Heshy Fried operates FrumSatire.net.
Things started out in the hovel and then moved to Haifa restaurant on Pico Blvd.
Luke: “Heshy, when you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?”
Heshy shakes his head. “No idea. There was a time when I wanted to be a professional mountain biker.”
“I went through the extreme sports. I wanted to be one of those guys in the extreme games drinking Mountain Dew and getting those really hot skater girls.”
Luke: “I read on your Wikipedia entry that your mother died of cancer when you were six. Was she sick for a long time?”
Heshy: “Apparently a year. It’s one of those things that’s a touchy subject. My dad was married for seven years. He got married when he was 41. It’s one of those things I don’t talk to him about much. I try to get information from other people. It’s just uncomfortable. She died of breast cancer.”
“In my case, maybe humor came out of this big traumatic experience when I was a kid. To couple that with having a name like Heshy in a Modern Orthodox situation, and having a terrible stuttering problem until I was 13, didn’t help at all. I was picked on. In turn, I had to get attention in other ways. Then I would get kicked out of school. I was the classic kid who was diagnosed with learning disabilities until they sent me away to yeshiva, which actually fixed the problem.”
Luke: “Why is the name Heshy a problem?”
Heshy: “It’s not a normal name [in Modern Orthodoxy]. I don’t look like a Heshy. I grew up in a Modern Orthodox situation. I wasn’t from a really frum (religious) family. I wasn’t from a Yeshivish or Hasidish or Haredi background. I’m from a regular Modern Orthodox background. Not having a name like Josh or Ari or Avi, it’s a weird name.
“I remember Camp Moshava in the Poconos, a real Bnei Akiva Modern Orthodox Zionistic camp, I totally got picked on for the name. I could’ve gone by Steve. Only recently have I started introducing myself to non-Jews as Hesh. They go, ‘Hash?’ I say yeah, but with an ‘e.’ I hang out with a lot of those types of people.”
Luke: “What’s the name on your birth certificate?”
Heshy: “I prefer not to say. It’s one of the few things that’s sacred still.”
“Only recently, only since I started writing, have I come to embrace the name ‘Heshy’. People think I’m an ex-Hasid, I’m off the derech, I’m not part of their community any more. Then they hear me talk and they realize I can’t be one of them.
“This weekend, multiple people were saying, ‘You don’t look like a Heshy. What’s up with you?’
“It’s good for me. It gets people curious. Part of my persona is to get people interested.”
Luke: “So when you say ‘Heshy’ to Orthodox Jews, they think you’re ultra-Orthodox?”
“I grew up in Manhattan until I was 12.”
Luke: “What was your family’s observance level?”
Heshy: “Weird. We considered ourselves Orthodox but we were really Conservative. I went to yeshiva my whole life. We didn’t eat kosher. We ate milk out. We watched TV on Shabbos. We used electricity. We didn’t always wear head coverings.
“My father encouraged Jewish learning. He was really into Gemara even though we weren’t fully on the level of mainstream Orthodoxy. But then again, Manhattan has a lower level of Orthodoxy. Manhattan is kinda weird like that. I knew many kids who were Orthodox, but their parents, cooking and driving on Shabbos was totally OK.
“What you consider yourself isn’t exactly who you are to the community at large. Some people want to consider themselves something because that’s who they think they are.”
Luke: “Do you use the name ‘Heshy’ with the goyim?”
Heshy: “Not until the past two or three years. I still use my English name in a professional setting. In college, I was like Jewish Steve, or a variation of that. I was the flying Heeb because I was big into trick biking.”
Luke: “You said professionally. What do you mean professionally?”
Heshy: “In a work setting. I worked for the state of New York for a while… Or on resumes or for most jobs.”
Luke: “What did your father most want from you?”
Heshy laughs and shakes his head. “He’s old [he was 42 when Heshy was born]. He’s from a different generation. He just wants me to go support myself. Nothing extreme. The idea of college wasn’t broached. The idea of education wasn’t really broached. He believed that anyone could make a really good living without being educated. He comes from a background of people making millions of dollars without graduating from high school, but he’s 71.”
Luke: “You got kicked out of a lot of different yeshivot as a kid?”
Heshy: “Yeah, I went to four different elementary schools.”
