Read Reb Brian's Message Below, or Scroll Down to Support Now
Thank you to all Bay Area Founding Members for your support through these first exciting years! It is really because of you that Torah of Awakening exists at all, and I am deeply grateful for the privilege of continuing to be be with you locally for meditation, Shabbat and High Holidays. The plan for this year is to offer six Shabliss services with the full band; four, smaller “Shabbat in the House” services hosted in people’s homes on the months that I’m not in town; plus other special community events like the book reading and musical Havdallah we recently did with Rabbi Diane Elliot. We are excited for our future, and we look forward to growing our community for years to come.
And that’s why I’m reaching out today – to ask for your help in funding our musical Shabbat services and other Bay Area programming by becoming a Bay Area Supporter.
You may be thinking, why do we need to raise money since members are already paying for membership? Below I’m going to explain why, so that you can have a sense of what we need to operate and how you can help. However, I realize some of you may not be interested in all those details and you might be ready to just jump in and increase your financial commitment to keep our programs happening in the Bay. If that's you, feel free to skip the rest of my schpiel and scroll down to support now.
Okay, now- for those of you who want more context and would like to understand our financial reality more in depth, here we go!
When I started the Torah of Awakening membership back in the beginning of 2016, the idea was to create an online spiritual practice community. Some Bay Area folks signed up at that time, along with others from other parts of the country and beyond. Later that year, when Lisa and I decided to move to Tucson to support my mother and sister, the idea emerged of my returning to the Bay Area to lead musical Shabbat services with Jeanette and our other wonderful musicians. I was enthusiastic about continuing the music and dance and davening that we had developed together- like many of you, I couldn’t imagine my life without it!
The question was, how to pay for it?
So, I decided to ask folks to join Torah of Awakening in order to help me continue traveling to the Bay to make Shabbos with you. At that time, the membership was $18 per month for individuals, and $26 for couples and families, which is probably what you are paying now as a Founding Member. I knew at that time that these funds alone wouldn’t be enough to cover all of the expenses entailed in producing our services, but there was a strong call for them, and this was a start. So, I took the leap and asked folks to join, without knowing exactly how it was going to work.
And, barukh Hashem, many of you joined, becoming the Founding Members of Torah of Awakening. But, while those membership funds supported my time, they didn't pay for all of the other expenses needed to produce our Shabbat services. Soon after that, however, a few special individuals kicked in those crucially needed funds, and we launched our services in 2017. Those same individuals (and a few new ones, too) have continued to donate the bulk of the budget every year since then to make the Shabbat experience happen. And, with special thanks to the heroic organizational efforts of my friends Laura Rifkin, Abro Sutker, Mona Bernstein, Mark Lempert and other core Bay Area community members who have stepped up as organizers, we’ve been able to continue up to this point.
That’s where we’re at now, and in a way, we’re doing really well – we’ve been able to continue producing our Shabbat services and other events in the East Bay, and we’ve also had three successful years of High Holidays at Urban Adamah, which are supported by their own separate fundraising and ticket sales. It’s a wonderful blessing and a bit of a miracle that we’ve gotten to this point, thanks to the lifeline of our major donors. But now we need to support Shabbat with more funds from the Bay Area membership, so that the financial responsibility for our community doesn't fall on only a few folks. That's why we are now offering you the opportunity to become a Bay Area Supporter. (Scroll down to sign up.)
Here are some actual numbers:
In order for us to produce six full band Shabliss! services and four Shabbat in the House services, it takes about $30,000 per year. That pays for our space rental, it pays for our wonderful musicians, it pays for my basic travel expenses, and it covers minimal honorariums for organizational leadership, which is critical for maintaining and growing our program. It also covers Shabbat staffing, some infrastructure expenses, and gives us funds for some additional community programming. (You can scroll all the way down for a full budget breakdown.)
Please note that support for my time isn't included in this $30,000 budget. My compensation for coming to the Bay Area comes from the Torah of Awakening membership. Currently, there are about 80 Bay Area Founding Members. Our goal is for the Founding Members to fund half the $30,000 Shabbat budget. If everyone were to contribute an extra $18 per month, we would meet this goal. Then, in coming years as we continue to build our membership, a portion of these new membership funds will be allocated to the Bay Area budget. In this way, we will continue to become more sustainable and less dependent on extra fundraising. And that will keep Torah of Awakening healthy in the Bay Area for years to come! That’s what I really want, and I hope you do, too. Because ultimately, this is and has always been a labor of love for me, for the Bay Area organizers, and for so many of you in our community.
So, to summarize: for our 2020 Shabbat programming, the budget is $30,000. I am calling now on Bay Area Founding Members to support half of this budget- that’s those of you who are paying the founders rate of $18 or $26 per month, to sign up below to contribute an extra $18 per month, more if you can, or whatever you are able to do, to help us raise at least half of our budget.
We are also starting a Dolores Leavitt Fund in honor of her memory. Dolores loved our Shabbat gatherings, and her son Joshua is honoring that love with a generous foundational donation. If you are blessed with the means to be a major donor and make a one-time donation of $700 or more, your donation can be tax deductible through our fiscal sponsor. That would be a wonderful way to honor Dolores’ memory and support something she loved so deeply. We also welcome ALL one-time donations. We are very grateful for whatever you can afford. Just scroll down to see those options.
We would love to end our Shabbat fundraising email campaign by this Friday to keep it short and sweet. In my work I know that procrastination is often the biggest impediment to spiritual progress, and so too for fundraising. So, as an extra incentive, I’m offering a special bonus: When you sign up to be a Bay Area Supporter by this Friday night, (before Shabbat of course ;) I’ll send you two of my video courses: Sh’ma in Six Directions & Ten Sefirot and Body of Light. These two courses teach an advanced meditation practice for going beyond the mere experience of inner freedom, to knowing that freedom as your core identity, through the twenty-two Hebrew Letters and ten sefirot.
So- please help us reach our goal of raising $15,000 to support Torah of Awakening Bay Area!
Thanks so much for your help, and all blessings to you! -reb brian yosef
As a Bay Area Supporter, your extra monthly contribution helps to fund our year round programming, including Shabliss! services with a full band, Shabbat in the House in people's homes, and other special events year round. Sign up and choose your monthly contribution amount HERE.
#2. Donate to the Dolores Leavitt Fund
For tax deductible donations of $700 or more, please fill out the form below and we'll be in touch about how you can donate – thank you so much!