Dear Brothers/Achim (אחים),
December 21, 2019 will be the shortest day of the year. Isn’t it fitting that on the next night we light our first Hanukkah candle? With so much division in the world, we take comfort in the often-quoted (yet source-disputed) saying that “it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”
Our former Wisdom Council member Donald Gardner would often say the antidote to anxiety is taking action. Toward that end, Menschwork continues to grow and expand its menu of offerings—the JMR, regional gatherings, webinars, online Mishpacha Groups and more—for you to take action in your family, community, and the planet.
So with the Hanukkah first lights on December 22, 2019 and Tu B'Shevat on the night of February 10, 2020, we try to expand light in the world, plant seeds for the future, and have faith. One perspective on faith/emunah is expressed by Mussar pioneer Alan Morinis: “Even people who do have a well-established inner sense of God need to be challenged in their faith, because a fully resolved faith is a dead faith, since the facts of life challenge faith at every turn.” May we go forth into 2020 with faith in the future and actions that can truly be called Menschwork.
Menschwork, Inc. Update
The Wisdom Council gathered December 9-10, 2019 for its annual retreat. The first order of business was to hold Menschwork’s Annual Meeting as a 501(c)(3) corporation, including election of officers and directors. Elliott Myrowitz and Mark Dwortzan will be leaving the Wisdom Council on December 31 when their terms expire. We greatly appreciate their invaluable contributions to Menschwork. The Wisdom Council re-elected Rabbi Shawn Zevit, Yosaif August, and Marc Jacobs to another term on the Wisdom Council. Michael Evers and Ralph Benmergui were elected as new members. In addition, the Wisdom Council elected the following brothers as the 2020 Officers:
Chairperson: Marc Jacobs;
Vice-Chairperson: Simon Olsberg;
Secretary: Michael Landau; and
Treasurer: Harold Belkowitz.
The Wisdom Council also reviewed the expansion of Menschwork’s programming (such as the Webinar Series and online mishpacha groups) and the successful JMR28, which was led by David Cherenson, Michael Evers, and Ralph Benmergui. Looking ahead to JMR29, which will be led by Roger Zimmerman, Harold Belkowitz, and Elliott Myrowitz, we are excited to report that nearly sixty men pre-registered for the retreat.
Most of the Wisdom Council retreat was spent in visioning the long-term goals and organizational structure of Menschwork. We are in the process of developing the framework for our long-range planning in furtherance of Menschwork’s Mission Statement and Core Values.
We encourage you to spend time on our website, www.menschwork.org, where you can find a wealth of information, including Menschwork’s Mission Statement and Core Values, a calendar of events, Webinar information (including recordings of past webinars, Regional Gatherings, photographs and other memories of past JMRs, and a place to send us your thoughts.
There has been some confusion about Menschwork’s presence on Facebook. Menschwork maintains two Facebook groups:
1. Menschwork (https://www.facebook.com/groups/Menschwork)
This is the Public Facebook group for Menschwork. This group includes postings of Menschwork-related interest and maintains a calendar of upcoming events.
2. Mishkan Achim (https://www.facebook.com/groups/MishkanAchim)
Mishkan Achim means Holy House of Brothers. This is a Private Facebook Group for men who have attended at least one Jewish Men’s Retreat and is intended for posts directed to JMR-alumni, only. The group’s page provides specific guidelines for postings.
JMR29 Planning Committee
We hope JMR29 (November 13-15, 2020) will continue our “best JMR ever” tradition. The JMR29 Planning Committee is already gearing up. It is not too late to join the JMR29 Planning Committee and participate in our upcoming meeting on January 19, 2020. Please contact JMR29@menschwork.org to get involved.
Menschwork Webinar Series
Menschwork’s Webinar Series, open to everyone, covers a wide range of topics. We are pleased to have organized and facilitated a Menschwork Webinar every other month over the past year. Upcoming dates are January 15, March 11, May 13, July 8, and September 9. We invite you to suggest ideas for future topics to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, please watch our guideline video available at https://www.menschwork.org/webinars.html.
Menschwork Virtual Mishpacha Groups
Menschwork’s newest online offering is virtual Mishpacha Groups, which was the subject of the November 13, 2019 webinar. We currently are putting together two virtual Mishpacha Groups who will regularly meet once per month over several months. Please contact email@example.com if you are interested in joining the next group, which we hope to begin in early 2020.
An Inspiring Hanukah Gift from Reb Shawn
Light One Candle in the Dark (music and words- Shawn I. Zevit)
A song for Hanukkah, for spiritual rededication and for liberation of all peoples.
Huddled here the shadows dance against the wall,
The dark’s embrace has come to call;
We gather tightly in the inner space
The prayer is whispered face to face...
into the nightfall.
We will not stand for mindless tyranny
To no stone throne would we bend a knee
We take the sword into oppression’s heart
No callous threat can tear us apart
from our God.
Light one candle in the dark
for the miracles of old,
Light one candle in the dark
for the stories yet untold,
Light one candle in the dark
for the hope that will not die,
For freedom’s never-ending spark,
Light one candle in the dark.
Today we stand blessed by being free,
Protected by your wings of liberty;
And yet there’s places where the oil pours about;
Cannot hide while others’ lights go out… and still be free.
Ma-oz tzur yeh-shu-a-tee
L’cha na-eh li-sha-bey-ach.
Tee-kon beyt ti-fil-a-tee
Vi-sham to-dah ni-za-bey-ach.
Rock of Ages, let our song
Praise your saving power;
You amid the raging throng
Were our sheltering tower.
Light one candle in the dark...
Menschwork, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) organization that is guided by its mission and values. Within this structure is the core value that “Our model of leadership is egalitarian, inclusive, collaborative, and non-hierachical.” We encourage broad involvement in all aspects of Menschwork. If you have a program, project or a social justice initiative that motivates you to action, and you think it may fit Menschwork’s mission, let us know! Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to share your ideas and passions in support of our mission.
Menschwork has no membership fees and all operating funds are derived from program registration fees and donations. Please remember those less fortunate and consider a gift to Menschwork for scholarships or to otherwise support our Mission. Spread the miracle of brotherhood and love to all!
Mark Dwortzan, Chair
Marc Jacobs, Vice-Chair
Harold Belkowitz, Treasurer
Simon Olsberg, Secretary
Elliott Myrowitz, Immediate Past Chair
Reb Shawn Zevit