Happy Birthday, Hevria

One year ago, we finally all got together.  We dreamers.

A world was about to be created, but none of us had any idea exactly how it would turn out.

All we really knew were a few things:

1. We loved each other.  We had started a “secret” Facebook group just for the Hevria bloggers, and for the two weeks before we launched we got to know each other.  There was instant chemistry and love.

2. We were burning up inside.  We had something we all each felt we needed to share, and we couldn’t wait to finally let it loose.

3. We knew that we were not alone in our love and our burning.  We knew there were others out there.  How many, we didn’t know.  Would they care enough to join up with us?  Who knew.  But we wanted to meet them.  And we wanted them to join the very short love we had already built between each other.


It’s exactly one year later.  We’ve gone from dreamers to livers.  We’ve written for one year straight, most of us.  Some have left, some have joined, but the point is that here we are.  Here we are.  One year later.

And so much has happened.  They say that day by day, we don’t always see the changes that are happening in front of our eyes.  Then we wake up, and suddenly everything is inside out, is upside down, is completely turned around into a world of utter difference from those day-by-day days.

Today is the day I look up, and I think the day perhaps other Hevria writers look up, and maybe even some of you readers look up… and realize that it’s all changed.  It’s the beginning of the change, of course.  But we’ve gone from zero to one, the most significant change of all.

We’ve entered a world that we dreamers had just seen in our minds’ eyes, but even then couldn’t totally imagine.

Today, we are on the threshold of not just empowering writers, but musicians, filmmakers, and educators.

More important, we are building a movement and a community that are devoted to something that has been breaking my heart, and I know many others, for years: the factionalism within the Jewish people.  The agenda-bearers and the political standard-bearers.


I’ve been trying for ages to define what Hevria’s goal is.  I still have trouble with it.  It’s something that seems to come more from my soul than from an about page, a statement of purpose, a business plan…

I sat down with someone recently, and it was actually he who said it, something that when you hear it, you know immediately is the emes, is the truth.

He said, “It’s about inside-out.”

Inside out.  No wonder I had trouble verbalizing it.  The whole point of Hevria, the whole point of what we’re doing and who we’re trying to connect to, is that what defines us in our creative spiritual expressivity is our utter determination for our work to be inside-out.

Inside-out means from the soul to the heart to the head to the mouth (or pen or computer or guitar or camera).  It means celebrating uniqueness.  It means dancing to the rhythm, not of our drummer, but of God’s drumbeat that reverberates through all those different vessels, like prisms, until our particular color comes out.

Which is why we’re pained by the outside-in world.  The world that says, “First believe this, think this, wear this, say this, join this, fight those guys, insult that worldview, critique that voice… then you have value.”


[sc name="ad-300x600"]

You have value already.  That’s all Hevria is here to say.  You have value and we want to hear you (as long as you respect everyone else’s value as well).

Ironically, this is what has caused us to sometimes create controversy on our site.  We don’t, we won’t, do something unless it comes from the inside.  And so some people see us as Haredi, uber-religious, “fanatics”.  Others see us as a danger to the orthodox world, a subversive, destructive voice that doesn’t toe the “frum” line.

Which is all to say that we have succeeded.  To be inside-out means that no one can define you because you have realized you are beyond definition.  Even if you’re a black-hat-wearer (who just happens to write about video games and transgender identity) or a proudly single agnostic (who tours different religions to try and find God).


I am… so proud.  So proud of the writers here.  They’ve built something incredible.  They’ve taken Hevria’s mission, felt the indefinability of it (and themselves) and went to work.  Completely and utterly for free.  Just out of the need to live the mission.

It’s a year later.  And we are entering this new age, this new moment.  We’ve done incredible things, written unbelievable things (Oh, Rachel, the way your heart is smattered all over the page.  Oh Salvador, the way your positivity and wisdom shine through each letter you write.  Oh Saul, the way your darkness somehow glows with blinding light.

And my Lord, the comments.  The community.  Rebecca Odessa, the only person I’ve ever seen turn online comments into art.  Ilona Fried, the angel who always has a positive word to share.  Yosef Werner, the artist who has faced so much but is building himself up every second, inspiring all of us who read his wise words. (So much more, I wish I had the time, the space).


Hevria right now is a place of sacrifice, where people are giving of themselves because there are no big donors here, no nameless institutions supporting us (although one named one that has changed everything: ROI).

I am so thankful, but I know it isn’t sustainable.  People shouldn’t have to write for free.  Filmmakers shouldn’t have to give us “better” rates just because we have a mission.

At the same time, we should strive to be as indepent as we possibly can.  And so, this upcoming year will be about turning this mission into a machine.  A self-sustaining ecosystem that allows us to build with strength.  Where our only sacrifice is putting our souls on the line, and the emotional cost of building a movement that makes people uncomfortable and scared.


I’m devoting myself to that goal this year, as you may have read.  That’s what the Indiegogo campaign is about, that’s what the changes and additions we’re making are about.

The goal may succeed.  It may not.

But I know one thing.  Inside-out is here to stay.  If Hevria fell apart tomorrow, the voices within it wouldn’t stop speaking and the movement would continue.  Hevria is simply what I consider to be an efficient, powerful way to make that movement happen more quickly, more powerfully, more forcefully.

But the movement is happening to Judaism whether it likes it or not.  Our invisible community is coming out of the woodwork.  Our voices will speak loudly and clearly and with less and less fear as we band together.

Just one year has already brought about so much.  Just imagine what’s going to happen over the next one.


Final note to those who read to the bottom: We’ve reached our second goal of $12,000 in our Indiegogo campaign.  We’ve set a new goal: $14,000.  And we only have two days left.  If we reach it, expect another three months of the Hevria Sessions, this time featuring a concert.  We also hope to be able to fund a documentary series, not just one-off docs.  And if you give and we reach our goal, we’ll provide you with a video collection of some of our writers reading their work to you on camera.

Go to our Indiegogo campaign now and please contribute, share, or comment.  We love you all from the bottom of our hearts, and are so thankful for what’s been given up until now.  We’ve got two days left.  Let’s make the best of it.