Spiritist Group Of New York
Interview With One Of The SGNY Founders Jussara Korngold
A little bit about Mrs Korngold:
Jussara Korngold, BS, MBA, was born in the city of São Paulo, Brazil and she is the founder and president of the Spiritist Alliance for Books (SAB), a non-profit organization, whose sole aim is to promote and disseminate the Spiritist philosophy in English as codified by Allan Kardec. Mrs. Korngold is fluent in four languages (Portuguese, English, French and Spanish) and she is also one of the founders and directors of the Spiritist Group of New York, located in New York City. She is a third-generation spiritist from Brazil and she has been translating and writing spiritist materials and books since 1993. Jussara Korngold has been working as a volunteer executive in the offices of Brazil Child Health ("Associação Saúde Criança) in New York since its opening in 2000.
Spiritism in Her Life
How and when were you first introduced to Spiritism?
Since I was a little girl. I am a third generation spiritist, but I was attending a Catholic school and I could not accept some of the teachings that I learned there, such as: we live just one life, and God is an old bearded man sitting in a throne.
How did you realize that you were a spiritist?
When I was 11 years old I began to attend the meetings of the São Paulo Spiritist Federation and I felt so at ease with what I was learning there. And since then I started to devour the spiritist books, particularly the books of the codification, and those of André Luiz and Emmanuel received by the medium Francisco Cândido Xavier.
Tell us about your first years of spiritist service as an adult.
I began to teach at the spiritist school for children and youth, which I did for 13 years. I also participated in mediumship meetings, gave classes, including the mediumship course and gave talks on different subjects within Spiritism.
What is the most important lesson that Spiritism taught you?
That would be the understanding of why I am here in this planet and in this life. We are all here for the priceless opportunity to achieve our personal spiritual improvement.
What was your most memorable spiritist related experience?
Once I was talking to a person, in a meeting for spiritual studies, and all of a sudden I began to see the inside of this person’s throat. I saw that there was a focus of infection in it. I mentioned that to the person, and she confirmed to me that she was seeing a doctor for that.
However, the most extraordinary experiences is always when we see or feel the presence of enlightened spirits next to us, or when they give their messages through us. The residue of light and harmony that one feels is indescribable.
Tell us about how well known and accepted Spiritism is in Brazil, even in government and laws.
In spite of the official numbers presented by the Brazil’s Census (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística – IBGE) of the year 2000 that show a number of 2.3 million spiritists, it is estimated that in actuality there are 20 million people that follow Spiritism in that country. Spiritism is the third greatest ‘religious’ group in the country. It is estimated that the number of Spiritist organizations in Brazil are about 12,000 (Veja Magazine of April 26, 2000) with around 9,000 people enrolled in the courses offered by those groups.
An example of the scope that Spiritism reaches can be seen in its literary market, estimated in more than 80 thousand titles published in Brazil. The spiritist books are reaching even those who did not have the habit of reading books. The Brazilian Spiritist Federation alone has already published more than 400 titles that have sold 38.6 million copies (source: Brazilian Spiritist Federation and Wikipedia).
What do you say to the person who asks you to prove that spirits really exists?
We can introduce them to the basic books of the Spiritist Codification, in which the Spirits state that they are not here to perform a spectacle to convince the incredulous. However, they say that they are always near those who display goodwill and a real interest in attaining spiritual values.
But we can always ask them to prove the contrary!
What advice would you give to people just learning about Spiritism?
That they should go slowly. It is not the amount of books that you read that will make someone believe in the Spiritist principles, but the ability of incorporating them in one’s life through a real understanding of its postulates. This does not happen overnight. So, as you begin to familiarize yourself with the knowledge opened to you through Spiritism, give time for you spiritual self to grow and mature with it.
In addition, it is always very important to begin with the right books, which are, of course, the 5 books of the Spiritist Codification: The Spirits’ Book, The Mediums’ Book, The Gospel According to Spiritism, Heaven and Hell, and Genesis.
What advice would you give to a struggling medium?
