Sarah Silverman Calls on Young Jews

One get-out-the-vote effort stands out in the digital world.

Comedian Sarah Silverman's profanity-strewn viral video "The Great Schlep" has been streamed at least an estimated 3 million times -- pleading to young Jews to persuade their grandparents to vote for Sen. Barack Obama.

Silverman minces no words: "If Barack Obama doesn't become the next president of the United States, I'm going to blame the Jews. I am," she said.

Produced by the Jewish Council for Education and Research, a political action committee, the video is trying to turn laughs -- and a little cultural self-deprecation -- into votes.

"We realized that at the end of the day the No. 1 way to convince people is to have one-on-one conversation with a loved one," said "The Great Schlep" Web site co-founder Ari Wallach. "And the No. 1 loved one of grandparents is their grandchildren."

Sarah Silverman
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"The Great Schlep" targets Florida, where Jews make up only about 5 percent of the population. But the 2000 election weighs heavily on the minds of some (Jewish guilt, possibly?).

That year, confusing butterfly ballots caused some elderly Palm Beach county residents to vote for a different candidate, when they intended to vote for Democrat Al Gore. Republican George W. Bush won the state by a 537-vote margin. In the video, Silverman goes on to explain why she will blame the Jews if Obama loses Florida.

"Oh, my God, Sarah, I can't believe you're saying this. Jews are the most liberal, scrappy, civil-rightsy people there are," she said in the video. "Yes, that's true, but you're forgetting a whole large group of Jews that are not that way and they go by several aliases: Nana, Papa, Zadie, Bubbie, plain old Grandma and Grandpa. These are the people who vote in Florida and the Florida vote can make or break an election."

Picture of Barbara Walters and Sarah Silverman on The View.
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Wallach and Schlep site co-founder Mik Moore drew up talking points so young people are prepared when they are at the dinner table with Nana and Papa -- speaking between bites of noodle kugel. The talking points, as well as the video, can be found on "The Great Schlep's" Web site, www.thegreatschlep.com.

No. 1 -- Obama is not a Muslim. Silverman translates:

"Yes, Barack Hussein Obama, it's a super-f------ s----- name. But you'd think that somebody name Manishchewitz Gooberman might understand that."

The talking points also emphasize that Obama has a record of supporting Israel. "Obama Hearts Israel and So Do You."

Gov. Palin and Sen. Biden
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And the closer is sure to melt the heart of any Jewish grandmother. Of Obama, Silverman says, with all-seriousness, "His brisket is beyond. It's beyond."

Wallach said downloads of Silverman's video peaked just after dinnertime on Rosh Hashanah last month. By his estimate, because people often watch the video in groups, at least 6 million Jews and non-Jews have seen Silverman's rant.

So far, more than 22,000 people have joined "The Great Schlep" on Facebook, a place for "Schleppers" to connect and arrange to share rides to Florida or other swing states.

Facebook wall postings give other Schleppers advice and share successes, including:

"10 converts to Obama. Six in Boca, four in Pompano."

"I told Grans that Obama will make sure Wall Street and Washington finish their Gefilte Fish."

"I even got my bubie to say "GOBAMA!"

Wallach said a key component of "The Schlep" is that it doesn't have to be a physical journey. If time and money prevent a trip to grandma's couch, a phone call can work just as well.

"Schlepping is really a state of mind," Wallach said. "We set up tools for young Jews to do virtual schleps, so they can pick up the phone and they can send e-mails. They can still communicate with their Bubbie and Zadie in a way that lets them know how important Obama is to the future of this country."

Finally, Silverman tells Schleppers, only partially tongue-in-cheek, that if facts don't work with grandparents, use threats. "If they vote for Barack Obama, they're gonna get another visit this year," she said. "If not, let's just hope they stay healthy until next year."

Let's hope Nana and Papa stay healthy either way they vote. And a good laugh from watching Sarah Silverman might even help.

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