It was years ago, who even knows when. My blog Pop Chassid was starting to roll a bit, and I was noticing a small community forming around it, and similar communities around the web. Small, but vocal and full of heart.
I like to call these communities “invisible communities”. They come from a group of people have the same burning feeling in their hearts, but with no physical place to connect with others who share the same emotions. They think they are alone.
And then the internet came around, and suddenly everyone realized they weren’t alone. The atheists of the world, perhaps unable to express their point of view for fear of being ostracized from their communities, could suddenly connect with every atheist in the world. Now they’re the fastest-growing community in America.
I saw that community forming at the time. Jewish artists, creatives, spiritual seekers. People who didn’t believe in the age-old, arbitrarily drawn up, divisions of days past. I didn’t have a name for the community yet. But I knew: one day, we’d have to do something more. We’d need to group together. And so I waited for it to grow bigger, for us to be more cohesive, for us to find each other through the almost-spiritual power of the intangible internet.
And it happened.
It was almost exactly a year ago now. I had finally gotten up the nerve to start building the movement I had dreamt of all those years ago. It took a rupture between me and the company I was working for, and my leaving it, for me to find the nerve, but there it was, and I still believe God meant for it all to work out that way.
I had reached out to some writers who had inspired me, who I could tell were part of this invisible community, whether through their interactions on Pop Chassid, their own work, or just by knowing them and feeling their hearts pulsate with the same desire.
They reacted in a way I didn’t expect: complete and utter enthusiasm. Agreement. Love. Excitement.
By this time this year, I had designed the site, gotten the writers together, built a schedule, and nervously awaited our launch. I had no idea what to expect. I only knew our name: Hevria. And I knew one more thing: no matter what happened, and how much attention we did or didn’t get, it would be beautiful.
It was almost two months ago now. I was at a summit held by ROI, an organization that aids and brings together Jewish folks who are trying to do something special for the world or their corner of it. My eye was twitching I was so nervous, and I wrote on this very blog, on Hevria, now maturing into something real, something alive, about how anxious I was.
But I was determined. Determined to push myself. Because Hevria was my dream, and the more I saw it evolve, the more I realized it wasn’t just a dream: it was a mission.
And slowly, the eye stopped twitching. I connected to amazing, inspiring, deep people that pushed me more than I had ever expected.
They pushed me in two ways:
One: To realize how much more I could do.
Two: To realize I could do it.
I was so inspired, so pushed, by the energy of that time, that I decided: this is it. This is the time. I will do anything to make this become what it’s meant to be. This isn’t a side gig like Pop Chassid. This is my job, even if I’m not getting paid for it yet. A job that is more than a job, a job that is a calling, that is essential I tap into with all my heart. A job that I knew God wanted me to fulfill, demanded I fulfill.
And so I decided there and then: I would make this my job, and I would no longer treat Hevria like my side project. It was officially my purpose. And I knew one thing for sure: the official job I had at the time was toast. It was just a matter of time.
It was a week ago now. And I no longer worked at my old job. And I refused to take on another full-time job. I told myself I’m only doing freelance from now on, for as long as possible.
Why? Because I want to devote as much possible time to Hevria. Because Hevria is now my job. Because we have so much further to go, and unless I’m fully in it, it can’t go there.
It’s was yesterday now. And we, Hevria, had quietly launched our Indiegogo campaign to a few of our bigger fans. The campaign was/is being matched by ROI for $4,500, and, in all honesty, if it hadn’t been for ROI doing this for us, I would have been too afraid to take on such a task. I had no idea how much actual support we had. I knew we had potential support, because I’ve seen our invisible community come more and more into focus, become less and less invisible, as time goes on. I’ve been blown away by it all. But a crowdfunding campaign?
It was last night now. We hadn’t started reaching out to our donors to give until 7 or 8 PM yesterday. By last night at midnight, we had blown through one thousand dollars, a quarter of our goal. Before we had even made the campaign public, before we had done anything but reach out to a small group of people we knew cared about us.
It’s today now. And I’m nervous again, but much less so. Why? Because I see that our “invisible community” of spiritual/creative/above-division Jews is no longer invisible. It might still just be the tip of the iceberg of where it will be one day, but it is alive and kicking.
We’ve had Hasidic rabbis give, we’ve had atheist ex-Hasidic Jews give, we’ve had “starving artists” give, we’ve had ex-secular Jews give. Why? Because our community is coming together. Because we recognize that this is bigger than one site, than one vision.
This is about realizing a spiritual reality that is waiting to wake up. A spiritual reality in which no part of the world is untouched by the priestly spirituality of Jews. Where division and hate, not just between Jews but between the world, is erased.
I truly feel that this is part of why people have given to Hevria so quickly, and with such full hearts. I believe that’s why people have started to send us fan videos (ones we didn’t ask for!) when they heard about the campaign. I believe that’s why Hevria is growing faster than any other Jewish media outlet.
It’s not about me, it’s not about Hevria, it’s not about being cool or new.
It’s about a realization: the “invisible communities” of Jews are becoming more and more empowered, more and more vocal. They realize they don’t have to define themselves in the way everyone has been trying to define them over the years. They have a new definition: one that comes from within instead of from without. One that comes from God instead of op-eds and talking heads.
Hevria is but one movement in that larger movement. We are but a drop in the bucket of a change that is coming to all of us.
I ask today that you give to our campaign if you believe you have benefitted in some way from Hevria. If you are part of the invisible community we’re making visible or if you simply believe in the idea of empowering these new communities.
I ask that you give, not out of obligation, but out of inspiration, out of a shared vision.
Every dollar is a message: we’re reaching a new age. One where the inner is revealed, where communities are formed through the heart instead of the page or the voice. One where we are united, whole, but still diverse and unique.
Here is the link to the campaign which is also probably hovering above this post.
On there, you will see the more practical vision of what we have laid out. From guest posts to more Hevria Sessions to documentaries to an online course platform to live events.
This was a post I felt I needed to share with you on a personal level. For you to know what this means to me on a personal level. For you to know the deeper reasons for it all. For you to connect with my heart and feel it pulsating with, hopefully, what you are also feeling.
And if you don’t feel it, that’s okay too. At least now you know what’s coming.
Special thanks to:
– for their beautiful video testimonials
– for their invaluable advice and encouragement to make this move
– for their incredible community and support
The Hevria writers
– for everything