What Happens in the Sukkah Stays in the Sukkah!

MICHAEL BRASSLOFF illustrates some of the ways men’s clubs take advantage of the season to celebrate

by Michael Brassloff

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Traditionally, Men’s clubs have held their educational, cultural and social meetings in synagogues or places such as restaurants and sports venues. In an attempt to innovate and attract new members, some clubs have experimented with different approaches, and, at this time of year, especially in their sukkot.

Temple Etz Chaim men’s club in Thousand Oaks, California, wanted an event that would blend the spirituality of the fall holidays with the peaceful setting of their sukkah, which, incidentally, the club helps build each year. It was decided to hold one of the FJMC Hearing Men’s Voices series in the sukkah, using a module from the Listening to God’s Voice text. An activity to create a spiritual biography initiated and sustained a 90-minute conversation. According to club president Gary Katz, “The quality of the discussion was quite impressive in the cool evening air outside in our temple sukkah.”

Other men’s clubs have held social events in their sukkot designed to promote camaraderie and fellowship. According to Adam Shandler, Agudath Israel men’s club in Caldwell, New Jersey, has had a series of such events. It started in 2009 with a very successful Scotch in the Sukkah, followed in 2010 with Bourbon in the Booth, and Rum in the Room in 2011. A vodka program is planned for this year. In a variation, Temple Beth Sholom’s men’s club in Livingston, New Jersey, hosted Steak and Scotch in the Sukkah. And other clubs have held or are planning similar events.

These are just a few examples of how men’s clubs strive to accomplish the FJMC goal of involving Jewish men in Jewish life.

Michael Brassloff is on the editorial board of CJ: Voices of Conservative/Masorti Judaism.