You have to become part of the fabric of the Jewish community. Put your hat in the ring, and show up big. That is how you earn trust & grow your business. Listen to this podcast with Dennis Bernard, President of the Detroit United Jewish Foundation. He is the founder, president, and CEO of Michigan's largest commercial mortgage banking and servicing firm, Bernard Financial.
For opportunities to get involved, check out the Federation website: https://jewishdetroit.org/about/partner-agencies/
What do you care about? The Jewish Foundation encompasses all types of organizations from education to mental health, to senior living, to vocational training for those with disabilities, to camp, there is something for everyone. Figure out what you genuinely care about, and get involved there.
Join Pat Blackwell here every week, where you, the BEST vendors, expand your wedding business into this lucrative Jewish market. By understanding the traditions & vocabulary, you will build TRUST and GROW your business. Cha Ching
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Hello there and welcome to episode number 10 of the book more Jewish weddings podcast with Pat Blackwell. Today, one of the longtime volunteers in the Jewish community is here to talk about how important it is to get involved as a volunteer, put your hat in the ring and show up big. He says the key is to become part of the very fabric of the Jewish community. I can't wait to share today's podcast with you. If you know anything about the Jewish community in the Detroit area, then likely you've heard the name Dennis Bernard. Dennis is the founder and CEO of Michigan's largest commercial mortgage banking and servicing firm, Bernard financial. But today we're talking with Dennis in his role as a community volunteer. Dennis Bernard is currently the president of the united Jewish foundation. According to a recent article in the Detroit Jewish news, that foundation is the steward of the Detroit Jewish community's money and assets totaling more than $450 million, including real estate assets and community endowment funds. Dennis is here today to talk about three things. One, how the Jewish community was formed, how you can get involved in the Jewish community, and most importantly, why getting involved would be very good for your business. So let's dig right in. Hello there, Dennis. Welcome back to the book Mormon Jewish weddings podcast, I'm so excited to have you join me here. So I'm just always excited to anytime I have a chance to work with you talk with you share with you. You're such a professional. So anything I can contribute, happy to help. Thank you. I've had the pleasure of working with your family over the years. And it's always a good time. But today I'm calling you not because you're a client, I'm calling because you are very much of a mainstay in the Jewish community. And I would love to, first of all, tell us a little bit about your background, what you do and why you're this hero in the Jewish community. But then tell us what you do. Hero these days is left for people who are on the front lines, dealing with some of the crisis in our community. I'm just the back. I'm just the backstop. No short story. I grew up in Cleveland. I've been up in Detroit now for 3536 years. I've been happily married or so she tells me to the lovely had a wonderful kids. Now I have a fourth now that you were you were there for our wealth. We're there for the bar mitzvahs, you were there for the wedding. So now I have four we're expecting a grandchild on the way which Oh, exciting. I know, which makes putting up with a three kids worth it. Like, I can't wait for that. I started my own business. Bernard Financial Group of commercial mortgage banking firm is one man operation. 31 years ago, we grew to be the largest here in Michigan and one of the largest in the Midwest. We're a national firm. And that's allowed me to spend a great deal of my time also giving back to the community. Besides sitting on multiple foundation boards, agency boards, I'm the current president of the united Jewish foundation. And that means there's when people talk about Jewish Federation, there's Jewish Federation and Jewish foundation that they're related. So it's kind of like co presidency, Matt Laster My dear friend and powerhouse and, and community activists, extraordinary is the president of Federation, President foundation. So we're together. That means we are the CO presidents of the umbrella organization for most, but not all, but many of our Jewish agencies here in Detroit. And that there's, there's, there's schools, there's human service agencies, there's hillels on campuses, there's there's all kinds of outreach programs to the synagogues and to the temples. And, and we also in our work with non Federation agencies that do wonderful things, but we weren't together like Yad Ezra, and Kadima and Tarkin, and things like that. You're saying all these things like we know what those are. But all that matters is all that matters. Those are easy to figure out and we can help people with that. But all that matters is the Jewish community is truly an incredibly well organized community. We support each other. We have a lot of fundraising events, we have a lot of educational events. We have a lot of events where they're not fundraising, but they're fun. Our friend raising as they call it, and I'm the current one of the current co presidents so I don't know if that makes I doubt that makes me a hero. That just makes me someone who spends a great deal of time