Raise your hand if your kids are having more screen time than ever before!
Thanks to this unprecedented pandemic summer — during which so many parents are working from home, without camp or childcare — stressed-out moms and dads are resorting to screens as a guaranteed and, um, somewhat safe way to keep kids occupied. But of course, sites like YouTube, which can be a trove of fun kid-friendly videos, also offer some seriously offensive, inappropriate, or, at the very least, less-than enlightening content, particularly for young kids.
That’s why Zev Stub created Bagels.tv, a Jewish alternative to YouTube. “Like many parents, I have accepted that my kids’ favorite thing in the world is vegging out with YouTube, but I don’t like the yucky stuff they keep finding there,” he told the Jerusalem Post.
Bagels.tv provides wholesome Jewish content — content that doesn’t require parental controls. Why the name Bagels? As Stub tells us, “Bagels are light, fun treats that you eat at a simcha, like a brit mila or a bar mitzvah, happy just to make you happy.”
Spreading joy was a huge motivation for Stub, as well as the power of catchy songs to send powerful messages. “Ever since The Maccabeats transformed Hanukkah with [their song] ‘Candlelight’ 10 years ago, I’ve been fascinated by the powers of modern culture to positively affect our ancient traditions,” he says. “I think that, beyond the power of each individual video, the juxtaposition of all of these videos together creates a mosaic of the Jewish story that is very compelling and easily accessible.”
Among the Bagels.tv browsing categories are music, Israel, torah, kids, and playlists. Some of the site’s current highlights include a beyond beautiful rendition of “Heal Us Now” by international teen singing group Hazamir Hasharon (which 100% made me cry in seconds), a tour of the Israeli city of Tzvat, and an educational video about Tisha B’Av. The playlist section also spans from categories like graduation speeches to Jewish holiday playlists like Purim music to Israeli love songs.
Stub says the site aggregates existing content from YouTube, Facebook, and other social sites. As a past coordinator of janglo.net — an online community for English-speakers living in Israel — Stub is confident he’s up to the task of managing the needs of a diverse online community. Noting that a “non-judgmental approach to Judaism is one of the most interesting elements of the site,” the Bagels.tv prioritizes positivity and steers clear of politics.
“I’m pro-Israel and pro-Judaism, but I want to offer as many different channels as possible for people to connect on different levels,” he says. His hope is that all Jews, from secular to haredi, will find content that speaks to them, as his intent is to amplify voices throughout the Jewish community, across all political and religious spectrums.
As so much of life is happening virtually during the pandemic, Stub notes the potential of videos like those on Bagels.tv to resonate with kids and parents during this stressful time. As he notes on his web site: “I definitely see that today’s universal languages of video and music possess a certain level of holiness and purpose that rises beyond mindless fun.” I couldn’t agree more!
Images via Bagels.tv