Teaneck–When Humans of Judaism launched just six months ago, no one knew the reach it would have in such a short time. Within five months, the Facebook community had over 10,000 likes and a global following. With content from Israel, Europe, and all over the United States, Humans of Judaism lives by its motto of “One Nation. Many Faces. Jews from across the Globe.” Said one Teaneck Humans of Judaism follower, “The Humans of Judaism community is a place to learn from the different messages from the different types of Jews.”
Approximately six months ago, New Jersey native Nikki Schreiber started posting pictures that she felt generated positive feelings about Judaism. At first, the Facebook page started off slowly, with no clear model or method. Then, when the three boys were kidnapped in Israel at the beginning of summer last year, people looked for inspiration, hope, and positivity, and many found her page. Following that, Humans of Judaism partnered with the worldwide “Shabbos Project.” The Shabbos Project was another way to embody her father’s love of Jews, because it looked to “unify us in a positive way,” said Schreiber. It was then that this became a well-known and heavily followed Facebook community.
For Schreiber, social media was never a vehicle solely for random updates on long lost friends, or for looking at dancing cat videos. She saw Facebook as a way to expand her reach to do chesed (kindness). Prior to her Humans of Judaism community, Schreiber had embarked on a Daily Spark social media campaign to spread inspirational lessons.
Schreiber’s father, Bayrish Schreiber of Highland Park, loved Daily Spark (now renamed Sparks of Judaism) and used to write much of the content she used on the Facebook page. “He was the type of person who always looked for the good in everyone,” Schreiber commented. When he passed away suddenly in November 2013, the family mourned the personal loss and also the loss of his outlook and the ideals he had always tried to instill in those around him. As the family started to adapt to their new reality, Schreiber turned to the power of social media to memorialize her father’s love of Jews, and created Humans of Judaism.
In choosing the title “Humans of Judaism,” Schreiber worked off the similarity in the name to the famous “Humans of New York,” or “HONY” as it is commonly referred to, but with a different angle. The HONY pictures are taken by the photographer himself, but Schreiber’s Humans of Judaism posts can come from anywhere. Initially, Schreiber found much of the content herself, scouring other Jewish news sources–such as ynet, or Humans of Tel Aviv, but always made sure to provide proper attribution with any repost. Over time, as the page’s reach has grown, people have offered pictures and stories. “Any time you see the Humans of Judaism watermark across the picture, it’s an exclusive, and not a repost,” explained Schreiber.
Chanukah was an especially busy time for the Humans of Judaism page. When Schreiber was not busy posting menorahs of her own findings on the page, people from all over the world were sending her pictures, contacting her, and hashtagging Humans of Judaism in their Chanukah pictures. Even Chabad reached out to the Humans of Judaism community and submitted images of Chanukah across the world.
In addition, Schreiber attempts to keep Humans of Judaism positive, and avoids controversy. “I will delete posts if they are hateful, in order to keep to the spirit of the page,” Schreiber explained.
With a blend of optimism, sentimentality, and humor, Humans of Judaism inspires and comforts thousands on a daily basis. “I know my dad would have loved this page,” admitted Schreiber. She laughed and continued, “I was always the person who was the first to notice something on social media. Being a Facebook addict finally went to something good.”
Follow the Humans of Judaism community on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/humansofjudaism or Instagram http://www.instagram.com/HumansofJudaism. To submit pictures and stories, email [email protected]
By Jenny Gans