“When my mom died, my father started going to school more to say kaddish and he’d drag us [Heshy has a younger brother]. There’d be more religious induction into our lives. As the family became more religious, my schooling became less religious.
“I started out in Yeshiva Katana in Breoyes [Washington Heights], which is very Haredi. Then I went to Yeshiva Katana in Manhattan. It’s a black hat upper West Side school. The bulk of my elementary school was spent at Manhattan Day School, a co-ed Orthodox Hebrew day school. I started out in Special Ed and made it into mainstream. I was never a good student. I was never participatory. I was an outcast. I hung out with the bad kids. I was doing things to get attention because I stuttered. I couldn’t really communicate so I was doing shenanigans. I was a really dumb kid. I used to curse out the teachers. I used to always be going to therapy. I had speech therapy and behavior therapy. They wanted to put me on ritalin. My dad didn’t believe in ritalin.
“Eventually I got sent away to a regular Hebrew day school in Providence, Rhode Island. Compared to what I had been doing, I did well.
“And then for high school, I got sent away to a yeshiva in Rochester. It was kinda a choice of mine. It was a culture shock moving into a yeshiva dorm, going from an environment where you watched TV on Shabbos and went to a co-ed school to a black-hat environment. What do you mean your parents don’t let you talk to girls? I didn’t know these subtleties of Orthodoxy. I didn’t know there was anything between Modern Orthodox and Hasidic.
“A lot of my writing comes from that experience of being flung into a place where we were hiding our porn in our cereal boxes and freezers.”
Luke: “Where were you in the social pecking order? Were you cool?”
Heshy: “I was a pretty cool kid. I was that guy who got along with everyone. Yet I could spend a lot of time by myself. I enjoyed my own company. I started reading a lot. I started developing who I am. I hated the mistreatment of the weird kids because I was mistreated. I got a long with the kids who were outcasts. There was this kid who was clearly gay in high school. He’s out of the closet now. I was always friendly with him. Everyone called him a fag. One time he was like, what if I am?”
“I made out with a girl when I was 14. And then I didn’t get any from ages 14-19… In yeshiva, talking to a girl was almost like getting some. I almost got some many times but I was such a dumb ass. I didn’t have any game.”
“I went to Monroe Community College. I got my AA. Every time I got restless, I’d hop into my car and go to Montana. I got into road tripping and hiking and tree-hugging activities.
“Then I went to New York State University at Brockport. I majored in political science.”
Luke: “How did you like going to a school with no Jews?”
Heshy: “It was great. I was trying to get away from Jews. I didn’t like Jews very much. I didn’t wear a yarmulke. I wore a hat. My last semester, I started wearing a yarmulke to intrigue girls. It didn’t work.”
“The confrontation with professors was interesting. When they were about to go on this anti-Israel thing, they’d see me and stop. Wow. The power of a yarmulke.”
“I wasn’t friends with that many people in college. I realized that I was not interested in traditional college kids. I should’ve gone to school in Boulder, Colorado or Berkeley… I was interested in going to used book stores and I wanted to see live jazz and I wanted to go hike and I wanted to go to flea markets and I wanted to go look at art deco architecture and my peers were like, dude, we’re going to get drunk and watch the game and like go shop at Abercrombie. It was a complete disconnect. I wanted nothing to do with these people. I went to a jock school. It was known for coaching. And floor hockey. It wasn’t cultural.”
Luke: “Why did you go there?”
Heshy: “I went there because it was convenient. I could live in Rochester [at the yeshiva]. I paid $400 a month. All my friends were there. I liked the skiing. I could go kayaking in Lake Ontario. I didn’t apply to college in high school. I didn’t take the SATs. I took the PSATs and got 890, that’s pretty good.
“Two things worked against me. I had a father who was very disengaged from anything that happened after 1955 and I had a yeshiva that didn’t want you to go to college. They wanted you to learn in yeshiva. Kids went to college and got their BTLs, their Bachelors in Talmud Law. And then they got their Masters in Talmudic Studies. And then they taught in a yeshiva.
“My yeshiva wasn’t discouraging of college. They offered AP courses and they offered SATs. Some yeshivas, you take the SATs and they throw you out. There are girls there! How can you go there? It will take you from holiness to BS.”
