Who gets to decide someone else’s Jewish identity? Probably not Twitter

You may not know who Joe Roberts is. But some people online, who may or may not have ever met the man face-to-face, claim to know him extremely well—to the point that they are posting photos of his grandmothers’ graves, scouring the web for his tweets and published articles, and making bold statements about whether he’s really who he says he is. Whether, for example, he’s even Jewish.

The former the chair of the JSpace Canada board, Roberts has found himself at the centre of this Extremely Online controversy largely because he (a self-described political left-winger) began more vocally supporting Israel post-Oct. 7, sparking many left-leaning Twitter users to turn on him.

Rather than dive into the veracity of Joe Roberts’s Judaism, on today’s episode of Bonjour Chai, we’re looking at the gatekeepers themselves: who feels they have the right to determine someone else’s Jewish identity and why. Plus, Phoebe discusses a new viral Zionist blacklist spreadsheet, and Avi struggles to figure out whether tacky Jewish graphic tees are worthy of a nachas or broigus.


Bonjour Chai is hosted by Avi Finegold and Phoebe Maltz Bovy. Zachary Kauffman is the producer and editor. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Socalled. The show is a co-production from The Jewish Learning Lab and The CJN, and is distributed by The CJN Podcast Network. Support the show by subscribing to this podcast, donating to The CJN and subscribing to the podcast’s Substack.