Sign In Forgot Password

spiritual nourishment

07/13/2023 12:15:56 PM


Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

I recently had the privilege of attending the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs biennial convention, participating both as a Rabbi and Hazzan. I had been invited over the years, but the timing had not worked well until this year. There were several opportunities to teach as well as sing in the Saturday evening Cantorial concert, which is apparently an event widely anticipated by the attendees, as the late hour did little to shrink the attendance.

Approximately 400 people attended the convention, with 90% from the United States, the remainder from Canada, and a few special guests from Israel. Yes, most of the attendees were men, which sort of made sense, as this was the Men’s Club, although there were spouses present. The major topics could be divided into three areas: Israel; Antisemitism; Bettering the local chapter.

Much of the Israel conversation focused on the current attempts by the Likud party to restructure the judicial system. Many of you may have been following and observing the hundreds of thousands of Israelis protesting the intentions of the current government to remove the judicial oversight of laws promulgated by the Knesset. Dr. Yizhar Hess, Vice Chairman of the World Zionist Organization, elected to that role in 2020 as a representative of Mercaz, addressed us and shared the current state of affairs and why the desires of the Likud party and its partners to restructure the judicial system are not in the best interests of democracy in Israel. Since the State of Israel does not have a constitution, I led a breakout session examining Megilat HaAtzmaut, Israel’s Declaration of Independence, as that is the vision and mission of what Israel should continue to aspire to. Frederic Bloch, Senior VP of ADL spoke about antisemitism, and Eric Rubin (who will be making Aliya this Fall), CEO of Project Max, spoke of the wonderful work he is doing to connect former NBA players with Israeli society. A wide array of sessions aimed at strengthening and growing local Men’s Club chapters providing rich resources for everyone.

I was particularly pleased to see so many attend services, and especially the full-throated participation of all in Birkat HaMazon, the grace after meals. Attendees wear specially printed shirts with the logo of their regions, but that is not all. They also possess their own terrible towel in that same color. While I do not know its origins, as Birkat HaMazon concludes, everyone rises and twirls their towels, singing joyously. It was something to behold.

I’m glad that I had the opportunity to attend, to teach, to pray with, and converse with those present. The strength and comfort for all of us in Pittsburgh was constantly stressed. They represent a collective who are proud to be Jews, want to participate in prayer and study, and want to find ways to engage in Tikkun Olam. This was a dose of a Jewish B12, that created a bank of enthusiasm that each attendee could take home, encouraging them to do more. May each of us find paths of spiritual nourishment like these 400 did.

Sun, September 24 2023 9 Tishrei 5784