Life & Culture

Creator of viral video 'I'm That Jew' gives TED talk

Eitan Chitayat has given a TED talk about his viral video highlighting Jewish pride


The creator of a stereotype-defying viral video about being proud to be Jewish, that has so far been shared by 6 million people around the world, has given a TEDx talk explaining why he made it.

Actress Sharon Stone and former chief rabbi Rabbi Lord Sacks are among the millions who shared the video which shows the complexities of Jewish identity in both a funny and poignant way, creating a sharply edited medley of clips including famous Jews in the arts, Jewish foods, and historic events, whilst repeating the phrase ‘that Jew.’ 

Eitan Chitayat, who grew up in Britain, attended JFS. He describes himself as a ‘global citizen’, having lived in London, Hong Kong and the US. He now resides in Tel Aviv, where he has lived for the last 10 years. 

He told the JC that he made the video in response to the Charlie Hebdo and kosher supermarket attacks in Paris in 2015 and after “speaking to a friend in France who told me she was too scared to say she was Jewish”.

As creative director of a brand agency, he already had experience on campaigns, including for the Jewish Agency in Israel. He wanted to make ‘I’m That Jew’ video because Jews “often don’t like to show pride in public.”

Mr Chitayat, 47, said: “I realised that the black community have black pride, the LGBT community have LGBT pride... There's a lot (for Jews) to proud of... just like any other people with their own heritage.”

When asked how big a reach he imagined the video could have, he said: “I figured it would resonate - but not to the extent that it did.

“I guess I was able to express what a lot of people authentically felt - and still feel - deep in their hearts and just couldn’t. That’s why it resonated with so many people.”

Mr Chitayat said he was concerned about rising antisemitism in Britain.

“If there’s anything I can do from Israel, it’s to try and give the English Jewish community that positive kick. I hope my talk helps to remind people not to  let hate get to you. And that while we are different, we are just like everyone else. Different, but the same - and we must be proud of that.”

He considered remaining anonymous to avoid the inevitable abuse. Within 36 hours of being published, his Tedx talk had already received many antisemitic comments.

“You have to fight the hate with love. On social media, it’s so easy to spread the hate. But there are tolerant loving humans that have commented back with support. That for me is more important that negative comments,” he said.

“Yes, there is antisemitism but both the video and the talk have also received lots of love.”

He said he hoped his work “inspires other people to do similar things.

“People have to not just talk in private but be active. This is the age of social activism and it does make a difference. For anyone that has an opportunity to fight the good fight with love and honour, not hatred, it can make a difference and change your life in a meaningful and positive way.

"I would love to see more of that in the world. We have to fight the dark with the light."

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