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I currently split my time between Cape Cod, Florida and Newton, MA. Our kids live in NYC and Newton. I grew up in Florida and went north to MIT and Penn State to study and follow a career in mechanical engineering. I met my wife Lillian in Boston and stayed in New England raising two wonderful daughters and enjoying the family sport of competitive small boat sailing.
Upon being invited to a Brotherhood meeting by a friend, my adventures with FJMC began at Temple Emeth in Brookline in the early 1980’s. Soon after joining the club and participating in regional activities, a most meaningful moment was when nine men from the region showed up at my house for a shiva minyan upon the death of my Father. I rose quickly through the club ranks and for better or worse remained president for too many terms. After several decades at Temple Emeth my family switched to Temple Emanuel in Newton where I am currently a Brotherhood member.
Being basically a shy techie, rising in the leadership in men’s clubbing was very important for my personal growth and personal friendships. I made a lot of mistakes and observed a few, but kept rolling along.
Looking for opportunities to use my computer and desktop publishing skills in my men’s club involvement, I determined that I would have to bring in the news myself if I wanted something to print. That got me involved with leaders from other clubs throughout the New England Region. I enjoyed publishing region and retreat newspapers, fliers and handouts for many years; often printing hundreds of color pages and envelopes on my home printer.
Early on I was ushered along by Region Presidents Joe Winokur z”l who pioneered the Yellow Candle and Mark Rudin who exuded both good will and energy. So many of my other early friends from New England (not to mention the current New England leadership) including Bob Braitman, Arnie Miller, David Kravitz and many others who have passed, have remained comrades and partners for decades. I appreciated being honored as Ma’Asim Tovim by the New England Region some years ago.
The New England Region Layman’s Institute was a natural activity for me to get into for fellowship and learning as attendee, photographer, publicist, innovator and committee member.
I drifted a lot at my first FJMC Convention in the Poconos in the 1980’s but ultimately found my role in being the Convention photographer and associate of Convention Newspaper Editor Manny Dobrusin. I made wonderful friendships with Jerry Agrest, Steve Davidoff, Harold Nissen and many others from their generations.
Rabbi Simon and I grew from fellowship to friendship over the years as we pioneered Shomrei Haaretz programming like the Solar Ner Tamid and Soy Shabbat candles. There were lots of opportunities for being innovative. Rabbi Simon led several FJMC missions to South America that were life changing and I ultimately led one to the south of France. Lifelong friendships with Bruce Sicherman and Gary Smith as well as new perspectives ensued.
In 2001, with lots of helpers including then Region President Lester Macklin z”l, I introduced the annual New England Keeper of the Flame recognition event. A year later I became Region President. I had the opportunity to host an International meeting in Boston and break bread with the men in leadership. At that meeting I remember being impressed by the skill manifested by Bob Levine in gaining consensus to set priorities. After that I started attending International meetings as a guest. I made lots of friends over the years on various International committees and enjoyed the comradeship of generations of International leaders.
As Convention Torch Award Chair, I introduced improved documentation and discussions of who deserved an award – some felt that Gold and Silver Awardees needed to meet rigorous standards, while I proposed that by the time a club submitted a serious Torch Award application, in their mind they have reached for excellence and deserved full recognition. There were lots of opportunities for innovation as I rose to Program Chair of the International Convention in 2005 in Los Angeles serving with Ken Elfand. It was a great Convention.
As International Secretary, I implemented new document organization standards and thoroughly enjoyed that role. It was great to be followed by David Singer who doubled up on my commitment to complete, accessible, digital documentation of the activities of FJMC. I rose to International Vice President during Mike Mills’ administration and assisted him in setting up a long term plan and management systems.
There were always awkward moments when fellow International officers were not renominated or realized that they were not going to become International President. Many of us continued in active roles, ultimately becoming Has-Beens (as opposed to Have-Beens) and continuing as such to make significant contributions. I particularly enjoyed promoting and establishing of the Honorary Board of Directors, implemented in the By-Laws changes under Mark Berlin. It officially tracks and promotes the continuing involvement of past Region President’s and up.
When the Covid pandemic arrived, I got involved in co-leading Affinity Groups in Genealogy and Financial Insights as well as participating in starting up the Photography Affinity Group. Most importantly this latest endeavor brought me into a close working partnerships with Gary Smith, Mike Mills and other current leaders, providing me continuity of FJMC fellowship and an opportunity to contribute.
FJMC interactions have taken me to unexpected places. My interest in the Abayudaya Jews of Uganda introduced me to very committed men from other Regions and ultimately to be a part of a major philanthropic initiative for the Abayudaya under FJMC friend Mark Gelfand. David Freiman, Bob Watts, Rick Kramer, Michael Rosenberg and others from around the FJMC have been continuing forces in FJMC support for the Abayudaya.
FJMC friends Gary Smith and Stephen Neustein also introduced me to Israeli startup investing with OurCrowd and EHealth Ventures limited partnerships.
I have been a lifetime member and sometimes leader of the Foundation for Jewish Life, supporting the visions of Tom Sudow, Bob Braitman and then Gary Smith as it morphed from the Century Club. I am a long term monthly contributor to the Friends of FJMC and a Legacy Member of the Foundation.
Pardon the nostalgia but that’s one of the joys of being an old timer who has not burned all his bridges. I am still active in the New England Region having just re-led the region’s Keeper of the Flame event after having founded it 22 years earlier with a great group of guys, many of whom who are hanging in with me.
Congrats to my fellow honorees Peter and Joe; each of us brought our own personal strengths to further the world of FJMC involvement. I could not have done all this without the full support of my wife Lillian. I guess she wanted me out of the house.