Grantee Profile: G-DCAST

Creating Meaningful Jewish Screentime

Quick – without using Google, answer this question: where does the term “scapegoat” come from? Don’t know? I didn’t either until I was guided toward “eScapegoat,” one of the most creative projects from G-dcast, a Federation grantee that proudly offers “meaningful Jewish screentime.”

The answer? The infamous term comes straight out of the Torah, from a story in which a goat is symbolically burdened with the sins of the Jewish people before it is let go into the wilderness. Thus, the goat “escaped” with our sins, as we are reminded each Yom Kippur when this Leviticus parable is retold in synagogues around the world. And, as we approach the High Holy Days, eScapegoat is enabling Jews across the globe to write 140-character or less “confessions” of their sins through the anonymity of the Internet. While it might not qualify as “atonement” by most rabbinic standards, it is a pretty powerful testimonial act that connects users to Jewish life while providing the opportunity for personal catharsis. It also happens to be incredibly compelling reading.

G-dcast's adorable eScapegoat

While the “story” behind G-dcast may not have been spread around the world (yet), it has certainly gone viral, through media coverage in the Wall Street Journal, on CNN, NPR, and across the “Twitterverse.”

Videos, apps and interactive experiences for everyone

G-dcast is the brainchild of Sarah Lefton, who opened its online doors in 2008 with the intent to produce “animated shorts” and applications designed to raise basic Jewish literacy and to “give every Jewish child and adult the chance to learn the basics with zero barriers to entry.” Since then, G-dcast has produced 85 free short films that have garnered over 1.5 million views on YouTube and it has created apps that have been downloaded by over 50,000 families. Moreover, the team behind G-dcast has collaborated with many of the best and brightest rabbis, authors, artists and educators in the Jewish world in order to continue providing thought provoking, entertaining and engaging materials – for free.

Two of G-dcast's suite of apps – Wake Up World! and Leviticus!

“It’s kind of a miracle that we even exist,” says G-dcast animation producer (and Moishe House resident) Jeremy Shuback. “Sarah managed to get a Jewish animation nonprofit off the ground. I mean, think about those words: Jewish… animation… nonprofit. Just the fact that she took that concept and made it what it is… I feel like I don’t need to say anything else about her because that accomplishment alone is a testament to how great her vision was… and is.”

Jeremy is far from alone in his praise for Sarah Lefton. She was named one of the Forward 's 50 most influential Jews of 2009. Additionally, she was a recipient of the Joshua Venture Group fellowship for Jewish social entrepreneurs and of the 2012 Pomegranate Prize for exceptional young Jewish educators. She is also a past president of San Francisco's Mission Minyan and is board member of the San Francisco JCC.

But G-dcast, for Sarah, is not just another line on her impressive resume. It’s a deeply engaging tool that has made Judaism accessible to thousands of people of all ages. And it does so with a sense of purpose and fun.

To learn more about G-dcast, visit:


September 16, 2014


Jon Moskin