August 27, 2009, Updated September 14, 2012

A young Israeli activist has launched a new campaign to raise awareness about Israel by selling T-shirts that tell a story.

David Kramer was walking through the bustling Jerusalem food market Machane Yehuda when he got the Eureka idea for naming his non-profit education and advocacy ‘Nu’. Pushing and elbowing his way through the weekend crowds, a man fell over.

“It was a big crazy rush,” says Kramer. The man that fell looked up to the person behind him and said “Nu?” Kramer saw it as a call to action: “Something happened and he wanted this person to act. He wanted a response.”

Nu is a multipurpose colloquial word in Hebrew used for eliciting a response from someone. It most closely resembles the English word c’mon. Liking the way it sounded to the English ear, Kramer adopted Nu and launched his campaign.

The self-described Israeli activist uses the freshly launched Nu campaign to sell T-shirts that tell a story about Israel. Aiming to launch multiple designs and multiple campaigns, the first Nu T-shirt exposes the stories of people in the Israeli town of Sderot who for years have lived with rocket attacks from Gaza.

Not your average Spring Break party T

The T-shirt is designed with graffiti inside a large number 15, for the 15 seconds it takes to get into a bomb shelter after a Qassem rocket is launched from Gaza. Inscribed with facts about life in Sderot under fire, it’s a T that you won’t buy in Florida during Spring Break parties: Nu’s T-shirt tells an important story.

In the “15” shirt, the story is about a 17-year-old Israeli girl Ella Abekasis, who shielded her little brother as a rocket fell nearby. Ella died, but her bravery lives on in the T-shirt, a symbol to commemorate all those who have suffered and lost their lives at the hands of the Hamas terrorists trying to dismantle the lives of people in Sderot.

It is important, Kramer tells ISRAEL21c, that every Nu T-shirt represents not just a story, but a personal story, and the ultimate aim is to give a platform for exploring, discussing and advocating support for Israel, a country which he loves and which faces some of the toughest international criticism for its actions.

Proceeds from the “15” T will go to a girl’s high school in Sderot which teaches art therapy theater as a way to act out against the rockets. Giving them funding will allow the girls to take their personal stories and show on the road to international stages.

“15” is the first, but in all campaigns, a large percentage of the proceeds will go to a cause, and hopefully, according to organizers, will have a multiplier effect.

A personal campaign close to the heart

As a spokesperson at the United Nations for the Union of Jewish Students, Kramer – who came to Israel from South Africa 10 years ago – has spent his life focused on the subject of Israeli advocacy. Teaching student groups is part of this work. To reach them, Kramer would grab hold of a personal story about an Israeli to help show the reality of life in Israel.

“When I connect them to a personal story the connection is stronger,” says Kramer, who now sells the Nu T-shirts “with a story” for $25 through the website

Each T will carry a different design on the front, to symbolize a “cause” in Israel, while close to the heart on the inside of the T will be a personal story behind what inspired the T-shirt’s creation.

The next campaign, which will feature a childhood illustration by the Israeli captive soldier Gilad Shalit, called a Shark and a Fish, will connect people to the story of an Israeli soldier “and his acts of humanity,” says Kramer.

“That’s going to be the story – a soldier’s story – we want to connect [people] to Israeli soldiers and break through the stigma on a personal level. There are so many stories [from the Israeli army] where there are incredible acts of humanity,” says Kramer who himself was a soldier. The T-shirt will illustrate that the Israeli army is “an army for humanity for peace and for security.”

If the cause fits…

While there is no set date for releasing each T-shirt campaign, new designs in the pipeline include a T-shirt that explains the meaning of Israel’s national anthem, Ha Tikva, and one for Save a Child’s Heart, a non-profit organization of doctors who give life-saving heart operations to Palestinian and poor Middle East children, for free.

The Ha Tikva T shirt, for example, will break down the Israeli anthem into nine illustrations with narrations, explaining how the land of Israel has represented “hope” for the Jewish people for the last 2,000 years. It gives a historical and contemporary context to today’s conflict that the world’s media somehow just doesn’t understand.

“At the moment we have five designs and five causes that we’ll be taking on. Whenever a cause comes up, and it’s something we will be passionate about,” it could be turned into a T, Kramer tells ISRAEL21c. “It has to be human story, one that represents the larger picture and something that we believe in ourselves – personally,” he adds.

Nu isn’t just about selling Ts. “We are an advocacy group,” Kramer stresses. “The T-shirt is the whiteboard of the classroom. We stand behind the causes we take on.”

The Nu website is currently set up so that anyone can submit their personal story. And if the cause fits, like the T shirt, Nu’s team of volunteers may just build a campaign around it.

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

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