Thursday, February 17, 2005


Last-Minute Stuff...

One day to go!

The good news is that it now looks like we'll have nice weather - if you believe the forecasts, that is. The latest poop from The Weather Channel shows Friday and Saturday as sunny (well, "mostly sunny" on Saturday), with rain moving in on Sunday. Temps will be in the mid- to lower 50's during the day (a little cooler on Sunday), and getting down into the upper 20's - low 30's at night.

Well, we'll have to see what really happens. Bring rain gear, just in case - those of us who came to Anshei Darom Retreat #4 two years ago will not soon forget the sight of the Famous Sweat Hut being swallowed up by the rising tide.

The other good news is that there are still some slots open for massages. Take a look at Hank Needle's e-mail for more details, such as to whom to make the check out, how much, etc., etc.

Those Atlanta-area attendees who wish to carpool should contact Steve Krodman - plan is to meet at Etz Chaim at 12:30 to assign drivers and riders.

This promises to be another great Retreat. See y'all at Ramah!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005


Two Days to Go...

...and we're up to 54 attendees.

Way to go, guys! At this rate, we'll have to set up one of those deli-style "Take-A-Numba" thingies at the entrance to the schvitz!

Thursday, February 10, 2005


Frequently Asked Questions - and Answers

Hey guys - listen up! - we got some Important Stuff to share with y'all!

All is in readiness and we are looking forward to your arrival at camp at beautiful Camp Ramah Darom in the North Georgia mountains next week. Our thanks in advance to the retreat committee for all their hard work.

FJMC At The Retreat:
Now in its 6th year, the Anshei Darom retreat at Camp Ramah has previously been our only regional function. Two years ago at the retreat we formalized the region with bylaws and officers. We continue to work on developing the region into a focused group of clubs sharing "Best Practices." We welcome your input and discussions over the weekend as we raise your spirits and also raise your awareness of the region and its main function - that of being the link between the clubs and our national organization.

We are fortunate to have Stan Schnitzer as our guest this year. He is on the board of the FJMC and is a Past President of the New Jersey region. As you can imagine, that's a lot of yichus to bring to the table. Stan also brings his knowledge of club building and the organization to the retreat. Please make sure you have a chance to say hello to Stan and to speak to him. Of course, we'll also have a perennial favorite, Rabbi Chuck Simon, the FJMC Executive Director, joining us - be sure to give Rav Chuck a big hello, too!

As the Retreat is fast approaching, here are some FAQ's that bear repeating:

How do I get there?
You will receive directions to Camp Ramah via e-mail. They are (mostly) the same as previous years', so if you got lost before, you will probably get lost again. You won't get into too much trouble if you use MapQuest or Yahoo! maps.

What are the emergency phone numbers?
Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now?? Can you hear me now!??!
During Shabbat the phone is off limits. And if that were not enough, cell phones, pagers and satellite phones do not work especially well at Camp Ramah Darom thanks to the remote mountain location. Please tell your loved ones to call the camp only in case of an extreme emergency.

The RAMAH DAROM emergency numbers are 706-782-9410 / 706-782-9400 dining hall. In addition, the on-site coordinator carries an emergency beeper. This number is 706-782-8954.

What should I bring?
First, the basics:

Sense of humor. (You'll need it after seeing the guys running in and out of the Famous Sweat Hut)

Desire to meet new people.

Warm clothes. The long-range weather report is calling for daytime highs in the mid 50's, with sun on Friday giving way to rain on Saturday (ecch), and nighttime temps down to the low 30's Friday. Hopefully, this will change for the better as the Retreat weekend approaches, but at Ramah Darom, you just never know what you're gonna get - hey, that sounds like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates! Two years ago we had everything from rain to sun to snow. Really. So, as always, layers are the way to go...with maybe something water-resistant.

The extremely well-prepared camper will also bring -

Clothing 'n' such:
2 pairs socks
3 pairs underwear (white squeezers or boxers, none of that nasty European stuff please)
2 pairs blue jeans
1 T-shirt
1 Sweatshirt
Shirt with collar (for Shabbat morning)
1 pair hiking shoes
1 pair athletic shoes
Anshei Darom shirt (if you have one)
Anshei Darom sweatshirt (if you have one)
Hat (kipah will be provided, but bring your own fedora, shtreimel, deerstalker cap, or fez. Guys who bring porkpie hats will be turned away at the gate - this is a kosher establishment)
Gloves (see comments on weather, above)
Earmuffs (see comments on weather, above)
Scarf (see comments on weather, above)
Poncho or other rain gear
Pajamas (no nude sleeping please. We don't care what you wear at home, but please give us a break)
Shvitz hut attire

