Top 18 Viral Jewish Stories of 2013

As 2013 comes to a close, NJOP and our social media brand, Jewish Treats, unveil our annual list of the most viral Jewish stories of the year.

Orthodox Jew Jack Lew becomes Secretary of the Treasury

After serving President Obama as White House Chief of Staff from 2011-2012, Jack Lew was sworn in as Treasury Secretary in February 2013 and became the highest-ranking Orthodox Jew in US History. Social media outlets were abuzz with displays of Jewish pride! Link

New Pope Francis Is a Friend to the Jewish Community

Since becoming leader of the Roman Catholic Church in March, Pope Francis has spoken out about strengthening the church’s relationship with the Jewish community and condemning anti-semitism. Jews were eager to spread the word and many signed up to be part of his flock of more than 3 million twitter followers. Link

Sam Horowitz’s Bar Mitzvah Dance Goes Viral

Sam Horowitz became an instant YouTube sensation when his over-the-top Bar Mitzvah dance video started appearing on newsfeeds to the dismay of some and delight of others. Sam also performed his dance on Good Morning America and The Ellen Show. Link

Royal Baby Bris Speculation

A former BBC reporter started a Jewish social media sensation by claiming that the Duchess of Cambridge was of Jewish descent, noting her mother’s maiden name is the common Jewish surname Goldsmith. Genealogists quickly refuted the rumor, but not before the Internet had a chance to wonder…will the baby prince have a bris? Unfortunately for herring enthusiasts everywhere the answer was no. Link

One Direction’s Harry Styles Fasts on Yom Kippur

Heartthrob Harry Styles from One Direction tweeted to his 18 million fans about fasting on Yom Kippur. More than 90,000 of them favorited the tweet. Link

Pew Study Starts a Dialogue

In October, when Pew Research Center released a new study entitled “A Portrait of Jewish Americans”, people flocked to social media sites to share and discuss the findings which included the fact that 94% of American Jews say that they are “proud to be Jewish”. Link

Bloomberg Receives $1 million Genesis Award

Earlier this year, Israel granted their first ever Genesis Award to Mayor Michael Bloomberg in recognition of his public service and philanthropy. Bloomberg will be donating the money to charity. Link

Death of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef

Renowned Talmud scholar, Jewish thinker and former Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi Ovadia Yosef passed away in October. The internet mourned the loss together. Link

Janet Yellen Nominated to be Chair of the Federal Reserve

Jewish economist Janet Yellen was nominated in October 2013 to be the Chair of the Federal Reserve. If confirmed, she will become the first female to hold the position. Link

Baby Israel born in Philippines

Following super typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, Israel sent more than 100 hospital staff to help with relief efforts. The first baby born in the IDF-run Israeli field hospital following the typhoon was given the name Israel. Link

Nazi Art Trove Discovered in Germany

In 2012, Bavarian authorities seized 1500 works of art confiscated by the Nazis from a Munich apartment. The discovery, valued at over a billion dollars, was made public in November, setting both the Jewish and art communities abuzz online. Link

Mensch Gives Subway Sleeper a Shoulder to Lean On

A picture of a Jewish man offering kindness to a sleeping stranger on the NY subway appeared on Reddit and quickly went viral. When asked if he wanted the sleeper to be woken up, the man replied “He must have had a long day, let him sleep. We’ve all been there, right?” Thousands shared the story and image as a reminder of the goodness and decency that happens in small ways every day. Link

Rabbi Returns Found Fortune to Owner

Rabbi Noah Muroff of New Haven finds and returns $98,000 that he discovered in a desk he bought for $150 on Craigslist. Link

HAIM Performs on SNL

Jewish sister band HAIM appeared on SNL to great fanfare: they’ve come a long way from their first gig at the Jewish deli in LA where they were paid in matzoh ball soup! Link


Thanksgivukkah, the convergence of Thanksgiving and Chanukah, won’t happen again for 79,000 years so American Jews made the most of it in 2013. Link

Jennifer’s Bat Mitzvah Shirt Makes Its Way to Africa


A shirt from Jennifer’s Bat Mitzvah was discovered in Africa. After seeing the story on NPR and Kveller, a reporter from JTA tracked down Jennifer using social media and “Jewish geography”.  Link

“Wish U Were Here“ In the Holy Land

Hasidic Gat Brothers hit the streets of Jerusalem and the Israeli airwaves and find their fishbowl suddenly includes a huge base of social media fans around the world. Link

Superman Sam

While Superman Sam Sommer, the son of two Illinois rabbis, fought leukemia, his mother blogged and tweeted updates to an online community of friends and strangers. Superman Sam’s story is an example of how through social media people can be inspired to pray, give tzedakah (charity) and even give of themselves, by joining bone marrow registries and shaving their heads to raise money for cancer charities. Sam lost his brave fight on December 14, 2013. May his memory forever be a blessing. Link