@CrazyJewishMom Instagram Star to Appear at JFCS Benefit
@CRAZYJEWISHMOM: Kate Friedman Siegel, right, has popular Instagram account and a book, “Mother, Can You NOT?”, both inspired by her mother Kim Friedman, left. Siegel will appear at Stuart Country Day School on November 28 at 6:45 p.m. in a program presented by the Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Mercer County.
By Anne Levin
Trying to hold a three-way phone conversation with Kate Friedman Siegel and her mother, Kim Friedman, is a challenge that would be annoying if it wasn’t so funny. This mother/daughter comedy routine is the basis of the popular Instagram account @CrazyJewishMom and Siegel’s book, Mother, Can You NOT?
Siegel, a 2011 graduate of Princeton University, will bring her unique take on maternal involvement, or interference, to Stuart Country Day School on Wednesday, November 28, at 6:45 p.m., in a program presented by the Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Mercer County (JFCS). There will be multiple vendors at the event, which costs $50 a ticket and includes a cocktail hour. A percentage of the proceeds benefit the JFCS.
Describing her path to Instagram fame, Siegel said that after college, she worked at the publishing giant Conde Nast in visual media production. “Back when she had a real job,” Friedman interjected. “Excuse me?” her daughter shot back. “I’m talking.” At a bachelorette party around that time, Siegel happened to read aloud a few of the texts her mother would send her several times a day. The reaction? Gales of laughter.
“She’s always texting me annoying, funny things, like, ‘What’s that smell? Oh, it’s your decaying eggs,’” Siegel said. “People were just dying. They couldn’t stop laughing and encouraging me to read more. I had this ‘aha’ moment — maybe there’s something here, where people would find it funny while I find it annoying.”
She started posting the texts on Instagram. “She lied about it,” Friedman said. “She said, ‘Can I send some of these to my friends?’”
Despite the snark, it’s obvious that Friedman, who is a television and film director, is proud of her daughter and thrilled that some 700,000 people follow the account, which offers features like “Ask Mom and Spawn,” as well as a podcast every Sunday. For Siegel, watching the account go viral was a shock. “There was no way for me to know this would happen, that we would go from 11,000 to 300,000 followers in 24 hours,” she said. “There was a lot of crazy media pickup.”
Writing Mother, Can you NOT? was “a no-brainer,” said Siegel. “It’s a collection of essays about all of the insane adventures we got into when I was growing up in L.A.”
Accounting for the success of @CrazyJewishMom and the book, Siegel said, “I think all of this is just extremely relatable. There is something about the mother/daughter dynamic. My mother is intense, but we have seen that this could be crazy Catholic mom, crazy Indian mom, or whatever. It strikes a universal chord. And I also think none of this would work if it wasn’t founded on love. Even though she makes me want to tear my hair out.”
Friedman adds, “I say to her what mothers want to say to their daughters and talk about to their friends, but they don’t. You have to be honest but not push too much. Who’s going to advocate for them if not you?”
It hasn’t been all fun and humor for @CrazyJewishMom. Siegel and Friedman have experienced their share of anti-Semitism, especially since the October 27 murder of 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. Siegel posted a lengthy letter on her personal account detailing her experiences with Instagram when she reposted some anti-Semitic images and rhetoric that had been sent to her. Instagram informed her she had “violated community guidelines” and that her post had been deleted and could be “restricted or disabled” should she “violate guidelines” again.
After a great deal of outrage in posts by the account’s followers, Instagram restored the original post they had deleted. Siegel’s letter goes on to say she is all too familiar with digital hate, and has been asked by the Anti-Defamation League to keep track of what she receives.
“I’m not a tone-deaf, sociopathic Aryan race warrior who wants to rub salt in the wound inflicted on the Jewish people in Pittsburgh and around the world,” she wrote. “I’m a proudly and publicly Jewish person who runs a humorous Instagram account called @CrazyJewishMom, where I post funny memes and mortifying conversations with my neurotic, Jewish mom. My intent with sharing that post was not to cause anyone pain, but rather to highlight the problem with hate speech regulation on Instagram.”
But life goes on for this mother and daughter, who are now in the ultimate
@CrazyJewishMom territory, since Siegel recently got engaged. “I don’t know why I thought it was going to be a moment of relief,” she said. “It’s not. My mother is in higher gear than I’ve ever seen her in my life, planning this wedding.”
Friedman is enthusiastic about her son-in-law-to-be, a nice, Jewish boy. “And as I have been reminding her, every year there are less and less eggs,” she said.
Stuart Country Day School, 1200 Stuart Rd, Princeton NJ 078540
Cocktail Reception includes Drinks & Small Bites 6:45 – 8PM