Why is the Shofar so expensive?

B”H

The cost of the Shofar program is something which is often questioned, with the following implications:

1) It is unreasonably expensive (why would anybody pay $750 for a weekend?)

2) It is comparatively very expensive (it is waaay overpriced – I’m getting ripped off!)

3) Somebody is making a lot of money off this program (Shofar is taking advantage of me, and making a mint in the process!)

Current tuition to attend the Shofar program is about $750.00 for attendees, and $350 for staff. I have personally attended three separate weekends — Seasons of Transformation (standard), Advanced (umm, advanced) and as a staff member. From what I have observed, between attendees and staff there are about 23 paying individuals — 19 attendees and 4 staff. Note: although the Shofar programs are usually 2 nights, unlike other programs the Shofar starts early Friday afternoon, and ends late on Sunday – effectively three full days. Additionally, about 7 staff members show up a day earlier, and stay later.

Let’s examine the premise that the Shofar is overpriced from several perspectives

Price Comparisons

The easiest way to determine if the Shofar is overpriced is to compare it to other workshops of it’s kind.

Keep in mind that because Manis Friedman may have a Crown-Height Shabbaton that costs less is not the point. We are trying to compare apples to apples. Looks like the Shofar falls well within the norm, if not a little below.

They are making a mint! Where is all the money going? 

Good question. Let’s take some wild guesses and do some basic business math here.

19 attendees x $750 each = $14,250

4 staffers x $350 each = $1,440

Total revenue for average w/end: $15,690 (let’s just round to $15,700)

Assuming 33% goes to food and accommodations (it actually does cost something to feed and house 23 hungry frum-men) leaves about $10,500 remaining.

Now, I personally know of at least four members of the Shofar team who aim to make helping others their full-time job (3 of whom are married with kids, mortgages, tuitions, wives, etc). There undoubtedly have more people on part-time payroll, as well. Bare in mind, that staffing a weekend requires a 4-5  complete day (24 hour) effort – leaving Thursday morning and coming home Monday afternoon.

Looking at the Shofar schedule, it appears that they are having seminars once every three weeks – thus 52/3 = about 17 seminars / year, bringing in a total of $178,500. From this money, there are still tons of expenses, including: printing costs for the materials, traveling costs for the Shofar employees, website, marketing, insurance, business, taxes and other expenses. Let’s say that all that runs them another $28.5K, leaving $150,000.00 left over (I’m sure the remainder is much, much less, but let’s just say).

No matter how unevenly 5-7 people split-up a $150K pie, for the amount of time & effort that goes into this program, nobody is getting rich. I’m pretty sure that after everybody takes their cut, there is not enough money here to support even one family. As a matter of fact, like all such organizations, they welcome donations, here.

Again, although my revenue numbers may be in the ballpark  (meaning, I’m not 100s of thousands off), my expense numbers I’m sure are very, very low, leaving even less money on the table than I calculated.

 But is it worth it?

The most powerful answer to why the Shofar costs $750.00 can be found by asking the attendees. I have yet to meet anybody who is not fully satisfied with the immense personal benefit gained from one weekend at the Shofar (Shmuel Pollen excluded), and would have gladly paid more once they have been. As Simcha Frischling likes to say — “What could you possibly be doing now that is more important than learning how to show-up for life and building appropriate relationships?”

Conclusion

It appears to be a common trait amongst many people to always think they are getting “ripped-off” or being cheated, and I don’t blame them. However, even a very basic, cursory evaluation of the finances behind the Shofar program reveal that not only are they charging the going rate (or perhaps a little below), but that like many non-for-profits, they are not in it for the money, and in desperate need of donations to further grow. Finally, the proof is in the pudding — I have yet to hear any graduate complain about the cost of the program, but I do hear them exclaim how happy they are that they went!

Disclaimer: Truth about Shofar blog is not
in anyway affiliated with Call of the Shofar.
All opinions are of the authors.
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