Of course “libs of tiktok” is Haredi.
Orthodox Jews are once again in the news, now because of the Washington Post’s expose revealing that “libs of tiktok” – the primary social media feed of the American Rightwing on anti-LGBTQ hate-mongering – was a Chabad woman named Chaya Raichik trying to hide her identity. Raichik – who boasts about getting “evil” gay teachers fired and pioneered the term “grooming” to describe teaching about sexuality” – has hundreds of thousands of followers (probably millions by now) and includes influential fans like Christina Pushaw (the antisemitic spokeswoman for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis), Tucker Carlson, and Joe Rogan.
From my perspective, every part of story reveals deep and uncomfortable truths about contemporary America and American Orthodox Judaism. A few initial thoughts:
- Of course she is. Because Orthodoxy – and Chabad especially – has become a MAGA religion. But not only Chabad. Indeed, much of Modern Orthodoxy has become far more about Torah u’maga then Torah u’mada. Hence the semi-viral tweet by Rivka Press Schwartz – head of SAR and a wonderful model of Orthodoxy – lamenting how even her own family (and community) has become transformed into MAGA Jews. She asks at the end “how this could happen?” Well, myself and others have been documenting and explaining it for quite some time.
- That a Chabad woman wants to work so hard to purge public schools – where her own children and community will never attend – of LGBTQ teachers. Because politics is no longer just transactional, an effort to get a bigger piece of the pie for one’s own community. It’s ideological.
- Enough with the pretense that Haredim are not online. Yes, Chabad is far more so, but it’s not only Chabad.
- Orthodox/Rightwing fragility. That she tried to hide her identity while attacking countless teachers and others by name, and then complains when she is outed and pretends she’s brave when in fact she’s being rewarded financially and by her own community. It’s those who oppose her hate-mongering who face social and often financial consequences for speaking up in Orthodox society.
- That her community – not just Chabad, also the Haredi community beyond it – has rallied to celebrate this fame and (in at least one case I saw) pretends that the “libs” are somehow upset about the revelation. This claim legitimately makes me laugh.
- That Tucker Carlson’s favorite Jew Batya Unger-Sargon flat out LIED in her rightwing screed of what “libs of tiktok” said about gay and transgender teachers, denying that she had done it, and that people responded with example after example of her attacking them and trying to get them fired from schools.
- It is way, way bigger than her. See this twitter thread by Hannah Lebovitz.
For myself, having spent the better part of the last 6 years both fighting and researching this phenomenon, I must say that I am thrilled to see it in the mainstream media getting the spotlight it deserves.