Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Grandma Sarah is Voting Obama!

Obamarama Granny!
My Jewish 94 year old Del Ray Beach, Florida Grandma is voting Obama! Fulfilling my Great Schlep responsibilities I called my mother this past weekend to check in on Grandma's voting status. My mother said, "Oh- she's voting Obama. Once Sarah Palin was announced Grandma knew voting for McCain wasn't an option."

Rage Grandma!

Big thanks to Mommy and Daddy Leven, Sisters Rachel and Meredith and cousin Randee Riot for rocking the Jew-Blue.

It looks like this Great Schlep thing really seems to have taken off:
"Schlep." A Yiddish word meaning to pull, yank or tug, schlep is a good way of describing what it took for Mike Bender to persuade his grandparents to vote for Sen. Barack Obama for president.

Bender's grandparents, Kenny and Selma Furst, 90 and 87 years old, should have been an easy sell to support the Democratic nominee for president.

Like many of the estimated 650,000 Jews living in Florida, the Fursts are lifelong, passionate Democrats and a crucial vote for any Democratic candidate hoping to win the battleground state.

But when Bender -- who is not affiliated with Obama's campaign but supports him -- brought up the idea of voting for Obama over Thanksgiving dinner last year, he was met with an uncharacteristic silence.

"Their reaction was, as they said, 'I'm a little meschugah,' " Bender said, adding that the expression meant "crazy."

For Selma Furst, voting for an African-American for president seemed unthinkable.

"I grew up with Jewish people and Italian people, but I never lived in a neighborhood that was black," she said. "Somebody said to me, 'What do you object to about him?' I said, well, truthfully, our colors are different."

Overcoming the prejudices of his grandparents' generation would be difficult, Bender realized. But he was not going to be alone.

[...]

The Silverman video quickly became a Web sensation, garnering about 2 million hits in the two weeks since it was posted on thegreatschlep.com, organizers said. Thousands of people pledged to call their relatives in Florida and more than 100 people volunteered to pay their own way to travel to the Sunshine State to campaign for Obama among Jewish voters, Wallach said.

Bender saw the Silverman video on YouTube in Los Angeles, California, where he works as a writer. Despite the humor of Silverman's call to schlep, the video's message resonated with Bender because of the difficulty he faced convincing his own grandparents.

"I thought it was brilliant," Bender said.

He decided to go to Florida and try one more time.

When Bender recently returned to his grandparents' retirement community in Tamarac, Florida, near Fort Lauderdale, he was greeted with several surprises. Months of telephone conversations and his trip had paid off: His grandparents told him shortly after he arrived that they were going to support Obama.

The next surprise was that his schlep had generated interest around their retirement community. A lot of interest. So many other seniors wanted to hear about Obama that the venue for a meeting on the subject had to be changed from the Furst's living room to a ballroom in the community's clubhouse.

An hour before Bender started to make his case about Obama on Sunday, groups of senior citizens were staking out space in the ballroom. Soon there were more than 100 people and no more chairs.

Sporting an Obama T-shirt with Hebrew writing on it, retiree Morty Brill said, "The economy, the war, you think you can trust Republicans to fix them?"

If there were any people in the room with reservations about Barack Obama, they kept those doubts to themselves.

As Bender told the crowd that Obama was not a Muslim and that Obama was a staunch supporter of Israel, he was met with heads nodding in agreement throughout the room.

However, Bender felt the need to drive the point further. If Obama was elected, he said, then Bender would not worry so much about politics and "would have more time to find a nice Jewish girl to marry."

Whether Mike Bender's schlep really changed any minds is anyone's guess, but the applause from the crowd was deafening.

5 comments:

oilman26 said...
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Jacob said...
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bstewart23 said...

Aw, Bubbie! You rock!

David said...

Well, neither of my grandmas moved to Florida and both of them are dead now, so once again I find myself outside the American Jewish norm.

Plus, neither of their briskets was ever "beyond."

Marker said...

Brava Grandma Sarah!

I only wish my mini-schlep to my parents (no grandparents left - Eugene and Sylvia and Louis and Helen are no longer with us) had gone as well. Seems my dad's a bit of a r-a-c-i-s-t. Who knew? I probably could've used some Great Schlep training, since our discussion dissolved into a shouting match.

On the brighter side, well done, Levens!