As part of our MoTAS Shabbat, we invited a number of men to share a reflection of what their relationship with MoTAS means to them. This is the reflection that Brian Hatkoff shared:
When Men get together, they have a great time talking about sports, politics, business, their kids and things like that. When men get together, they DO NOT talk about what’s going on in their lives, what’s going on behind the scenes, their emotions, their relationships with their wives, their kids, their parents and so on.
I started a program a few years ago at TAS ( a program I stole from somewhere else) called the Men’s Only discussion group, which is now called the Men’s Hangout. It was designed to be in a setting of support for each other during good times and bad. A chance to expose their feelings (if they wanted to) and ask for advice or just vent. I had no idea where it would go. It was set in a safe environment and where any discussion that occurred stayed in those four walls.
I really didn’t expect much, except talking about sports, politics, business, their kids… Not much happened, except for the openness of the conversation of our personal feelings and what was truly going on in our lives.
Although I moderated it for the first few years, I got so much out of it that I ended up with a whole new respect for the men around me. I came to appreciate that what I may have been going through at the time, and thought I was alone, and the only one in that situation, that other men had been there and gave me the support I needed at the time.
The ability of men to be open and honest with other is far and few between, and that needs to change. This is a small but very important piece of what MoTAS does. Our MoTAS is doing that and will continue to do that.
As part of our MoTAS Shabbat, we invited a number of men to share a reflection of what their relationship with MoTAS means to them. This is the reflection that Howard Miller shared:
When my wife Laraine and I joined TAS 21 years ago, I was looking for three aspects of Jewish life: Worship, Service to my Jewish community, and a sense of belonging and comradery. Worship was straightforward, our Temple prayers and melodies were identical to those I had been brought up with in a Conservative temple. I found the opportunity to provide service and enjoy the comradery of friendship in the TAS Men’s Club.
It started a couple of weeks after we joined. The Men’s Club was building the sukkah. Coming from Seal Beach, I got there late. I walked in and was handed a palm frond. It was pretty dark, so I worked as a team with a stranger by flashlight. We had so much fun working and talking for an hour. When we turned around and introduced ourselves, it turned out that he was one of my best friends from childhood; we had not seen each other in 20 years. At that time, Bob Levin and Gordon Lester had basically restarted the Men’s Club. It was simply a group of guys who wanted to support the needs of the temple. There may have been 12 guys in the group at that point. Within a few years our roster grew to 70 or so members.
I like to tell people that our lives are often a swirl of all the things we are involved in over time. At different points in our lives, each of us can look back and think about the groups of people that we have spent our time with, who we have watched become the people they are in part because of our time and chemistry within the group. A group like the Men’s Club provides the immediate friendships and comradery in service to the temple, doing more together than we can do individually. Together, we have painted the whole school, we have raised $15-20K per year in support of temple unmet needs, and we have served hundreds of burgers and hot dogs a year fighting hunger in the congregation. There is a sense of accomplishment on a monthly and annual basis.
The Men’s Club is for those men in the congregation who know that there is more to setting a religious example for their children by simply providing a ride to Hebrew school. Of significance, you will find that probably three quarters of the men who have been on the temple board and its officers have been members of the Men’s Club. The Men’s Club is where you will find nice guys from all walks of life that you can be proud to share your time with. This group of men has been worthy of my time, respect and appreciation for 21 years. I hope many other members of the congregation will participate in MoTAS and gain the same perspective.