Herbert J. Cohen

Kosher Movies: The Founder

For a number of years, I have been writing film reviews, first for newspapers, and then on the Internet, both in my blog “Kosher Movies” and in The Times of Israel, an online news source. Most recently I have launched a cable TV program entitled “Kosher Movies: Watching Movies Religiously” in the States that appears on JBS, the Jewish Broadcasting Service which airs on DirecTV, Channel 388. The question that perplexes me is how do I monetize my work so that it enhances my income stream?

A conversation with a friend caused me to shift my paradigm. I thought I was in the movie review business. He told me that I was in the education and self-help business since my definition of a “kosher movie” is a film that has something meaningful to say about life and that can help us navigate our own lives. His insight prompted me to make “kosher movies” a non-profit educational entity, which allowed me to solicit contributions for my work that creates value for people in synagogues, schools, and for people of all faiths. More details about this appear at the end of my review.

The shifting of paradigms is what enables Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonalds, to make his company profitable. A critical moment in the narrative arc of The Founder, the film that describes the rise of Ray Kroc’s success with McDonalds, changes the financial destiny of his company.

The film opens n 1954 with Ray Kroc selling a multi-mixer milkshake machine. He makes few sales, and then one day learns that a restaurant in San Bernardino, California, has ordered eight of his mixing machines. Ray’s curiosity leads him to travel to California to see the restaurant for himself. There he sees people lined up to purchase burgers and fries and the orders are filled in seconds. The food is delivered in paper bags without silverware, indicating that the food is to be eaten with one’s fingers. Families are eating together and Ray realizes that he has stumbled upon a revolutionary concept in fast food restaurants.

He meets with the McDonald brothers, the owners of the restaurant, and learns the secret of their success. Ray then offers to franchise their operation. The brothers are reluctant at first, but finally agree provided that they are in charge of quality control. The franchises are successful but Ray does not seem to reap the profits.

Things change when a friend gives Ray advice that shifts Ray’s paradigm. He tells Ray that he is not in the restaurant business, but rather in the real estate business. He encourages Ray to buy land for restaurant locations and then require the people who want to open a franchise to lease the land from him. In that way, Ray will get money upfront to expand his restaurant empire. This becomes the key to Ray’s success.

A few words about my own 501c3 “kosher movies” entity and the outcome of my shift in paradigm…

For the past several years, I have focused on writing about film in The Times of Israel and have a blog entitled My definition of a “kosher movie” is one that has something meaningful to say about life, a film that can help us navigate our own lives. Urim Publishers recently published my latest book, Kosher Movies: A Film Critic Discovers Life Lessons at the Cinema, and I now want to share many of these life lessons with a broader audience. For that reason, I have launched an educational initiative centered on bridging the gap between the secular and sacred worlds through the thoughtful use of technology and media. I am seeking a partner or partners to fund this educational enterprise. By supporting this project, you will enable people from all walks of life to successfully integrate secular and sacred studies into a meaningful perspective on all of life. Our goal is $50,000.

There are four areas of work within the initiative. First, to develop teaching materials for high schools incorporating the use of films in educational settings, with an eye towards finding and discussing issues relevant to the life of teenagers and that offer useful strategies for dealing with life challenges.

Second, to create a substantial library of of “kosher movie” video reviews that direct people to films that have something meaningful to say about life and that are not only enjoyable but also enlightening. These would be distributed on my blog and also on YouTube.

Third, to continue to produce “kosher movies” TV programs that are presently shown on cable TV stations via JBS, Jewish Broadcasting Services, a non-profit entity. The shows are patterned after the successful PBS Siskel and Ebert format. A sample clip can be sent to possible partners.

Four, to write additional volumes of “Kosher Movies” that consider films not dealt with in the original Kosher Movies book.

The money will be used to pay for the work involved in the technical production of the videos, which takes place in Israel, and to pay for the time spent in developing all the above materials. A tax-deductible donation to Jewish Links, Inc, of which “Kosher Movies” is a project, would enable me to provide an educational service for all people of faiths who would like to be able to discriminate between the wheat and chaff of modern culture and to use films as useful tools to help them navigate life. For every contribution of $100 or more, you will receive a copy of Kosher Movies. For contributions of $1000 or more, you will be listed in the end credits as a sponsor of our cable TV program, “Kosher Movies: Watching Movies Religiously” and our YouTube film reviews.

I would be very thankful if you were to become a partner with me in bringing about an intellectual and spiritual revolution in which people of all ages and faiths would recognize the benefits of secular culture and technology while at the same time retaining their ethical compass in these times of moral chaos. For more information or to make a contribution, you can contact me on my personal email at

About the Author
Originally from Mt. Vernon, New York, Herbert J. Cohen served in the pulpit rabbinate in Atlanta at the beginning of his career. After six years, he moved into the educational rabbinate and served for 23 years as Principal of Yeshiva High School of Atlanta. In 2010, he and his wife came on aliyah to Israel. His latest book, published by Urim Publishers, is "Kosher Movies: A Film Critic Discovers Life Lessons at the Cinema." He may be reached at
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