And now that it’s over I can tell you: doing a crowdfunding campaign for something you care about is some sort of new torture most likely devised by the Illuminati.
It’s weird, because with any project I’ve ever done, I’ve always had trouble writing about it. I was much better at living in it.
My own blog, Pop Chassid, doesn’t even have an “About” page. Hevria’s about page is kind of a joke.
It’s so much simpler when all you need to do is just do your thing. That’s why so many popular artists have been known for hating interviews and other such nonsense, even though these things were often keys to them becoming more successful. To be self-referential ironically takes you out of yourself, takes you into a new world where you’re looking at yourself from the outside, the way others look at you, which makes it, in a way, harder to breathe your art out of you. Now you’re suddenly both a reader and a writer of your work, and that’s no good.
Starting the Hevria Indiegogo campaign felt very much like that to me. Suddenly, I needed to write about us. I needed Saul to help me make a video about us. I needed to message, email, even call people a billion times about us and ask them to read that thing I wrote about us, so they could give to us. Add on the horrific feeling of being a beggar (even though you know in some part of you that this is for people who care about your project as much as you do and want to “invest” in it), and the whole experience can really feel… exposing.
I went from never really writing about what Hevria is to not being able to get it out of my mind or my heart. My goal was to make it as clear as possible why Hevria mattered, because no one would give to something that doesn’t matter.
And then an interesting thing happened… I started to become more curious why Hevria mattered. What right did I have to ask anyone for an “investment” if I myself couldn’t put our value into words?
In a matter of almost a week, I was soon seeing the value of writing about something instead of always living in it. Every single post I wrote on Pop Chassid became hidden and sometimes not-so-hidden messages about Hevria’s mission. The multiple, exhausting, painful, posts I had to write about our campaign as we reached a new goal and tried to explain why it made sense to give us even more, forced me to continue to refine the message. Over and over, Hevria came into a more verbalized, more tangible, more defined, reality.
It became clear to me, slowly, what Hevria really is. It’s not a creativity site, although creativity will always run deeply through it, alive and essential to its reality. It’s not just a site for “creators” as our current crappy About page states. It’s not even a “Jewish” site.
Hevria is a tool, an instrument. A piece of a larger movement happening within the Jewish world. That of the “inside-out” (as opposed to “outside-in”) phenomenon. Where politics, agendas, and forced divisions don’t exist. Where people are defined by their souls and not by the world. Where it’s becoming clearer and clearer that our outer garments, while essential for us personally, do not define our limitless, boundless, enlivening souls.
Hevria is simply a place that is attempting to push forward this reality, to become a tool for this movement, and to most effectively allow Jews to connect on this level.
And so, all of this was sort of realized and verbalized because of this Indiegogo campaign. Because you commented, because you shared, because you contributed either your money or your heart or something else that allowed us to feel like yesthis is real, we’re not just imagining this.
What does this mean, in terms of the relationship between Hevria and its audience? It means, and please believe me that I mean it as literally as possible, that the audience has created Hevria. Which is why I actually hate the words “audience” and “fans” and all these constructs that existed so much more easily in the age before the internet, when artists, businessmen, and other creators had so many degrees of separation between them and the people who admired their work.
No, Hevria’s fanbase isn’t a fanbase or audience or any other word that implies separation. It is a community.
You’ve built us into who we are just as much as our posts have helped build the skeleton for which the body would soon attach itself.
Your ability to see what we were trying to build before we ourselves even had the words for it, that’s how you made us. Your words of encouragement, your sharing, your desire to be part of it in any way you could find, it pushed us forward and defined us more and more. Your critiques pushed us to do better, to understand our mission better.
And now, through this campaign, you have truly helped create us in a way that the dollar amount of our Indiegogo campaign will never be able to reflect.
That forced introspection into what Hevria is? That was because of you and voiced by you. Each dollar given was a reminder: we need to know what we’re doing, we need to do it as well as possible, if we are going to be asking people for anything in return.
Yes, there were plans made beforehand. The Academy, launching in only a matter of days. The documentaries, which we plan to start releasing around November or December. The Hevria Sessions, which we will be able to keep doing, thank God. Live events, which are already being planned, sooner than we ever imagined.
But those are just the body, not the soul. The shape of the future, not its reality.
But through your contributions to allow these things to happen at all, through your hidden, quiet, insistence that we now live up to our words, through your comments and shares and messages to us, you forced us to to be something larger than we were before, not just in form but in spirit.
So I want to, finally, thank you all. Yes, doing a crowdfunding campaign is grueling and painful and vulnerable, but it is also a thing of beauty when you get to finally take a step back and look at it. It’s a chance for a community to force itself deeper into the souls of its creators and the creation itself. It’s the ultimate expression of, “I believe in you” a community can show. And it’s an incredible chance for communal introspection and decision-making.
I promise you that anything that happens from now on on Hevria, whether we ultimately “succeed” or not, will be thanks to you.
As I said, Hevria is part of a movement of “inside-out”-ness. And so, the incredible beauty of this campaign was not just the realization that this applies to us as individuals but to Hevria itself: it is defined by its soul much more than by its outer garments. And you are Hevria’s soul.
PS – I’d like to add a few more thanks, if I may. First, to the writers. Before launch, I came to them with a vague and confusing email, asking them to join this site, write on it for free, and hope for the best. Somehow, and I suppose this is why I chose them, they seemed to intuit exactly what I was aiming for and jumped into the deep end with no life preservers. Each Hevria writer is a visionary, willing to sacrifice their time, energy, and soul just because they believe so deeply in its mission, in its vision.
Thank you, Hevria writers. You are the seeds without which their would be no ecosystem we call Hevria. You are the light by which the soul of our community as a whole is allowed to shine.
Hevria could only have become a community and a movement through your selfless dedication. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for knowing what Hevria was even before I did. Thank you, thank you.
And one more thank you to ROI, who matched $4,500 of this campaign, and was really the only reason we even bothered with it. Without their belief in us as an organization, we’d still just be a blog slowly trying to figure things out, and I’d be a guy who kept doing Hevria on the side because I didn’t realize how much it mattered. Without their summit, I never would have known that Hevria was my purpose, and that I must give to it as much as God will let me. Thank you once again, ROI.
May the Jewish world continue to evolve and grow into a thing of beauty, and may we do our best to help it along.