The SWF Leadership Team has discussed over this year the nature of our organization. At the beginning of 2023, we established our nonprofit standing in New Mexico, having already established our 501c3 standing with the IRS. In the early part of 2024, our leadership team will finalize plans that I am drafting for designating Shabbat with Friends as a Shabbat Cooperative.
I have written in prior posts about how Shabbat with Friends does not see itself as a synagogue. The Shabbat Cooperative model that I am proposing is unique. The idea of a “cooperative” comes from a community in Seattle called the Kavanah Cooperative whose founders I know personally. The central feature of that cooperative is that everyone who elects to become a “partner”, contributes to the community not only financially, but with volunteer time. We eschew the term “member” and the instrument of membership dues. SWF partnership can be a supplement to synagogue membership. (There will be a built-in reduced rate for synagogue members.) Or for others becoming a partner of Shabbat with Friends will serve as their primary Jewish commitment.
The Shabbat part of the term “Shabbat Cooperative” reflects the unique standing of Shabbat with Friends as a Shabbat centered organization and community. Unlike a synagogue, we do not offer High Holidays services or a religious school program. SWF supports the synagogues. We encourage affiliation. Our project is to cultivate a love of Shabbat and Shabbat joy among all ages through personal and family practice of the Shabbat home traditions and Jewish hospitality customs.
Our programmatic focus in almost entirely on fostering authentic Shabbat experiences for all ages and dynamic Jewish learning opportunities. With children and young people, we emphasize experiencing Shabbat using similar educational methods of Jewish summer camps like Camp Ramah, JCA, UAHC, and Zionist (Habonim, Young Judea) camps. Like Jewish summer camps, we use music and group singing to foster relationships and memorable experiences among young people. We have discovered that these methods also work beautifully with adults.
On a deeper level, SWF helps to foster in each person we touch a rediscovery of the centrality of Shabbat as an organizing life practice and principle. We hope that prospective SWF partners will be inspired by our purpose and focus and join us in this effort.
As we develop and implement this idea, we remain committed to keeping our SWF gatherings free and accessible to everyone. SWF absorbs the costs of organizing our gatherings as well as bringing together “Shabbat musicians” for our beloved musical and collective singing events. We are also committed to bringing to New Mexico exceptional artists and educator-scholars to enrich the Jewish knowledge and practice of our broader community.
If you would like to learn more about SWF’s emerging organizational model, please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Look for upcoming announcements on ways you can participate and support in the SWF Shabbat Cooperative