This is modeled off the economy of the ancient Israelites who paid a half-shekel to be counted in the while-wandering-in-the-wilderness census. This flat tax enabled no member of the community to be “greater” than any other - we are all members of equal footing. This vision fit well with Kadima and the current model was adopted 3.5 years ago by a vote of the membership at the time.
The ancient mishkan would not ever have been built, though, if the half-shekel was the only income stream for the Israelite 501cGimel. Nor can our sanctuary, our holy community, survive with only the contributions from our $36 membership contributions. Just like our ancestors who were freed from Egypt, we ask those who have paid into the census and made themselves counted, to also contribute a gift of Nadiv Lev - literally “generosity of the heart,” translated into today’s world as “a meaningful gift.” And we all depend on this.
Today, Nadiv Lev as a category, added up with all the half-shekels, is how Kadima’s board thinks of your contribution as other Jewish communities would count “dues.” As a concept, though, Nadiv Lev is your financial expression, relative to your means, of how much you are able to stretch your agency in supporting our collective existence and thriving. Contributions should be based on your ability to give as well as your inspiration to do so - not because of what you get for your money. It is not a transaction, but a statement of acknowledgement that each of us are responsible for the whole of us. And whatever amount we collectively reach is the one way we determine what we are able to do together.
Recent Kadima history tells us that membership contributions PLUS Nadiv Lev contributions will in fact not sustain our budget on their own...yet. Thus, we still also collect High Holiday contributions, set up an End of (Secular) Year Fundraising Campaign, charge school tuition, ask for cost sharing for catered meals, charge an occasional cover at parties, workshops, and events, and, spend a great deal of effort and time designing a super fun fundraising event to come at winter’s close. (Mark your calendars now for Leap Day, February 29th, 2020!) Together, these income streams make up this year’s $225,000 budget, which still cuts a fair number of things we know we all want.
On one hand, if each membership household - shooting for 150 this year - each figured out how to give $1500 to Kadima - that’s $125/household/month - we would make budget without needing a single other income stream. No fundraisers. No school tuition. We would just be done, and then maybe we would set some growth goals.
On the other hand, we take a few things into consideration when we dream of this. 1) The kind of oppressive capitalism that exists now has created income and wealth inequality while keeping us isolated and more wasteful with time, money, and resources. We know that amount is not possible for a lot of us. 2) Jews and money have a dirty history that is none of our faults and swims in lies and conspiracy. Antisemitism has set us up to feel shameful about money because of roles vis a vis the rest of society that we were backed into, and because of lies about us and our ancestors that were perpetuated to shield the ruling classes. All while the truth is that we are and have been resourceful, brilliant, generous and of high integrity, using whatever means we could, in the face of awful situations, to persist and survive. And, a third consideration: Money is seasonal.
While we would LOVE to count on 150 committed monthly donations of $125 not as transactions, but simply as “meaningful gifts,” we are not there yet. So, we will lovingly remind each other throughout the year, from season to season and from time to time - may they be full of gladness and joy - that your Jewish community desires to sustain, and even thrive. We have your sustenance and thriving in mind each time we provide another opportunity to give with Nadiv Lev - generosity of the heart. The High Holidays are such a time when we remind you of the opportunity to support the thriving of Kadima. It takes all of us to build this vibrancy together. So, whether by increasing your monthly Nadiv Lev pledge, or making a separate contribution in honor of the chagim, we ask you to spend some time this season reflecting on your financial place in this puzzle.
What could “generosity of the heart” look like now, and how might you make or adjust your meaningful gift by the end of Sukkot? And then, the next time we ask, consider it an opportunity to continue supporting you.