‘Faces of Orthodoxy’ Media Project Comes to Baltimore


“Faces of Orthodoxy” is coming to Baltimore, and the project plans to feature the stories of Baltimore-area Orthodox Jews as part of its ninth season.

Faces of Orthodoxy subjects from previous seasons (Courtesy of Alex Fleksher)

The project, inspired by such social media pages as “Humans of New York,” features photographs and the stories of individual Orthodox Jews from different parts of the country. It focuses on the diversity in composition and experience in the Orthodox community.

The project was first launched on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok in March 2022, but Faces of Orthodoxy’s roots stretch back to 2021 when the show “My Unorthodox Life,” which focuses on a former haredi Jewish fashion CEO, premiered on Netflix. Members of the Orthodox community criticized the show for making sweeping generalizations about the denomination and likening Orthodox Jews to religious fundamentalists.

Alex Fleksher, a writer for Mishpacha Magazine who would eventually become Faces of Orthodoxy’s creative director, kicked off a viral social media movement when the show premiered, as she worried that the show would spread popular myths and stereotypes about Orthodox Jews. #MyOrthodoxLife quickly gained attention, with thousands of posts made using the hashtag.

“We created an initiative that had Orthodox women, mainly, posting pictures of themselves living their everyday life as a snapshot of who they are as an Orthodox person,” Fleksher explained. “We wanted to break some of the stereotypes that were shared on the show, such as Orthodox women being uneducated or everyone in the Orthodox movement being fundamentalists. On all platforms, women of all stripes came out to tell their stories and debunk the lies and myths that get spread around about Orthodox Judaism.”

Shortly after #MyOrthodoxLife went viral, the Orthodox Union reached out to Fleksher about her work and the importance of having Orthodox Jews advocate for themselves and their experiences in the media. From this discussion, Faces of Orthodoxy was born, and has featured the stories of over 100 different individuals since its first post in 2022.

Faces of Orthodoxy’s work is divided up into different “seasons” based on the area of the United States the project is focusing on. Fleksher conducts virtual interviews with Orthodox Jews who have been nominated by other members of the community to share their stories, while a local photographer is sent out to take their picture. Previously, Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, the tristate area and the South Florida area have been the subjects of Faces of Orthodoxy seasons.

Fleksher is actually a former Baltimore resident herself, as she lived in the area for 10 years and used to teach at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School. She currently lives in Cleveland, but Baltimore is still near and dear to her heart.

“We’re trying to feature a range of different regions,” she noted. “It’s important that we don’t only focus on, say, New York Jews, so we can showcase the stories of Jews all across the country. We’re really trying to show real and human people, and we are very open to anyone who wants to share their vulnerabilities or struggles because that’s what makes us human.”

Some of the people that Faces of Orthodoxy has featured in the past include doctors, rabbis and CEOs, but nominees do not have to hold an important job or role in the community. Anyone with an interesting story or something to say is considered, and Fleksher maintains that it is important to showcase the diversity of the Orthodox community by featuring Orthodox Jews of varying races, genders and careers. Those interested in nominating someone to be featured on Faces of Orthodoxy may do so by sending a direct message through their Facebook or Instagram pages.

“Our mission is to put a face on the Orthodox community, especially with the rise of antisemitism,” Fleksher added. “We’re not saying we can combat antisemitism directly, but with any prejudice and bias, the most important way to unlearn it is to learn about individual human beings and hear their stories from them. Faces of Orthodoxy was originally created to counteract misrepresentation of Orthodox Jews in the media, which is now more important than ever.”

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