Schlepping for Obama

The Boston roots of Sarah Silverman's Jewbama crusade
By SARA FAITH ALTERMAN  |  October 9, 2008


VIDEO: Sarah Silverman and the Great Schlep

Chances are, by now you’ve heard about the Great Schlep, the Sarah Silverman–endorsed political/social experiment that’s urging Jewish youth to trek down to vital swing-state Florida this weekend and encourage their doting grandparents to vote for Barack Obama. But did you know, smarty pants, that the movement originated in Cambridge? (Very disappointing, Brookline — I thought you’d be all over this.) The idea was conceived by Marla Felcher, an adjunct professor at the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government and a fervid Obama supporter.

“I teach marketing for nonprofits,” says Felcher. “Part of that is social marketing, and how to figure out whose opinion the target market values. I’d read a New York Times article about elderly Jews in Florida who aren’t supporting Obama. I started thinking about my mother, and whose opinion she values, and there’s a clear answer — Jewish grandparents value and listen to their grandchildren. So let’s get the grandchildren to do the work.”

While the project has quickly gained popularity via a viral video featuring Silverman in all her adorably caustic glory, Felcher first got it off the ground in micro-viral fashion. “I wrote up a pitch letter and e-mailed it to everyone I knew. I figured somebody would know somebody who would know somebody.”

Turns out, somebody knew somebody who knew long-time Phoenix contributor Harvey Silverglate and his wife, Elsa Dorfman, who loved the concept and passed it along to their son, Isaac, who works for New York ad agency Droga5. The agency, along with a political action committee, the Jewish Council for Education and Research, ran with Felcher’s idea, and the grassroots movement has taken on a life of its own. Until November 4, anyway.

“I think the Great Schlep is important for this particular election, for this set of circumstances,” says Felcher. “Hopefully we won’t need it the next time. President Obama will do such a good job that all the Jews will rally around him for his second term.”

  Topics: This Just In , Barack Obama, Elections and Voting, Politics,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY SARA FAITH ALTERMAN
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   INTERVIEW: ANDY RICHTER  |  November 25, 2009
    We have a chub for Andy Barker, P.I. (just released out on DVD), because we have a major chub for the show’s star, Andy Richter. Richter plays an accountant who is mistaken for a detective-for-hire and decides to just roll with it. 
  •   REVIEW: SPREAD  |  August 19, 2009
    If only there were some way to watch a con-artist houseboy give his cougar sugar mama a squirming reach-around, charm the pants off a candy-necklace string of countless empty-eyed Hollywood stick figures, lose his heart to an untouchable social chameleon, and, in the process, find himself .
  •   NORTHERN EXPOSURE  |  July 29, 2009
    While New York is grittier, Los Angeles juicier, and Boston is wicked smahter, for some odd reason it is Montreal that, for two weeks every summer, becomes the epicenter of the comedy universe.
  •   JUST FOR LAUGHS  |  July 27, 2009
    Blogs, Tweets, and comedy video direct from moose country
  •   BEAT THE TWEET  |  July 22, 2009
    Warm weather is supposed to be accessorized by lackaday, by a breezy sensibility best enjoyed with a frosty tall boy in one hand, the sloppy product of a back-yard barbecue in the other. Instead, I find myself struggling to balance my beer between my knees and my overstocked paper plate on my thigh as I furiously poke at my BlackBerry.

 See all articles by: SARA FAITH ALTERMAN