Let’s talk about memes. Specifically, Jewish memes. There’s an art behind taking trending memes and turning them into Jewish jokes.
Here at Alma, our team makes memes (do you follow us on Instagram? You should!) that revolve around Jewish themes: Jewish grandmas, bat mitzvahs, Israel, dating, Yiddish phrases, bagels. My personal favorite kind of meme is the “tag yourself” variety, where people can see themselves in the different personality types, a la:
Also, what always gets me is the power of a Jewish joke plopped on to of a pop culture screencap:
But most of us here at Alma stumbled into meme-making as a by-product of our jobs on an editorial team. What about the people who make memes as a side (or full-time) hustle? We chatted with Aly of @jewishgirlprobs and Nikki of @memesofjudaism to get an insight into the world of Jewish memes.
One thing they agree on? What type of memes do the best: Jewish holiday content.
“My posts get a lot of engagement over larger Jewish holidays like Passover, when people have Jewish-ness at top-of-mind and I find holidays are some of the most communally relatable concepts,” Aly told me over email. Nikki echoed this in her emails to me: “Holidays are always prime time for your best meme work, there are customs and traditions that make for great content.”
What else goes into running a Jewish meme account? Let’s get into it…
Aly Silverberg, the 22-year-old who started @jewishgirlprobs around a year ago, now has over 23,000 followers.
“It was a bit of a fluke,” she explains to Alma. “But looking back, I’m always shocked I never thought about it earlier given that I’ve always been really involved in the Jewish community doing communications and social media.” And now, it takes up nearly all of her free time. “When I’m not at work, I’m scouring the internet for memes, tweets, and muses. I talk to my friends and family about it, I think about it when I’m trying to sleep, it’s never ending but I’ll never complain about it.” But it’s challenging to come up with content while working a full-time job.
Aly’s parents, while confused at first, are beginning to understand the concept of a “meme.”
“Explaining the concept of memes was a difficult process but I think they’re starting to get the hang of it. Jewish meme humor was definitely a good introduction for them. I’ve worked in the space for a long time so they’ve always sort of understood Instagram and influencers but they know that there will also be a barrier to entry with the age gap.”
The most surprising thing she’s found? Teenagers are turning to her as a sort of “authority on Judaism.”
As Aly says, “Kids in middle and high school gravitate to Instagram for anything and everything, and when you look up ‘Jewish’ a lot of them find me. I’ve been the subject of many high school projects and interviews about Judaism, given people advice on how to get involved, and have even just spoken to so many people who have never met a Jew before because they’re curious. Luckily, I know places to send them and resources to give them from my background in being involved throughout high school and university but it always feels very rewarding.”
As her handle has “Jewish” in it, Aly also deals with a fair share of anti-Semitism.
“The word ‘Jewish’ is in my username so it’s pretty easy for trolls and anti-Semites to find me, DM me, and tag me. It happens almost every few days and unfortunately, I’ve become accustomed to it,” Aly says. “The first time I experienced it, someone had photoshopped a picture of Hitler onto my Instagram profile and tagged me in it. I was shocked, upset, and took it really personally. I made a big stink about it on my personal social media about how unacceptable it was. I haven’t really posted much since then since it happens often. Each time I take a screenshot to record it and report them. Their accounts rarely get taken down.”
(Instagram, are you listening? Do better!)
Nikki Schreiber, the founder and editor of the popular site “Humans of Judaism,” felt like @memesofjudaism was a “natural follow up to its parent account.”
She got into social media following the sudden loss of her father, she explains. “Humans of Judaism was created during my year of mourning and the idea was to bring positivity to social media and highlight the good within our community. Memes of Judaism is a great tribute to my father’s wonderful sense of humor and love for the Jewish community.”
The most challenging part of running a Jewish meme account, for Nikki, is “staying current and fresh. I have been working in social media for over five years now; it’s a constant effort to maintain the space that’s been created and evolve with the times and your follower interest.”
Her favorite part of Jewish meme humor? “It is such a great outlet for joy. When you see comments of people relating and laughing and enjoying the post in the spirit in which it was delivered, that is the best part. What can be better than making a person smile from a simple post on social media?”
There you have it, folks: Some insight into the folks making your favorite Jewish memes. Go forth and tag yourself!