We all spent a lot more time on the internet this year. At the start of the pandemic in March, people who said they would never join TikTok joined the platform in droves. In June, Instagram was transformed from childhood throwbacks and nature scenes to a means of sharing information about Black Lives Matter. Through it all, we stayed glued to Twitter. (Jewish Twitter, we love you. Sometimes.) So without further ado, the Almas for internet go to…
Best TikTok Account
@LadyEfron, aka Brooke Averick, wins this by a landslide. Averick, with a completely impressive lack of shame, has become a TikTok icon for sharing a never-ending slew of embarrassing anecdotes, tales of gastrointestinal woes, and priceless childhood throwbacks. @LadyEfron has basically become the app’s Jewish voice of Gen Z (and Zillenials). Since making her first video in April, the 24-year-old has amassed over 15 million likes and 500k followers.
As she told Alma, “I think the strangest part is that I’ve always been somebody who’s so obsessed with other people, especially celebrities. And I’ve been putting that energy out since I could walk. I was a Sesame Street groupie — I threw up from excitement at a Sesame Street concert when I was little. We moved on to Zac Efron, like always constantly obsessing, and then One Direction. Even local YouTube stars — obsessed. So now, to have that energy thrown back at me, I don’t understand. But I really appreciate it so much.”
Matt Bernstein, who runs @mattxiv, wins this year. As Bernstein writes in his bio: “beauty but make it political.” His feed is a masterclass in using beauty aesthetics and trends to educate and advocate. The gay Jewish creator posts slideshows on queer and progressive issues, covering TERFs (trans-exclusionary radical feminists) to the failures of cancel culture. He’s also warm and supportive of his followers, shares #gaymememondays, and is overall creating a necessary space on Instagram.
Best Activist Instagram
Adam Eli, a writer and community organizer in NYC, is incredibly adept at using his Instagram platform (@adameli) to organize and share calls to action. With nearly 100K followers, Adam uses his platform to speak out against racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, and more, all while uplifting other activists and sharing glimpses from his own life.
Best TikTok Rabbi
Last year, we brought you the best Twitter rabbi. This year, we’ve set our sights on TikTok, where Rabbi Sandra Lawson, @RabbiSandra, takes the top rabbi spot. Her feed is a mix of Jewish songs, prayers, education, and Torah.
For those of you who don’t know her, Rabbi Sandra is incredibly cool. She’s a rabbi (duh), an activist, a public speaker, and a musician. Not only is she a trailblazing Black Jewish woman, but before becoming a religious icon she served in the army and started a personal training business. And, she’s now a TikTok star.
Best Jewish Meme Account
Okay, there are a lot of wonderful Jewish memes out there, and we just couldn’t decide on a winner, so we present you with a tie: Maimonides_Nutz and JewishMemesOnly (AKA @TheTonightSho on Twitter). Both accounts consistently deliver superb Jewish humor, and making us laugh in such a difficult year is a true mitzvah.
Shoshana Gottlieb, who runs @jewishmemesonly, is an expert at pairing pop culture screencaps with Jewish jokes.
Sophia Zohar, behind Maimonides_Nutz, is adept at centering Jewishness in jokes and creating new Jewish Twitter reactions and formats.
Best Jewish Food Account
Jake Cohen, on Instagram and TikTok, wins this one. Cohen, a Jewish chef, shares drool-worthy food content on the daily. His tutorials are easy to follow, and we legitimately are mesmerized by his challah-braiding skills.
He is also the undisputed king of cheeseboards:
Best Jewish Dog Account
Jewish football player Mitch Schwartz has two adorable Pomeranians, named Cupcake and Pumpkin, with his wife Brooke. They got Cupcake first, and then Pumpkin in April 2019. Here they are:
Cupcake even has a little treadmill:
There’s just nothing better than seeing a very large man with two very small dogs.
Best Jewish Twitter Moment
For one glorious moment, all of Jewish Twitter was making memes about a secret menorah in the Vatican. Just click that link and enjoy.
Best Jewish TikTok Challenge
The accent challenge, specifically the Israeli accent challenge, in which kids ask their Israeli parents to pronounce certain English words, was a winner this year. We’ll be thinking about how this mom says “portobello mushroom” for a long time:
Best Jewish Nickname for a Candidate
Remember when Bernie Sanders was running for president, a literal lifetime and a half ago?? Bernie Sanders, a 78-year-old Jewish man, talks at a loud volume. He bears an uncanny resemblance to Larry David (as it turns out, they are distant cousins). And he reminds a lot of Jewish voters of their zayde, the Yiddish word for grandfather. Thus, “Zayde Bernie” wins this award. (Read here for more on how Sanders became Zayde Bernie.)
Honorable mention: “Momala,” the Yiddish term of endearment that Kamala Harris’s Jewish step-kids call her, is a close second.
Best Meme Format
Sanders, again, takes this one with his “I am once again asking you” message that became instantly meme’d a thousand times over.
It doesn’t even need to be Bernie Sanders to make it work:
Total Failure at Memes
On the opposite side of the meme spectrum, presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg’s meme campaign was a total shanda. (Yes, it appears most of the influencers involved in this campaign have since deleted their memes!)
