What Can Graphic Novels do for Jewish Literacy? With Your Help, a LOT!

$5,141   raised
GOAL: $3,500

71

 Donors

Support this cause and make a difference

This campaign receives the funds directly as soon as the funds are processed.

Who I Am

Hi. I am an artist, illustrator, and author and I love making and writing about contemporary Jewish Art. But before that, I made conceptual art with electrical wires. How did I go from wires to Jewish art? It started with a memory.

Rialto Bridge, illustration, Ben Schachter

In 2002, I studied abroad in Venice Italy. The streets wound their way over bridges and under buildings. The Venetians threaded these streets everyday! Flash forward to 2007, I came across a map of Venice that included the outline of its eruv. An eruv is a symbolic Jewish enclosure that embraces an entire neighborhood. For Orthodox and traditional Jewish communities the boundary declares the space within as one communal home, which allows people to carry objects on the Sabbath. In my imagination, I saw the eruv threading its way through the city like the Venetians.

Up until that point, I had very little experience with eruv maps and so I did a little reading. I was captivated by all the rules described in the Talmud. Why? Like electrical wiring, the eruv had to be a loop and the wires could not cross. For the next ten years, I made eruv map paintings with acrylic and thread on paper. They were very well received! Here is one article about my work.

Venice Eruv 2007, Ben Schachter

But as time passed, and I read more Talmud, I realized that my conceptual artwork didn’t capture something else that started to become more and more interesting – the lives of the sages.

What Is Akhnai Pizza About?

Akhnai Pizza is my first comic book. It will be the first of a series of visual stories that explore how sages treated each other in Jewish literature and why that might be important to us today. Akhnai Pizza is my retelling of the famous debate between Rabbi Eliezer and others – The Oven of Akhnai. Their disagreement focuses on an oven that is cut into coils like a snake. Eliezer says that the oven can never be ritually soiled. To prove it, he calls on a tree, a river, the walls of a building, and Heaven. Indeed! Heaven agrees with Rabbi Eliezer.

What was the sages response? Did they accept Heaven’s decree? No. They famously say, “The Law is not in Heaven!” This is understood to mean that since Jewish Law had already been given to the Jewish people at Mt. Sinai, it is the people – and the sages – who interpret it. Sometimes, people stop reading the story at this point. But there is more! Rabbi Eliezer is excommunicated and and it only gets worse from there!

Akhnai Pizza is my contemporary retelling of this tale. The characters argue over the best pizza in the city. Instead of a tree getting up and walking away, one of Pittsburgh’s famous bridges steps off its moorings. Throughout, I focus on the characters, what they are feeling, what they want, and how a friendly argument descends into mistrust.

Want to know what happens next? Support visual biblical story telling and find out!

But even more important than that, be part of the story.

Help bring Jewish texts and modern storytelling together.

Why is Akhnai Pizza Important?

Akhnai Pizza will be the first of several stories that I will produce.  It is written for readers who like graphic novels and comic books who might not know much about Jewish texts – yet! My stories are not just another illustration of Jewish literature. My stories reinterpret them for new readers. In Akhnai Pizza friends discuss the best pizza in the city, they argue over sports – just like the rest of us. But the story also explores human nature, why we lose friendships, and maybe what we can do about it. A comic book is the ideal form to tell that story. And it all starts with an innocent question, “What makes Akhnai Pizza the best?”

And that brings me to the second reason Akhnai Pizza and future illustrated stories are important. Comic books and Graphic novels do not lack for Jewish content. From Maus to recent visual editions of Anne Frank’s Diary, the Jewish imagination is thriving. Akhnai Pizza contributes to our collective imagination in another way. It makes direct connections to our written and spoken traditions and our lived experience using a popular form – visual story telling.

Support Akhnai Pizza and visual story telling, today.

Why I Need Your Help

I need you to help me complete this project and begin others. I have been working on the illustrations for over a year. But I need you for the last part, publishing and distributing Akhnai Pizza. Once this comic is completed, I will be able to produce more with the experience and knowledge I gained with your support. I hope that it will be widely read and that it will be the first of many! Let’s expand Jewish literacy together!

