Courting the never-elusive Jewish vote.
Ringo Rosseman, a Philadelphia bartender, likes the online cartoon character Strong Bad, feels that light beer is synonymous with communism and is, according to friends, quite cuddly.
At least that's what you glean from Roseman's page on Facebook, the online gathering place for the Great Schlep, a political movement designed to get young Jewish voters to talk to their grandparents about voting for Obama. At 28, Roseman falls into the Schlep's target demo, which is why it was a clever gambit on the movement's part to utilize Sarah Silverman.
In a promotional video, Silverman tries to persuade, cajole and offend kids into talking to their relatives: "Explain to them that we're all the same inside. You know, you could compare an elderly Jewish woman like Nana to a young black man. They may seem totally different, but on paper, they're the same. I mean, think about it. Track suits. Let's start there. They both love track suits. They can't get enough of them. What else? Car of choice: the Cadillac. They're both crazy about their grandkids. What else? They like things and bling and money and jewelry and stuff. They both say 'yo' all the time, or Jews go right to left--'oy.'"
For Roseman, Silverman proved hilariously persuasive. "I've been a huge fan of Sarah Silverman's since 1995," he says. "Her video made me realize how important it is to impress upon my grandmother certain facts about the election and the direction of our country. She's a pretty smart lady, so I think it's working pretty well."
After their Schlep-inspired conversation, Roseman's grandmother, who lives in Winston-Salem, N.C., went to the library and checked out an audiobook about Obama. Their phone dialogue is going so well, Roseman says, he doesn't think he'll need to schlep to North Carolina. "But I will admit I used some reverse Jewish grandmother guilt on her, in reference to visiting, to help get her interested."
"The best way to persuade someone and to have real honest conversation is via a loved one," says Ari Wallach, 33, co-executive director of the Schlep's sponsoring organization--the federal PAC Jewish Council for Education & Research. "And there's no one grandparents love more than their grandkids."
The Schlep website and its Facebook group are intended, Wallach says, to encourage intergenerational dialogue. The Schlep team gives kids and relatives the tools--talking points, FAQs--and what Wallach calls a "passport" to have the conversations. "We open up a little portal to have a kitschy conversation and then move into serious issues."
And getting serious is important, says Wallach, given the smear emails that have been sent to elderly Jewish residents in retirement communities, like the one that said Obama took his Senate oath on the Koran.
PW's Music Issue 2014