Submission #410 by Beth El Temple Men's Club - West Hartford (217)

Submission information
Submitted by DavidDiamondMC
Tue, 2013-05-07 21:21
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)
Brunch & Political Forum with CT Candidates for U.S. Senate
Club Representative
Person completing form
Club President at time of Convention
Club President Now
Non-FJMC Program

Page 1

The race in CT between the two primary candidates for U.S. Senate was a very high profile competition. Beth El Men's Club, in collaboration with other arms of the temple as well as outside organizations in the community arranged for both candidates to participate in a forum less than 10 days before the election. The forum, which included a full buffet brunch, was the only campaign event that the candidates participated in together at any Jewish organization. The FJMC clubs in Southern Ct and the large Reform Synagogue in West Hartford all tried to do this program and it was a feather in our hat that we contacted both parties early and go commitments and we became the only Jewish organization to book the candidates for this high profile debate. The State of Ct political broadcasting station sent a crew to televise our event State Wide. Great publicity for Beth El Temple.
In the prior two election years (2008 and 2010), the Men's Club has collaborated with Sisterhood and Chai Society (for 55+ members) on a political forum brunch. Each had combinations of candidates and representatives from the major political parties. Both were highly successful and we agreed to have another political forum in 2012. The program date was lined up well in advance.

A very high-profile and bitter race between the two CT candidates for US Senate, Linda McMahon and Chris Murphy, was taking place. Our stretch goal was to secure these candidates for the political forum brunch we were planning. Men's Club member and former President Bob Gruskay had lined up all the panelists and moderators for the previous political forums. He came through again this time and succeeded in getting both Linda McMahon and Chris Murphy to participate in the forum. He also arranged for the moderator, Jeff Saperstone - Political Reporter, WVIT-TV.

We found out that we were the only Jewish organization in CT to secure both the candidates. When the plans for the political forum to be held at our temple became known, others wanted to join us in co-sponsoring the event. In an effort to strengthen relationships between the temple and the groups, we agreed to collaborate with the Jewish Federation Association of Connecticut (JFACT), Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford (JFGH). Later, the CT Jewish Ledger also became a co-sponsor and provided significant publicity for the event.

In the month prior to the program, there was much communication between many individuals involved in the planning. A lot of it involved coordinating all the media planning to attend. There was one formal face-to-face meeting about 2 weeks prior to the program to discuss all the details. As we got closer to the program date, we realized this could be our largest attended event we've ever had. There was significant interest both within our temple and in the community.

The two candidates had been very different in the approaches to their campaigns. The political forum was no exception. While Linda McMahon chose to follow a carefully scripted presentation, with Q+A afterwards, Chris Murphy took a more relaxed approach and welcomed the interaction with everyone in the Q+A period following his remarks.

Although there was a large crowd, it was not as much as we expected due to the forecast of a potentially significant hurricane striking CT the next day. This forecast also cut down the number of media attendees present as they were out covering the storm.

Getting the two high-profile candidates to speak was a real coup for our synagogue, and we put all efforts possible to make this event a success.

Link to article in local newspaper several days prior to the program

Link to candidate Linda McMahon's tweet on the morning of the event. Includes pictures.

Link to post-event coverage in the CT Jewish Ledger, including pictures

Link to the professional recording of the Political Forum which was shown on Public Access TV several days later:

Page 2
Self Assessment
Of all the programs the Men's Club has been involved in, this one had one of the biggest overall impacts. The candidate race in CT for US Senate was getting tremendous media coverage. For our temple to run a program like this, thanks primarily to the Men's Club, is a real coup. There were attendees not just from the immediate community, but throughout CT. The temple's relationships with Jewish community was strengthened by our agreeing to work with representatives from other organizations and have their names on the event publicity as co-sponsors. We were happy to have them share in our success.
Planning this program involved many from our Men's Club as well as Jewish men outside. The program of this magnitude certainly required the innovation and leadership of those involved. And it clearly was a community event, both in the involvement from those in the community as well as the diverse attendance at the program. Members from FJMC clubs in southern CT and NON FJMC synagogues attended this event.
Video sent to Torch Chair
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