Asher Lovy, a young Jewish man from Brooklyn, was living with a dangerously abusive mother and needed $5,000 to move out. That’s when Elad Nehorai stepped in. Rallying his tens of thousands of online followers, he raised the money to help Lovy in one day.
“We hadn’t even met at that point,” Nehorai said of Lovy. “He was just a big fan of Pop Chassid and Hevria.”
More than just websites, Pop Chassid, Nehorai’s personal blog where he muses about family, faith, and culture through the lens of his own varied religious experiences, and Hevria, a multimedia collective that hosts Jewish authors and artists of all stripes, serve as communities for people seeking kindred, creative spirits.
Another crowd-funding venture that took off: a full-page ad in The New York Times detailing terrorist attacks in Israel that many felt the newspaper had failed to properly acknowledge. The GoFundMe campaign Nehorai spearheaded raised $30,000 in 5 days.
“There are moments in my life when I turned to the Internet because I knew how transformative it can be,” he says. “It’s one thing when you talk about likes and hits, and it’s another thing that we put an ad in The New York Times and we got a guy in an abusive situation to completely change his life. These are things that can only happen on the Internet.”
This is what Nehorai does: harness the connective power of the Internet to spread positivity, encourage creativity, and bring Jews together. For those who haven’t yet found their niche, Nehorai’s story of searching and discovery provides a platform for others to speak up.
That doesn’t mean Nehorai hasn’t faced his fair share of critics and trolls. While he admits that the negativity can get to him sometimes, he is not deterred.
“It’s become a mission for me to uplift the discussion on the Internet,” he says. “People need to feel that they’re not going to be traumatized every time they write something.”
As Nehorai speaks, sipping coffee at a Crown Heights restaurant, a Chabad rabbi recognizes him and introduces himself.
“I’ve read many of your articles, and you’re a unique writer in our community, and I’d love to invite you for Shabbos sometime,” the rabbi says. “I don’t want to just have a ‘Hi, great.’ It’s meaningless.”
Nehorai smiles and offers the man his number. “It’s meaningful to me.”
How it all began: Pop Chassid started as a blog about movies and chassidus.