Have you heard? Lost Tribe is hosting TzedakaTHON, one of our biggest events yet! This epic livestream is all about doing good deeds and caring for others, which is why we have recruited some of the hypest Jewish comedians on social media to host the event. Expect bigger crowds and bigger prizes than ever before when you tune in to TzedakaTHON on Sunday, July 24.
So who are these comedians, you ask? (At least I’m assuming that’s one question you had at least thought to yourself.) Well, say shalom to Eitan Levine, one of TikTok’s most hilarious Jewish influencers. He is going to be hosting TzedakahTHON, keeping y’all engaged and donating with games between segments and even his own live show at the end: Jewish or Antisemitic, based on his TikTok series with over 21 million views.
But don’t let me keep droning on about numbers and TikTok and TzedakaTHON and charity. We have Eitan Levine himself to tell you all about the importance of community, his career, and most importantly: Is Kirby Jewish?
“It’s just Jews connecting over social media.”Eitan Levine
Lost Tribe: How did you get involved with us for TzedakaTHON?
Levine: I’ve known about Lost Tribe for a little bit. I interviewed and worked with Ethan Zohn, the Season 3 winner of Survivor. He had mentioned Lost Tribe so I knew of it for a little bit. Since January, my TikTok has taken off a little bit. Because it’s in the Jewish social media sphere, Lost Tribe was a seamless connection there.
Why are you excited to be a part of TzedakaTHON?
Here’s what I like about Lost Tribe… When I was growing up, I never really found a community, a Jewish community I vibed with. I definitely felt none of it was cool. The people in charge were boring. Even the fun stuff — it felt like there was an ulterior motive to get me into a shiur [Talmudic study session] or something. There wasn’t a lot of effort to just make a community — a bunch of Jews with the same general interests. It’s not about Israel or the Torah or antisemitism. That’s what I like a bout Lost Tribe. There are no ulterior motives. It’s just Jews connecting over social media.
TzedakaTHON feels like a good extension of that, just bringing the community together for a positive thing. The talent they have coming in are some of the better and funnier Jewish social media people. Society in general is trying to figure out how to interact and take in new forms of social media. Within that, Jews are also trying to figure out how to make it relevant towards them. The comics and personalities coming in are perfect examples of that. They make a good job of highlighting funny internet stuff in a very Jewish way built for modern social media.
What’s different about what Lost Tribe is doing for Jewish teens?
This may be a harsh answer but other organizations do a s— job at outreach. The overarching issue that they don’t understand that you need to have relatable people who are pro Judaism leading these things. The relatability is the most important part.
Judaism was a set of rules growing up. You do this, this, and this. I have a learning disability. I didn’t do well in Jewish school so I felt I was a terrible Jewish kid. Within the past several years, it feels there’s been more effort into making spaces for people to just be Jewish without everything else, the pressure of everything else.
This sounds like a Lost Tribe commercial, but Lost Tribe does a really good job of it. Gaming is huge in a way that people in charge of other orgs don’t understand. This is an org that is run by people who understand the importance of Twitch and Discord. And they’re doing a great job with that outreach. It’s not just about Judaism. It’s about a common Jewish background.
Why do you think it’s important to have these spaces for Jewish teens?
Judaism isn’t about religion. It’s a culture. You can’t forget about the culture side but it often happens. There’s value in the religion and rituals, but there needs to be a place where people feel comfortable being themselves.
I have many goyish friends. But when I talk to people that are not Jewish, it’s a slightly different conversation and comfort level than I feel talking to someone who has a similar cultural background, even if I don’t know them well.
Something to point out and make clear is that in the past, our communities have occasionally done a good job of bubbling ourselves off. Over the past couple of years, it feels like there’s been more effort to relate to the larger community and embrace that we are Jews in a modern world. And just have a good space to talk about kugel.
“It’s important to have Jewish representation [on TikTok] too.“Eitan Levine
Why do you think your TikTok blew up in January?
I didn’t even try to… So I had originally taken YouTube videos and repurposed them for TikTok. Those started to do well on TikTok so I started to shoot stuff for the intention of just for TikTok instead of for YouTube. And why January? People were feeling too Christianed out after the end of December. [laughs] I have no idea, honestly.
What’s the importance of having this kind of content on a site like TikTok?
Identity is something every other culture has embraced and has highlighted on TikTok. That’s what’s awesome about TikTok — you’re learning about every different culture and learning about groups of people. It’s important to have Jewish representation, too.
