A Kick in the Pants for Jewish Projects

Kickstarter.com Offers New Fundraising Framework

Golden Years: ‘Oma and Bella’ documents the lives of the filmmaker’s grandmother, Oma (right), and her best friend.
Courtesy alexa karolinski
Golden Years: ‘Oma and Bella’ documents the lives of the filmmaker’s grandmother, Oma (right), and her best friend.

By Margaret Eby

Published November 19, 2012, issue of November 16, 2012.
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Schmekel’s New Van

$2,000 goal met April 30, 2012. $2,664 total, 101 backers.

On Tour: Schmekel hits the road with its debut album.
Courtesy simcha halpert-hanson
On Tour: Schmekel hits the road with its debut album.

The world’s only all-Jewish all-transgendered klezmer band was in need of a method to bring their particular brand of humor and music to the people outside of Brooklyn. “Two years ago, Lucian [Kahn] made a joke in a diner that it would be funny to start a band of all-transmasculine Jews and call it ‘Schmekel’ (small penis), and to his surprise, hundreds of people wanted to listen to it,” explained founding member Simcha Halpert-Hanson. So the quartet looked to Kickstarter to help get some dough for a tour van. So many surprise supporters came out of the woodwork that the group got an extra $664 in donations, money that will surely be useful for some extra sandwiches. And thanks to the fine denizens of Kickstarter, Schmekel is bringing the stylings of their debut album “Queer on Rye” to a town near you.

Mifgash: Encountering Jewish Identity in the 21st Century

$10,000 goal met May 12, 2010. $10,330 total, 113 backers.

Seth Kroll and Dan Levine had exhausted all the usual funding routes for filmmaking when they hit upon Kickstarter to make “Mifgash,” a film examining the rise of Taglit-Birthright Israel, the program that provides free trips to Israel for Jewish 18- to 26-year-olds. “We noticed that regardless of season, year or school, there were certain commonalities between these trips,” Kroll said. The “Mifgash” team traced these connections, illustrating a network of new relationships the trip had forged, and a revived awareness of Jewish identity. Using another $10,330 raised from curious Kickstarter browsers, they completed the documentary, which went on to win accolades in several independent film festivals, including the Boston Jewish Film Festival.

Cozy: Geltfiend created Hanukkah swag as a Jewish answer to the Christmas sweater tradition. Below, Meshugene Divas, an opera and Jewish music hybrid performance, advertises its show.
Cozy: Geltfiend created Hanukkah swag as a Jewish answer to the Christmas sweater tradition. Below, Meshugene Divas, an opera and Jewish music hybrid performance, advertises its show.

Geltfiend’s Hanukkah Sweaters

$20,000 goal met September 5, 2012. $20,884 total, 293 Backers.

Carin Agiman’s idea came from too many holiday parties and too few options for festive winter wear. “We Jews didn’t have much going on in the holiday apparel department,” she said. So Agiman decided to change all that with Hanukkah-themed sweaters: a cardigan with dreidels dancing down the sleeves, a pullover with grinning snowmen in shtreimels and forelocks and a cute little gelt-printed number. “Kickstarter was the best chance I had to gain exposure and raise enough money to go into production,” Agiman said. With her goal of $20,000 met, expect to see Geltfiend’s sassy knits out in time for this year’s menorah lighting.

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