Erik Levis is Jspace News’ pop and consumer culture correspondent
If Woody Allen ever makes a film in Israel, Rob Eshman will get the “kavod.” But a small group of Los Angeles-based social entrepreneurs should get a well-deserved handshake, too.
News reports about LA newspaper publisher Eshman’s valiant campaign to bring Allen to Israel to make a film have been in abundance in the last few days. Less reported, meanwhile, has been the integral role of Jewcer, a new crowd-funding platform, in the effort.
Launched in September 2011, Jewcer provides social entrepreneurs (“project managers”) with a mechanism to raise money for their Jewish-themed projects. It’s an all-or-nothing crowd-funding apparatus; project managers either hit their funding target by deadline and collect, or they fall short and get nothing.
Seems cruel, but it’s a model that emphasizes accountability and trust among the project managers and the funders, called “jewcers.”
Jewcer, which likens itself to a Jewish version of Kickstarter, says it receives an average of four proposals per day, most of which are rejected for a variety of reasons. But when Eshman approached Jewcer on July 2 seeking help and stewardship to create a grassroots Jewish crowd-funding campaign for a guy named “Woody,” there was no hesitation.
“It was pretty obvious that we were going to do it. What usually takes us three or four days to set up took us less than 24 hours,” said Amir Give’on, one of Jewcer’s five founders. “We worked with him and gave him regular advice on how to do crowd-funding.”
Give’on, a NASA scientist in his professional life, admits that crowd-funding is fraught with challenges, particularly for a Jewish community that is not used to the concept of small gifts from a broad base of donors. And Eshman’s goal of raising $9 million by August 23 is ambitious. As of July 13, nearly $17,000 has beenraised. Despite the obstacles, Give’on is optimistic that the Jewish community will support the campaign.
“History shows us that not all projects succeed. But this one has all the necessary components: an iconic Jewish idea and a big-name Jewish personality,” he said. “Now it’s just a matter of getting the community behind it.”
Perhaps just as importantly for Jewcer is the attention such a high-level project is getting. Asked if he would want a role in a Woody Allen film if the project raises the necessary capital, Give’on was totally clear.
“We all do!”
Donate to the project on Jewcer here.