“JewishGirlProbs” is an Instagram page known internationally for its funny and relatable content. Begun by Aly Silverberg, a Reform Jew from Toronto, Canada, the account has amassed a whopping 34.2K followers, and is a place of community for a variety of people with different backgrounds. However, according to Silverberg, that wasn’t the original intent when she started the page.
“I would love to say that I started the page with a goal of bringing everyone together but it originally was just kind of a fluke,” Silverberg said. “However, I very quickly began to realize the impact that it could have. When I noticed that one of my friends from Toronto was following the account, and my friend from Florida was also following it, I realized that these people now had this in common and that they wouldn’t have in another world.”
Silverberg didn’t just start out with a popular account that encouraged connection as it does now. It took lots of people to take notice in order to build a reputation for what soon became her brand.
“I wanted it to be really big but I didn’t really expect it to be anything crazy, maybe just my friends and some other people. But then, people start sharing it and more, and more, and more people started finding it. It was like a phone tree. One person found it, they sent it to five people, and then those five people sent it to five of their friends, and it just sort of organically blew up. I really wasn’t expecting it, but I was prepared for it,” Silverberg said.
Nonetheless, just because Silverberg was prepared for it, doesn’t mean that it is an easy process to come up with original content for the ever-expanding page.
“Basically what I do is that every spare moment I have, I scour the Internet,” she said. “Whether it’s Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, other Instagram pages, I search for everything. In terms of Twitter, I’ll follow a bunch of different Jewish pages, comedians, and other people whose tweets will show up on my feed.
“But in terms of memes, I have a big folder of [reaction photos] on my phone in an iCloud shared album with a few of my Jewish friends [so that they can] comment their ideas on each of the pictures… Then after coming up with the idea for the meme, I have an app that puts the meme together, an app that makes it a square, an app that watermarks it, and then I post it.”
Despite the incredible amount of work that it takes to run the account, not everybody appreciates the effort Silverberg put in.
“[Through running the account] I’ve realized how divided Judaism is itself, and that’s a little bit disappointing,” Silverberg said. “I’ll even get hate messages from people in other sects of Judaism, which can be upsetting. I think from this my view of Judaism has become more about just being a Reform Jew and bringing the entire Jewish community together.”
Despite some negative messages, the account continues to be a place where people grow and thrive within their own community.
“When people find something relatable about Judaism they all laugh together and they all send it to their friends,” she explained. “Sometimes people find other people in the comments or on my page that they have something in common with and they connect that way. Sometimes I get messages from them being like ‘Oh, I live halfway across the world but I really feel connected to Judaism through your page.’
“A lot of people, even if they don’t live around a lot of Jews [JewishGirlProbs] is their one connection to Judaism that they can always rely on. That to me is really nice to hear.”