Support this cause and make a difference

This campaign receives the funds directly as soon as the funds are processed.

More Ways to Learn About this Cause

  • September 22, 2020 1:17 pm

    Hello everyone!

    I have good news! I will have the pages of Akhnai Pizza ready for the printer by the end of September, if not sooner! Thank you for your patience and your support.

    At the same time, I am preparing to mail Akhnai Pizza. If your mailing address changed since you supported this project, please let me know.

    Sincerely,

    Ben Schachter

2021-04-27
David Russell
2021-03-25
Tim Appleton
$18
2020-12-20
Marc Goldberg
$18
2020-11-23
Mark Gottlieb
$36
"Kol HaKavod, Ben, best of luck!"
2020-11-11
Billy Wisse
$100
"So excited to support this project and of course to consume it! Love from the L.A. Wisses"
2020-11-09
Harry Chaikin
$36
2020-11-05
Yechiel N. Berkowicz, M.D.
$18
2020-10-27
Liel Leibovitz
$18
2020-10-19
Johanna Frank
$18
2020-10-19
Anonymous donor
2020-10-17
Gary Steinberg
$18
2020-10-16
Sam Henteleff
$18
2020-10-16
Anonymous donor
2020-10-03
Steven M. Bergson
$18
2020-09-06
Rabbi Deborah Goldmann
$18
"Looking forward to it! We need more Jewish graphic novels :-)"
2020-08-31
Anonymous donor
$340
2020-08-31
Jason Wiser
$18
"Very excited to see the final version!"
2020-08-25
David Chudnow
$36
2020-08-24
Eva Raby
2020-08-09
Anonymous donor
"So excited about this book!"
2020-07-30
Anonymous donor
2020-07-10
Anne Fishman and Dan Schachter
"A boundary breaking project! !בהצלחה"
2020-07-10
Jonathan Homrighausen
2020-07-07
Andrew Julo
$36
2020-07-03
Anonymous donor
2020-07-02
Barry Faigen & Debby Eisner
$36
"Great stuff! innovative as well as unique and creative. looking forward to more of your work."
2020-07-01
Anonymous donor
"very much looking forward to reading and sharing this"
2020-06-27
Anonymous donor
$250
2020-06-25
Elhassid Family
$18
"We can't wait for the book!"
2020-06-24
Anonymous donor
2020-06-24
Dustin Atlas
$18
2020-06-23
Anonymous donor
$18
2020-06-23
Rachel Steinberg
2020-06-23
Stefanie Small
$18
2020-06-23
Jordan Rosenblum
2020-06-23
Dr Victor Majzner
$18
"Jewish art rocks"
2020-06-22
Kate Palley
$18
2020-06-22
Heather & Michael Vidmar-McEwen
2020-06-22
Anonymous donor
2020-06-22
Julie and Rob Paris
$36
"We are so excited about this project and can't wait to read your comic with our kids! Yasher Koach!"
2020-06-22
Ron Wohlgemuth
$18
"Messages through art will bring positivity to a struggling world--fantastic job, Ben!!!..."
2020-06-21
Anonymous donor
2020-06-21
Laura Levitt
$18
"Good luck, this looks great!"
2020-06-21
Donna Moran
"Congratulations!"
2020-06-19
Yona Verwer
"Congratulations Ben Schachter. You are a Renaissance man!"
2020-06-19
Anonymous donor
"Wonderful project worthy of support."
2020-06-19
Behrmann Cohen Plaut
2020-06-18
Oren Dobzinski
$36
"It looks awesome! Yishar Koach, Ben!"
2020-06-18
Jacob Wisse
2020-06-17
Rabbi Fredric Pomerantz
$36
2020-06-17
Anonymous donor
2020-06-17
Anonymous donor
"I love the concept -- the rich, layered meanings of the original tale; the visual form; retelling the story in a contemporary setting; introducing a whole new set of folk to Jewish thought and practice. Beautiful and brilliant. All the strands weaving tog"
2020-06-17
Jennie and Richard Schachter
2020-06-16
Anonymous donor
$250
"Very excited about this book!"
2020-06-16
Avram Avishai
$18
"Congratulations on making it this far!"
2020-06-16
Anonymous donor
2020-06-16
Samantha Baskind
$18
2020-06-16
Anonymous donor
2020-06-16
Joel Silverstein
$18
"Good luck, Ben!!!"
2020-06-15
Rabbi Mordechai Rackover
"Looking forward to seeing it!"
2020-06-15
Aaron Ziff
$36
2020-06-15
Kim Ramirez
$36
2020-06-15
Charles McWade
$100
2020-06-15
Michael Prywes
"Mazal tov, Ben! Can’t wait to read!"
2020-06-15
Billy Wisse
$150
"Happy to help bring Ben's talents and unique vision to more of the kehilla and world!"
2020-06-15
Zack Block
$36
"I'm so excited to read this! Mazal Tov Ben!"
2020-06-15
Anonymous donor
2020-06-15
Anonymous donor
2020-06-13
Anonymous donor
$8
2020-06-13
Anonymous donor
2020-06-11
Anonymous donor
$36