Luke: “When was the happiest time of your life?”
Heshy: “Right now. I’m having a great time. It always gets better.”
Luke: “What do you love about your life right now?”
Heshy: “I’m in love with a girl, which is nice. It’s the first time I’m really confident in a relationship. Really, of utmost confidence. I’m living in the West. That’s been a dream for a long time. I’m living in the Bay Area. I’ve had some ego boosts in the last two weeks. I’m writing like one of the most popular Jewish websites. That didn’t hit me on the head until last week. This is an ego boost, being interviewed by Luke Ford. Thank you. I get these ego boosts and I come out and then I come down. In general, I’m looking forward to what’s happen.
“I did a show last night at the Shul on the Beach. It was phenomenal. I didn’t expect it to be good. A bunch of 50 and 60 year olds showed up. My core audience is usually 20 and 30 year olds.
“I got up and realized my crowd is 60 year olds. They grew up really religious, a lot of them, and they strayed but they’re not self-conscious. Twenty-year-olds smile but they don’t laugh. Sixty-year-olds are throwing up their drinks and gut wrenching laughing because they don’t give a crap what anyone thinks. They’re done. They’re married. They’re retired.
“I’m going to Jewlicious this weekend.”
Luke: “Share with me the most important things you’ve learned about women.”
Heshy: “They like little things. If a woman really cares about jewelry and the finer things, I don’t want anything to do with them. You send them a postcard and they’re overjoyed. They’re overjoyed at things that take thinking, like opening up a car door, and remembering little things, like their mother is going into surgery. I hang out with a different breed of women.”
“Women are not as confident as they look. They’re much less confident than men… I used to think they were so tough. I like women who are tough. That tell you when something is bothering them.”
Luke: “Do you have any insights into how a woman decides to go to bed with a man?”
Heshy laughs. “Let me get to the part where I get in trouble for… Not really. I’m not so like, you know, I can’t, I’m going to incriminate myself at this time. I can’t. This is one of the things I’ve never spoken about with my audience.”
Luke: “Why is that?”
Heshy: “There are some things you can go. You can admit you’re not shomer negiya (refrain from touching the opposite sex). The second you start talking about premarital sex, then you lose half your audience. If you talk about it in a mussar way, that’s fine. ‘When I was 19, there was this Bais Yaakov girl. She came on to me. My yetzer hara took control. I wasn’t up on my mesiras Yashriam (?) seder and I didn’t learn mussar that day. I’m sorry. Will you maichel (forgive) me please?'”
Luke: “So you’ve always stayed within Orthodoxy?”
Heshy: “More or less.”
“Within the last year or so, I’m just beginning, I wouldn’t say to leave Orthodoxy, but discovering that there is more to life than Orthodoxy. There are many more opinions. There are a lot of people, just because they don’t do certain things, doesn’t make them lesser Jews. I’ve always believed in that, but never before have I gone out and sought that. I had never been to a Conservative or Reform or egalitarian minyan until this past year. They’re so much better to make fun of from an Orthodox perspective.
“I wanted to write for Jewschool. I had this woman from Jewschool say, you offended women rabbis on your blog. We can’t have you write for us. They’re too progressive. So I write for Jewcy and Jewlicious instead.
“When you’re within the frame of Orthodoxy, you think that Orthodoxy is it. Then you go out and realize that Orthodoxy is very small. If we want to keep our religion alive, we need to bring people in. We can’t just be this little ignorant speck of insular Jews. We need to welcome people to do what they want. If you’re going to be a practicing Jew, you don’t have to be Orthodoxy.”
“With the economic crisis, people in Orthodoxy are pulling their kids out of yeshiva and sending them to public school.”
“I went to this minyan in San Francisco called the ‘Mission Minyan.’ It’s really cool. The people who took me were Modern Orthodox. There are three sections — men, women and the middle is mixed. Like a Miami Boys Choir. To start the minyan, they need ten men and ten women. It’s called a partnership minyan. If Orthodox and egalitarian were possible, this is how it would be.”
Luke: “What do you love and hate about Orthodox Judaism?”
