Its been awhile since the last blog post, and awhile since the last PorcFest post. Between being too busy and too lazy, I didnt get around to it the past few years, but Ive been determined to get something out again, so here we are. And what a PorcFest it was. From our humble beginnings TEN(!) years ago as a Facebook page and a WordPress-domained blog, Jewish Libertarians has grown to host a Shabbat get together at this annual gathering of libertarians in the White Mountains. And what started as a small potluck service is now in its second year as a Kosher Kookout. On top of that, this is the first year that had several Jewish events!
After other plans fell thru, I decided to get a number of Jewish events together. Most of it worked out and Friday became Jewish Libertarians Day. At 2pm, we had a talk about Jews and “Hoaxvid”. At 4pm, we had the first ever business meeting, (informally) to discuss what direction to take this organization. At 6, the Kookout, followed by a brief service. And at 8pm, Israeli Dancing for the first time in years!
Every event was well attended, which is awesome. As many as 30 people at each. The Jews and Hoaxvid talk had a good crowd ready for me (I was late from shopping for the Kookout). Fortunately, there was some spirited discussion about the topic while everyone waited. I talked about the tragedy of how Jews have fallen completely for this crime against humanity perpetrated against the world the past two years. Why have we complied fully after we said Never Again, again and again? There are no easy answers, but soon a few people started heckling that this was antisemitic to even talk about. Loving to argue, I got sucked right in, which frustrated other attendees, who wanted to hear the talk. Ultimately, they settled down and departed. The talk wasnt everything I intended, as I did not prepare basic notes to keep on track, but I would say it was successful. If anything, I learned how to deal with hecklers and the importance of some notes to stay on course for a complicated topic.
The Business Meeting only had a few people, but that was a few more than I expected. None of them were familiar with the “organization”, but were interested in getting more involved. I went over the history of the organization and my thoughts for the future, and welcomed theirs. I would like to create an official organization in some capacity, the debate is how official. There is a lot to discuss about incorporation and getting involved with the State, but I want this organization to have a bank account, and thats the only way. And thats aside from the 501c question. The organization has some money, mostly from bitcoin gains, which I want to be able to use more effectively. Additionally, now with more people active, its possible to put together a Board. More on this to come.
For the second year in a row, we had a fully kosher barbecue (or as southerners might prefer, a cookout). Kosher burgers were brought in from NYC, and a challah. I was able to get everything else here, even up in Lancaster, NH, which probably has two Jews resident during the year, the grocery in town still carries Hebrew National (whatever one may think of that). Not only that, while Kedem isnt easy to find, and Welchs isnt Kosher, Langers is OU, and tastes better than Kedem, in my opinion. After running around getting the last bits, I had everything needed. Last year I had a charcoal grill, but this year I bought a new propane camp grill, which was small but worked perfectly. Not as good as charcoal, but so much easier.
What made this years Kookout better was that I had help cooking! Last year, it was all me prepping, cooking, serving, selling tickets, and wrangling the crowd. This year, two wonderful people stepped up to take care of the cooking and serving. So a big thank you to Franklin and Karen. It was a wonderful meal and well attended, about two dozen people showed up. We raised $216 after costs.
Once everyone was full, we transitioned into the Shabbat Service, which was a customization of the traditional prayers and songs. I had hoped to get a Siddur made up in time, but this was not to be. Hopefully next year. In any case, we were had a volunteer cantor, Lisa, who led us in Lekha Dodi and other tunes. Psalm 92 of course, albeit in English, and songs in Hebrew. I would llike this a little more structured., but usually, the attendees are not too religious, so I havent pushed it, but now its getting big enough that it might be justified to do a full Maariv. We went from 18 people a few years ago to at least 30 this year. Thanks Lisa, as much as I want to lead this and have possessive instincts, it was nice to be able to step back and let others participate..
One thing, I found interesting is that each of the three Shabbat events had different people come and go. Some wanted to eat, some wanted to sing and pray, and some wanted to dance. Jody, who used to host an Israeli dancing event for several years was able to do it again this year. Since it tied off the Shabbat events, it was better attended than ever before. We had a few people show up just to move their feet. And to the libertarian men who always wonder where the women are, they come out to dance. 😉 Thanks again to Jody for putting this on.
Hazaq! Hazaq! Venitehazeq!
What a wonderful Shabbat it was and a great template for next year. While I organize these events, it is the attendees who make them successful, so thanks to everyone who attended. I am so energized and inspired. With the growing Freestate community and more Jews moving here who are interested in doing things, we have a bright future ahead. Already, we are having discussions on a self-defense shoot for Hanukah and Purim, and my favorite part is I am not hosting or organizing them. I am working on a full slate of events for Friday at PorcFest 2023, and maybe some Shabbat events on Saturday. In the past, those havent been well attended, but its worth trying again. Finally, after two years of burgers and dogs, we will be doing falafel next year, so we hope to see you then!
If you are interested in attending, but need Kosher meals, please comment below or on Facebook. I have been trying to develop the capacity to do this, but its not easy logistically. I have cooked at PorcFest before, and its both fun and a difficult, but I have wanted to be able to provide Kosher food. At least now we have that for Shabbat. If there is enough demand, I will look more into it. Its not out of the question.
Stay tuned for a general PorcFest roundup, accounting notes, and more. In the mean time, take a look at past PorcFests: 2014, 2015, 2017. Also, I hope to get back to posting again, and welcoming some new writers. Furthermore, the parsha posts will be coming back. This coming Shabbat is Balaq, which is already written.