The Porcupine Freedom Festival is now over, and it took a day to recover from the sleepless nights, the cold, the dirt, and the general depletion of energy. Along with attending events, hanging out, and selling snacks, I tabled for and represented Jewish Libertarians. Despite an almost complete lack of preparation, throwing things together at the last minute, I managed to make a mark.
It took a day or two to set up, between the rain and not having everything up at the campground. Once I was all settled, I was able to put up a blue popup tent, open up a table, and put out a dry erase board with advertising what I was there for. In addition to promoting Jewish Libertarians, I sold some packaged snacks at the table. I had planned to have several talks hosted at the site, but later had to drop this down to three. Soon, it became apparent I was not prepared enough and cut it to one. Ultimately, that was nicked as well. Nevertheless, I was present on the Religion and Liberty panel, along with an extended Q&A session. Perhaps more importantly the time I spent at the table was very valuable.
A number of Jewish libertarians came up and identified themselves. Just about all were nonpracticing, which is unfortunate, but that is a separate topic. A few interesting discussions were had with them, that I wish could have lasted longer. All were grateful to see the presence. Perhaps more telling were the non-Jews who stopped by. Coming from all walks of life: atheists, Christians, Muslims, etc, they were all supportive and thankful.
At one point, the Muslims 4 Liberty tent was flooded and had to relocate…to directly across the street. I am friendly with the director of said organization and we spent the whole week joking around and hanging out. As part of celebrating Ramadan, he gave out free meals that normally sell for $5 a bowl each night for Iftar. At one point, he noted how the two of us get along and the whole conflict is ridiculous; we should go over there and make peace. His facebook friends hate me for being a “dirty Zionist”. My friends think he is a closeted antisemite. No antisemite breaks bread with the subject of his hatred. The two of us, across from each other “really says it all” as I was quoted in the Caledonian Record (paywall).
What Will Coley does at M4L has been an inspiration in what I did, having a real presence for Jewish Libertarians. This is really needed to grow our support base and reach out to other Jews who are either stuck in socialism or conservatism. Frankly, libertarian Jews are really behind Christians and Muslims in the organizing sector. There are a few groups for each, and M4L may be splitting up over an incorporation dispute. I wish I had that problem. Will handing out meals gave me the idea to hand out meals for Shabbat dinner. Unfortunately, with my recent move, it was not possible to put it all together. Next year, however, it will happen, for all three meals. Many people are already looking forward.
While the religion panel was not what I had expected, it enabled some opportunities to get the message of Jewish Libertarians out. Originally, it was only a Jew, a Christian, and a Muslim, but a Deist and a Catholic were added. I highlighted the mission and the challenges faced, such as the fact that 70% of Jews voted for Obama and why this is. It was an opportunity to note the importance of instilling religious values in our children; the only way to prevent them from succumbing to statism. If you dont give your children a religion, they will find one. Will stated he faced a similar problem among secular Muslims. The hour came and went quickly and we departed for the Christian “Liberty Ecclesia” tent, which had seating available for an extended Q&A. A Muslim I later became friends with grilled me about Israel, and another man inquired about the alleged aggression of circumcision. I also learned that I really need to read the entire Tanakh as well as the Gospels and probably teh Qur’an in order to familiarize myself with all angles, arguments, and references.
I missed the Monday Krav Maga, but made the Friday class. It was a great mini intro sample of the Israeli martial art, but was far too limited to really get anywhere. Unfortunately, Chris Kelley, the instructor only had about 45 minutes to teach us more than half a dozen moves to get out of compromising positions. A few practice “spars” were done. Each move really needs an hour class of its own, and beyond that to master with usability. Martial arts are all about muscle memory. In the end, it was a good sampling for those interested. A number of us are trying to encourage Chris and his family to make the move, and open a Krav school in Manchester.
I was a bit disappointed that I did not have anything to hand out about the group, not even business cards. However, people responded that it was great that I was even here. And it will be a permanent fixture. A full kosher prepared food vendor is planned to serve all meals. While I do not agree with the milk-meat separation tradition, the focus will be meat and parve, with a possible back end serving dairy. This will form the backbone that will enable religious Jews to attend (I heard there were two in attendance, but I could not locate them). I will make a strong drive this year to get commitments as soon as the official dates are released in a month or two.
Naturally, I will have printout materials to offer, such as blog posts from here, available next year. I also wish I had a sheet out to collect emails. Now, with a benchmark, I will be able to host some actual talks, perhaps with cooperation from the Christian group, which had a large tent. If not, I will be more prepared with a meeting area for services and talks. There will be a full Shabbat program with all three meals, some sort of services, meetups, and other activities. I intend to make a strong push to get Jewish libertarians here to see PorcFest and New Hampshire.
Here are some quotes from people I met and passersby regarding the presence of Jewish Libertarians:
- “How is the liberty movement in Israel?”
- “Keep up the good work.”
- “Isnt Jewish Libertarian like gay Republican?”
- “A Jewish candy shop owner, thats funny.”
- “Im a Jewish Libertarian!”
- “Id shake your hand, but I just ate pork”
- “Those quotes you chose are awesome.”
- “Only at porcfest: Jews and Muslims side by side” (note: this happens in Israel too)
- “I guess that means the stereotype about Jews isnt true.” (referring to using the honor system to collect payment for my snack sales)
- “If I lived peacefully this weekend side by side with a Zionist Jew and a Shia I’m sure the rest of the world can pull it off too lmao” (a previously hostile online Muslim who had a great time with me in person)
- “I have a lot of respect for you, tabling alone.”
More PorcFest posts are coming; I wanted to get a rundown of the Jewish Libertarian stuff first. Hope to see you next year! Oh, and I can report there was no antisemitism observed. However, I did not display my Israeli flag (or any of my flags), as originally planned.
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