THE JEWS OF IRAN
The Jews of Iran are one of the most important communities of Jews, with the least amount of widely available information about them. A series of humorous online videos about the misunderstood Persian Jews will highlight their unimaginably cool history and culture, from the beginning of the diaspora to the present day.
Alan Niku is a writer and MFA filmmaker from the only Persian-Kurdish-Assyrian-Jewish family in San Luis Obispo, California. He has written and directed comedic shorts, music videos, mockumentaries, and a Bollywood-style action flick shot in the back-alleys of LA. His dozen feature and TV pilot scripts are, in the words of his grandmother, "get that computer out of my face, weirdo."
THE ERASED JEWISH MESSIAH
In 1666, the majority of Jews believed the Messiah had come, but when he had a sudden embarrassing downfall, nearly all evidence of him was destroyed. The fallout involved a hundred years of copycat messiahs and the end of one version of what Judaism used to be. This is the story of Sabbatai Zevi, The Erased Jewish Messiah.
Jeremy Shuback is a video journalist whose work appears on channels ranging from the Wall Street Journal to Johnny Harris. As a writer, editor, and director, he's helped create hundreds of videos, many with millions of views. Somewhere along the way he got obsessed with history, and now spends his free time making YouTube videos about esoteric minutiae from hundreds of years ago.
PALE OF SETTLEMENT
Digital Graphic Novel
PALE OF SETTLEMENT is a comic-- a YA Webtoon adventure set in 1881, about a rabbi’s headstrong daughter who sets out in search of the legendary Golem after a pogrom destroys her shtetl and the Cossacks kidnap her father. It’s set in the far reaches of the Czar’s Russian empire—think STRANGER THINGS-meets-FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (but without the songs).
Josh is a writer/cartoonist living in Los Angeles whose TV credits include LEGACIES (CW), WARIGAMI (CW) and G.I. JOE: RENEGADES (The HUB). Josh’s published works include the graphic novels THE VERY FINAL LAST GIRLS, CHARM CITY and a handful of pieces in MAD Magazine. Originally from Maryland, Josh previously worked as a newspaper reporter in the Washington, D.C. area, where he covered everything from Congress to the Warped Tour.
NAVAH HAS THOUGHTS
A comedy web series in which Navah Wassman, a faltering woman in her 30s, begins hearing the voice of God. And must grapple with the tough questions, such as if she had to choose between wisdom and chocolate, which would she choose? It’s a series about the Divine in the miniscule.
Alexandra Zahav is an actor, writer, director. She judges the top screenwriting competitions and coaches screenwriters, as well as facilitates Jewish spiritual dance workshops. She has spent over a decade focused on seeking knowledge and understanding of self, others, and God, and chasing ever-elusive wisdom.
Hanna Anderson + Mollie Biskar
THIS ONE TIME AT JEWISH SUMMER CAMP
Social Media Episodic
“This One Time at Jewish Summer Camp” is a digital documentary short series that explores the nearly universal American Jewish experience of summer camp. When we meet a Jewish person, we ask, “Where did you go to camp?” Not did you go to camp, but where. Even on the off-chance that they didn’t go themselves, most American Jews will know someone who did.
But Jewish camp is barely represented in the media, besides a few mentions in TV shows, camp-produced montages on YouTube, and one JDate commercial. With this series, Mollie and Hanna will follow the culture and community of the camps that made many American Jews who they are. They will do this through the lens of a Jewish comedian looking back at her own summers, as the specificity of camp is universal. There are awkward first kisses, painful color war losses, sore throats after song sessions, and many coming-of-age moments in between.
Mollie and Hanna have always told stories, both independently and as a team, that are authentic, empowering, and often about outspoken women. They collaborate on “The Dating Detectives” podcast.
I am passionate about sharing the culture and values of the Hasidic community in a way that educates and fosters tolerance. My YouTube channel reaches a diverse audience, and as a new projects I’ll both launch a weekly 'Food Friday' short series that is educational and delicious. I will cover different traditional foods and their stories, from the hupchokes I find at Brighton Beach to the delkelech I get in Boro Park. Additionally, I’ll produce an animated short, based on one of my most compelling essays.
Frieda Vizel grew up in the Satmar Hasidic community of Kiryas Joel. Although she left the fold in her twenties, she continues to connect with the Orthodox Jewish community through her work as a Brooklyn tour guide and Youtuber. Her lively Youtube channel explores Hasidic life through interviews, street visits, analysis, food, holidays, and more.
Social Media Episodic
If my mother was a teenager now, she’d be an influencer. She was born to Jewish refugees during WW2 in occupied France and she longed to move to Israel. But by the time she was 18, she had to decide between following her dream or use her fashion sense to save her family from bankruptcy. My project is to use archival photos and interviews to recreate her immigrant survivor narrative, on IG, Youtube and Tiktok.
