ROMEOS: Building Community One Meal At A Time
From the October 2015 Temple Bulletin:

The Retired Old Men Eating Out guys, contrary to their name, do more than dine together. Beyond the socializing at a different restaurant every other week, the ROMEOs regularly collect tzedakah and for three years running have chaired the Temple’s annual Break-the-Fast.

Richard Manalis, who co-chaired last month’s Yom Kippur event with Norm Greenberg, said the ROMEOs feel they are helping the Temple function by providing an opportunity for our congregants to experience community while eating delicious food.

“At one of our lunches, I recounted my fond memories of past Break-the-Fasts -- when (Past President) Linda Kaplan was involved -- and recalled the golden brown blintzes,” he said. “Then Chuck (Replane) suggested the ROMEOs take on the challenge of sponsoring and creating the event. The rest is history.”

Chuck notes that Rabbi Cattapan, who often joins the group for lunch, originally asked the ROMEOs to consider preparing the traditional meal. Once they agreed, camaraderie came along with the culinary duties.

About 21 men, mostly retired and all Temple members, are part of the ROMEOs, with about 8-10 usually attending lunch on a given week. The group began four years ago.

Since the Temple does not have a Men’s Club, Chuck organized the group as an opportunity for Jewish men age 65 and older to share experiences, stories, and jokes, as well as to help each other out when there was a need and to support worthy causes with their tzedakah.

Rich said that each ROMEO contributes about $2 or $3 per lunch, with the monies used to cover the expenses for the Break-the-Fast. The ROMEOs were formally recognized by the Temple board in September as an “affiliated” organization. While the ROMEOs remain autonomous, the dollars they raise are kept in a fund at the Temple for specific purposes, such as the Break-the-Fast. What other events might the ROMEOs host in the future?

“No one really knows,” said Rich, who also serves as the Temple’s Membership Committee chair. “There has been some talk of a spaghetti dinner for the Temple. The feeling that most of us have is that, since we are retired, we want to sponsor events that we truly believe in and that we would enjoy doing.”