You know that sense of happy identification you feel when you find a BuzzFeed listicle that seems to be tailor-made for you? Like the 50 reasons your alma mater is the best, or the 36 greatest things about your city? Yeshiva University sophomore Tzvi Levitin is hoping to elicit that same feeling—about Torah.
Levitin, who launched the website BuzzTorah last week, said he wanted to “strike a balance between Jewish popular culture and actual Torah content.” The site’s listicles span topics from 17 Signs Pesach is Around the Corner to 9 Greatest Things to Become Kosher in the 21st Century, plus more serious pieces such as Makom Kavua—More Than Just a Seat.
Asked about BuzzTorah, BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith laughed and said, “As long as its not called BuzzFeed Torah, we’re happy about it.”
He added that he didn’t believe that BuzzTorah would take away from his site’s Jewish readership. “Our general view is that different audiences like reading about their own identity and also different identities,” he said.
BuzzTorah was born out of the idea that the amount of time Levitin and his friends were spending on sites like Facebook could be somehow infused with Judaism. Relying heavily on social media, Levitin and his team are trying to create quick and quippy Jewish content to reach Jews of all denominations.
While BuzzTorah’s main focus is disseminating information about the Torah, Levitin is hoping it will also become a platform for Jews to be proud of their religious identity. “You refine your own Jewish identity because of how outsiders view you,” he said. “It’s like when the New York Times talks about latkes. Here, I think there’s a greater sense of identity with the content.”
Rachel Delia Benaim is a freelance religion reporter. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, and The Diplomat, among others. Follow her on Twitter @rdbenaim.