February 22, 2020

#UnpopularOpinion: A Good Jew Belongs on Social Media

Photo from PxHere.

When I tell people that social media is my job, the first question (after the eye rolls) is, how do you handle all the hate? It seems we’ve reached a universal consensus that spending time on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube only serves to make us miserable. It would seem these dark virtual worlds are void of anything positive, anything to bring us nachas, anything remotely Jewish! 

As a Jewish mom on social media, I’ve come to realize my #unpopoularopinion is that actually social media is a real blessing. I’d (blasphemously) go so far as to say that if God had known about Instagram when the Torah was written, He’d have commanded us to post.

Judaism is centered on showing up. The basic concept of prayer and ritual are organized around the community – you need to come together and form a minyan just to fulfill basic daily obligations. To be a Jew in isolation is to live a life devoid of these essential mitzvot. 

In times of both hardship and celebration, Judaism always forces us to be out of our homes and in the synagogue – to lean on one another until we are strong enough and to dance with one another to enhance moments of joy. I know for me the idea of sitting shivah in a crowded room can be unbearable, as can having to be suffocated by well-wishing family and friends for a bris. I prefer to just cocoon in my own bed until these big things have passed. Yet Judaism doesn’t allow it, and as a result, almost like a knowing parental figure, we’re forced to get out of bed, to eat, to share, and afterward, we inevitably feel a bit better. 

In today’s world showing up means being present not just in person but online as well, and social media can serve as an authentic and essential online Jewish community. Recently I shared my ‘flabby, saggy and happy’ postpartum pool jump photo on my first vacation after giving birth to my second son and was met with a roar of support of likes and comments. My online community encouraged me to ignore bad self-talk, to #justwearthesuit and to remember that we are all created in God’s image (especially after giving birth)! 

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Flabby, saggy and oh so happy 😍😍😍! Every time I get a chance to jump into a pool I take it, and if someone’s there to photograph it for me then even better!! Although my husband said it was hard to get a midair jump pic because I “didn’t get much air” 😂! . Of course I wish all this extra baby weight just came off when the baby came out, but I have given myself the gift of time and patience. I literally created life and brought it forth into this world a few weeks ago, so I am enjoying every moment of postpartum and you better believe that means wearing my swimsuit in public and diving right in 🏊‍♀️! 💙 💙 💙 #postpartum #postpartumlife #postpartumbody #justwearthesuit #sahmlife #mamaoftwo #twounderthree #mombod #mybodyisabikinibody #loveyourbody #loveyourcurves #jewishwomen #jewishmom

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In Jewish tradition, a simchah is also celebrated as a community. We don’t exclude people for fear we would make them jealous, we always invite and we always include and in so doing we increase the joy in the world. Yet when it comes to social media were taught the tired trope that seeing others’ success will only cause us envy and discontent. I respectfully disagree. 

When I was waiting to get pregnant I saw other birth announcements with hope, not envy. When I was trying to lose some baby weight I found fitness posts inspirational not toxic. Of course, I highly recommend that you unfollow anyone who upsets you, but I think it’s time to change the dynamic of the self-fulfilling prophecy that social media promotes negativity in our lives. Like anything else, with a little moderation it can be enjoyed responsibly.

As a mom, I also believe being present on social media is the best way for me to keep up to date on what my kids will be experiencing on their own phones. I think it’s hard to be a responsible role model if I’m not showing up to begin with. Just like I teach my boys to behave on the playground or in a restaurant, I hope to teach them how to use social media as a mensh. We take turns on the slide and we don’t leave hate comments on Instagram!  

Rabbi Schulweis (z”L), Rabbi Feinstein and Rabbi Hoffman of Valley Beth Shalom Synagogue where I attended day school, wrote that we are the descendants of Maccabees and that it is our job to bring light to a dark world. Of course, the web can be a dark place, there are infinite stories of how it interrupts and inflicts our lives, but as a Jew and a Jewish mother, I hope to bring some light to it. Follow along on my journey to see how.

Marion Haberman is a writer and content creator for her YouTube/MyJewishMommyLife channel and Instagram @MyJewishMommyLife page where she shares her experience living a meaning-FULL Jewish family life. Marion is currently writing a book on Judaism and pregnancy titled ‘Expecting Jewish!’ to be released Winter ’19. She is also a professional social media consultant and web and television writer for Discovery Channel, NOAA and NatGeo and has an MBA from Georgetown University. 

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