Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Welcome to the KIO Region of FJMC

Douglas Segerman’s Speech

KIO Man of the Year Lunch

May 15, 2011

Adath Israel Congregation

Cincinnati, Ohio

I will try to be brief. But as anyone knows, once you give me a microphone and an audience, brief becomes a relative term. First, thank you so much to Adath Israel for hosting this event and to Mikey for putting together a wonderful meal.

It is nice to see such wonderful representation from the various synagogues in our region, including 2 synagogue presidents. We have the president of Ohav Shalom and of Tifereth Israel. It is also nice to have Rabbi Wise here, and congratulations again on a very deserving honor.

Second, I want to thank my family for being so encouraging. My parents, Elliot and Rose, set a wonderful example on how to give back to your synagogue and your community. That is why my family has always embraced that example and have been involved in our synagogues and in encouraging Jewish education. So, I am especially glad that my siblings could be here today.

To my wife, who is always supportive of me – thank you so much for letting me take this opportunity. She was patient when I was President of the Tifereth Israel Men’s Club for two years She has always encouraged me to be involved in our synagogue and community and I know that I could not take on this two year commitment without her support and love. And thank you to my children – Jack and Emma – for agreeing to share their daddy . Although, Jack was a surprisingly tough negotiator on this point. Perhaps another lawyer in the making?

Congratulations to Mark Rosenson and to our Man of the Year award winners. You all do tremendous work for your synagogues and this organization would not be what it is today without your service and generosity of spirit. On a personal note, thank you to Mark for all of your advice and support over the last 8 years. You have provided me with invaluable insight into how to successfully lead a club and a region.

I always believe that before we can look forward in life, we must look back. The gentlemen that have led this region over the past decade have done an amazing job. First, I would like to acknowledge Leon Pollack, David Dombar, Frank Kasdan, Alan Segal and Mike Mills. These gentlemen were integral in the formation of the region nearly 20 years ago and laid the ground work for its success.

To Michael Steinbach, Mark Rosenson, and Gary Smith. It has been a pleasure to serve with each of you. Through your energy and commitment to FJMC, you have expanded the region’s activities (such as this Man of the Year Lunch), brought in new clubs and created a line of leadership that will move us into the future. You have truly “involved Jewish Men in Jewish life” and I know that I can count on you as advisors and participants in our programming in the years to come. Which really is another way of saying that we don’t believe that Past President is synonymous with “no longer involved”.

And congratulations to Mike Mills. The International FJMC is about to learn what Adath Israel and this region have known for decades – that Mike Mills is an exceptional leader who inspires those underneath him to be better and to want to do more.

Having Mike as the international President gives us a wonderful opportunity to be highlighted as a region. We can and should be leaders within the FJMC and Mike will be able to hold up this region as a leader on how to initiate innovative ideas and programs. One such example is the Youth of the Year Award. which celebrates our youth, involves them in our programs and shows them how exciting the FJMC is. So when they graduate from college and join a conservative synagogue they will be interested in being involved in their Men’s Club. So while I congratulate Samantha, Lainey, Becca and Michelle on their wonderfully deserved award, does anyone . else find it a little bit ironic that the winners of this first ever award are all women?

We will also continue to be leaders over the next two years in our programs and ideas.

The FJMC has made Shomrei Ha’aretz – steward of the land – a key initiative. As some of you many know, one of our own, the Adath Israel Brotherhood, in conjunction with the school created a program for a garden that is ecofriendly. The students learn how to be stewards of the land while running a garden and donating the fruits of their labor to local food pantries. Four years ago at the International Convention in Chicago, the outgoing International President, Dr. Bob Braitman, looked out over the crowd and said I see a lot of overweight and out of shape men and I am concerned for you, challenging the membership to become healthier. Again we take that challenge seriously and will be at the forefront of that movement. We listened to Bob’s advice and as far as I know, we will have the first Vice President for Health Care . I got Dale to say yes again. And we will work on health programs that we can pass on to the clubs to get Men Healthier.

One of the cornerstones of any strong organization is communication and letting others know what’s going on within the group. Each club is different and what works at one club will not necessarily work at other. But each club will benefit from knowing what others clubs are doing. If one club has a great programming idea then we should all know about it. So I intend to have a regional website where we can share information and ideas between the various clubs. Along that vein, every 3 months I am going to ask the Club Presidents to provide Bill Chronister with a calendar of future events as well as a list of activities that their club has completed during that time period. That will be put on the website so that other clubs can look at and find ideas for programming that are successful. Depth and breadth of programming is critical to increasing membership and making clubs more vitale. Through this process we will make each of our clubs stronger.

And right now I challenge our clubs to achieve something quite attainable, something that will position us as the best and brightest region in FJMC, and something that no other region has achieved – that within two years, each of our clubs receives quality club award status and submit a torch award application. The quality club award is given to a club which meets established criteria at the International, Regional and local levels. The criteria also are a blueprint for a club to follow in planning its yearly programming.

You are members of your club, but you are also members of a bigger organization – The Federation of Jewish Men’s Club We are the Mens’ Group of the Conservative Movement. And there are benefits to membership. We will be there to help if you have questions on how to achieve a quality club award and submit a torch award and we will assist in any way possible. Each club will have a mentor assigned to them – either myself, a current officer or an ex-Regional President. That mentor will help you with ideas on membership, succession and programming. Each club will have the support necessary from this region to be stronger and better able to succeed in the future. No club should feel that they are alone and do not have the support of the KIO region or the FJMC.

We will also work to expand this region by trying to bring in unaffiliated clubs in Louisville, Toledo, Akron and Indianapolis. Truly making this more of a KIO region.

We will also work very hard to have more social events at the regional level to bring everyone together. While we can talk on conference calls and send out e-mails, nothing allows us to share ideas or build strong, personal relationships more than meeting in person. . We start next week with an Indians/Reds game in Cleveland. We will have a golf outing on Labor Day in Zanesville. We will have a regional poker tournament in Columbus in January/February. We will go down to Kentucky for a Bourbon tasting. And perhaps we can go as a group to the time trials at the Indianapolis 500. This is a big region, but not so big that we cannot get together for social activities in each part of the region.

A great teacher once told me that every challenge provides us with an opportunity to learn and grow. These next two years provide us with excellent opportunities for growth in our clubs and our region. And I look forward to working with our International President, our regional officers, club Presidents, and officers and members in that growth. Thank you.

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