The following are the welcoming remarks delivered by FJMC Florida Region President Blake Lenett on April 30, 2023 at the Florida Region Leadership Development Institute (LDI) and club training program, held at the B’nai Torah Congregation of Boca Raton:
Welcome to our Florida Regional Leadership Development and Club Training Conference. For those of you that don’t know me, my name is Blake Lenett, and I’m the Regional President of the FJMC Florida Region. I’m thrilled to be standing amongst the current and future leaders of the Florida Region. I want to acknowledge our Regional Executive Committee:
Vice Presidents – Dr. Elliot Burns, Elliott Davis, and Barry Dvorchik (z”l)
Treasurer – Dr. Moshe Adler
Secretary – Ed Kochman
Webmaster – Rich Nebb
Past President – Edward Margolis
Past International President – Allan Gottesman
Presidential Appointees – Gary Dalin, Jeff Litt, Eric Perlman, Jon Zimmer (YK chair)
This year we welcomed our new Spiritual Advisor, Rabbi Michael Klein. I want to thank you for joining us and for your words of wisdom. I want to thank Dr. Elliott Burns and Congregation B’nai Torah for hosting this event. I also want to thank the planning committee led by Rich Nebb. Mostly I want to thank all of you for sharing your Sunday morning with us and proving that the state of the Florida Region is strong.
“Involving Jewish Men in Jewish Life” is the mission of the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs. But what does that really mean? Hopefully, you’ll find out over the next 4 hours so grab another bagel and hang on for the ride. First let me tell you what Men’s Club means to me. A men’s club is a group of men who cultivate fellowship and camaraderie through social and religious gatherings, innovative and inspiring programming, and volunteer activities. I personally joined the Men’s Club at my shul in Clearwater, FL to meet like-minded guys around my age who enjoy the stuff I like to do in my spare time, like playing cards, going to sporting events, coordinating talent shows, putting up the Sukkah, Men’s Club Shabbat, etc… Truth be told, my wife convinced me to join the Men’s Club to get me out of the house.
After my first FJMC International Convention in Miami, FL, my Men’s Club connections started to expand and I was asked to serve on the Regional Board as the Florida West Coast Sub-Regional Vice President. After two more conventions, in Washington and Toronto, I was asked to be the Executive Vice President and took over as President shortly thereafter when the President at the time decided to step down. That’s when I started to get to know the 22 clubs that make up the Florida Region.
Then came the pandemic and things really slowed down. But most of our clubs were resilient and resourceful, and came up with ways to make the best of the situation by hosting meetings and events that didn’t require physical interaction like on-line concerts and affinity groups, drive-thru Deli Nite, drive-thru Wine & Dessert Nite, and even a drive-thru Sukkah. On-line meeting applications like Zoom became our best friend. We got through the pandemic, but not all of our shuls made it unscathed. Unfortunately, a few shuls had to stop holding services and social events and their clubs disbanded. However, on a positive note, we picked up two new clubs. I want to officially welcome the following clubs to the Florida Region: Temple Beth Torah Brotherhood in Wellington, Florida and the Men’s Club of Temple Beth El in St. Petersburg, Florida.
As the pandemic started to ebb, the Florida Region entered 2022 with a strong desire to look ahead and move forward. We began by expanding our Executive Committee, enlisting the services of a new webmaster, Rich Nebb. Thanks to Rich, our Regional Website and Facebook page are constantly being updated with new and relevant content almost daily. Florida Region leadership began reaching out to club leaders around the state and finding out how the Region can help. We put together a very successful on-line Training Program led by past Regional President, Elliott Davis, on Membership Recruitment and Retention. Later in the year, we hosted an amazing Florida Regional Retreat at the Embassy Suites in Palm Beach Gardens.
We also held several multi-club events over the last year, like the two Hockey Game outings, one with the Lightning in Tampa and one with the Panthers in Miami. We sent a delegation of emerging and regional leaders to the FJMC LDIs, by the way most are in this room. Speaking of which, we have an election coming up soon for the new Regional Board. If you have an interest in serving on the board or a regional committee, please let me know while I’m here. I’m also encouraging every club in the state of Florida to send at least one delegate to the upcoming FJMC International Convention in Philadelphia. We are still providing subsidies of $500 for first-timers, and $300 for repeat attendees. If you’re like me, you won’t regret going to convention.
My message today is we’re here to help you and your clubs be successful. And you’re already successful; we want to make sure you stay successfully. The most valuable tools we can offer to clubs are “fresh ideas”… ideas on programming, membership, fund-raising, leadership and so much more. It’s up to you and your club to take those ideas and run with them. Enjoy the rest of the program. B’tay avon.
Blake Lenett, President FJMC Florida Region
Blake became very active in synagogue life at a young age. In 1977, he served as Regional President of the National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY). His love of Judaism inspired him to move to Jerusalem and attend Yeshiva for two years. After graduating with an Engineering Degree from Fairleigh Dickenson University, he worked as a Navigation Systems Engineer in New Jersey before relocating to Clearwater, Florida in 1989 to work for Honeywell, where he has been employed for the past 33 years. In 1996, Blake joined Congregation Beth Shalom (CBS) in Clearwater where he was hired to be the Kadima Youth Advisor. Blake met his wife Wendy at CBS, and they were married in her hometown of Trumbull, CT. They have spent the past 22 years in Clearwater raising their family (Michael, Rachel and Sarah). Blake joined the CBS Brotherhood and serving as VP of Programming and Club President. Blake also served as the shul’s VP of Operations. Blake enjoys travel, music, movies, and playing cards with “the Poker Boys”. He plays guitar at musical services and events and also provides audio/visual support at CBS. Blake is currently serving his second term as Florida’s Regional President of FJMC. Blake also enjoys attending FJMC retreats and conventions and interacting with like-minded people throughout the organization. Blake’s passion for “Involving Jewish Men in Jewish Life” has helped ensure that the CBS Brotherhood is recognized year after year at the international level. In 2022, Blake and Wendy were honored at the CBS Purim Gala in recognition for their contributions to their synagogue and the Jewish community. Blake attributes his commitment to synagogue and Jewish life to his parents, who have been his role model throughout his life.
The Florida Region of the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs (FJMC) is part of a global confederation of over 200 Men’s Clubs and Brotherhoods representing over 20,000 members across the United States, Canada, Latin America and beyond. Learn more about how your Men’s Club or Brotherhood can affiliate at: https://www.fjmc.org/content/affiliating-fjmc.
The Florida Region of FJMC serves the needs of affiliated Men’s clubs and Brotherhoods throughout the State of Florida. Our mission is to involve Jewish Men in Jewish Life by fostering fellowship and camaraderie between Men’s Clubs and Brotherhoods in the Florida Region, inspiring interest and involvement in Jewish worship, Jewish studies, Tikkun Olam and ensuring the success of new and existing leaders of our Florida Men’s Clubs and Brotherhoods.
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 network of dynamic Jewish Men’s Clubs and Brotherhoods on our website www.FloridaRegionFJMC.org and please visit and LIKE our Facebook Group at www.facebook.com/FloridaRegionFJMC.