We had a program Sunday night on Alcoholism in the Jewish Community [audio available here]. The speakers were credentialed, the flyer was attractive, but the turnout was not great (25-30 people).
Let me re-phrase: Those who turned out were great. But not many turned out.
There are many 'external' reasons we didn't have a strong showing, including:
* Father's Day
* Nice weather on a Sunday evening in June
* The program was not announced in many shuls [although it was Facebooked and tweeted, and there were flyers in many shuls]
In truth, I knew about the logistical challenges with our date and our publicity in advance, but the subject is important to me. I fear that Jewish communities enable addiction to alcohol. We provide wine and liquor at our tables and in our synagogues, we make people uncomfortable in refusing it, we often glorify it. We provide a convenient and comfortable place for people to drink, and we do all of that around our children. So I wanted this program, and I couldn't get any other date/time, so this was it.
But was it really just a case of bad timing, or weak PR? Given that JACS Toronto hosts programs serving hundreds of people each week, shouldn't we have been able to attract more attendees?
Might we be ducking the issue?
Might it be that:
* The topic is frightening?
* We think that by showing up at this sort of program, we might be broadcasting that we have a problem ourselves, or in our families?
* We want to think alcholism is someone else's problem, and so we dismiss anything with the word 'alcoholism' like we dismiss anything with the words 'Bosnia-Herzegovina'?
Do your communities get a better showing for this sort of program - and other than immediately after a specific, addiction-related catastrophe takes place?