trying to help others. That's huge. I grew up very Catholic and in the Catholic world There's the church. And that's about it. But in the Jewish world, I'm incredibly amazed at how the Jewish community takes care of itself. And the people who are listening to this podcast are probably photographers, videographers, vendors, who understand weddings and understand that there are such things as bar mitzvahs. But they don't know about this whole amazing Jewish world, or how it can help them in their business. So I would love to have you speak on that a little bit. We were forced to create all these agencies have in our own world, because a long time ago, Jews were not allowed to participate necessarily. We had to have our own hospitals, our own senior housing facilities, we didn't have places where we can necessarily go now all that has changed. But what because like barriers have been broken down so we can go anywhere. But we built up a remarkable infrastructure of taking care of our own. And then now many of these agencies, because they receive government money, they're non secular, then we take care of the Jewish community and the non-secular general community. But but but unlike the Catholic community, or the Lutherans, where there's one thing we have all of these agencies and why that's important is we also because of our history, and because we've been our people have been around too long. We have a lot of holidays to celebrate Hanukkah, believe it or not, but not even does not even make the top 10 most important holidays. We'd like to celebrate because our people have been through some difficult times, too. We like to celebrate, we celebrate everything. We have celebrations of birth, whether it's the baby naming for the girls, or the or the breast, we also have sector. We have sexual stuff. Now we have we have, you know, what's it when you announce the sex of the baby? Oh, yeah, we, but we have to know is the baby name that what is it the reveal? reveal? Right? Right? Well, nowadays, you're only revealing until they reveal at 16. But that's so we have another party then. We have those we have the bar and Bat Mitzvahs. We have, we have confirmations when we finish sooner God, schools and so forth. We have graduations, we'd love to throw parties. So high school graduations college graduations, then then of course, there's the weddings. And then we start all over again. And we also are not afraid. When we have sadness, to have something for when when people pass when we have when we have our shiver or condolences. someone passes? Life is for the living. We'd like to get together and rejoice and live and remember the people's memories and their lives. So we get together that so there's so many touch points. How do you become part of that? Exactly. We're, that's really a part of our culture. How do you become part of that? Well, you can become friends with Pat and pat can recommend you. But we're also very opinionated. We have earned that reputation they just see sometimes made fun of on TV. And so we've we've earned that because we're willing to pay, but we want what, what we want and we want to a certain way. So one of the ways and Pat, you know this, we've had lots of events with you. One of the ways you have to become part of the community, part of the fabric of the Jewish community. So how do you do that? Not necessarily by trying to immediately get into do the big weddings, or the big bar mitzvahs. But the way you get to be is part of our community. That means you start doing things for Federation agency lunches and dinners and breakfasts and events, you start doing them for the eight whether it's for Federation, the umbrella, which has names, or all these agencies, so go on to Federation's website, Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, click and see all the sister agencies and reach out to them. Actually, as part of this podcast in the show notes, I'll be posting that partnership arrangement that you have with all those agencies, reach out to the synagogues and the temples. Because many times that's where we're hosting them. And that, you know, over the years, the das and I have gotten photographers or, or, or, or valet parking or, or we see balloons or we see table settings and we say we like these we reach out to these people. We want them because baby, they got involved at a discount to provide services, but that's how they get recognized. Believe me when I tell you at every event There's an undercurrent of who did the flowers. Who's the who's doing that. It was a beautiful video, but I never saw that we don't want to, nobody ever wants to see the person doing the video, but they want the videographer and everything. Good luck doing that. But they noticed that at events, I because we have so many lifestyle events that are constantly, couples are constantly looking at what what, what they want to do. So you have to become fall in love. That means you do things a discounts to break in, and to start to spread your word. That many ways that's even more valuable than advertising or putting out a card or so forth. We have we got for the wedding. For the for Joshua and Stacy's wedding. We heard that beautiful tree out there played during the reception, and during the ceremony actually had found that at a Jewish event, we were at a fundraising dinner for some of our agency organizations. And they loved the way the music was nice. And they just had the right feel the right look. And they played it the right volume level that people could hear him but he had talked