Large towel (optional - the camp will provide towels)
Soap (optional - the camp will provide soap, nothing fancy)
Shampoo (optional - see above comment)
Deodorant (yes, you most definitely do need it - puhleeze!)
Shower shoes

Religious equipment:
Personal siddur, if desired (Camp Ramah Darom is well stocked with Siddur Sim Shalom)

Miscellaneous equipment:
Anti-snoring equipment (Earplugs, clothespins, nose strips, duct tape, and yes, you can bring your CPAP machine)
Booze (rum, gin, whiskey, beer, wine, Slivovitz, Sterno)
Cigars (outside smoking only, after Havdalah)
Flashlight (this is really useful for post-Shabbat stumbling around)
Camera (for campfire and Sunday morning pix, natch)
Reading material

What kind of dump is this?
What kind of a frequently asked question is this? Relax...this is a modern facility despite its location in the heart of the North Georgia Mountains. This ain't no “Tobacco Road,” - there's electricity, running water, showers, and flush toilets. (LOUD flush toilets.) Mit toilet paper.

Will there be beds?
Hell, yes, we got beds. For $180, we give you more than just a schmattah on the floor. In addition to a "comfy" bunk bed, the camp also provides a pillow, linens, a (really thin) blanket and a towel. Bring an extra blanket if you wish..."really thin" means what it says. Hey, dibs on the bottom bunk!

What kind of Shabbat experience will it be?
The Anshei Darom Shabbat experience is everything Shabbat is supposed to be - but too often is not - in our hectic, day-to-day lives. We will be observing Shabbat by not writing, smoking, using electronic devices, and taking photographs. We will wash and say Motzi before all meals and join in Birkat ha-Mazon after all meals. There is an eruv around the camp so you can carry and indulge in various recreational activities, including the all-important Shabbat nap. However, please note that carrying and indulging Alan Sussman is expressly forbidden.

When should I arrive?
Please plan on arriving at camp Friday Feb 18 between 2 and 4 pm.

What, you haven't paid yet? Those who have not yet sent in their money will be contacted. By a very large, hairy person.

Last-minute Charlies:
If you know someone who is undecided, unsure, or uneasy about participating, encourage him to join us. There's still time to register. Just click on the link on the left sidebar - the one that says Retreat Registration - and put your data in. Be sure to include your address, day and evening phone numbers, shirt size, whether you're a Kohen, Levi, or jes' plain folks (Israel), what shul/Men's Club you're from, and what position (if any) you hold. Bring your check for $180 (US funds, payable to FJMC - Southeast Region) to the retreat and make sure you get it to either Hank Needle or Alan Sussman before Shabbat starts.

...are a popular activity for those Shabbat afternoon hours. There are still slots available. To sign up, hurry, hurry, hurry and send an e-mail to Gene Sacks at and let him know whether you want a 30- or 60-minute session. Gene'll let you know the tariff and payment specifics and you can give him a check upon arrival at Camp Ramah (before Shabbat!).

Department of Useless Statistics:
As of right now, we have 52 - count 'em - 52 registered attendees. As usual, Georgia will be very well represented at the Retreat, with 35 Happy Campers. Tennessee is contributing 11 attendees, and North Carolina 3. We also have a few oddballs independent-minded spirits from Florida and Virginia (welcome back, Steve!), not to mention Rabbi Chuck from New York.

As usual, most of us are jes’ plain Yisraelim, but we will be honored by the presence of four Kohanim and five Levi’im. Get that foot wash ready - no, wait, we ain't dukhening this year.

We're looking forward to seeing you in just a few more days. If you have any more pressing questions please ask Hank Needle (, Alan Sussman (, Norm Hamburger (, or Gene Sacks (



Yet More Bios

Here's some more information on a few of the people who will be helping to make this year's Anshei Darom Retreat extra-special...

Rabbi Louis Zivic

Rabbi Louis Zivic was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1976. Since that time he has served congregations in Lansdale, PA; Beverly, MA; and Lebanon, PA before being called to the pulpit of Heska Amuna Synagogue in Knoxville. He is a past president of the North Penn Mnisterium and the Eastern Pennsylvania region of the Rabbinical Assembly. In 2004 the State Legislature of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania awarded him a Legislative Citation for his work on behalf of his community and Lebanon County. In addition to the degree of Master of Arts in Rabbinics, Rabbi Zivic was awarded his Doctor of Divinity degree, honoris causa, in February 2003. He served as the Jewish chaplain at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Lebanon and established the first HIV support group in Lebanon. He was also an adjunct assistant professor of Religion and Philosophy at Lebanon Valley College. His most recent article, "A Winter's Tale," appeared in the fall 2003 edition of Women's League "Outlook." He has one child, a son, Jonathan.

