The guys knew the drill. Crowd up to the tables where they were pouring the whisky, then fill up on beef ribs and fried chicken while talking above the din of 500 other male voices. Last, listen to some words of Torah to tie the whole thing together with Passover, just a week away.
That’s been the game plan for seven years at Guys Night Out, Beth Sholom Congregation’s celebration of appetites both Jewish and bro-ish. Sunday’s installment drew visitors from far beyond the Orthodox synagogue’s home base in Potomac.
“There’s a bus coming in from Baltimore with 30 people,” said a guy in line, waiting for the synagogue’s doors to open.
Not having to drive home will “increase the volume” of drink “you can take in,” his friend mused.
Inside the honeycomb of social halls where the guys were pressing in, Michael Whitlin stood at the end of a long bar-height table with a bunch of guys he had brought from Temple Isaiah in Fulton. A sign on the tabletop read, “Howard County Jewish Guys.”
“It’s not something we do ordinarily,” he said, leaning close to be heard. “Everybody likes scotch, but you can drink anywhere. This is a chance to do it and identify as Jews. There’s an energy here. Can you feel it?”
Guys called the energy camaraderie. They called it community. Male bonding. Andy Shore, who bought a table as part of the event’s fundraising component, compared it to Passover. “This is a seder — sharing a meal for the purpose of learning,” he said.
And you were highly encouraged to give: to donate used clothing and sporting equipment, to proffer a Benjamin Franklin and buy raffle tickets to support the synagogue. And there was swag. Many wore their 2017 GNO kippah as they sampled the whisky.
Organizers picked a theme, Heroes, and invited emergency responders who fought fires in Israel, and Jewish military personnel.
Michael Goldfarb has attended every year. This time, he brought along his future father-in-law. “It’s become very much a tradition,” he said. “The scotch, the food, the learning. Coming back, I see friends, parents of friends. There’s a casual energy.”