What Can Graphic Novels do for Jewish Literacy? With Your Help, a LOT!

$5,141   raised
GOAL: $3,500

71

 Donors

Campaign organizer profile img
Campaign by
Ben Schachter
PA, USA

Hi! I am an artist, illustrator, and author. I bring Jewish texts and ideas into my work. My artwork has been exhibited at the Jewish Museum in New York, the Jewish Museum in Berlin, The Westmoreland Museum in PA, and throughout the United States. I was also invited to participate in the Jerusalem Biennale in 2017. My illustrations can be found on 929.com, a website that publishes daily interpretations of Tanakh. Also, take a look for my book, "Image, Action, and Idea in Contemporary Jewish Art." I live in Pittsburgh with my wife and four children.

  • One Slice To-Go
    34 claimed

    One Slice To Go contributions will receive a printed copy of Akhnai Pizza.

  • Combo
    11 claimed

    Combo contributions will receive a digital copy and printed copy of Akhnai Pizza.

  • Whole Pie
    6 claimed

    A Whole Pie contribution includes a digital copy, 2 printed copies, and 1 printed SIGNED copy of Akhnai Pizza

  • Dinner Deluxe
    4 claimed

    Dinner Deluxe contribution will receive a digital copy, 2 printed copies, 1 printed SIGNED copy. UPDATE! The comic book has been printed. Contributions at the Dinner Deluxe level no longer will include names in the acknowledgements.

  • Ultimate Pizza Supreme
    0 claimed

    Each Ultimate Pizza Guy contribution will receive a full package of 20 copies of Akhnai Pizza, a link to a digital copy, PLUS 1 additional printed SIGNED copy. Pizza Guys can also schedule a 1 hour virtual call with Ben Schachter who will talk to a class, community group, or congregation. Those 10 copies can be for participants. Ben will discuss his creative process. How does he turn Jewish texts into pictures? And they will already have copies of Akhnai Pizza to share with their members before the call! UPDATE: The comic book has been printed. Names will no longer be added to the acknowledgements for contributors at this level. (Live appearances can be discussed but are not guaranteed or promised with this pledge level.)

  • Don't see the amount you want to donate? Every contribution helps!

If you find this campaign interesting, you might also like these ones:

Help Fund Our 2021 Jewish Outdoor Adventure Programming | Donate to Lech Lecha

Non-denomenational, transformative wilderness adventures with flexible pricing

by Lech Lecha
  • 18%funded
  • $2,107raised
  • 6 days to go
  • 27 donors
Help Jewish Singles across the World find love in the right way!

Through video-first virtual dating, Isodate is helping to create lasting Jewish relationships!

by Isodate - The World's Leading Virtual Speed Dating Platform.
  • 0%funded
  • $100raised
  • 39 days to go
  • 1 donors
Help Build a Stronger Connection to Torah

A new book of short Torah thoughts for any occasion!

by Rabbi Michael Fine
  • 59%funded
  • $8,861raised
  • ongoing
  • 122 donors