Five years ago today, the website Jewlicious stopped redirecting to dead air and became a living, functioning blog. Founder David Abitbol — who, on Jewlicious, goes by the name “ck” — is outspoken, charismatic, snarky and in-your-face. Like the blog world itself, he’s one part schmoozer and one part deep-digging investigative journalist. (When I finally asked him what his Internet handle meant, he gave me a look of disbelief and said, in the most innocent voice imaginable, “It stands for Christ-Killer!”)
Abitbol is fiercely pro-Israel and unapologetically opinionated. Yet he still finds his gospel embraced in the strangest corners of the Jewish community. To celebrate their anniversary, Abitbol stopped over to MJL to talk about the site’s history and future, and to answer a few of those unanswerable questions…like, who’s the real bad kid of the Jewish blog scene?
MJL: How did Jewlicious come into existence?
David Abitbol: 5 years ago things were different in the blogosphere. There weren’t as many Jewish blogs and blogging was still the almost unique domain of the young and the wired. Blogging well required tech savvy and an innate understanding of Internet culture. I guess you kind of had to be cool. In the Jewish world, the blogs I started reading were Jewschool and Protocols. Protocols was mostly about Luke Ford but Jewschool really pissed us off on a daily basis.
To hear Jews erroneously use terms like “apartheid,” for instance, to describe the situation in Israel, rankled us. The general tone was also dismissive–if not outright insulting–towards traditional Judaism. And yet Jewschool was considered the leading blog at the time.
We felt that there needed to be a voice for the silent majority of young Jews — those that were not unduly critical of Israel and not outright dismissive of traditional Judaism. So we created Jewlicious, and the site skyrocketed to prominence almost immediately. Something that we were saying resonated with a lot of people.
It always seemed like Jewlicious was the gung-ho USY kid, and Jewschool was the rebellious sibling who wanted to poke holes in the system. Did you start out thinking, “We’re going to be the good kids”? When did it stop being a hobby and start being a full-time job?