Heshy: “I love the food. I love the fact that a mehitza makes ugly women look hot. You can look over and they’re so forbidden and you can only sorta see them, so half of their weight is gone. I love kiddish. It’s anarchy. You put a table of free food in front of Jews who’ve been sitting around for three hours and we kill each other.”
“There’s lots to hate. I hate the value placed on externals. Most of Orthodoxy nowadays is social Orthodoxy. I have a friend who told me that he would rather his wife wear skirts than keep Shabbos. He says, I am socially Orthodox. I would feel much more comfortable if on her own time, she wasn’t Orthodox, but outwardly, she covered her hair, she wore a wig, she wore skirts.
“You walk into a shul with a different colored yarmulke and you’re singled out. It’s racial profiling.”
Luke: “How do you deal with people who don’t like you?”
Heshy: “I was never a violent kid, but I had outbursts. In shul, I’d scream expletives. I’d be yelling. I remember getting into a fight with a woman who yelled at me for taking too much of the crunch at a hotel at Pesach. It’s a hot commodity in Pesach hotels at the tea room. They had this tofi crunch stuff that was really good and I took too much and the woman yelled at me and I said, ‘What are you? A f—ing Nazi?’ We got into a whole fight about it. I started cursing at her.
“I didn’t really need to do that. Now I’m much more subtle because people recognize me.
“I was in shul in Far Rockaway, visiting my father. I wasn’t wearing a suit. This guy turns to my father and say, ‘Would your son go dressed as he is to the president?’
“I was livid. This was after I had become a little more well known. I was going to go crazy but I controlled myself. If it had happened five or six years ago, before I was recognized, I would’ve definitely gone out.”
Luke: “You would’ve done what?”
Heshy: “I would’ve started yelling at him. I would’ve given him the big F— you. My father would’ve secretly sided with me but started yelling that I’m an embarrassment.”
“The Orange County Taskforce on Racism and Anti-Semitism called me a racist and an anti-semite. I’d never written about Sephardim before. One girl bugged me. I wrote about an ignorant Ashkenazi makes fun of Sephardim. I say they control the pizza industry and the Jewish plumbing industry. There are always these short guys in shul who correct the lening but you can never understand what they’re saying.”
“I don’t put up things just to offend but some people view it as that. Leib Tropper gave me my best week ever. He gave a lot of bloggers their best week ever. I was number two for Leib Tropper searches. I had 1,500 in a day the first day. It was great. I felt so honored to beat out Failed Messiah. I thought he was going to have that cornered. I SEO’d that s—. He’s not so good with the SEO. People hate on him but he does a service.”
“Nobody said a thing about Leib Tropper in the Haredi media. Of course, because it involved sex. They won’t talk about it unless it involves money because that affects them. ‘So what if he molests a little boy? How does that affect us? So long as he donates, it’s fine.’
“That’s the stuff that interests me. Sex is sex and frum sex is beyond all. If you listen to the tapes, it’s even better. If you’re yeshivish, it’s even better because he’s so yeshivish.
“A guy called me up and said, ‘This is Leib Tropper’. I said, are you serious? He said, no, but I went to his yeshiva and I’ve got his accent down pat. Hilarious.”
“Everything offends someone. If you want to get offended, you get offended. In the frum community, it’s even worse. I did a show where I talked about my dating life and I heard, ‘You shouldn’t talk about that. It’s private.’
“Our survival depends on our ability to make fun of ourselves.”
“Not that I would ever watch porn. Of course not. In yeshiva, we learned Gemara all day long, but we hid the porns in the Gemaras. The rosh yeshiva had a shiur room with an old antique Shas (Talmud) set that nobody used and we put them in between.”
Luke: “What were your favorite magazines in yeshiva?”
Heshy: “I liked Barely Legal and Finally Legal and all those 18-year old… It escapes me because my dad threw out all my porns when we finally renovated the house. He didn’t care.”
Luke: “He didn’t care about your filth?”
Heshy: “He didn’t care. That was when I was engaged, so I guess it was good. I haven’t bought a porn in years. I have the internet. Why would anyone pay for porn?”
