My nephew, who goes to the NYU business school, identified my idea as bootstrapping. In the world of entrepreneurship, bootstrapping refers to an entrepreneur who self-funds his start-up to help it to become sustainable.
Here was my idea. I would supplement my fundraising for Panim Hadashot-New Faces by becoming a part time Lyft driver. I enjoy driving and have a good sense of direction. I liked the idea of having flexible hours when to work. Most of all, I love the work I do with Panim Hadashot-New Faces. This was one way of investing in this vision I have been developing over the past few years. If Panim Hadashot-New Faces is about renewing Jewish hospitality, then driving a Lyft would seem to be another form of hospitality practice. More about the connection to hospitality later.
My idea to drive a Lyft also came from a Sukkah poster I ordered last year.
If colleagues over the generations have been distillers, porters, tanners, and cistern diggers. I could be a Lyft driver. In the Mishneh Torah, Maimonides writes,
"The greater Sages of Israel included wood choppers, water drawers, and blind men. Despite these [difficulties], they were occupied with Torah study day and night and were included among those who transmitted the Torah's teachings from [master] to [student in the chain stretching back to] Moses, our teacher. (Hilchot Talmud Torah, 1:9)"
The idea that Torah should be accompanied by a worldly trade instructs a rabbi to not to distance himself (or herself) from the lives of those he serves. Rabbis marry and make families to experience the joys and sadness of intimate relationships. Rabbis engage in worldly work to experience all the anxieties of daily survival. A rabbi working at a worldly pursuit will be less likely to fall into the trap of elite entitlement.
Despite the expectation in Jewish antiquity that a rabbi should have a worldly trade, he was reminded that whatever trade he did, it was only secondary to the study and teaching of Torah. For me then, Lyft Driving is a ways to an end.
Now I am driving a Lyft about 12 hours a week so that I can guarantee a steady flow, albeit limited flow of revenue to sustain the efforts of Panim Hadashot-New Faces. Another thing I learned from fundraising, is that when you ask for money, you have to show that you value the cause you are representing as a person who solicits funds.
Please consider becoming a subscriber to Panim Hadashot-New Faces to renew the tradition of Jewish Hospitality. The more subscribers we have, the more I can devote my energy, passion, and time to going to homes and sharing with the community the beauty and impact of Jewish hospitality traditions.
It is easy to subscribe. Follow this link and join Rabbi Gartenberg in making Panim Hadashot-New Faces more sustainable.
My next two blog posts will be coming later this week (10/10/18)
Random Acts of Hospitality: A Rabbi Drives a Lyft
Teaching Torah While Driving a Lyft