Jews, because of our anglo-Ashkenazi white [appearance]… We have a hard time with identity politics because we are so white passing. But it doesn’t take away that we have a deep, interesting culture. That’s far from the only Jewish experience out there but it’s something that leads to us not wanting to celebrate our Ashkenazi-ness too much.
How did you come up with Jewish or Antisemitic?
It started as a joke.
It’s not a joke now? [laughs]
No, now it’s real. [laughs]
We actually did do an episode on the Supreme Court and that was an interesting conversation. And the other day, we were talking about Louis Brandeis… The first Supreme Court committee hearing was about him because he was Jewish. They didn’t know if they trusted a Jew on a Supreme Court. Using Jewish or Antisemitic as a way to educate is something I’m looking forward to doing more in the future.
I’m a Jewish comic. I joke a lot. Antisemitism is very real although Jews have a tendency to throw that term around, which is where the basic idea came from. Things and general stuff in the world feels Jewish or not Jewish. It’s the kind of thing where picture frames are Jewish. It’s just like a fact.
The basic answer is that any time you go into a grandma’s house, picture frames are everywhere. Sometimes it’s not even a family photo but the stock photo is still in there. It’s a memories thing. And what are you going to do? Just hang up a picture? Have some class. But Vikings are not Jewish.
They’re an ocean-based community. A lot of sailing around and not complaining… Being a team player in an uncomfortable scenario.
Why embrace these stereotypes?
You gotta. There’s so many things in Judaism that are serious. And actual problems. If you don’t laugh at the stuff that is genuinely funny, you’ll be wallowing in a a sea of hate.
Are there any other types of content you’re planning?
I’ve been expanding interview questions, trying to bring in stuff that’s not just Jewish. I got a podcast that I work on. There’s a streaming site that’s turning my footage into a show. The Jewish or Antisemitic live version is going to be doing shows in New Yok and touring around the country at Hillel and Chabad houses. I’m learning TikTok and what it means to have a following. I’m also working with brands, which is new.
Did you ever think it would blow up like this?
You know, the arrogant answer is that I had faith in myself… I always think that I’m going to be fine if I continue to be funny, interesting, and work hard — something will click. This felt like something that clicked. I hope that I’m able to continue this recently found thing and transform it and make it bigger.
“If you don’t speak up against it, you’re perpetuating it a little bit.“Eitan Levine
Do you deal with hate at all?
First of all, it took a while to get this to stop happening. But the amount of swastikas I got in comments was jarring. I also got a lot of anti-Israel comments even though I’m very moderate and pro both sides. My videos are never about Israel. I never touch Israel. So the two comments I always get are overwhelmingly positive and then negative comments that include neo-Nazi stuff or “free Palestine” stuff.
It sucks because it feels they are taking an actual problem and using the buzzword to push themselves onto issues that aren’t there. If I have a video about bagels, there’s no reason to say “free Palestine” in the comments.
I’ve experienced some antisemitism just by being a Jewish person in the comedy community. It’s rare and I have so many friends and colleagues that are Muslim but occasionally there’s been a stereotype spread that I hate certain groups even though it’s not based on anything other than me being Jewish.
I normally don’t talk about it but then a couple of weeks ago someone who was a comic friend of mine, another Jewish person, had to remove her tags from videos she did with me because she was getting threatened and called a Zionist. They were saying they would come to her shows and harass her and make a big scene. She had to cancel shows and delete tags… When it was only about me I would just handle it. But when it was rubbing off on people I knew in the videos… It makes you speak up and say something.
The stereotypes are awful and antisemitism is out there. It’s unfortunate that this has been where it has bled into.
Does it help having a community online and IRL?
You have to be thick-skinned. I can handle it. But my friend had to cancel show and people were protesting her… An episode she was on was about Jewish moms and Italian moms… That was what labeled her that… it’s all random internet people but if you don’t speak up against it, you’re perpetuating it a little bit.
Why should you be kind and do good deeds even if you aren’t rewarded?
In order for the world and society to exist, there has to be some basic human desire to do good things without being rewarded.
And Now the Important Stuff with Eitan Levine
What is your preferred bagel?
I’ll shout them out now. I’m gluten free, which is an issue. Modern Bread and Bagel on the West Side. I went in there yesterday and they were like, “WE KNOW YOU.” They held their phone up and asked, “Is this you?” They’re gluten free but close to a regular bagel, really f—ing close, almost identical. They are always listed as one of the best bagels in in NYC.
