By Joel Magalnick, Editor, The Jewish Sound
This morning, they flipped the switch, and the most recent cohort of crowd-sourcing projects launched for six projects that its organizers hope will provide positive engagement for the Seattle area’s Jewish community.
J-Kick, the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle’s version of the popular Kickstarter online crowdfunding platform, gives any nonprofit organization the ability to raise funds more broadly than might be possible through just their own networks. Six diverse programs are being offered this time around:
- The 2015 Legislative Seder: For the past decade, the Jewish Federation has joined with other local organizations to host a legislative Passover seder, which brings our state’s lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to Temple Beth Hatfiloh in Olympia to show how the story of Passover, when the Jews made their exodus from slavery to freedom, is not so different from decisions our elected officials must make today.
“It’s one of the very few opportunities that Jewish lobbyists, Jewish legislators, Jewish staff members and non-Jews have a chance to come together and experience something that’s authentically Jewish,” said Zach Carstensen, the Federation’s director of government relations and public affairs. “At its very nature, it’s a community project, so considering that, I think it makes it really well suited for crowd funding.”
- Pro-Israel Ad Campaign: To counter ads on buses over the past four years that have contained “horrific allegations that defamed both Israel and, indirectly, our Jewish community,” according to the campaign description, local Israel advocacy organization StandWithUs Northwest is hoping to raise $4,000 to create ads “with facts and a positive presentation of the Israel we know and love.”
- The Shabbos Project: This October, a successful project in South Africa that brought 5,000 Jews together to observe and celebrate a full day of Shabbat, is going global.
“The beauty about the Shabbos project and the beauty about Shabbos in general is that it’s for every Jew,” said Rabbi Dr. Warren Goldstein, chief rabbi of South Africa, in the video posted on the J-Kick site. “It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, what your level of observance is…. Shabbos belongs to the entire Jewish people. This is a Jewish unity project.”
The Shabbos Project hopes to raise $18,000 to create Shabbat kits to distribute to families, hold a community-wide challah bake, and help multiple families host Shabbat dinners.
- The C.A.R.E. Channel for the Kline Galland Nursing Facility: Seattleite Karen Zimmer discovered the C.A.R.E. Channel (Continuous Ambient Relaxation Environment) while her father was receiving care at Virginia Mason hospital. Zimmer hopes to raise $13,250 so the TV channel, which shows continuous images of constantly changing scenery coupled with relaxing music, can be installed on the Kline Galland’s cable system.
“I’m spreading happiness. I like to bring some happiness and joy into their lives,” Zimmer said. “It’ll help people sleep better, it’ll help them enjoy the day. It really is beneficial in so many ways.”
- Blues for Challah: Grateful Dead fans rejoice! This joint project between Temple De Hirsch Sinai and the Jewish Federation hopes to raise $5,000 to hold a Shabbaton in this area based on a similar program at the Isabella Freedman Center in Connecticut “thatbrings together musicians, fans, scholars and students for fellowship, study, worship and ardent appreciation of the music of the Grateful Dead,” according to the J-Kick description. The weekend would feature different options for Shabbat services, discussions, kids’ activities, meditation and yoga, and of course live music.
- Beth Shalom Early Childhood Center Beautification Project: To create a more nurturing and positive environment for the young children it serves, Congregation Beth Shalom hopes to raise $5,000 to recreate its entry common areas, and add Jewish art to the classrooms. This fund would also create a resource library for the center’s teachers.
While some of these projects have already received pledges on their first day, they don’t actually receive any funding until they hit the two-thirds mark, so there’s a challenge to the project sponsors to get people to sign on. All pledges are accepted online at www.j-kick.org, and credit cards are charged within 10 days of the campaign’s close.