Jew in the City is an organization founded by Allison Josephs to show the secular world the beauty of Torah learning and lifestyle.[1] In addition to its outreach efforts, it is also acknowledged for its work breaking down stereotypes about Orthodox Judaism. Josephs regularly publishes articles and creates YouTube videos, along with utilizing other social media platforms in order to discuss perceptions of Orthodox Jews and Judaism. Josephs has covered topics like the Jewish Sabbath and Orthodox views on birth control, vaccinations, women’s issues and intermarriage.

History of Jew in the City

Raised in a Conservative Jewish home, Allison Josephs became a baalat teshuva to Orthodoxy during her teenage years in order to cope with an existential crisis about the meaning of life, following a traumatic experience.[citation needed]

After graduating with a B.A. in Philosophy from Columbia University, Josephs worked in various Jewish outreach programs, including Birthright alumni and Partners in Torah, where she encountered students with many negative misconceptions about Orthodoxy, similar to those she had believed herself when she was younger before meeting any Orthodox Jews.[2]

Seeking to combat negativity through a personal voice and inspired by the success of Lonelygirl15,[citation needed] Josephs created the Internet personality “Jew in the City” with the intent to use online media to reach a wide network of people so that anyone could ask an Orthodox Jew questions and learn about the reality behind the stereotypes.

“Jew in the City” began in 2007, with a website, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages filled with articles and videos that give an intimate look into the world of Orthodoxy. Josephs films professional videos on her home couch, offers vignettes from her life to frame ideological articles, and provides detailed answers to readers’ questions, not shying from controversial topics. Josephs often responds directly to incidents of perceived bias in media reports about Orthodox Jews.[3] Jew in the City has recently[when?] expanded to offer corporate cultural diversity training and consulting services for media outlets in order to provide them with a nuanced and accurate portrayal of the Orthodox community.[4]

Orthodox Jewish All Stars

Jew in the City hosts an annual awards ceremony called “Orthodox Jewish All Stars”, shedding light on the work of others in the Orthodox community, by bestowing awards on ten Orthodox Jews who were able to achieve great things while staying true to their religion.[5] Josephs explained the purpose of the video in an interview: “People are often incredulous when I explain to them that Orthodox Jews are professionally active in all different parts of society.” [6] In 2013, the awards were sponsored by the Orthodox Union.[citation needed]

The 2012 awardees included Alex Clare, Senator Joseph Lieberman,[7] boxer Dimitriy Salita, author Faye Kellerman, “Jewish Jordan” Tamir Goodman and accapella group The Maccabeats.[8][9][10]

Some of the ten All Stars of 2013 include the US Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew, the Nobel Prize in Economics winner Robert Aumann, filmmaker Rama Burshtein and Entrepreneur and Jerusalem Post Columnist Rabbi Issamar Ginzberg.[citation needed]

The 2014 All Stars were announced on October 21 and include hedge fund manager Henry Swieca, Columbia Law Dean David Schizer, mathematical physicist Barry Simon, medical researcher Marta Weinstock-Rosin, movie director and animator Saul Blinkoff, BCBG fashion director Joyce Azria, among others.[citation needed]

Responses

The general response of the Jewish and non-Jewish world has been positive, with Joseph’s work lauded in news outlets including The Wall Street Journal, NPR, The Daily Beast, Yahoo! News, The Jewish Press, The Jewish Week, and Arutz Sheva.[11] In 2012 Josephs was named one of the Top 10 Jewish Influencers in Social Media [12] and in 2013 she was named one of The Jewish Week’s 36 Under 36, a list of influential Jews under age 36.[13]

While the more centrist Orthodox community heralds her positively, calling her “cutting-edge,”[14] Jew in the City’s articles and arguments defending the Orthodox approach to various matters have been challenged by others. On the ultra-Orthodox end of the Jewish spectrum, some[who?] have seen “Jew in the City” as a more immodest means of promoting of Orthodox Judaism. Josephs responds to such a claim by stating that she adheres to all letters of the law regarding modesty but for the sake of her aim of outreach, excelling in this area of modesty might be sacrificed a little but she staunchly believes that it’s worth it. Other readers have criticized her for not depicting the Orthodox reality, but Josephs argues that “I may not be accurately depicting your Orthodox reality, but I am accurately depicting my Orthodox reality.”[15] Josephs has also been called naïve for her article attempting to bridge the rift between the Reform and Orthodox communities over the controversy about the Women of the Wall.[16]

Personal life

Josephs is married with four children. She describes herself on the spectrum of Judaism as a right-wing Modern Orthodox Jew.[citation needed] Josephs is currently working on a food memoir about her spiritual journey and sharing the recipes for how she transforms her favorite non-kosher dishes into kosher versions.

Relationship with Mayim Bialik

Josephs was assigned to be Mayim Bialik’s study partner in the Partners in Torah program in 2006.[17] They have continued to study Judaism together and Bialik has appeared in Jew in the City’s two most popular videos, “Science vs. Religion: Mayim Bialik and the OTHER Big Bang Theory” which features Bialik and answers her question about how belief in the Torah’s account of creation can be compatible with modern science.

Bialik has credited studying the laws of modesty with Josephs for her decision to wear only skirts, not pants, including on TV in her role as Amy Farrah Fowler.[18]

References

  1. ^ Josephs, Allison. ""Big Bang Theory" Producer Chats About Orthodox Jews on TV". Jewinthecity.com. Blog. Retrieved 1 February 2015. 
  2. ^ "Allison Josephs Talks Jew In The City & Mayim Bialik". Shalom Life. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  3. ^ "A Response To The NYPost's Holy Chic: Extreme Makeup and Shabbos - JITC Unplugged". Jew in the City. 2013-05-24. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  4. ^ "Now Offers Corporate Cultural Diversity Training!". Jew in the City. 2013-05-29. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  5. ^ Heyman, Marshall (2012-12-19). "Hanukkah's Crafty Days and Crazy Nights - WSJ.com". Online.wsj.com. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  6. ^ Renee Ghert-Zand (2012-12-14). "Orthodox Jewish All Stars". The Forward. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  7. ^ "Lieberman Named Orthodox Jewish All Star". The Hill. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  8. ^ "Video Highlights 'Orthodox Jewish All-Stars' - Jewish World - News". Israel National News. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  9. ^ "Pair dispel stereotypes about the Orthodox | NJJN". Njjewishnews.com. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  10. ^ Bialik, Mayim (2013-01-24). "Orthodox Jewish All-Stars, from the Senate to the Stadium | The Official Mayim Bialik Blog at Kveller". Kveller.com. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  11. ^ "Mentions in the Press". Jew in the City. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  12. ^ "Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald: The Top 10 Jewish Influencers in Social Media". Huffingtonpost.com. 2012-02-14. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  13. ^ Adam Dickter (2013-06-04). "Allison Josephs, 33". The Jewish Week. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  14. ^ "Allison Josephs is Jew in the City". NCSY Alumni. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  15. ^ "Late Night with Jew In The City (INTERVIEW) | Jewish & Israel News". Algemeiner.com. 2012-09-05. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  16. ^ Menken, Yaakov (2013-05-24). "Women of the Wall, For the Wall, and the Desire for Peace". Cross-Currents. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  17. ^ "Blossoming Into Torah: An Interview With TV's Mayim Bialik". The Jewish Press. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  18. ^ Bialik, Mayim (2012-08-22). "Modest Bathing Suits for the Win | The Official Mayim Bialik Blog at Kveller". Kveller.com. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 

External links