Stanford virologist Dr. Robert Siegel, seen here getting a flu shot, caught our readers' attention earlier this year with his Covid vaccine straight-talk. (Photo/Courtesy Siegel)
Stanford virologist Dr. Robert Siegel, seen here getting a flu shot, caught our readers' attention earlier this year with his Covid vaccine straight-talk. (Photo/Courtesy Siegel)

Our top 10 most popular stories of 2020: Covid, politics and Israeli TV

Looking back on the terrible time that was 2020 isn’t easy. There has been so much pain, but there has also been joy. And J. has been there to cover it all. Here is a list of the 10 most popular local stories on our site this past year. Politics, Covid, astrology, and hey — is anyone watching Israeli TV?


1. George Soros: Philanthropist? Financier? Evil genius? New film tells the full story

Antisemitism abounded online this year, especially conspiracy theories involving George Soros, driving big traffic to every story of ours that mentions him. But this one, about the real story of the Hungarian Jewish philanthropist and antisemites’ boogeyman du jour, came out on top.


2. Young ‘Shtisel’ star leaves it all behind in Netflix’s ‘Unorthodox’

Israeli TV and Israeli actors have been more and more in the spotlight among English-speaking viewers in recent years. This list certainly reflects that, with pieces from our TV columnist Esther D. Kustanowitz on “Fauda,” “Unorthodox,” “Shtisel” and others.

Shira Haas in "Unorthodox"
Shira Haas in “Unorthodox”

3. Stanford virologist: Fix-everything vaccine is wishful thinking

We covered the effects of the pandemic on the Bay Area Jewish community extensively — but nothing captured our readers’ attention quite like this Q&A with a straight-talking virologist who impressed on us that the vaccine is hardly the end of the fight against Covid.


4. ‘Separatiooooon!’ — East Bay family’s ‘Fiddler’ coronavirus parody goes viral

For some lighter pandemic fare, readers turned to this one about the family of KALW reporter Eli Wirtschafter creating a hilarious quarantine-themed “Fiddler on the Roof” parody. We’d recap some of the best lines, but, well — just watch it for yourself:


5. ‘Fauda’ returns to Netflix for season 3, as tense and chaotic as ever

“Fauda,” the intense Israeli spy show that has become a sensation in the U.S., was back with season 3, which our reviewer said was full of the “dramatic tautness and moral murkiness we’ve come to expect from previous seasons.”


6. Trump or Biden — how did Jewish voters line up this year? It’s complicated.

Two competing exit polls reported differing results, prompting us to look into the history of the Jewish vote and how American Jews really voted in November.

Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco served as a polling place for the 2020 presidential election, Nov. 3, 2020. (Photo/Gabriel Greschler)
Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco served as a polling place for the 2020 presidential election, Nov. 3, 2020. (Photo/Gabriel Greschler)

7. East Bay Jewish doctor killed in shooting in the Sierra, son escapes

In perhaps our most shocking local story of the year, an East Bay Jewish doctor was killed in a random shooting spree in the Sierras. He was described by those who knew him as an avid outdoorsman who was “humble and easygoing.”


8. Move over ‘Shtisel’ — time to give other Israeli TV shows a look

The march of Israeli TV content continues. In this one, Esther D. Kustanowitz suggests a few lesser-known series to check out.


9. ‘Momala’ Harris is good for the Jews, say Bay Area Jewish leaders who have known her for years

Shortly after Oakland native Kamala Harris was selected as Joe Biden’s running mate, we asked longtime Bay Area Jewish leaders who know her what they think of her.

Sen. Kamala Harris waves to supporters with her husband, Douglas Emhoff, and her niece, Amara Ajagu, 2, during her presidential campaign launch rally in Oakland, Jan. 27, 2019. (Photo/JTA-Mason Trinca-Getty Images)
Sen. Kamala Harris waves to supporters with her husband, Douglas Emhoff, and her niece, Amara Ajagu, 2, during her presidential campaign launch rally in Oakland, Jan. 27, 2019. (Photo/JTA-Mason Trinca-Getty Images)

10. The ‘great conjunction’ of Jupiter and Saturn: good for the Jews?

This last one is a late-breaking contender. It’s last week’s installment of AstroloJew, our Jewish astrology column. People got really excited about the whole “Great Conjunction” thing.

David A.M. Wilensky
David A.M. Wilensky

David A.M. Wilensky is the digital editor of J. He can be reached at david@jweekly.com.