FJMC Advantage - April 2014

Welcome to The FJMC Advantage, a monthly newsletter to help YOU build YOUR Clubs and Regions.
This month's theme is: Keruv
Next month's theme will be: Marketing/PR


WHAT EXACTLY IS KERUV?                                                                  
For those of you that don't know, Keruv can be translated as "bringing closer."  In the FJMC and Conservative/Masorti Judaism, it is often used to refer to inclusion of intermarried couples.  If you want more general information on Keruv, here's a great video to start with.

MAKING YOUR CLUB MORE WELCOMING                                            

Harvey Braunstein, a co-founder of the Keruv Initiative, put together the 10 steps to making your club more welcoming.  While it would be impossible to detail everything necessary to start (or improve) a keruv program at your club or synagogue, this is a great place to start.  If you would like more information or have questions about keruv, feel free to email the current co-chairs, Alan Budman and Gary Smith.  



CREATING A WELCOMING WEBSITE                                                       
If you'd like some ideas on making your club, region, congregation or even a different organization's website more welcoming and inclusive, take a look at this video.  It was very, very well done and contains lots of excellent information.

HAVE YOU SEEN THE FJMC KERUV BOOKS?                                            

The FJMC has some outstanding books that can help you to start or grow your keruv programming.  Among them are Let's Talk About It - A Book of Support and Guidance which is really great for use in HMV sessions.  Another is Intermarriage: Concepts & Strategies for Families and Synagogue Leaders.  If you don't have these in your club's library, you should consider buying the multipack with both of these titles as well as The Role of the Supportive Non-Jewish Spouse in the Conservative/Masorti Movement for one low price.



DID YOU READ THE LATEST CJ MAGAZINE?                                         

If you are getting this email, you should also be receiving CJ Magazine in the regular mail.  While each issue contains great articles by many FJMC leaders and information that I bet you would find interesting, the Spring, 2014 issue was even more outstanding than usual.  In addition to the many articles on Keruv and intermarried couples, Rabbi Simon had an interesting article on Technology in shul, Marty Melnick, executive vice-president, authored a very informative piece on Torch Award winning programs and programs for younger men and Aaron Ginsburg, of the Temple Israel (Sharon, Massachusetts - New England Region) has an amusing article on his HMV group getting "busted" by the police.  


ASK THE ADVANTAGE                                                                              
For those new to the FJMC Advantage, 'Ask the Advantage' is a place you can ask for advice on an issue you or your club are facing, whether it be programmatic in nature, club member interaction, transition related, or something as specific as dealing with a difficult member. 


Dear Creighton, I'm glad you're going to do an issue on Keruv as I have been wanting to ask your thoughts on allowing non-Jewish men that are married to Jewish women into our club.  Some of our leaders would like to and some don't.  What do you think?  Signed, We're Torn.   


Dear Mr. Torn, My feeling is that you should absolutely welcome the non-Jewish spouse into your club, assuming your bylaws allow it (and if they don't, it might be a good time to revise them).  Since many men's club activities have a Jewish component to them, this could be a great way to help the spouse get more comfortable with the ritual and traditions in a less intimidating and fun way.  Obviously, he could (and should) also be included in any "secular" activities your club does as these will make him feel included in the community and on equal footing with everyone else.  I would also suggest that getting him involved in your club would also lead to him getting more active in your synagogue and probably also lead to his wife getting more involved and, if they have them, the kids as well, leading to more inclusion of the entire family.  Creighton


TORCH AWARD SPOTLIGHT                                                                 
Each month I'll spotlight a Program that was submitted for a Torch Award that you can adopt for your club.

This month, I present the program developed by the Men's Club at Beth El Temple in West Hartford, Connecticut called Educating Our Children: Embracing Judaism & Celebrating Diversity which was designed to foster dialogue within their congregation about intermarriage and to help their leadership reach out to interfaith families to make them feel welcome.  

NOTE:  You will need to sign in to your account on the FJMC site to see these Torch Award submissions.  If you don't have an account, they are simple to create and the delightfully outstanding webmaster will make sure you have access to the right information.


...JUST ONE MORE THING                                                                         

A bit of humor you can use at your next Board Meeting, Presentation, or just to add some amusement to your day. Send me your submissions but please, keep them clean(ish).  


A Rabbi and a Priest are driving one day and, by a freak accident, run into each head-on with tremendous force.  Both cars are totally demolished, but amazingly, neither are injured.  After they crawl out of their cars, the rabbi sees the priest's collar and says, "So you're a priest...I'm a rabbi.  Thankfully, neither of us was hurt.  I was on my way back from a Bris and the proud father gave me a bottle of schnapps to thank me.  It wasn't damaged in the wreck and I have one glass.  Perhaps, we should make a toast to our good fortune."  The priest readily agrees and the rabbi pours him a generous shot.

After the priest finishes it, the rabbi puts the lid back on the bottle.

The priest, baffled, asks, "Aren't you having any, rabbi?"  The rabbi replies, "Nah... I think I'll wait for the police."