If a person is struggling to control one’s mediumship the best advice we can give is for them to come for spiritual treatment, to receive some knowledge about mediumship, and to remember that the medium is always the owner of one’s body. They should ask for help and not let them be an amusement on the hands of unenlightened spirits.
The birth of Spiritist Group of New York:
Tell us about the events leading to the formation of the Spiritist Group of New York.
When we left Brazil, in 1993, first to live in London and them in New York, we started working with Spiritism in English.
For almost three years we joined the team of the Allan Kardec Spiritist Group, in London, then we were transferred to New York. This was in 1996. Since then, we have been working in the dissemination of the spiritist principles in the English language in the U.S.
We had a study group in English at the Spiritist Center that we attended, Allan Kardec Spiritist Center – NY, but it was only for one hour once a week, to study The Spirits’ Book. Some members of the group thought it would be great if we could meet more often and in this manner to deepen our studies and to expand it to the other books of the Codification. Since it was not possible to have the room for an extra meeting in the location we were having our weekly meeting, one of the attendees, an American married to a Brazilian, offered the conference room he had at his office. We began to have an extra meeting there, once a week for a couple of months. We then realized that we should not do that in an informal way, and that the best things to do would be to start a new Spiritist group destined to pursue the dissemination of Spiritism only in English.
It was in this manner that on April 12, 2001 we officially started the work of the Spiritist Group of New York, Inc. At that time we were only 7 members, but in a couple of weeks we had already twice this number. We then rented a room at the location we are up to this day. Since then, many people have come and gone. Four of our original founders have moved to other cities and have opened new Spiritist Groups. But we stand firm in our initial purpose, and little by little we are touching many friendly souls.
Creating a not-for-profit group in the USA:
The below is the basic introduction to creating a Spiritist Organisation from the United States Spiritist Council.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding
Registration of Spiritist Organizations
1-Since a Spiritist Center is not a Church, how should it be classified in the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) application for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations?
Under the 501(c)(3) classification for non profit organizations, the following are listed: Religious, Educational, Charitable, Scientific, Literacy, Testing for Public Safety, To Foster National Amateur Sports Competition, or Prevention of Cruelty to Children or Animal Organizations. (IRS Publication 557: Tax Exempt Status for Your Organization (1997)). The USSC itself has chosen the Charitable classification, as have many other Spiritist groups.
2-What about registering as a club under 501(c)(7) to qualify for some form of exemption?
The descriptions of the general activities for an organization as a club are “Pleasure, recreation, social activities.” (“General Nature of Activities” – IRS Publication 557: Tax-Exempt Status for Your Organization (1997)). Clearly the objectives of a Spiritist organization are not met under a club classification.
3-And a classification as an educational entity?
Some states might require registration under their Board of Education along with other requirements. Inquiries should be directed to pertinent agencies in the state where the incorporation is being sought to ascertain if the application is viable.
4-Regarding the religious aspect of Spiritism, what are the implications under the separation of state/church when a Spiritist organization makes use of a governmental facility (e.g., a school classroom) for their meetings? Should they omit their religious aspect in order to benefit from such an arrangement?
As long as the Spiritist groups/organizations are separated from the public school educational system, there are no implications for the use of classrooms, so long evidently as permission has been granted for such, with the agreement that the rules and regulations for this usage are followed as they would for any assembly. What non profit organizations are strictly prohibited of is discrimination against sex, religion, race, etc., in their meetings.
5-Is it possible for the USSC to offer materials regarding these matters?
The USSC can only offer these general guidelines, along with samples of articles of incorporation and bylaws. It is not empowered to dispense legal advice, and it can bear no responsibility in the independent decisions of Spiritist organizations as far as the structure and purposes chosen for their incorporation and governance. Moreover, there are different requirements for Spiritist entities subject to the rules and regulations of the states wherein their applications are filed.
However, knowing that there are tools to assist applicants in this process, the USSC researched and has found a comprehensive “step-by-step how-to” to assist in the registration of your organization as a non profit. Please visit the Website www.nonprofitlaw.com , Tax-Exemption in-a-day Workbook. It belongs to a law firm that serves a variety of tax-exempt organizations, and having reviewed the Workbook, the USSC finds it of excellent assistance.