The Jewish TikTok phenomenon – THREE BILLION views and counting…

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The Jewish TikTok phenomenon – THREE BILLION views and counting…

Who are the leading content creators driving the #JewishTikTok trend on the world's most popular social media platform... and what are they saying?

Jewish content creators are racking up three billion views on #JewishTikTok. This is notably more than other social media platforms – on Instagram, #Jewish has 2.3 million posts and #JewishLife has around 250,000 posts. Jewish TikTokers are using this surge in attention to share their religion and culture, address antisemitism and educate the non-Jewish people who make up the majority of TikTok users.

Melinda Strauss (@therealmelindastrauss), who lives in New York, is just one of several Jewish content creators who are taking to TikTok to share their culture and religion and reduce the prejudices of antisemitic discourse.

TIKTOK (Photo by Kon Karampelas on Unsplash)

Melinda says: “I’ve been blogging since 2011. I was a kosher food blogger and then I started sharing about Judaism and answering people’s questions. I began posting on TikTok in 2021.”

She now has nearly 800,000 followers, amassing around 80 million likes across her videos. Most of her viewers are non-Jewish, which leads to curious questions about her lifestyle.

@therealmelindastrauss For Passover, we put tape on any cabinets that have non-kosher for passover items in them such as snacks, plates, silverware, water bottles, etc. This way there’s no making mistakes, cross contamination, and the tape is a sign that whatever is in thos drawers and cabinets was sold for Passover to a non-Jewish person. And now we buy it all back #passover #kosherforpassover #springcleaning #imback #jewishtiktok ♬ original sound – Melinda Strauss ✡️

Melinda tackles antisemitism by answering questions and spreading accurate information. Her most popular video, titled What are the Kosher Laws? has 2.4 million views. It shows Melinda, her eyes bright and wearing a big smile throughout, speaking for around two minutes explaining what and what isn’t kosher.

It is easy to watch and understand, and most importantly her chatty tone keeps the viewers’ attention throughout.

Melina Strauss

She says: “My aim is education. I learned through TikTok that there are people around the world who’ve never spoken to a Jewish person. They have never had these questions answered and have always thought that Judaism looks a certain way.”

In another video titled Why do People feel so Comfortable Hating Jews?, Melinda talks about her experience of antisemitism on TikTok. She opens up about some of the “monstrous” comments she receives, but also some of the good experiences she has enjoyed on the app.

Despite the problems of online antisemitism, Rabbi Avrohom Rapoport (@rabbiraps), the self-proclaimed “TikTok Rabbi”, has seen the positive side of TikTok in tackling antisemitism first-hand. He has nearly 200,000 followers and spoke about one particular user who changed views completely after watching his videos, which mostly consist of informative explanations about Judaism and clips of his day-to-day life.

@therealmelindastrauss Not all @dunkin stores are kosher but there are many across the US that are. Since we don’t mix meat and dairy, the kosher Dunkin serves vegan bacon and sausage instead #dunkindonuts #airplanefood #kosherfood #jewishtiktok ♬ original sound – Melinda Strauss ✡️

Rabbi Rapoport

He says: “I actually had a fella reach out to me to apologise. I said, ‘Why are you apologising?’ He said he was raised in a community that had less than desirable things to say about Jewish people and other minorities. And he said he believed those views for a long time as he was very involved in a white supremacist group.

“He watched my TikTok videos and he started to feel like he actually knew a real Jewish person. He wrote me a long letter apologising for having such negative views, thanking me for putting out information and informing me that he has since distanced himself from that movement.”

Rabbi Avrohom Rapoport’s experience shows the power of #JewishTikTok and related videos in spreading accurate information and changing peoples’ views. However, despite his positive experience, it shows that there is a lot of hate on the platform.

Research suggests that between 2020 and 2021 there was a 912 percent increase in antisemitic comments on TikTok alone. It would appear that the increase in Jewish social media creators and their subsequent rise in popularity goes hand in hand with the persistence of modern-day antisemitism.

@rabbiraps the kosher for Passover sodas are unique because they’re made with sugar cane instead of corn syrup. You can identify them by looking for the yellow cap. FOLLOW @RABBIRAPS FOR MORE DAILY VIDEOS #kosherforpassover #passover2023 ♬ original sound – Rabbi Raps

Molly Rankine (@mollyrankinex), is one of the few British Jewish creators on the app. Molly says she experiences a mixture of responses to her videos, ranging from “subtle antisemitism, like ‘you’re not Jewish because your nose isn’t big’ and almost-Nazi antisemitism – quite extreme”.

Professor Sabine von Mering who teaches German language and culture at Brandeis University in Massachussetts, says: “Antisemitism and other forms of hate are spreading fast and borderless on social media.” She argues that “much more effective content moderation” needs to be done. She also touches on the issues of social media algorithms promoting hate speech and says: “Most users are not aware that counter speech, engaging in any form with antisemitic posts by disliking, sharing or commenting on them, actually promotes them further”.

There have been developments for better handling of antisemitic comments on the app. In 2021 TikTok announced continued commitment to fighting antisemitism. This includes strengthening policies and systems against antisemitic content and working with partners like the World Jewish Congress. According to a TikTok spokesperson, in 2022 the app introduced search interventions to tackle antisemitism.These include, a permanent public service announcement directing users to to a collection of hashtags relating to the Holocaust and Jewish people.

With billions of views and counting, it’s fair to say that Jewish TikTokers are a powerful force.

@rabbiraps why does this rabbi have a tattoo if tattoos are forbidden in the Torah? #jewishtattoo #rabbilife #jewishtok #chabad ♬ original sound – Rabbi Raps


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