all these things that he cares about. I was more interested in the liquor, but all the things that she cares about. But that's how we selected them. And and they had been fairly new to and so we got them from a Jewish program. That's how to become you've got that's how you're seeing and BC. And that's how you get introduced. And that's huge. Tell me something they shouldn't do. If I want to break into this Jewish market, tell me sometime when you've seen somebody do something totally foolish and said, No, that's not how we work? Great question. It's a great question. One, when you're doing a community event, it's the community of that it's the reason you're there, you don't you have to have some level of subtlety of why you're doing it, you don't come out and say, we know why you're there, you're there to support the community. That's why you're there, not to build your business, you're there to support feeding people in a time, right, helping to raise money to feed the feed people or for the homeless, or people with developmental disabilities. But if you if you were to out there, I'm doing this because I want to get your business. That is a huge bozo. No, now, it will be picked up rather quickly. And the other thing, the other thing, if you commit to do something we have seen we have seen very good party support vendors really hurt themselves. But if they commit to do an event, and something else comes along, that may make more money and they cancel, you're going to get cancelled from the community, the word will go around. Because the people who put these events together, they'll tell everybody don't hire so and so they backed out on us. And in 48 hour notice we have to get someone else. Those are the two big Does that make sense? Those are huge. And I totally understand that this Jewish community, and I love this about him. It's what's made me so successful, and in this community is a very tight knit group and referrals mean everything in this community. Pat, your business is huge. Because you're a pro you do what you say you're going to do. But how your referral, your referral. It's our referral, all referrals people come up. And when we started, when we started with the bar and Bob metso circuit, who are these red coat, ladies, they're everywhere. And and we got, we were explained, they, here's everything that they they do. And you always did. And that's how we got it not from an ad right now from it was by I saw you an ad at our agency and synagogue functions we saw you at other people's. And that's how, and we've given your name out to so many others. I love that and the checks in the mail. But the flip side is, if you don't deliver Exactly. It gets passed around just just as quickly. But my piece of advice, I got to keep coming back to find a way you know, you don't want to lose money, of course, because we're all in business. But you want to find a way to start getting somehow involved in our fundraising programs. And there's so many. And right now, obviously, you can't do it for COVID. But we're already starting to plan for the fall and the winter to have real events again, and their outdoor events. And right well we're talking the big events again. The bigger ones. Now we may not pack 1000 people into a crowded room. Come come come October but we're going to start having you No, no bigger events and bigger fundraising and outside. And it'll be a chance for vendors to become part of our fabric. So I'm hearing from you be genuine, be genuinely interested in getting involved in the community. Don't just say, I want to I have to do this. Ask when you when you do a program for a federation or agency or a synagogue, ask learn about it, care about it. When you're there that notice the function. Talk about how wonderful this is and meaning. It's contagious. So tell me, pick your favorite. Not your favorite but still me one example of a organization that has big fundraisers. That is a way that needs a videographer that needs a decorator that needs a florist that needs a cater, where I can't pick favorites because I'm the CO president of all of them been asked and I have are the only husband and wife who are past presidents of the same Jewish Agency. And that's, that's JVS Human Service Agency. Okay. JV JVS does have a special place. I was the one who founded their big Jewish vocational service. It's located in Southfield for vocational needs to help people, women to work programs, displays to homemakers, all kinds of things like that. Developmental Disabilities, chronic mental illness. It's a $30 million Human Service Agency. It's remarkable. I founded their big Summer Program at ask when she was president founded their big winner program. So we have a team and they have all kinds of small stuff. So that's one of them. But that's that works. Oh, you know who else you should do? Somebody should do. They should reach out and develop a relationship with the the Jewish country clubs. There would be Norwood and Franklin hills, because we have a lot of our community events there. So the party planner, you know, each of those has a Kate had a catering and party, Taylor center as well. Right. cover what Thomas enter famous theater as well. Exactly. And he should reach out because like at Farina at, at Norwood. You we do say like, who would be good for this, sir. Yep. I think those are wonderful ways to break into this market. So the whole podcast is how to get more Jewish weddings. But Jewish parties in general are what we love to do. I mean, I this community is so incredibly