A lot has happened recently for young artist and social media sensation Sarah Haskell, known to her fans as @thatrelatablejew on TikTok and Instagram. The Long Island native gained internet stardom during the pandemic for creating engaging content about living a Jewish lifestyle, and has taken on a full-time role as a social media manager since graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) just one year ago. Since then, Haskell has also moved to the Upper West Side to join her Jewish peers, among other things, and just last week, attended the Jewish American Heritage Month reception at the White House.
Haskell received an invitation to the White House celebration, which took place on May 16, just a few short weeks before the actual event. “I got an email from the White House directly in my inbox,” she explained, noting that it made her skeptical about the invitation’s legitimacy. “I was like, ‘Wait, is this real?’ I couldn’t believe it. I was very surprised, in the best way possible.”
Haskell, like all of the other attendees, was instructed to arrive early for security checks. “It felt like getting checked at the airport,” she joked, elaborating that she had to bring identification, pass through metal detectors and was sniff-tested by security dogs. Once she was in the White House, she was able to explore the rooms, where different orchestras played different music in each room, which she felt was “regal.”
The attendees were then escorted into the reception room, and Haskell noticed immediately that there was a special pamphlet at her table about the celebration. It read, “President and Dr. Biden welcome you to the White House for a celebration in honor of Jewish American Heritage Month,” which made Haskell excited for what was to come—and she was not disappointed.
First Lady Jill Biden introduced a performance by award-winning Jewish performer Ben Platt, who sang selections from the Broadway revival of the musical “Parade,” the true story of Leo Frank, an American Jew falsely accused of murder in Georgia in 1913. Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, who is Jewish, then spoke about the legacy of Jewish Americans, and the national responsibility to fight antisemitism, introducing Biden for his remarks.
Haskell noted feeling “very surprised” to hear that the president made a point to travel to Germany and Poland with his children and grandchildren to visit the concentration camps and learn the evils of the Holocaust. Biden then introduced his plan to combat rising antisemitism in the United States, reminding the attendees that nothing can be accomplished without working together.
“I believe that from the bottom of my heart,” the president said. “And the reason I’m so optimistic: This new generation of young people—the best educated, least prejudiced, most engaged generation in American history. We’re counting on them, but we got to help them. We got to help them get this right, finally.”
“It was a really beautiful speech,” Haskell, one of the only social media influencers in attendance, recounted about the president’s remarks. To her amazement, the catering at the event was glatt kosher, despite it being a mixed crowd with Jews from all levels of observance.
Haskell shared that she “really didn’t know” what would happen at this event when she arrived. “I was very happy when I saw who was speaking, and it was great that we got to walk around during the cocktail hour. Of course, I also took a bunch of videos for my TikTok and Instagram. It was a really great experience.
“When I looked around the room, I saw a lot of people involved in politics and some celebrities, but really not a lot of other social media creators,” she explained. “For me, it meant a lot to be invited, especially since this wasn’t an event for influencers. I loved telling people that I blog about my Jewish life online; it felt really good to show them that this is my way of advocating for the Jewish people and creating change for the better.”
Haskell said that this event made her feel very supported as a Jewish citizen. “[The White House] was clear that they are taking steps to advocate better for Jews. They told us to keep speaking up against hate, and that we have to fight for equality and fair treatment. We can’t stay quiet in the face of antisemitism, and it was nice to know that the White House will support us in the fight for change.”
The social media star reflected that she hopes this event means real action against antisemitism will come. Recalling some recent examples, Haskell said that there seems to be “no consequences” for those who commit acts of antisemitism, both in real life and online. “There are so many more steps that we can take to create a safer environment for Jewish people.” And the White House’s recognition of that is just the start.
Channa Fischer is digital editor of The Jewish Link and is the resident 20-something in the office. She resides in Washington Heights.