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Influencer Judaism

In the past decade, pretty much since I’ve owned a smartphone, I no longer need to consult with the calendar to know the precise dates of Jewish holidays. That’s because I have a plethora of “friends” with whom I have an active, mostly one sided, pragmatic virtual relationship. I regularly message them, even if it’s sometimes just a one word compliment to show that I value and enjoy their content. These influencers can have tens of thousands of followers, yet they’ll mostly take the time to show that they’ve seen my reaction to their posts or stories.

It’s through these digital influencers that I’m inspired to create new recipes, to decorate different spaces, and to try on new dresses from a frum owned clothing line. I can classify these digital creators into two groups, artists which includes foodies, fashionistas, painters, and musicians, and community activists which includes well known public speakers as well as amateur young adults who are trying to educate Jews and non Jews alike about Judaism.

More often than not the artist influencers will also share encouraging uplifting content about Jewish thought and values and the activists will also share their curated Better Homes and Garden’s-esque tablescapes and cozy interior design.

It’s the cohesive bonding of these two worlds together which creates the aesthetically palatable and seductive universe of a post modern religious Judaism. These influencers illustrate that it’s possible to live an elegant, and even a glamorous life without compromising any of your Jewish values. It’s possible to be fashionable and tznius, to modernize ancient recipes, and to find sleek and chic Judaica to replace the old fashioned pieces in your wooden china cabinet. 

But above all, what I’ve learned from these influencers is acceptance and tolerance of people who don’t necessarily think like me, of people who run the entire gamut of Jewish observance. Instead of judging people as hypocrites when they self identify as observant but are decidedly lax with many halachas, I can appreciate the nuance of intricate human behavior. 

I’ll wholeheartedly embrace you even if you’re Chabad and eat chalav nochri, even if you’re a black hatter who supports LGBT, even if you’re a yeshiva student who doesn’t oppose abortion, and even if you’re a modern Orthodox mom who gets a tattoo. In the post modern world we inhabit there’s room for everyone, and as Jews we believe that every living being is made in God’s image.

Like most other millennials, I spend way too much time on social media and I really should invest a lot more in real life relationships than in virtual ones. But at the same time my life has been enriched by these digital creators who inspire me with new ideas, both in the physical world of art and in the spiritual world of self improvement. I can thank these influencers for beautifying body, mind, and home and for creating a Judaism which is exquisite through and through, both physically and intellectually.

About the Author
Chava Berman Kaplan grew up in Los Angeles, CA in an orthodox community in the La Brea Fairfax neighborhood. She moved to Israel in her early twenties, first residing in Jerusalem, then Bet Shemesh, and now in Holon. She has two children, ages twelve and ten, who study in a mamlachti school in Holon. She works as an English teacher and has always enjoyed writing as a hobby.
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