Submission #373 by Beth El Temple Men's Club - West Hartford (217)

Submission information
Submitted by Philip M. Schulz
Sat, 2013-05-04 17:38
I have read the General Guidelines, "Nuts and Bolts" and Program Advanced Planning (Excel Spreadsheet) Documents
Club Name
Beth El Temple Men's Club - West Hartford (217)
Educating Our Children: Embracing Judaism & Celebrating Diversity
Club Representative
Person completing form
Club President at time of Convention
Club President Now

Page 1

The purpose of this Men's Club breakfast program was two-fold: First, to foster constructive dialogue with Temple members about the realities of intermarriage in Jewish families by emphasizing the benefits that can be realized from embracing increasingly diverse family units; and Second, to enhance the efforts of the Temple's clergy and lay leadership in reaching out to interfaith families who are affiliated with the Temple (as well as potential new members) in the hope of making them feel that they are a welcome and a valued part of the Beth El Temple community.
This Sunday morning breakfast program was co-sponsored by the Men's Club and the Temple in an collaborative effort to energize the Temple's Keruv initiative. The program began with the Men's Club's traditional bagel and lox breakfast buffet. Following breakfast, Rabbi James Rosen introduced Laura Kinyon, a licensed clinical social worker and board member of The Jewish Outreach Institute. Ms. Kinyon spoke briefly about her work with interfaith families and then introduced Ed Case, the founder and CEO of who spoke about his personal experience with interfaith marriage and the challenges and successes of raising Jewish children with a partner of another faith. The issues Mr. Case touched upon included: a) how much religion to share with children and at what age; b) how to educate children about religion in a dual faith family; c) negotiating holidays; d) b'nai mitzvot; e) speaking with teenagers about dating, in-marriage and intermarriage; and f) grandparents and grandparenting issues. After concluding his remarks, Mr. Case and Ms. Kinyon answered questions posed by Rabbi Rosen and those who attended the program. At the conclusion of the formal program, books from and The Jewish Outreach Institute were awarded as door prizes and were also available for purchase.

Page 2

Self Assessment
This program was our first Men's Club's event devoted entirely to Keruv programming. It made an important contribution to the Temple's ongoing efforts to reach out to interfaith families (i.e. families already affiliated with the Temple as well as families in greater Hartford who may be considering Temple membership). The topic was relevant to every constituency associated with the Temple because most Jewish families have been impacted by intermarriage either directly or indirectly. The more than 50 people who attended the program included a number of Temple men (and women) who we had not seen at prior Men's Club functions. By sponsoring an interfaith family program, the Men's Club was reaching out to potential new members of the club including some who may have assumed that we would not welcome their participation in our activities due to their intermarried status.
The trustees and clergy of Beth El Temple are well aware that FJMC has taken the lead in the conservative Masorti movement in developing programs to attract and welcome interfaith couples and their families. It is for this reason that Beth El's clergy approached our Men's Club's board about putting together this Keruv program. Our Men's Club's leaders jumped at the opportunity to organize and execute this program because a) we recognized that the program was entirely consistent with FJMC's efforts in the area of Keruv programming; b) we understood that the program had the potential to increase the involvement of more Jewish men (i.e. those with interfaith families) in Jewish life in general and in our club's activities in particular; and c) we believed that, as a consequence of running this Keruv program, our club would be taking on a leadership role in the Temple, in the CT Valley Region of FJMC and, most importantly, in the greater
Hartford Jewish community.
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