Tonight, I will be hosting a rye whiskey-tasting and discussion of Jewish texts in Long Beach. While I have, over the past two years conducted ten such events, in a bimonthly fashion, tonight’s event will involve some new aspects.
Moreover, inasmuch as my series focuses on three primary objectives – (1) educating about various spirits, (2) taking a deeper dive into the Jewish tradition than either I or attendees may usually get to experience, and (3) raising funds for my various professional activities – this final category usually does not do tremendously well. Sure, donations come in sometimes, but it tends to be hit-or-miss as far as coming out ahead, financially. One thing, I realized a while back, is instead of having people sponsor the entire tasting, it would be easier for them to sponsor bottles. However, over the past several tastings, usually only a couple of bottles get sponsored, so it’s still a fundraising gamble. For tonight’s event, I made sure that the bottles I purchased were sponsored (and other people have purchased bottles to bring, as well), which would assure the event of successfully achieving goal #3.
Additionally, while I have made the first ten “Texts & Tasting” events essentially free, I am requesting attendees make a minimum donation of $20 (or, if they’re a student, only $10). Not only does this minimum donation help with achieving goal #3 of the series, but it does something else. I have heard other Jewish educators discuss the need for charging for the content they are bringing to their classes, as well as, of course, their time and effort. Of course, there is a certain anxiety about doing so, as well: will people come if they have to pay? Inasmuch as it may turn some people away, it also sends a clear message: there is a value to this material and content.
Finally, an interesting content experiment I’m doing is to cull sources from various classes I’ve done with Hillels and young adults in order to give folks who may not typically get the opportunity to engage directly with the material I use for discussions with students and young adults. I’m hoping that attendees will appreciate that exposure; of course, it’s culling from several different classes I’ve run, so it should have more content than a regular Hillel or young adult class.
Now, I’m excited for tonight’s learning event!