Congratulations: It’s summer in Florida. The days are long and slow, the weather is predictably unpredictable and the Palm Trees gently sway in the breeze. As we come to the realization that we are blessed to live in the Sunshine State, this is also a good time for your Men’s Club or Brotherhood to look back and to look ahead.
Begin by consulting the Gregorian and Hebrew calendar so you can avoid scheduling meetings, programs or events during times that conflict with Jewish religious observances. Two convenient Hebrew Calendar links that I like to use are https://www.hebcal.com/holidays/ and http://www.njcgs.org/Jewish-10-year-Calendar.pdf. Remember that all Jewish Holy Days and Festivals begin at sundown the evening before the date shown and conclude at nightfall of the last day; some Fast Days are from sunset to sunset, others are from sunrise to sunset.
Now that you are have a list of major and minor Jewish Religious, Cultural and Historical Holidays and Fast Days to work with (or work around), it’s time pencil in a regularly recurring annual cycle of programming or events that your Men’s Club or Brotherhood might want do throughout the year.
Your first logical calendar entry is to reserve a monthly recurring time slot for a Men’s Club or Brotherhood “business meeting” to discuss, reach consensus and plan. Whether your “business meeting” is at a Synagogue, someone’s home or a Brewery, ensure that YOU (or another responsible person AKA your Club Recording Secretary) keep a written record of matters discussed and decided – if you don’t write it down then it never happened.
A fun, stress free way to start your annual programming cycle is with a purely social, late summer, pre- High Holiday’s get together such as a “Back to Shul BBQ”. This is an easy way for your Men’s Club or Brotherhood to start a buzz and announce HINENI, “Here I Am”. Next, schedule a date to erect your congregational Sukkah, a night to enjoy a meal (and maybe a Scotch tasting) in the Sukkah and a date to deconstruct the Sukkah.
SuperBowl Sunday morning is the traditional date for Jewish Men’s Clubs and Brotherhoods take part in the World Wide Wrap, an educational initiative begun by the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs (FJMC) to encourage everyone – men, women and youth – to learn about, experience and promote the mitzvah of wrapping tefillin. SuperBowl game time is also a great time for your Men’s Club or Brotherhood to enjoy the game together. So be sure to add SuperBowl Sunday (February 13, 2022, February 12, 2023 and February 11, 2024) to your programming cycle.
Plan a special springtime Men’s Club Shabbat or Brotherhood Shabbat weekend. This is an effective way to raise visibility of your Men’s Club and highlight the participation of your Men’s Club in the religious and social fabric of your synagogue. It is a chance for your Men’s Club members to lead and participate in any or all aspects of the Shabbat service(s). It is a golden opportunity for your Men’s Club to connect, mobilize and re-energize its active membership base, as well as to engage inactive members who do not frequently participate by giving them an honor and/or a role in planning your event. PLEASE post the date of your planned Men’s Club or Brotherhood Shabbat at: https://www.fjmc.org/content/mens-club-shabbat-registration.
Participation in the FJMC Shoah Yellow Candle program is another essential link in the chain of your programming cycle. Jewish Men’s Clubs and Brotherhoods around the world distribute Shoah Yellow Candles to their members, congregants and greater Jewish community so that at sundown of Yom HaShoah (April 17, 2023 and May 4, 2024), candles are lit in homes across the globe to shine a light of memory, a light of education, and a light that we will never forget. Just as we light a Yahrzeit Candle to burn for 24 hours to remember a dear one who is no longer with us on the anniversary of their death, so too, once a year, we light a Yellow Yom HaShoah candle to burn 24 hours to remember our 6,000,000 brothers and sisters who died for no other reason, but they were Jewish.
Now that you have successfully established a basic framework for an annual Men’s Club or Brotherhood program cycle, it’s time to start building out. Reserve a quarterly Sunday morning time slot for a breakfast and Speaker series or for future programs yet to be determined. Maybe a Kosher Pickleball or Bowling League, a quarterly “Guy’s Night Out” or an annual Father Son Golf Outing or Fishing Trip is also worthy of a spot on your programming calendar.
One of the most important links in your annual program cycle is to save a date to celebrate and say THANK YOU to your Men’s Club / Brotherhood Man (and Youth) of the Year, “The Keepers of the Flame”. Recognition and reward are keys to making a volunteer organization work. Host an annual Man of the Year / Youth of the Year celebration to recognize and reward the key volunteers in YOUR Men’s Club, Brotherhood and/or synagogue whose efforts have contributed to building your Jewish community and to serve as an beacon to involve Jewish Men in Jewish Life.
Efficient planning is the essential element of every successful organization. The Florida Region of the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs has Regional Consultants available to help your Men’s Club or Brotherhood develop a dynamic, well thought out annual programming calendar to help you to keep your members focused, engaged and prepared for the year ahead, and beyond.
If you are not yet affiliated with the Federation, then today is the day to join us. Get to know more about the Florida Region of FJMC and our growing statewide network of dynamic Men’s Clubs and Brotherhoods at www.floridaregionfjmc.org and please visit and LIKE our Florida Region FJMC Facebook Group at https://www.facebook.com/FloridaRegionFJMC.