For a few years now, I have been inviting small groups of men from Congregation Or Ami to get together for Men’s Night Out, an evening of noshing (eating), schmoozing (connecting), and thinking. The evening gathering of 42+ men, ages 25 to 68, features food, drink (soda, wine, beer), and always good conversation.
The atmosphere is warm and friendly. The dress is relaxed (jeans are perfect). At some point, I lead us in a discussion on the intersection between being a man and being Jewish. The conversation ranges from work to sports to love to children to sports to music to politics. As the evening ends, men are grouped in troikas and instructed to get together in the next month for breakfast, a cup of coffee, lunch or a drink. Participants have built deep friendships on these post-event troikas.
Reflections on Men’s Night Out
Asked to reflect upon the Men’s Night Out experience, our Or Ami congregants had this to say:
Fred Gruber: As you must know, I really like the opportunity to participate in the Men’s Night Out Event. While I have a number of friendships that I have maintained over the years from high school and college having attended both here in Southern California, making new friends with people that have common interests, traditions and ambitions is not always easy to accomplish. What I enjoy most and partially what brought me to Congregation Or Ami in the first place was being able to become involved with people I would want to become friends with, to hang out with, to do business with. The Men’s Night Out group is a perfect extension of the camaraderie that Susie and I find at the temple….
Jeremy Adell: What I enjoyed the most was discussing both Jewish, and not necessarily Jewish, concerns, which all men deal with in figuring out what is expected from and what is desired by our generation of men from 35 to 65. That kind of experience seems like the best way to open myself up to something new.
Jonathan Davidorf: … Many of us have enjoyed that TV show Seinfeld, which claims to be “about nothing.” But, by being “about nothing,” Seinfeld in many ways was “about everything.” Men’s Night Out seems similar… It’s sure nice to see how many men are interested in participating, and they/we should all be encouraged to do so.
“An Organic Process of Exploring Topics”
Jonathan Levy: Thank you for including me in last night’s gathering – while I only knew a few folks – it seems like a very nice group to be a part of… More than anything I liked the fact that it was or seemed to be unscripted generally. It wasn’t a lecture or a classroom or a specific topic – it allowed for an organic process of exploring topics and sharing comments. I also liked the [troikas,] matching up men to get to know one another on their own in the near future….
Steve Rifkin: Great event. What I liked: getting out – seeing familiar faces – meeting new guys – schmoozing – camaraderie – the discussion… The night is about bonding with new people who share a common bond…
David Brooks: A quick note to let you know how much I enjoyed last night’s meeting. Many of the points you raised resonated with me (and I’m sure others). You mentioned something about entering your forties, which really hit home. Many of us in our forties (though our knees and hairlines may betray us) feel young enough to look back at our youth as more recent, rather than ancient, history. Yet the reality is that we’ve likely passed the midpoint of our lives and we can see what’s potentially down the road.… It seems you hit your 40’s and you feel like you’ve developed the wisdom to appreciate the fact that the small things can really be the most important things, and that the things that matter most are the non-material things (another point you made). I also appreciated the opportunity to meet other congregants in similar stations in life (without having to chase after kids or other distractions).
“Men Coming Together to Share Information, Concerns, Solutions and Experiences”
Ben: I really enjoyed socializing and getting to know new people. Everyone was very warm and welcoming. I appreciate the fact that so many people were willing to share. I believe that this is because it felt like a very safe environment where people were not judgmental…. I love the idea of men coming together to share information, concerns, solutions, experiences, etc. This group instantly gave me a sense of belonging and community. I loved it!
Mike Melnick: I thought you gave a beautiful teaching … The ensuing discussion among the guys led to some personal sharing and helped bond the group. It shows how powerful are the themes in the Torah…
David Feinstein: It was nice to see so many new people who turned out… I like to discuss a topic and to peal the onion…
Troikas as a Great Way to Connect
Greg Gutfleisch: I think the whole idea of Men’s Night Out is great. I did enjoy the discussion, but my main objective is to get to know the guys… The troikas are great to have. Over time this will become great and create many friendships… thanks for doing this.
Gary Kramer: The event was very nice, as I got to know the people behind the faces that I had only come to recognize until now… Thank you for a wonderful evening.
Men’s Night Out meets once every 4-5 weeks at a congregant’s home. Participants pay $10/person for dinner and bring a bottle of wine, a six of beer or some soda. It has bonded men together, creating deep friendship and real connections with the rabbi and other congregants. [Incidentally, Congregation Or Ami also sponsors a monthly Women’s Night Out.]