Photo collage shows Jon Minadeo, Steph Curry, Mark Zuckerberg and a piece of shmurah matzah superimposed over a photo of a sign for US Berkeley's law school

Our top 10 most popular stories of 2022

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A local sports star’s love of Hebrew. A beloved deli’s new chapter. And an abortive attempt to deliver shmurah matzah to Mark Zuckerberg’s house.

Those were some of the fun stories that drew the most interest here on during 2022. But there were also unexpected deaths of beloved community members, continued controversies around ethnic studies in public schools, unusual rabbinic departures, and our ongoing coverage of antisemitic incidents and hate crimes in California.

Here are the 10 stories we followed this year that drew the most interest from readers. (A note on methodology: These are, more or less, the 10 most read local articles on our site over the last year. In cases where there was more than one article about the same ongoing story, they were collapsed into a single item to make room for additional stories from the list.)

1. Goyim TV

The most popular story on in 2022 was a 2-year-old article by J. news editor Gabe Stutman about Goyim TV, the prolific antisemitic streaming site and propaganda organization, being briefly removed from the internet. But scattered among the highest-ranked stories of the year were several other pieces by Stutman about Goyim TV, which was based in Petaluma until recently.

This list included an article about the group’s leader, Jon Minadeo Jr., being arrested in Poland for demonstrating in front of Auschwitz. And one about the time his girlfriend was fired from her job at a Berkeley yoga studio for supporting him. There were numerous others about the times Minadeo and his goon squad distributed flyers in the Bay Area (and beyond) blaming Jews for Covid-19. And others. Most recently, Stutman reported that Minadeo has packed up and left for Florida, where he believes his work will be more appreciated.

2. Steph Curry’s Hebrew tattoo and hoodie

Golden State Warriors star (and devout Christian) Steph Curry has a thing for Hebrew. In the final days of 2021, we wrote of a “fun fact” about Curry’s Hebrew wrist tattoo that had gone viral on Twitter. The fun fact, as tweeted by professor Sam Shonkoff of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, was “while the [H]ebrew word on his left wrist, קרי, is a fair transliteration of his last name, it’s also the technical rabbinic term for ‘accidental emission,’ aka ‘ejaculation while sleeping.’”)

Then in June of this year, we returned to the subject when Curry wore a hoodie with some Hebrew on it to Game 4 of the NBA Finals. The hoodie included a phrase from the Christian Bible, “love never fails,” translated into Hebrew.

3. Berkeley Law student groups ban Zionist speakers

“Several Berkeley Law student groups adopt ‘no Zionist speakers’ rule,” was our first headline on the subject in August when several affinity groups at UC Berkeley’s law school agreed to ban “speakers that have expressed and continued to hold views … in support of Zionism, the apartheid state of Israel and the occupation of Palestine.” Since then, there have been many more, including interviews with Jewish students at the law school, and op-eds and letters expressing a range of opinions.

An op-ed in another Jewish publication declared that UC Berkeley had “Jew-free zones,” Barbra Streisand retweeted it, and the story went national. Most recently, we reported that the U.S. Department of Education is investigating whether the university failed to protect the civil rights of Jewish students and staff in the aftermath of the resolution’s adoption.

4. Swastika on a golf course

This year’s strangest bit of antisemitic vandalism — in Northern California, at least — was the large, swastika-shaped trench that appeared overnight on a golf course in Elverta, about 20 miles north of Sacramento, in September.

This was far from the only antisemitic incident in the Sacramento area we covered this year, though bizarre nature of it drew more web traffic than other similar stories, including multiple instances of vandalism at Sacramento State University and banners hung on an overpass in Davis that read, among other things, “The Holocaust is an Anti-White Lie.”

5. Saul’s deli gets new owners

It was big news in the Bay Area food world, but J. contributing editor Alix Wall had the scoop in August when Sam Tobis of Grand Bakery in Oakland and longtime Saul’s chef Jesus “Chuy” Mendoza came on as partners at Saul’s Restaurant and Delicatessen in Berkeley. The idea is that Saul’s owners Peter Levitt and Karen Adelman will gradually transfer full ownership to Tobis and Mendoza over the next few years.

