It’s supposed to be a fashion item, a fundraiser, a connection-forger and a spokesperson-creator – a host of missions for one T-shirt.
The T-shirt is part of the NU Campaign, which will be using clothing to raise awareness and funds for a cause.
NU sells T-shirts with Israeli stories on them in an attempt to forge lasting connections between the wearers and the Israeli experience. The campaign is geared towards young adults and offers them a way to get involved in Israel on more than just a superficial level.
“We’re just using a simple fashion and clothing to make a statement,” explained David Kramer, the mastermind behind the campaign.
The campaign was named NU because the term “Nu?” – Hebrew slang for “So?” – is provocative.
“It begs a person to react and respond,” Kramer, 30, said.
And because the goal of the campaign – an all-volunteer affair – is to engage the public, Kramer wanted to create a brand name that does exactly that.
NU came on the scene a little more than a month ago, with the debut of its first T-shirt, a Sderot-themed top. The front bears a large 15, representing the number of seconds Sderot residents have between the time an air raid siren sounds until the time a rocket from Gaza hits their region.
The 15 is actually composed of words with Sderot statistics, facts about Qassams and stories about specific victims. It also incorporates related themes such as Gilad Schalit and the phrase “Never again,” a reference to the Holocaust.
Kramer said that using real events and real people strengthens the connection and makes it more powerful.
“It’s showing the human face behind the headlines,” said Jacob Shrybman, a spokesperson for the Sderot Media Center, which also sells the T-shirt.
The 15-second T-shirt, which sells for $25, is the only shirt that NU is selling for the next few months. After that, NU plans to launch its next T-shirt, “When the Shark and the Fish First Met,” based on a book Schalit wrote as a child.
So far, the NU campaign has been well received, especially by education and tourist groups and students. Within three weeks, over 500 T-shirts were sold, said Kramer.
On the inside portion of each T-shirt, over the heart, the story of the cause is printed in its entirety. The idea is that the wearer both absorbs the story internally and broadcasts it to others.
In fact, Kramer said, the sale of a T-shirt accomplishes three separate goals, each represented in the motto “Take a stand. Buy a shirt. Give back.”
First, the T-shirt turns the wearer into a spokesperson for a cause. Second, the buyer gets a quality, fashionable top. And third, buying the T-shirt helps raise money for the cause it represents.
For example, money from sales of the Sderot T-shirt is allocated to benefit the community theater at the Sderot Media Center. The actresses are all Sderot high school students who have been diagnosed with trauma, Shrybman, 23, said.
The girls are preparing to perform “The Youth of the Qassam,” a play whose script is based on their real-life stories. This gives the girls the chance to express their experiences, a phenomenon that is therapeutic for them and educational for their audiences.
Buying NU’s 15-second T-shirt helps fund this endeavor, Shrybman said.
“You’re buying more than a shirt,” said Shrybman. “You’re becoming part of a movement of change and awareness.”