generous and such a fabulous place. I'm just thrilled with my clients. And I want to spread that. I can tell you for a fact that we got we got our florist who's done. Gosh knows how many events for us big and small. Whether it's a mother's day, or it's a or it's the weddings or the bar bar mitzvahs, or, or Shabbos, or whatever week we originally found Bruce, at a at a Jewish community fundraising event and had awesome the flowers, the orchestra, she's used a couple of the enact the orchestra, but the you know, the small ensemble, I know decorations. Yep. Put Ascot from a JVS event. So and then we keep them add and then other people see him and why come but that happens. Terrific. Okay, well, I love all this advice. And there's lots and lots of opportunities to get involved in the community. And I hear you loud and clear. Don't just put your head in the ring and disappear. Put your head in the ring and show up big be there do what you say you were going to do and more and learn from it and word will get around. And and and I truly mean it. Just mean it seems like a reasonable thing. Awesome. Not that hard. Okay, so if you had one piece of advice to give some new vendor whether a videographer photographer or a caterer, then you about how to get in this market. You got one strong thing you want to tell him? We've seen one of the you know, COVID has been difficult for everyone. Yeah. But we've also seen the good side of people. Think about it, forget the politics, forget everything. People have really been there for other people. Our hearts have gone out for people. So that reminds us That we are here as a community. So my advice to someone who wants to break in? What What do you care about? We've all had to think about that. What do you care about? Is it the homeless? Is it food? Is it developmentally disabled? Is it chronic mental illness? Is it the unemployed? Is it what is it? Is it you at rescues? Figure out what that is. And then go on Federation's website, see who's doing it, and approach that agency. Because if you care about that, if that's something that resonates with you, let them know, I want to be here to be part of it. Because this is something that's personally supported to me, whether it's a family member, or, or an experience I had or something. And that will, if you're genuine, to use your word, which perfect it will come through to to that agency, and you'll get an opportunity and then deliver. And it grows from there. Terrific. I love it. makes great sense to me. And I totally buy into all of that. And it's good for you. Thank you for being here today and talking to us about all of these important things. Is there anything else you would like to talk to us about? photographers, everybody, stay safe, keep smiling at. And remember, we're all in this together. And when we get out of it, this time trying to remember that we were all in it together. So let's stay together. Terrific. Thank you very much, Dennis. I so appreciate your time and talking with us today. And you're amazing. Pat, you're just thanks for all you've done for our family. Take care. I love being part of your family, Eric and looking forward to more we do know how to party. Absolutely. And that's another thing about this Jewish community. You throw some incredible parties, and we know it. We know how to wait. We know how to crack open the checkbook. Alright, thank you very much, Dennis. Take care. Take care. Goodbye, Pat. Well, thank you for listening. When I think of Dennis's advice, I hear four things loud and clear. Number one, put your hat in the ring and show up big time. Number two, many of my clients find their vendors at Jewish charity events. So get involved. They are a tight knit group. And referrals are light gold. Number three, if you don't deliver that word spreads fast that gets passed around the community just like referrals do. Number four, you have to become part of the very fabric of the Jewish community. The Detroit foundation funds all kinds of organizations, from teens to schools to mental health to seniors, to those with disabilities to camp. So you have to ask yourself, What do you care about? Where can you genuinely show up? The key word here is genuine. You might be able to fake it for a little while, but that won't left. What do you genuinely care about? That's where you should get involved. I hope you enjoyed this episode. This podcast is all about how we can help each other better serve our Jewish clients. Are there some specific words or customs that you don't understand in this Jewish party world? Send me an email or join the Jewish party Maven, vendor rockstars private Facebook group. I really want to hear from you. Alright, let's wrap this up. For an amazing list of partner agencies in the Jewish community in Detroit. Go to the show notes at Jewish party Maven comm slash 10. If you would like to learn more, follow me on Facebook or Instagram at Jewish party Maven. If you want to learn about my party management business, check out the red coat ladies camp.com. We specialize in bar and Bat Mitzvahs and weddings. And we'd love to help you have a stress free party. As usual, I'm going to ask for your thoughts and feedback about the show. Leave me a review. I'd really appreciate it. And then join me next week when we learn another Jewish wedding word. You'll be one word closer to booking your next Jewish party. In the meantime, think about how you can genuinely get involved in this amazing Jewish community. It can truly help grow your business. Thanks for listening