Convention in New Orleans
MRJ's convention in New Orleans, held June 24 - 26th, was by all accounts, well received.
Friday night began with a very special service entitled "Scotch and Shabbat." An interactive service of traditional prayers infused with questions designed to elicit reponses from those present such as "where or when did you see God this past week?"
Following services we enjoyed dinner and our featured guest speaker, Rabbi Charles (Chuck) Simon, the Executive Director of the Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs.
Saturday began with Torah study and services led by Rabbi Robert Loewy from Congregation Gates of Prayer, Metairie, LA. There is always something special, powerful and moving when a large group of Jewish men pray together.
After lunch, the first program was conducted with our panel speakers, Cory Sparks, the Director of the Louisiana Association of Non-Profit Organizations and Roselle Ungar, who is the current President of the New Orleans Chapter of the Association of Fund Raising Professionals and Executive Director of Jewish Family Services in New Orleans.
Our second session was highly anticipated It was an examination of the Memorandum of Understanding between MRJ and FJMC. Rabbi Simon was joined by FJMC International President Allan Gottesman, immediate Past President Myles Simpson and by MRJ President Tom Wiener with Steven Portnoy MRJ 1st VP.
A long question and answer period followed. Every aspect of the MOU was examined. It was stressed by all that this was not and would not be a merger, rather it is a collaboration. Each organization will continue to maintain it's seperate identity. Two amendments were offered by Charlie Niederman and he will present written versions to be included in the MOU on Sunday.
This inter-Movement cooperation is a historic first.
"May we work together to build up the household of Israel for our children and their children."
Sunday was our business meeting. The first order of business was a vote on accepting changes to the MRJ constitution eliminating references to the Jewish Chautauqua Society which had been transferred to URJ. The changes were approved.
The next business item was the MOU. Although we had spent quite a bit of time discussing it on Saturday, some questions remained and a bit of discussion followed. In due time, the amendments were presented and accepted, and then the MOU was overwhelmingly approved.
Lastly, the budget - approved!
President Tom Wiener asked for the floor. Tom announced that for personal reasons he felt he could not serve as he wanted and resigned. According to MRJ bylaws, the 1st VP, Steven Portnoy succeeds and becomes President. The immediate past-president (Tom) now has to form a nominating committee to select a new 1st VP.
A few days later, President Portnoy emailed the members of the Executive Council to ask for a two votes. Both passed, and Tom Wiener is now MRJ's Honorary President and Rob Himmelstein is the new 1st VP. Mazel Tov to both.
West Coast Man of the Year
Pictured left to right:
Charlie Neiderman MRJ West VP, Myles Simpson (FJMC) Immediate Past International President
Steve Silverstone (FJMC) Western Region President
Stephen Sherman MRJ West VP and Brian Hatkoff MRJ West President
How do we keep our men involved? The men, who at one time were so involved, are now removing themselves from our congregations. How do we teach our sons to stay connected? How do we teach our children the importance of Judaism without alienating them so they continue to participate and have strong feeling for their faith to continue? How do we reach out to those younger families that don’t want the brick and mortar structures that we are so used to?
I am not a Rabbi. I am not a psychologist. I do not work in the Jewish community as a paid professional. I am just a lay person, just as most of you who have a concern for the Jewish future. What I do have is a love for my faith. I have three grown children who in spite of what my wife and I have tried to teach them, hope that they will continue in the same vein as we have. They are goods kids. None of them are married yet.
I wish I had some of the answers. This is not something that can be solved overnight. This will be a generational project over the next 20 years that both the reform and conservative moments must work on.
Men of Reform Judaism Database Questionnaire: Please print, fill out and mail in!
This is how we will rebuild our database and will enable us to be in better contact.
To fully take advantage of our collaboration with FJMC, we need you to do this!
A link to an article published by URJ
in "Inside Leadership"
Jewish Men's Groups Agree to an Unprecedented Collaboration
Link to a story on our collaboration as published by JTA
Further coverage of our collaboration
Originating the position within URJ, is Evan Traylor, who is the "Presidential Fellow for Millennial Engagement"
Here is a link to a blog piece written by Evan on one of favorite topics - Millenials
Look for the shoutout to MRJ and Roc
MRJ was proud to sign on.
Read the statement here:
You may donate on-line at the secure
link at the top, or by mailing a check
made payable to: Men of Reform Judaism
Union For Reform Judaism
Attn: A. Calaff
633 Third Avenue, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10017
You may "earmark" your donation to
Reform on Campus by noting that
on your check! or by specifying in the "comments section" on our "DONATE" link