Hearing Men’s Voices Virtually-HMVV by Martin Paley
In the fall the New England Region (NER) realized that having Hearing Men's Voices (HMV) programs on a regional level is a wonderful way to keep up with the friends we make at our regional retreat. To that end we had a regional HMV in January dealing with friends and family struggling with substance abuse. Having laid the groundwork for a regional approach, it was relatively easy to transition to a virtual model to help us stay connected during our home confinement.
We had an HMVV-Hearing Men’s Virtual Voices sharing our Passover seder experiences on April 13th. We had 17 participants mostly from New England but we had callers from Miami (Richard Gray), Hartford, CT and Columbus, OH. These men all had NE connections. I facilitated while Rick Kramer moderated the Zoom call.
We went through the ground rules and then gave everyone 45 seconds to check in with their seder highlights. After everyone spoke, we did a 2-minute round where everyone got a chance to give their feelings about what happened.
The men’s reactions ranged from gratitude to having Zoom where they could see relatives and friends from far away. Others were unfulfilled and lacked connection about doing a seder remotely. All of the men except one had virtual connections to their synagogues during Yom Tov. Many said Zoom was better than nothing. A virtual seder is far easier to prepare rather than expecting lots of folks at a seder table. Someone raised the concern that frequent Zooming will get people used to not attending services when the restrictions are removed. Others thought that this won’t happen since people need social contact.
We also had an HMVV session on Coping with COVID. We had 35 attendees, so we used the Zoom breakout group feature to separate into 3 facilitated groups.
Hearing Men's Voices (HMV) is an FJMC program that builds male relationships and extends Jewish community. Skilled facilitators build community among men through dialogue in small group conversations.
Martin Paley has led HMV sessions for over 15 years on a variety of topics locally, nationally and internationally.