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by Chana Mayefsky
September 29, 2009

At a time when the economy has brought distress and anxiety to many, OnlySimchas! Celebrating Jewish Life (simchas means happy occasions in Hebrew) is thriving as a venue that addresses the joyous moments in life, and its continually growing website proves that it’s on the money.
Since its inception in 1999, OnlySimchas has seen its content, advertisements, and readership expand dramatically. It’s no secret that Jewish bubbies (grandmothers) love to kvell (boast) about their children and grandchildren to almost anyone willing to listen. But what OnlySimchas founders Dov and Shira Katz suspected, and now know for certain, is that the younger generation has not fallen far from the tree. Proud announcements of engagements, marriages, and births litter the site, and young Jewish men and women are sharing with the global community their personal triumphs and celebrations.

The branding of niche celebrations has been a clever business strategy. The OnlySimchas website began with only a small number of American postings and simcha categories; it now features an international audience with sixteen categories including Bris (circumcision), Graduations, Upsherins (a Jewish tradition when three year old boys get their first haircut), Bar Mitzvahs, and Torah Dedications among other more traditional categories that readers can easily access to satisfy their Jewish geography cravings.

The OnlySimchas site is a busy, colorful page with flashing advertisements and constantly updated pictures of some of the latest featured postings. After registering for free, anyone can upload announcements and post pictures. And while some people simply post one or two pictures, others prefer to share, what seems to be, a moment-by-moment catalog of their simcha.

The success of the website is indicated by its large volume of hits as well as by its advertisements, which range the spectrum of anything Jewish. According to the statistics featured on the site, OnlySimchas gets approximately four million page-views per week. It has over 136,000 users and almost 220,000 photos uploaded to its website.

Since the website is geared to a Jewish constituency, it is a natural advertising magnet for other brands and companies targeting Jewish consumers. Photographers are born advertisers for this site that features announcements of parties and weddings. So too are Jewish vacations and tour programs; apparel companies that sell modestly-designed clothes for a more modestly-dressing population segment; kosher wedding halls; bridal wear companies; sellers of traditional Jewish garb; and even Jewish charity organizations encouraging those more fortunate to help those less so. Viewers can click on a particular category to see a listing of birthdays or engagements, or glance through the Recent Simchas listings on the home page to get a glimpse of occasions in all groups. Visitors to the site who want to track down a specific person’s announcements can employ the OnlySimchas search tool. Members can also sign up for email alerts revealing the most up-to-date simchas.

Like many sites, visitors can stage fake simchas or impersonate others. Recently, for example, Observer owner Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump appeared on the main page. Their engagement announcement and picture were subsequently removed, probably because it was unauthorized.

The website, which continues to expand, boasts a Classifieds section, a Business Directory listing all advertisers, and as of 2004, a link to its new venture,, a matchmaking site.

The brilliance of the OnlySimchas brand is that it captures the basic human desire to communicate to family, friends, even strangers, the happiest and proudest moments in life, and has focused on a population that is relatively close-knit and family oriented. Furthermore, it recognizes and capitalizes on the human craving to be in the know and to be a part of, no matter how remotely, a community. This explains OnlySimchas’ never-ending stream of participants and its notable achievement of returning viewers to the site, time and time again.

And so, mazal tov to you OnlySimchas!


Chana Mayefsky is a freelance writer. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Yeshiva University and holds a Bachelor's degree in English and a Master's degree in Jewish History.

*Due to the constantly changing environment of websites, some reviews may no longer reflect the current website for this brand.
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