I get the everything toasted bagel with pastrami lochs and veggie cream cheese. That’s where it is. Oh, and it has to be toasted a little too much. None of this lettuce, none of this tomato… And blueberry? That can eat my tush! Cinnamon is the only sweet bagel option I’ll consider. It was only option for a while, for the kids. I don’t know when this happened, but past couple of years, all these other flavored bagels started showing up. Blueberry bagels? They were not a thing growing up. It was okay to get a cinnamon raisin bagel with butter…
Another good bagel is an everything bagel, toasted with butter, and everything seasoning from Trader Joe’s on it. This is if you don’t have pastrami and cream cheese.
Do you like gefilte fish?
I love it. But I hate it from the can. I don’t understand why society, why Jewish society… We created polio vaccines, SMS messaging… But we cannot make gefilte fish in a bottle without that gloopy stuff. Why isn’t it in water? Why have they not figured out a way to keep it fine without sitting in congealed fish s—?
What are some of the cringiest Bar and Bat Mitzvah themes?
Robots was mine! I went to orthodox so the concept of themed Bar Mitzvahs was not a thing. It was always just sports-themed. You go and the tables are named after different baseball teams. Not a lot of variation. The Bat Mitzvahs, they were New York, Paris, fashion… I remember online seeing a Titanic theme. That was hilarious. There was an iceberg in the middle… But that’s what you get for going to orthodox school where there’s no creativity.
Did you ride a camel in Israel?
I didn’t go on Birthright. I lived in lsrael for a year for yeshiva. I didn’t get the Birthright experience but I hung with them a bit to get the vibe.
Do you feel you missed out?
Big time! If Birthright wants me to lead a trip, by all means I’ll lead one!
Okay Jewish or antisemitic: Robots.
Jewish!!! Jewish! So Jewish! They are geniuses. They can do math. And that’s it. [laughs] They’re problem solvers. Some of them are short. A lot of them are short. Every Jewish man is just taking commands from their wives.
Antisemitic. There’s no f— way. Wait… Let’s think for a second… Doesn’t a girl on TikTok do which Pokemon are kosher are not? Okay, the creatures are antisemitic. Very few are kosher. The roaming around in the wilderness… Very Jewish. The show is Jewish.
Jewish. But only because we get heartburn. Godzilla looks like every Jewish man after dumping too much Frank’s Red Hot on cholent.
It’s so antisemitic. Every apocalypse, any dystopian future assumes that Jews didn’t fix the problems of the world and that’s how it happened. We’re like the world spreadsheet. We keep everything in order a little bit.
Jewish only because… Here’s my thing about Fortnite. It seems to be the biggest competitor to Minecraft in the zeitgeist. You’re either Fortnite or Minecraft — those are the two different sects of gamers. Minecraft is antisemitic. Straight up. The creator was antisemitic. The merchants in Minecraft… They are blatantly antisemitic stereotypes. A guy with a big nose holding a bag of gold? Fortnite has no malice. You’re just trying to be the number one person left. There are no undertones in Fortnite.
I loved Hebrew Hammer. It was eye-opening to me. It’s so Jewish. The first time I saw it, I thought, ‘They let him do this?’ How did this get approved? How did he get money for this? It’s so niche. Seeing stuff like that growing up… If he can do it — if that can be made — anything can be made.
Okay, I’m trying to think of stuff relevant to Lost Tribe here… Kirby?
Kirby is always at kiddush. Slurping in everything. Hungry. He’s good at transforming himself into whatever scenario to match surroundings to save himself. Kirby assimilates into the things he sucks in.
He doesn’t feel sick though after eating so much food.
That’s so true though… If Kirby was Jewish, he would have constant heartburn. Actually, Kirby doesn’t really speak English. We don’t know if he’s in pain. we don’t know.
Wouldn’t he be complaining?
He should be… He’s mute so maybe he isn’t Jewish.
That was so conflicting.
He’s a tough one… He’s so nice and goopy… Maybe that’s the wrong word. His vibe is Jewish but the lack of heartburn is questionable. Maybe he’s taking a bunch of Pepto.
That’s why he’s pink.
He’s the color of Pepto. He’s a Jewish man the preps for every mission he goes out on.
Want to learn more about Eitan Levine ahead of TzedakaTHON? Follow him on TikTok, of course, and check out his website. He’ll be doing a tour on the road soon, bringing Jews and non-Jews together with his hilarious content.
Tune in to Lost Tribe’s TzedakaTHON on Sunday, July 24 to check out Eitan Levine’s live version of Jewish or Antisemitic. The 12-hour stream will be raising money for the Jewish National Fund’s Ukraine Relief cause, encouraging teens to give back and make a difference.