“Someone sent me a porn last week and there were mezuzahs on the doors. They are those white really cheap mezuzahs. I was looking for the Rebbe picture. That’s what I wanted to see. Reb Moshe, not the Rebbe. Reb Moshe in the background and you see a whole Shulchan Aruch set in the background while they’re doing a threesome. There’s a shtender and they throw them over the shtender. There’s a whole frum porn aspect in my mind. ‘Honey, do you want to do galilah (rolling and tying the Torah?”
“I taught myself SEO and search engine tactics and getting links and back-links and whoring myself out for interviews. I’ve gotten jobs [from my blog]. I worked as an internet marketer for a year for a business in Monsey [New York]. I learned PPC and AdWords and things like that and getting into video blogging. All sorts of things came out of blogging, really good stuff. It’s been life-changing.”
Heshy talks about his evolution as a blogger. “It started out, who the hell is reading this? That is one of the pluses of being anonymous. Being anonymous allows you to write whatever the hell you want. Being nonymous allows you to make money and to do shows and to take it to a different level. I used to write more about people and events and dates. I remember the first time I got caught writing about someone. I wrote about this girl I went out with. Her mom invited me in. Her mom was smoking hot. And then the girl came down. It was not possible they were from the same family.
“Her friend found it. Her friend knew it was me. Her friend put the two and two together. The shadchan (matchmaker) was going nuts. How can you write that?
“And the whole point of the post was that I wanted to go out with her again even though she was so nasty because she was so cool.”
Luke: “Did you take the post down?”
Heshy: “I think I did. I’ve taken down a lot of posts. When I became more popular, I realized that you can’t write things. I did a post on the similarities between blacks and charedim. I took that down.”
Heshy: “Yitzchak (Y-Love) Jordan found that and he tuned me into some things. He’s a black Hasidic rapper. A convert. Very religious and very liberal. We were becoming friendly at the time. We’d done some open mics. He said, ‘What the f— is this?’ He also found this video I’d done called ‘Charedi Wigger’. I dressed up a wigger and talked yeshivish charedi wiggerness. ‘Wassup Devorah, I wanna touch your behind.’ It was just stupid stuff but it was stuff that would definitely get me in trouble with the uhh. There are certain lines you can’t cross.”
Luke: “In trouble with what?”
Heshy: “Racism. I don’t want to go there. Although I feel like I should, but I don’t. I can’t risk that. I’m trying to get people in. I can offend my own as much as I want but once you start going out, that’s a problem.”
Luke: “What are some of the other limits?”
Heshy: “I can’t write as openly. I can write openly when no one in the place knows who I am. When they’re not expecting me. I get permission a lot. I tell people I’m not going to write about them. Things change as you realize how many people are reading. Last month, I had 58,000 uniques.”
“I learned a long time ago to not really pay attention, to really be me. If you try to please everyone, you’ll ruin it. I learned that and I keep relearning that. Sometimes I think, ‘Maybe I should change? Maybe I should be more this or that.’ When it comes down to it, I can’t. I can only do what my mind provides me to write.
“I have ten regular contributors. I have an editor. She’ll tell me if something’s too much. She’s a lawyer. She edited out the word ‘butch dyke’ last week. I was talking about the Castro in San Francisco and that’s a term. That’s a term. Just like fags vs. queers vs. fems vs. butch.
“I don’t think my readers are on that level. I think my readers are about 70% right-wing and 30% left-wing, and the commenters are very right-wing. I know when someone is going to read my stuff. I have a meter in my head of what I can pull off.”
“The other day, I told a guy to f— off who commented on my site. A lot of people write on every post I write, this blog has been going downhill for sometime. It’s not frum.
“Now I’m like, F— off. I do this for free. You don’t pay me anything. You say you’re going to show up to shows and you don’t show up for shows. I don’t have to do this. You’re reading this. I’m providing a service. The least you could do is to add some insight, not critique me for spelling and stupid s—.”
Luke: “What does your girlfriend think about your blog and does she affect it in any way?”
Heshy: “She almost affects it because I am so flattered that I have finally… I have gone out with a few girls who were blog readers and every single one of them, after we have gone out for sometime, has said, ‘Your blog is really offensive. I hate the things you do. You’re making fun of people.’