Cantor Joel Fox

Cantor Joel Fox grew up in Dallas, Texas in an enthusiastic home filled with a love of Judaism and music. As a young boy, he demonstrated a great deal of interest in music and singing. His early studies included playing the piano, singing in theater groups, and learning solfege.

At age fourteen, Joel and his family moved to Israel. After completing his studies at the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem, Cantor Fox attended the Israel Institute of Cantorial Art where he learned with internationally known cantors such as Naftali Hershtik, Eli Jaffe and Moshe Stern. From 1989 until 1992 Cantor Fox served in the Israel Defense Force as a member of their acclaimed Rabbinical Army Choir.

In 1992 Cantor Fox moved back to the United States and became the Cantor at the Jacksonville Jewish Center in Jacksonville, Florida. He is currently the Cantor of Congregation Ahavath Achim in Atlanta, Georgia.

Throughout his career, Cantor Fox has traveled and given concerts across the globe for a variety of audiences. As an accomplished pianist and entertainer, Cantor Fox's repertoire includes traditional and contemporary music in English, Hebrew, Yiddish and Ladino. With his father Rabbi Edward Fox, who is also a Cantor, he recorded "Cantors Fox Together." Cantor Fox has recently completed his latest CD, "Oh Say Shalom," and is currently working on another production. He rides a "Challah" Davidson motorcycle - but not on Shabbat.

Monday, February 07, 2005


Detailed Retreat Schedule

Guys, here's the nitty-gritty lowdown on the events for Retreat Weekend. Questions? Leave a comment and we'll get back to you!

Anshei Darom University - February 18-19-20, 2005

Friday, February 18

1:00 - 2:00 pm
Alan Sussman sets up the Famous Sweat Hut at the Camp Fire by the Lake.

2:00 - 4:30 pm
We arrive at camp. Registration is at the Chadar Ochel (lower level of the Levine Ramah Center). That's where we'll pick up our participant packages, including whatever "goodies" Sussman has lined up for us this year. Depending on when everyone shows up, we'll have time to greet old friends and move into our cabins.

While we're checking in, snack food will be available at the Chadar Ochel.

4:45 - 5:00 pm
We return to Chadar Ochel - if we're not there already.

5:00 - 5:15 pm
Orientation/Welcome at the Chadar Ochel, at which time we'll introduce the FJMC officers attending the Retreat.

5:15 - 6:00 pm
The Nashville boys will conduct an Icebreaker at the Chadar Ochel.

6:07 pm
Shabbat starts.

6:07 - 7:00 pm
Rabbi Chuck Simon conducts Kabbalat Shabbat Services at the Chadar Ochel.

7:00 - 7:45 pm
We go upstairs for Shabbat Dinner. Cantor Joel Fox will lead us in Birkat Ha-Mazon and z'mirot.

8:00 - 9:30 pm
Back downstairs for a presentation by Dr. Norm Hamburger on Men's Health Issues, followed by a group discussion.

9:30 - 9:45 pm
We return to our cabins for an evening of schmoozing, at which various adult beverages may be consumed. No cigars, though - save 'em for after Shabbat.

Saturday, February 19

8:00 - 9:00 am
We drag our butts out of bed and head over to Chadar Ochel (upper level) for breakfast, followed by Birkat Ha-Mazon.

9:00 - 11:45 am
Shabbat Morning Services at Chadar Ochel (lower level), including a d'var Torah on "Facing Sinai."

11:45 am - 1:15 pm
When services are over, we go upstairs to have lunch. Cantor Joel Fox leads us in Birkat Ha-Mazon and z'mirot.

1:15 – 2:15 pm
FJMC Presentation at the Amphitheatre, conducted by Stan Schnitzer, the FJMC Director of Training.

2:30 - 3:30 pm
Rabbinic Presentation by Rabbi Zivic.

3:30 - 5:30 pm
Leisure time. Play basketball, take a hike to the beautiful Ramah Darom waterfall, take a Shabbat power nap. If you like, sit in on a Club Building session with Stan Schnitzer, or study with Rabbi Zivic.

2:45 - 5:30 pm
Massage therapy, for those who have made advance arrangements with Gene Sacks ( Location to be announced.

5:30 - 6:00 pm
We regroup for Minchah at Chadar Ochel, lower level.

6:00 - 6:30 pm
Seudah Sh'lishit (Shabbat evening meal), upper level.

6:30 - 7:30 pm
Dr. Gene Sacks presents the FJMC program on Keruv. Chadar Ochel, lower level.

7:30 - 8:00 pm
Ma'ariv, lower level, followed by Havdalah at the Camp Fire site.

8:00 - 12:00 midnight
"The Famous Sweat Hut" and Camp Fire. Bring your favorite drinkables and smokables. Cigars, anyway. Don't get any ideas.

