The FJMC Executive Committee held its fall meeting in Chicago. During the meeting, members of the Executive Committee had the opportunity to meet with the leadership of the Midwest Region and to visit five area member synagogues. Friday night the Executive enjoyed services at Beth Hillel B'nai Amunah and had Shabbat dinner with members of their Men's Club and other leaders from around the Midwest. Saturday morning we divided up and attended services at five Congregations - Anshe Emet, Beth Hillel B'nai Amunah, Beth Judea, Beth Shalom and North Suburban Beth El. We had an opportunity to spend some quality time with each club. We were eagerly welcomed by each synagogue where we received various honors.
At Beth Judea, Steve Dix, VP of Programming, addressed the Congregation during Shabbat Services. In addition to his greetings from the EC to the Congregation, he spoke about the FJMC’s new Imagine Life initiative. As he spoke about this developing program that focuses on mental health and addiction issues and described how the idea behind it is not to try to have lay people become therapists, but rather to end the “Shonda Factor” so that those in need can know that it is ok to talk about it and those who are not can hear about it without being afraid or judgemental. The reception was clearly very positive. After Services were over, several of the Congregants reached out to Steve, Mark Givarz, Elliot Feldman, and Norm Kurtz, who were there with Steve to find out more about the program and how they can get involved. This reaction is consistent with early feedback we have received throughout the organization, and we think it will be a truly meaningful contribution to our Community.
At Beth Hillel, David Singer met with club president Jay Lawrence and they discussed reaching out to the younger guys by hosting “Mom’s Afternoon Off” events where fathers do an activity with their kids on a Sunday afternoon and the moms have the afternoon off. Fathers are bringing their kids to playgrounds and activities anyway. Why not do it together? Experience has shown that wives push their husbands to participate because they want the afternoon off. This event is the brainchild of Ed Willins of the Temple Emunah Men's Club in Lexington, MA.
We also discussed funding the Tot Shabbat Kiddush which “buys” you the opportunity to make a Men’s Club announcement once in a while and to hang out and get to know the young fathers. It all starts with building relationships.
The Executive Committee spent over 15 hours in meeting over the weekend and the business meeting included a discussion of this summer's convention and a think tank about our next convention. We discussed the Imagine Life Mental Health Initiative, Yom HaShoah Yellow Candles, LDI, had leadership training session, review FJMC operations, budget and fund raising, communications, and continued to plan for new opportunities.
It is always great to get together and we look forward to the Winter meeting which will be part
of LDI in January.
The FJMC Executive Committee consists of 15 members plus the past international presidents. We meet in person four times a year. For current Executive Committee members who live farther than a five hour drive, the flights are subsidized by FJMC. We pay our own hotel and food.