Internet / Jewish Community

“Online Jewish communities…provide…types of symbols and language…that help reinforce communal identity and unity”

Anderson explains the use of language and symbols that help reinforce communal identity and unity. Online Jewish communities also provide these types of symbols and language. For example, the Orthodox movement uses pictures of a Torah and “Old World” imagery to establish their community online. JDate and other dating sites use symbols such as Stars of David and prominent rabbis are highlighted to create an identity that signifies to the visitor that they are essentially “in the right place.” Similarly, Jewrotica uses Stars of David over their genitals. The Punk Jews also use Jewish symbols mixed with a kind of lettering that is widely associated with the Punk culture (including individual letters that look like they were cut from different sources for a ransom note). Large rainbows over Stars of David make the OLGBT sites easily identifiable as both LGBT and Jewish. Jewish feminists are a bit tricky to identify visually. This group also uses the Stars of David, however it is the language that is used that is the “feminist” indicator. Most sites use wording like “Women’s Organization” or “Women’s Community.” The feminist aspect is really more distinguishable once the audience has read the material provided, such as “a women’s right to pray with tefillin” or when the site discusses changes in women’s roles in a Jewish household. Because there is no easily identifiable symbol for feminism within the Jewish online community, the site visitor must examine these materials for themselves as well as search for the broader messages that have been provided.

Rachel Schiff, “Jewish Subcultures Online: Outreach, Dating, and Marginalized Communities” (Master’s thesis, California State University, Fullerton, 2016), 110-111.