Best Viral Animal Moment
Obviously the llama at a Jewish wedding wins this one:
As Insider reported: Five years, ago, Mendl Weinstock made a promise to his sister, Riva. “My sister was talking about her wedding as if it were tomorrow when she wasn’t even dating anyone at the time. Just to make her mad and get a reaction, I told her if she makes me come to the wedding, I am bringing a llama with me. After a few minutes of arguing, she tried to use reverse psychology on me and said, ‘OK, the llama is invited to the wedding.'”
So, when Riva got engaged, Mendl began to plan for a llama, and even got a kippah for the llama to wear.
“When he sets his mind to something, he makes it happen,” Riva said. “Literally, I called him to tell him I was engaged, and his response was, ‘Great, I’m calling the llama farm now.’ Probably not even an hour later, I got a text that said his llama rental was confirmed.”
Best New Hashtag
Okay, we started this one, but the winner is #HornyShabbatInstagram. We won’t be taking any further questions.
Best Genuine Moments
This June, there was Jew York Pride, a virtual celebration connecting LGBTQ+ Jewish teens and young adults. One of the speakers? RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Sasha Velour. The genderfluid Jewish drag queen and visual artist tuned into Jew York Pride to share a “highly revisionist prayer,” which is “how my family practices Judaism.”
Text of prayer: “Blessed are You, God, the Universe, who created queers. Thank you for faggots. Thank you for dykes. Thank you for bi and pansexuals. Thank you for trans people and the fact that gender is not a binary. Thank you for femmes. Thank you for beauty. Thank you for Black trans liberation. Thank you for prison and police abolition. Thank you for decolonization around the world, from Puerto Rico to Palestine. Thank you for disability. Thank you for consent. Thank you for language, for pronouns, for names. Thank you for time for aging, for growth. Thank you for sex. Thank you for emotion. Thank you for life. Amen.”
Sasha’s inspiration for that prayer was “Litanies for My Heavenly Brown Body” by queer poet Mark Aguhar, which the star says changed her life.
Best Viral Illustration
In the wake of the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests that erupted around the country, 16-year-old Adam Garvey made a simple design: a black star of David with the words “Tikkun Olam means Black Lives Matter.”
The illustration soon went viral, with all proceeds from the merch with Garvey’s design on it (available on TeeSpring) going to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
Garvey told the Jewish Journal that he “wanted to show solidarity as a Jewish person. Black and Jewish solidarity is super important and I wanted to spread that.” He believes that “standing up against injustice is a huge part of Jewish values.” To him, tikkun olam means “being anti-racist and anti-bigotry. Repairing the world or healing the world to me means fighting against broken systems and against systems designed to suppress people based on the color of their skin, or their gender/sexuality, or their religion.”
Best Town Hall
“I yield my time, fuck you.” With those six words, Jeremy Frisch made history on a Zoom call with the Los Angeles Police Department. John Oliver called it a “perfect call,” and many others shared it, creating art and animations of the text.
The full call was 27 seconds long, when Frisch, an Asian Jewish 21-year-old, said: “Hello can you hear me? Black Lives Matter, defund the police. I find it disgusting that the LAPD is slaughtering peaceful protesters on the street. I had two friends go to the protest in Beverly Hills a couple days ago and the protest was peaceful until the police showed up with their excessive, violent force, shooting rubber bullets and throwing tear gas. Is this what you think of protect and serving? Cause I think it’s bullshit! Fuck you, Michel Moore, I refuse to call you an officer or a chief because you don’t deserve those titles. You are a disgrace. Suck my dick and choke on it. I yield my time, FUCK YOU.”
How did it feel to speak for those 27 seconds? Frisch told Alma: “It felt good to let out my anger, frustration, and energy. I was fucking pissed.”
Best Black Lives Matter Statement by a Brand
In light of the murder of George Floyd and the rapid mobilization of #BlackLivesMatter protestors nationwide (and worldwide), many brands decided to release statements in support of the movement. Some felt disingenuous. Some were moving. But not a single one compares to the one from Ben & Jerry’s.
When the beloved ice cream brand released their statement, it felt like a breath of fresh air. Not only did they explicitly condemn the murders and say “Black Lives Matter,” they released four actionable items to dismantle white supremacy.
It went over pretty well:
Best Hanukkah Socks in Space
In October 2019, Jewish Swedish-Israeli-Iraqi American Jessica Meir made history when she participated in the first-ever all-female spacewalk.
And then, in December 2019, she wore Hanukkah socks in space. To our knowledge, the best Hanukkah socks in space are also the first Hanukkah socks in space:
Best Online Wedding
Chaya Milchtein and Jodyann Morgan got married on August 29, 2020, and livestreamed their wedding for the entire world. As Sara Elizabeth Grossman wrote in Alma, “The couple sees the kind of visibility that they bring to the table (both are fat and queer, Morgan is Black, Chaya is Jewish) is important to share with a country that has been steeped in racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic turmoil for what seems like an eternity now.”
It offered some much-needed joy in a difficult summer — a hearty mazel tov to Chaya & Morgan!