“I’ve been dating this girl since July. She loves my blog. She still reads it. Everyone else, once they start going out with me, don’t read it anymore. She’s been an active reader for a year before she met me. She emailed me and asked if we could hang out because she was an outdoors person and I’m an outdoors person.
“I don’t think it was sexual at the time or any attraction. There might have been on her end, but not for me.
“She’s very supportive. She doesn’t think that I should work for a desk job. She thinks I should do this for a living. I like that encouragement. She’s into a lot of philosophy, that people should do what they want to do.”
“Blogging has opened up my mind to all sorts of people and I’ve got a girlfriend out of it and probably a future wife.” Luke: “How does your dad like your blog?” Heshy: “He’s never been on the internet in his life but he’s come to a few of my shows and he likes them. Half of the things I rant about are from him.”
“Last year, there was a chareidi kollel kid in Baltimore who committed suicide. It was reported on Yeshiva World News and Vosizneias that he died in a car accident. It was a blatant lie. I felt that as news sites they were responsible to tell the truth. The only good news service is JTA, even though they are obviously left-wing.
“I said this is BS. The guy committed suicide. To write a blatant falsehood on a news site is unethical. The editor from Yeshiva World News called me up. He said, we know it is a suicide, but we felt that to honor the family… He was Hatzalah. He said they knew it was a suicide before the family knew it was a suicide. He felt that the family shouldn’t learn from blogs.”
“I took my post down. The brother [of the suicide] called me up to thank me. He said no other blog would take down what I wrote… When you get a call from a family member and you see the pain and the sorrow, I don’t think it is right to put people through that. I’m not gaining that much out of it. It’s just my opinion.
“People don’t notice all the posts I take down.”
“There’s this sect of people who contact me — girls who are converting and becoming religious. This one girl wrote about guys who were coming on to her in shul who were Orthodox and because she was not Jewish, they think that sex with a non-Jew isn’t valid, so it’s fine. She wrote all about this experience. It had like 200 comments. She made me take it down because her Bais Din had seen it.
“The comments were nasty. They blamed her. ‘You were working in a bar. You were drinking with the guy. What did you expect?’
“She was really offended… She asked me to take it down. I took it down.”
“Every job I’ve gotten has come from a Jewish connection.”
Luke: “When you walked in here, you said that my blog sucked. What do you mean?”
Heshy: “Not the content, the look. When you come to it, you think you’re on a parked page. It doesn’t look like a blog. The first time you linked to me, I got all these hits and then I came to your site and I thought, what is this? There’s no style to it.”
“I spoke to people at the Jewish bloggers convention that were like, who the hell are you? I got that vibe from the guy who runs Treppenwitz and the guy who runs Seraphic Secret. These guys who’ve been blogging for years and a couple of hundred people come a day and they think they’re big s—. And I don’t even care to read your blog.”
“My writing is not formulated correctly because I never took school seriously. It scares people away who are from a smarter realm.”
“Even though I can’t please everyone, I sometimes want to.”
“One of my points of sorrow is that some of my greatest satire go unnoticed and unappreciated. In general, I wish there was more love.”
Luke: “How does it feel to be written about?”
Heshy: “It feels good… I’m an attention whore… At the same time, I’m a loner… I go to movies alone. I eat out alone. I go to concerts alone. People don’t do that.”
Luke: Do you have any theories on why some people choose to become Orthodox?
Heshy: “A lot of it is carefully crafted indoctrination… They don’t show you everything. It’s like going to a peep show.”
“The communal aspect is amazing. The support. To go from a place where everybody is doing their own thing to sitting down in a hundred million dollar house and we’re all equals… You’re a part of a group and a lot of non-Jews don’t feel that. You have communities based on little externals such as you all like World of Warcraft or you like to ski. You don’t have this all-encompassing community.
“Baal Teshuvas come into Aish and everyone is friendly and they give you good food and they’ve got all these hot women. Chabad is all hotties. That’s how they get you. Chabad is brilliant. They have these fancy places. All the women are hot. Everyone’s cool. And there’s booze.”
“A lot of converts read my stuff because they Google things that Aish is not going to talk about, such as wife-swapping in the frum community.”
Luke: “Is it difficult for you that there is not much Torah in the San Francisco Bay Area?”