There was some anxiety over the fate of Saul’s in recent years, as Levitt and Adelman had made it clear for at least six or seven years they were looking to hand over ownership to a new generation. The search finally ended, and now lovers of Jewish deli can rest assured that the pastrami will continue at Saul’s for years to come — a wonderful bite of stability in a chaotic world.

6. Educators we lost this year, Rachel Brodie and Ilan Vitemberg

Rachel Brodie
Rachel Brodie

The Bay Area Jewish community lost two treasured educators this year, both in their 50s. In April, Rachel Brodie died of sudden cardiac arrest at age 55. “To be in Rachel’s presence was to be illuminated by her wit, her laughter, and her fierce and tender heart,” wrote the founders of the Berkeley-based Jewish Studio Project, where Brodie held the position of senior educator.

Ilan Vitemberg
Ilan Vitemberg

And in October, Ilan Vitemberg died of long Covid at 57. “There aren’t many people who can do a puppet show for kindergartners, teach an adult education class and the next day do a training for educators,” Jenni Mangel, director of educational leadership at S.F.-based Jewish LearningWorks, told us. The losses of both Brodie and Vitemberg were keenly felt by many of our readers.

7. Unusual rabbinic departures

Rabbi Dan Ain
Rabbi Dan Ain

On March 23, Congregation Beth Sholom in San Francisco announced that Rabbi Dan Ain, the congregation’s popular senior rabbi, under whose leadership the synagogue had grown and become more financially stable, would be leaving at the end of the month. As is often the case when a rabbi leaves, the congregation held the details close, and things are now proceeding normally under the leadership of Senior Rabbi Amanda Russell, previously the associate rabbi.

Rabbi Jeremy S. Morrison
Rabbi Jeremy S. Morrison

Less well-hidden were the details of the recent semi-departure of Rabbi Jeremy Morrison, whose contract at Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills was not renewed, and though he remains senior rabbi through the end of June (the typical end date of rabbinic contracts), he has stepped back from most of that position’s usual duties. As one Union for Reform Judaism official put it to us: “What’s unusual is how public this has been. Everyone’s writing an [open] letter.”

8. Sierra Club cancels, then un-cancels, trip to Israel

In March, J. news editor Gabe Stutman broke the story that the Oakland-based national environment group Sierra Club canceled a trip to Israel at the urging of progressive and anti-Zionist groups. This news made many Zionist groups very angry. In August, we reported that registration had opened for a new Sierra Club trip to Israel scheduled for March 2023. This news made the anti-Zionist groups very angry.

9. Ethnic studies in high schools

We have covered the issue of ethnic studies curricula in California public high schools since 2019, when a state-approved draft curriculum was deemed “anti-Jewish” by a number of California Jewish organizations. In 2022, the story has largely been about local school boards approving (or not) ethnic studies curricula developed by “liberated ethnic studies” groups, which have been accused of being anti-Israel and antisemitic. Our reporting this year has touched on inroads made by these groups on Castro Valley, Napa and Hayward districts.

10. Do not approach Zuckerberg’s house

“You can’t just walk up to Zuckerberg’s door and give him shmurah matzah. I know that now.” That was the lesson learned by Rabbi Laivy Mochkin of Chabad of Palo Alto shortly before Passover 2022, when he and a teen helper attempted to  take some shmurah matzah (usually round; produced under strict supervision, often in Ukraine or Israel; largely for more observant Jews) to the home of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. “We try to give matzah to as many Jewish people as possible,” Mochkin told J. in an interview, before — and we’re not making this up — asking our reporter if he needed any matzah. Sadly, Mochkin has since shut down his Twitter account.

David A.M. Wilensky
(Photo/Aaron Levy-Wolins)
J. The Jewish News of Northern California Staff Headshots.
David A.M. Wilensky

David A.M. Wilensky is director of news product at J. He previously served as assistant editor and digital editor. He can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @davidamwilensky