Da Needle Boyz (Ben, Mark, and Hank) will provide entertainment and general troublemaking. We'll also have a pizza and ice cream feast. Hmmm. Ice cream on pizza?

12:00 midnight (or thereabouts)
Return to cabins.

Sunday Morning, February 20

8:30 - 9:15 am
Shacharit Service at Chadar Ochel, lower level - or by the lake, weather permitting.

9:15 - 9:45 am
Breakfast at Chadar Ochel, upper level, followed by Birkat Ha-Mazon.

9:15 - 10:45 am
Power Breakfast for the Region Officers and Club Presidents with Stan Schnitzer. Regional elections. Chadar Ochel, upper level.

10:45 - 11:00 am
Closing message by the FJMC Staff and Officers. Chadar Ochel, upper level.

11:30 am
We gather to say our farewells, plant the annual tree, and take group photos. (Chadar Ochel, outside) Time to hit the road for home!

Friday, February 04, 2005


Huge Crowds Expected... this year's Retreat!

Hank Needle informs me that, as of right now, we have 47 confirmed attendees. And there might even be more, lurking amongst the devious nooks and crannies of his impossible-to-decipher spreadsheet.

With two weeks to go, there's still time to sign up, so tell your friends! Time's a-wastin', podnuh!

The not-so-few, the proud...the Men of the South!

[Update: 49!]


Bios? We Got Bios

Because you can never know too much about the people you might find yourself next to in the Famous Sweat Hut™...

we are pleased to present this (mercifully) brief biographical sketch of (ta-daaah)

Norman Hamburger, MD

Currently President of Anshei Darom, the southeast region of FJMC, Norm lives in Brentwood, TN, a suburb of Nashville, with his wife of 25 years, Rinah, and his 3 children, Jacob (17), Sarah (12) and Daniel (12). He attends West End Synagogue, where he has served as a member of the Board of Trustees and is a former president of the Men’s Club. A former Youth Commission Leader, he was also an NCSY youth leader in college. [Liked leadin’ them youth, he did.]

Norm is a graduate of Queens College, CUNY and received his medical degree from the University of Louisville. He is a practicing physician in the specialty of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He is a first generation American; both of his parents were refugees from Nazi Germany. His hobbies include playing with his computer; Science Fiction; reading action/adventure novels; and traveling to Israel. He is active in local Israel advocacy programs.

Oh, yeah. Rinah reminded him to add that, for a change, next year’s retreat will not be on the third weekend in February - because that’s the weekend of his twins’ B’nai Mitzvah. Way to go, Sarah and Daniel!

Tuesday, February 01, 2005


Retreat -O-Gram #2

OK, yes - it's another one of those witty and humorous e-mails from the Retreat Committee, presented for your enjoyment here as a blogpost.

Registration Fees

Let's get this one out of the way first. If you've already sent in your check, just read on for sheer enjoyment.

Please send in your payment for the retreat now. Not "tomorrow," not "whenever," but now. My wife doesn't like me when I am anxious, and I am approaching critical mass at the moment. So, to make her happy (and me less anxious) , please send your payment to:

Hank Needle
3784 Brown Owl Ct
Marietta, GA 30062

Your check for $180 should be made payable to FJMC - Southeast Region.

This is a group request...for now. The next one will be individualized. Please don't make me call in my secret weapon, Larry Travis (ex Miami cop and bill collector extraordinaire). Larry is a great guy with a really gravelly-sounding sweet voice that will really motivate you to make that payment.


Keep checking this blog for more information on the Retreat. We'll be posting all kinds of good information on what to bring, etc., etc.

Story Time

Be prepared with a Defining Moment story for the campfire and be ready for an all-around good time!


We are contacting the Weather Channel and asking for a long range forecast, but let me assure you, there will be weather. Lots of weather. Make no bones about it, it will be there when you get there, and we will deal with it: whether it's good weather or bad weather we will weather the weather...whether or not. Whatever.

Please hope for beautiful weather and come prepared for a great time no matter what the weather is...

Staff Addition

We are pleased to announce that Rabbi Louis Zivic of Heska Amuna Synagogue in Knoxville, TN will be joining us as one of our scholars-in-residence and will be participating in our program during the weekend. He will be adding to our knowledge and will be helping to make this one of the best retreats ever. Rabbi Zivic will be joining our other presenters: Rabbi Chuck Simon; Cantor Joel Fox; Norm Hamburger, our Men's Health Issues session leader; Gene Sacks, our Keruv Program session leader; and Stan Schnitzer, our FJMC session leader.


So far, the weekend looks like this from a state perspective:

1 from New York
1 from Florida

45 from North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia

We may even take our Northern brethren snipe huntin'.

As you can see, y'all are in for one heck of a weekend.

Looks like we got them Yanks outnumbered. Looking forward to seeing you all!

Norm and Hank

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