Heshy: “That’s what I like. I like communities with a lack of Jewish resources because I tend to cleave more to the Lord without Jews throwing things at me. It’s also the basic psychology of being needed. When you go to shul and there’s no minyan and they need you, it feels good.”
“I’ve never been to a strip club, which is weird because all of my yeshiva friends are huge [into strip clubs]. Hasidim and strip clubs, it’s such a famous thing.”
“I’m just starting to tell people that I’m a writer and an entertainer. I don’t yet make a living at it but it is what I do most of the time.”
Fried was raised at 86th street and West End Avenue on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. His mother died of breast cancer at the age of 40, when Fried was 6 years old. Following his mother’s death, Fried’s father raised him and his brother Charlie. Fried led a troubled youth because of his mother’s death, as well as because of a chronic stuttering problem. He was expelled from a number of Jewish day schools, eventually graduating from the Providence Hebrew Day School, an elementary school located in Providence, Rhode Island in 1995. He matriculated to the Talmudical Institute of Upstate New York (TIUNY) in Rochester, NY, but left prior to graduation. He received a high school equivalency in 2000.
Fried attended the State University of New York at Brockport where he graduated cum laude in 2006, Pi Sigma Alpha with a degree in political science. He worked briefly at several state agencies in Albany, New York, including the New York State Department of Education and the New York State Assembly. He worked for a year as a private investigator in the workers compensation and disability fields while living in Albany, New York.
During college Fried became an avid outdoorsman and cyclist. He raced mountain bikes, skied frequently, and went on extended backpacking trips throughout the northeast, as well as Montana, Alaska, and Utah. In June 2006, while working as an intern during budget season for the New York State Assembly, he began writing down his thoughts about the Orthodox Jewish community and posting them on Craigslist New York’s “Rant and Raves” section. Around this time he attended a wedding in Toronto and was introduced to blogging by a friend, Sarah Zeldman, a life coach and professional blogger.
Fried now splits his time between Far Rockaway, where his father lives, and Albany.
Fried’s blog, FrumSatire, was created on June 25, 2006, but did not enter the spotlight until about six months later when Fried wrote a post outlining different categories of sects in the Orthodox Jewish community. Several more notable bloggers linked to the post, and Fried’s work began to attract more attention. In November 2008, Fried performed on stage for the first time when Israeli comedian David Kilimnick asked Fried to open for him in New York. Rave reviews pushed him to start posting stand-up comedy videos of himself and others on YouTube, where he gained a large following of thousands of viewers.
FrumSatire averages approximately 50,000 visitors a month. Blog posts have received as many as 250 comments, and the website provides a forum for all types of Jews to discuss varying issues in an open, uncensored forum. It has developed into an arena in which Jews as distinct as Ultra-Orthodox Haredim and those who are secular and irreligious debate topics such as racism, child abuse, and dating issues in a completely anonymous manner, something rarely found in Orthodox Jewish circles. It’s not rare for readers to take offense to what he writes, and a few Jewish websites have refused to publish his material.
Fried was named one of the most influential Jewish bloggers in 2008 and was one of the seven elite bloggers invited to Israel to attend the first International Jewish Bloggers Conference hosted by Nefesh B’Nefesh on August 20, 2008. Fried was also invited to attend the Fourth Annual ROI Summit from June 28 through July 2, 2009, held in Tel Aviv, Israel, for influential young Jewish innovators from around the world.
Fried has performed in many Jewish communities throughout the Northeast and Midwest of the United States, as well as in Israel.
Although Fried usually generates a positive response to his comedy, he also has experienced a fair share of negative reviews within the Orthodox Jewish community. He aims to be provocative in choosing his topics of discussion, and those who would rather such issues remain untalked about frown on his humor. He has been called an anti-Semite, chillul Hashem and a general disgrace to Jews by many within the Orthodox community. Many Orthodox Jewish news outlets have neglected to feature Fried, instead covering lesser-known and less controversial writers, bloggers, and comedians. However, Fried’s work is spread widely through grassroots marketing via social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.
Fried also writes for Jewcy, a daily news and commentary on culture, politics, religion and lifestyle from a new, Jewish perspective, in the form of a magazine and community; New Voices, a national, American magazine written for and by Jewish college students; and the Jewish Press.