Well PunkTorah family, it looks like we’re growing. We’re starting to get a lot of phone calls and emails from people around the world who want to know more about PunkTorah, journalists who want to write about us, organizations that want to partner with us on projects, and have PunkTorah ambassadors come out to events.
The curse is that you end up answering a lot of the same questions, and getting a lot of the same reactions. Because PunkTorah is your community, it’s only fair that we post the questions we get asked, and the answers we give, which I am calling the 5 Things About PunkTorah That Will SHOCK You…
1. We are not based in New York City. We’re not going to pretend that New York doesn’t have a gigantic Jewish population. But honestly, there are more Jews in the Gush Dan region in Israel than the Big Apple. And Miami has a comparable Jewish population per-capita to New York, since it’s much smaller. And hey, by most accounts, all the Jews of the Northeast and Midwest are moving to the South. Atlanta (where we are) has one of the youngest and fastest growing Jewish populations in the world. But you can read more about that on Wikipedia.
2. We are not affiliated with…anything! All of our funding comes from donations by readers like you and the few grants that we manage to hustle, such as by being a reconzed Google Non-Profit. We are not a part of a larger organization or any movement in Judaism. We love being independent.
3. We’re not a band. We’re a non-profit organization (tax exempt and everything) that promotes independent Jewish spirituality. We have full time and part time employees, some freelance help and a bunch of awesome volunteers. So why PunkTorah? Well, we do get a lot of flack about our name. And that’s cool with us! The word punk means rebellion and that’s what we are doing here: rebelling against the mainstream, McDonalized approach to Jewish life we’ve been spoon fed.
4. Most people who visit PunkTorah are not punks. At least, not in the musical/fashion sense. But one thing we all share is that we’re a little bit off center, dancing to the beat of our own drummer, who we believe to be the Source of Creation. What can we say? We love the fringes! When asked what our “demographic” is, we say, “people who like Judaism.” Doesn’t seem like an irrational thing to say, but it does illicit some weird remarks from people in business suits.
5. We’re in this for life. We’ve seen our friends jump from one organization and job to another, climbing the ladder of success, chasing after bigger money and more glorious positions. And that’s fine for them! But all of us here at PunkTorah: staff, volunteers, teachers, guest rabbis…we’re in this for life. PunkTorah is the welcoming wagon for people entering into their own understanding of the Jewish Experience. And no pay check is worth losing the opportunity to be here everyday with you awesome people.
6. We love you. Seriously, we do! And we hope that you love us, too. As Mr. Rogers said, “please won’t you be my neighbor?”