate and timely billing information and reports, documentation of club membership rosters, and the ability for clubs and regions to modify rosters.  Unfortunately this is one activity that has proven to be more complex and challenging than we had envisioned, and I know that we have disappointed and frustrated many of you.  I’m deeply sorry that you have been inconvenienced by this “work in process” and I want to assure you that we are working very hard to bring this effort to a successful conclusion.  Please continue to bear with us!

3.       Programming:  In addition to our many ongoing activities, we’ve been developing new initiatives aimed at bringing meaning to the lives of Jewish men and their families. 

  • The objective of our Jewish Men Pray initiative is to encourage greater participation in ritual services, especially for those who are not now comfortable within their synagogue sanctuary.  It has three components, and all are progressing well.  First, we’ve partnered with the Cantors Assembly to develop a set of templates and guidelines for different models of Learner’s Services.  Second, we’re developing guidelines and criteria for effective, meaningful meditation services.   Third, we’ve partnering with ShalomLearning to adapt their on-line training programs for use by our clubs to teach basic Hebrew reading skills to enable prayer.  For all three of these components, our plans are to pilot them in selected congregations over the next several months, modify where necessary and finalize them, and launch them at our convention in July 2015.
  • The objective of our Celebrating Shabbat initiative is to promote the Shabbat Seder as a means of unplugging from everyday stress, adding meaning and spirituality to the Friday night dinner, and experiencing the joy of celebrating Shabbat with family and friends.  It’s recently gotten started, and is now picking up momentum.  Stay tuned for progress reports.

We’re also working to expand our Hearing Men’s Voices, Keruv, and Health, Wealth and Retirement initiatives, and are developing a social media campaign to promote our Million Candle Challenge to significantly spread the observance of Yom HaShoah.


Other highlights of the past few months include:

  • Conducted a very successful World Wide Wrap, with a 30% increase in the number of clubs participating over last year.
  • Conducted an outstanding LDI (Leadership Development Institute) filled with learning, camaraderie and ruach, that included training tracks for new consultants, new Keruv consultants, regional leaders, and the FJMC Executive Committee.
  • Revised and reformatted our three major electronic communications, the HaShofar, the Advantage and the Unraveller.
  • Selected the Deauville Hotel in Miami Beach, FL as the site of our 2015 Convention
  • Updated our Strategic Plan to guide our activities for the next several years.

As you can see, it’s been a busy and exciting six months!  I look forward to the next six months and the progress we’ll make.  I also look forward to your comments on any of the information discussed in this blog.