Jun 20, 2010

FJMC: "World Zionist Congress / FJMC Update"

FJMC LogoFederation of Jewish Men's Clubs

Rabbi Charles Simon,  Executive Director

Dear FJMC and Conservative/Masorti Members
I am taking this opportunity to bring you up to date with the role FJMC's played at the recent World Zionist Congress and to ask you to consider a few additional items. The World Zionist Congress takes place every four years. It is the closest thing to a World Jewish Parliament that exists. This Congress was a major success for our global Movement in a number of ways and Masorti Olami and Mercaz Olami (our international coordinating bodies) will provide you with detailed reports summarizing our Movement's success in the near future.
FJMC devotes only a small part of its resources to working with our international Movement. Our primary efforts are directed toward our clubs and the North American Movement. However, our work is specific, tangible and needed. The tefillin and Mezuzot we donate as a result of the support we receive in the World Wide Wrap and the Yom HaShoah Candles we ship at the wishes of private donors provide needed materials to our growing congregations. As a result of the informal meetings that took place in Israel, our congregations received another quality FJMC service, i.e. the opportunity to learn about volunteer engagement. I can't explain how hungry they are to acquire these skills.
The first day of the congress was devoted to Movement orientation and provided us with the opportunity to meet the Masorti leaders from 19 countries. Seven FJMC leaders attended the Congress with the intent of supporting our Movement and establishing relationships with Masorti leadership around the globe. Everywhere they went people stood up and introduced themselves, "FJMC" they said, "we are grateful for your tefillin" Rabbi Alejandro Bloch from our latest affiliate in Chile enthusiastically shared with Mark Berlin how meaningful it was for his congregation to light our Yom HaShoah candles. A delegate from Australia became friends with Stan Greenspan and cannot wait to institute the Yad shel Chai program in Sydney. We were the breathe of fresh air from North America.
Two incidents occurred which are worth sharing. The first was when the President of Masorti Europe approached me solely with intent of sharing how impressed she was with our leadership. "Your leadership is truly interested in our communities," she said. "They really want to help". This made me proud but not as proud as I was after listening to Mark Berlin address the entire group supplemented by a power point presentation developed by Stan Greenspan.
Part of our orientation involved three minute presentations accompanied by a power point demonstration from each countries' or organizations representative. You can imagine how dull that could be. Trust me, much of it was. Mark's presentation on the other hand, was engaging, upbeat, and thanks to Stan Greenspan it was accompanied by the music of the Supremes. It was serious, engaging message. And it was fun when Mark concluded everyone applauded. I quevelled. Our message had been delivered. We are serious men who want to make a difference and we have fun doing it.
Why we are involved in the International Masorti World and would you like to help?
I want to explain what I think is occurring in the global Conservative/Masorti Movement and for those who have interest offer you the opportunity to become involved and make a difference.
I believe the Jewish world is in the midst of a global battle the outcome which could take place in the next twenty years will determine the future of the Jewish soul. This battle is taking place on every Continent and is being fought in every country. One of the last frontiers is Europe. France, England and Germany have a combined Jewish population of approximately one million people. The majority of them can choose to assimilate, become a modern committed Jew or step into the fundamentalist camp. In the past decade our Movement in Europe has more than doubled in size. A European region has been created and it is growing. As a result of our growth in Europe extra votes/delegates were gained in the World Zionist election. These votes were the determining factor in our success at the World Zionist Congress. Our European and Latin American region are both under siege and need support. The support we provide to these Regions can be the deciding factors in this battle for the future of non-Orthodox Judaism. A number of ways exist to provide these communities with support. If you are interested please contact me at rabbisimon@fjmc.org.
Finally, I'd like you to think about Men and how we can become more involved. Studies are beginning to show that Jewish high school and college men are not becoming engaged in Jewish and synagogue life. This is one of a number of factors that are contributing to the aging of our North American Movement and is directly related to demographic change, i.e., the number of our young men who are not only choosing not to marry Jewish but more importantly are choosing not to live Jewish lives. I am currently planning to share my thought about this important issue on a conference call in late summer or early fall. The address will also be available for download.  FJMC has created a number of programmatic opportunities that can be employed to engage men. One of them is our online magazine, Mentschen. (Mentschen.org) the other is my weekly haftarah commentary The Unraveller both of which can be accessed through our website FJMC.org. Please spread the word. Place a link for the Unraveller and Mentschen on your synagogue's website. Share them with friends.
Thank you for your time.
Yours in Movementhood,
Rabbi Charles Simon

A Prayer for Israel in Troubled Times: http://shefanetwork.org/prayerforisrael.pdf

Rabbi Menachem Creditor
-- www.netivotshalom.org
-- www.shefanetwork.org
-- menachemcreditor.org

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