Natacha is a storyteller, media producer and educator. Her documentary work has appeared at the MoMA, the Whitney Museum of American Art, as well as on National Geographic, NBC NY, and Link TV. Her podcasting work has appeared on NPR affiliates nationally and locally. She was the managing editor of the beloved educational podcasts Duolingo French.
She currently teaches multimedia storytelling at the University of San Francisco and explores the boundaries between French and English on stage in two solo shows.
Digital Graphic Novel
Grappling with family legacies of addiction, trauma and mental illness, genderqueer visual storyteller Play Steinberg wrestles with the past, seeking healing and reclamation amidst her lost Jewish roots.
Play Steinberg is a mapmaker and meaning-maker, drawing connections, queering boundaries and transcending limits wherever she goes. A visual storyteller, facilitator and scribe, Play’s present work is driven by a quest to uncover the divine and lay claim to the true spiritual inheritance that awaits her. Play is currently based on the north shore of Lake Tahoe.
SHOFAR SO GOOD
For Jews who don’t remember or didn’t go to Hebrew school and or are too afraid to ask, Shofar So Good is a podcast series that aims to teach the basics of Judaism, from “who is Elijah,” to “how to set a Shabbat dinner table.” Told with patience and humor, this Drunk History-meets-Sesame Street audio series will answer the questions secular Jews are wondering but too afraid to Google.
Kate Mishkin is a podcast producer and writer whose reporting has taken her from from the Allegheny Mountains in West Virginia, to the beaches in San Onofre, California. Her work has appeared in ProPublica, The Guardian, and the LA Times.
JEWISH FOLKLORE REACTIONS
Social Media Episodic
Jewish Folklore Reactions is a fresh, modern, meta retelling of Midrash, folktales, and legends, designed to meet Millennial and Gen Z Jews where we already are—on TikTok, Instagram, Youtube, and emerging social media platforms. With an entirely digital creation process, Jewish Folklore Reactions reinvigorates Jewish storytelling, providing engaging, personally authentic, and meaningful contemporary exploration of Jewish themes, heritage, history, culture, and identity in a short-form video format.
Miriam Anzovin is a visual artist, writer, content creator, and massive Jewish nerd, exploring the juxtaposition of pop culture, nerd culture, and Jewish culture.
Her comedic, yet heartfelt, short-form videos on Jewish text learning, particularly of the Talmud in the Daf Reactions Project, include her authentic reactions from her perspective of a formerly Orthodox, now secular, Millennial feminist. She exists at the intersection of Sefaria and Sephora, and also in some people’s minds, where she lives rent free.
MEET THE JEWS
I'm very excited to create a series of cartoons highlighting the oft-minimized variety and diversity within the global Jewish community. I'll be recording conversations with Jewish people of all ages, nationalities, ethnicities and religious beliefs from all over the world. I'll then create short pieces that feature audio from those conversations alongside animation to illustrate and amplify their stories and perspectives.
Alex Salsberg is an independent animation director who loves telling stories through funny, weird and heartfelt cartoons. Alex has directed videos for Billy Ray Cyrus and Utkarsh Ambudkar, and has worked on projects for MTV, Nickelodeon and WGBH. He is also co-writer and director of the award-winning comedy short "Class of 84," about a Jewish family facing anxiety and mortality, and host of "I Loved This Conversation," a podcast about people living creative lives.
An animated series about miscarriage and other taboo topics.
Chari Pere is a cartoonist and creative director who has worked on projects for Red Bull, Jockey, Disney, Comedy Central, and Bud Light. She has created content for The Washington Post’s The Lily and Mad Magazine, and has collaborated with NYT bestselling author Gretchen Rubin. In addition to creating coloring pages and comics, Chari's "Cartoonmentary" comic series about miscarriages and other taboo topics was launched with help from actress Mayim Bialik.
Alex Aciman + Roy Yerushalmi
Parts Unknown meets Curb Your Enthusiasm: two Jewish food writers from opposite sides of the globe explore the history of Jewish cuisine.
Alexander Aciman is a journalist and screenwriter, who has written about food and family recipes for Tablet, and currently works for The New York Times/Wirecutter, and has worked on the food documentary series Rotten, for Netflix. Roy Yerushalmi is a journalist and a culinary writer from Israel. In recent years, he has been working on a cookbook, focusing on his Sephardic Turkish-Spanish heritage, as well as on a PHD in gastronomic history, dedicated to the formation of the concept of national cuisines in the East Mediterranean throughout the 20th century. Roy divides its his time between his home in Tel Aviv and the Princes Islands in Istanbul.