Created by Yeshiva University Students, New Website Helps Torah Go Viral
Two months ago, a team of Yeshiva University students launched “BuzzTorah,” a BuzzFeed-inspired site designed to share Jewish values in a fun, easy way by providing quick and comprehensive Jewish content in the form of lists, pictures, GIFs and short articles. The site took off in the weeks that followed, spreading quickly via social media. But what’s it all about? In the spirit of BuzzTorah, here’s a listicle (an article in list format) with some fast—and sometimes surprising—facts.
1. It was inspired by the 2013 Pew Report.
When Yeshiva College student Tzvi Levitin heard that more young Jews than ever were losing touch with Judaism, he started envisioning ways to make Torah and Jewish thought accessible, shareable and interesting—like BuzzFeed, a social news and entertainment website famous for its compulsively-readable lists.
2. It’s more than just lists.
The site premiered quizzes like “How Fluent Are You in Jewish Terminology?” this month and is also hoping to debut a regular column titled “5 Things This Week in Jewish History.” Look for new content on Jewish art, literature and film and catchy long-form articles in the near future, too.
3. Its very first listicle?
7 Tips to Enhance Your Davening– because, as the article says, “We could all use some improvement in the prayer department. Why not start here?” Two months later, BuzzTorah has more than 80 posts for your reading pleasure.
4. People still aren’t over Pesach.
“17 Signs that Pesach is Around the Corner” holds the site’s record for views and shares, with 3,500 of the first and 750 of the second.
5. Nathan and Perel Schupf Chair in Talmud Rabbi Michael Rosensweig and BuzzFeed Editor in Chief Ben Smith can both count themselves influences.
“On the one hand, we’re influenced by our revered rebbeim and teachers, but we’re also influenced by [and try to influence] the social media public sphere,” said BuzzTorah’s creators. “We strive to package thoughtful content in an accessible and easily understandable fashion.”
6. And Ben Smith thinks it’s pretty cool.
— Ben Smith (@BuzzFeedBen) April 4, 2014
7. It takes a village.
More than 60 staff members make up the BuzzTorah team, including writers, content editors, mixed media editors and social media staff. With the exception of a few guest writers, all are undergraduates.
8. It’s a treasure trove of Jewish lore.
From the history of the Gebrukts custom to phrases used in everyday English that originated in Tanakh, you can find everything and anything Jewish on BuzzTorah. Laws of prayer? Check. Companies you didn’t know were Israeli? Check. Frum life necessities? Double check. There’s also plenty of material on timely parshiot and events in the Jewish calendar each week.
9. It received more than 32,000 views in its first month alone.
10. Social media and Torah? Natural fit.
“To borrow from another Torah website whose motto is ‘God’s reason for the internet,’ everything is here for us to use for the good,” said Rina Haller and Yadin Teitz, director of content and co-founding vice president of BuzzTorah, respectively. “Working on BuzzTorah has made it clear to all of us that there’s a need to show all kinds of Jews the practical, light, funny, amusing and serious side of Torah in a modern format. I think BuzzTorah also really illustrates how a few people can come together and create something extraordinary—one little idea from a Shabbat table can become an Internet phenomenon.”