Why you should care
BuzzFeed-style listicles and quizzes have become pervasive on the Internet, and now Yeshiva University students are using them to give the Web a giant infusion of Judaism.
Can scripture written thousands of years ago go viral? BuzzTorah is banking on the fact that it can.
Inspired by the listicles, quizzes and GIF-driven posts at BuzzFeed, Yeshiva University students in New York City decided to launch BuzzTorah, a website which balances Jewish pop culture with the Torah.
“We believe the Internet can be a strong tool capable of affecting change and spreading Jewish values,” states the website.
Yeshiva University student Tzvi Levitin was inspired by the 2013 Pew Report on Jewish Americans, which reported that millenial Jews in the U.S. were losing touch with the religion of Judaism. In response, he launched BuzzTorah in an effort to make the Torah more accessible and shareable on social media. BuzzFeed itself has religious listicles for Jews (and Christians and multiple other faith groups), but BuzzTorah is a site dedicated solely to the Torah. The content includes quizzes like The City of Gold: How much do you know about Jerusalem? and lists like 9 Greatest Things to Become Kosher in the 21st Century and 10 Insights on the 10 Commandments, complete with GIFs of Benedict Cumberbatch, the Olsen twins and Frozen.
Excerpt from 9 Greatest Things to Become Kosher in the 21st Century
These wearable candies were a huge hit when they first went kosher in 2009. What kid wouldn’t want to wear a sticky lump of sugar on their fingers? And childhood wedding proposals became a whole lot easier! Popularity died down pretty quickly, however, when everybody realized that Ring Pops taste like medicine and that the “candy bling” trend was soooo 1990s.
The site is geared toward Orthodox Jews, and can be daunting at first if you aren’t familiar with Jewish lingo. However, it often explains terminology and gives context to holidays, once you click into the stories. These explanations help open the door to any audience members who may be Reform Jews, or even non-Jews interested in learning more about Jewish customs.
Most contributors are undergraduate students at Yeshiva and the site has more than 60 writers and editors. It gained popularity after BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith tweeted out a link to it from his personal account, even though the website is not affiliated with BuzzFeed.
New content to come? BuzzTorah will reportedly start publishing stories on Jewish art, literature and film in the near future.
Move over, Grumpy Cat — you have Moses to contend with now.