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Interview'I actually really wanted to be an orthodontist'

‘Non-Jewish Nanny’ to Orthodox kids gains TikTok fame with cute culture-shock videos

Budding opera singer Adriana Fernandez babysits for Florida Jews on the side; her exuberant social media posts sparked a surprising 3rd career – as a ‘modest fashion’ influencer

Adriana Fernandez's job as a nanny for Orthodox children has launched her into unlikely stardom as TikTok's Non-Jewish Nanny. (Courtesy)
Adriana Fernandez's job as a nanny for Orthodox children has launched her into unlikely stardom as TikTok's Non-Jewish Nanny. (Courtesy)

Adriana Fernandez is typical of many young artists: A budding opera singer, she goes on auditions, takes gigs, and works a side job. But it’s for Fernandez’s other career — taking care of Orthodox Jewish kids — that she’s becoming famous. Her Florida adventures in babysitting are source material for viral posts on Instagram and TikTok as “The Non-Jewish Nanny.”

In a fraught era of virulently antisemitic social media, Fernandez is a welcome relief. She’s respectful, curious, and joyful. Her posts highlight learning about Jewish life and have turned her into an unlikely online influencer with over 20,000 followers.

Usually, folks become influencers for the swag — never underestimate the allure of free stuff. But that is not what motivated Fernandez. Instead, she said, she is interested in learning about new customs, languages, and foods.

As Fernandez, 25, learned about dressing modestly, she put her own spin on it. Modeling new looks, Fernandez proves that frum need not be frumpy. As a result, some clothing companies started sending her skirts and tops, hoping she would feature them.

Fernandez peppers her speech with insights into tzniut, or modest dressing. She understands that putting together a cute outfit is possible even within rigid guidelines. (Since she has learned her Hebrew in a Yiddish-speaking community, Fernandez pronounces it “tznius.”)

A slender young woman with a wide smile and doe eyes, Fernandez is an in-demand babysitter. Instead of plopping her charges down in front of screens, she teaches them — and in the process, learns about a culture new to her. She serves kosher foods, too, even though a few years ago, she could not have told you what “kosher” meant.

Fernandez is eager to learn more, whether that involves trying on sheitels — Yiddish for wigs — or sampling herring. (An acquired taste, she reports.)

There’s a sweetness and genuine thirst for learning that comes through in her videos. Fernandez, who grew up in Sarasota, Florida, spoke about how this Christian girl has become a Jewish social media darling. Her chat with The Times of Israel was edited for clarity and brevity.

The Times of Israel: How did babysitting for Orthodox families come about?

Adriana Fernandez: I was a TA at FSU (Florida State University). I taught diction, and I was a singer. Then, when I decided to do babysitting, my first family ever was in the Jewish community. She found me on a babysitting site.

Adriana Fernandez, also known as TikTok’s ‘Non-Jewish Nanny.’ (Courtesy)

Did you have Jewish friends growing up?

No, I didn’t have any Jewish friends growing up. I remember there were a couple of kids in my class and one who wore a yarmulke.

What is it about the culture that draws you in?

I just think it’s like the general wholesomeness. When I started working for the Jewish community, I was going through a really hard time in my life with a person who was the opposite, like they were actually atheists. I believe there’s an afterlife, and I believe there is a God. I think the culture is so interesting.

Some of the conversations I have with the kids are so fun, and they think it’s fun to teach me; it’s so interesting to learn from them. So much of our time is them explaining things, bringing home their art projects, and talking to me about holidays.

Do you think about converting?

Well, there are a lot of passions in my life that I wouldn’t really identify with the Jewish lifestyle. For example, opera; yes, there are singers in the Jewish community, but like they only sing for women, and opera is a really big passion of mine. Teaching is a really big passion of mine, too. And yes, you can do all those things in Judaism, but personally, I feel like I’m just enjoying the fact that these people are in my life, and they influenced me to live it in such a great moral way.

How do you pick the material for your videos?

Honestly, as you can tell from TikTok, a lot of my content is a real-time reaction, or like I get in the car after my nanny shift like, “Whoa, the kids were so funny today trying to teach me about this.”

What’s your range as an opera singer?

I’m a soprano, more probably like a light lyric soprano. I have my audition for Palm Beach Opera — I sing for them already, but I’m trying to get into their apprentice program, a higher level, so that’s exciting and a little nerve-racking.

So you’re nannying and singing. Are there other jobs?

I teach at a Title 1 school in Delray. I teach Disney musicals in schools as a teaching artist, so I’m teaching them “Frozen” with my partner, who’s a good dancer.

@nonjewishnanny

@Blank Thanks for taking me UP a level ????#nonjewishnanny #orthodoxjewishthings #jewishtok #judaism #jewishnanny #babysitter#orthodoxjewishlife #orthodoxnanny #kosherules #teacher #jewishholidays #nannytok #babysittertok #education #bocaraton #boca #myjewishexperience #jewishculture #orthodoxjew #themoreyouknow #jewishsupport #jewishpositivity #religiousjew #justjewishthings #normalizereligousculture #bocananny #jewishally #tznius

♬ Made You Look – Meghan Trainor

Are these the odd jobs until you make it as an opera singer?

Maybe one day I will get into a place for opera where I’m singing leads, but right now, I’ve focused a lot of my energy on teaching and kids and marketing as well. It all comes in seasons; opera doesn’t do anything in the summer, which is why I got into nannying. I never know where my life is going to take me for opera — it’s so unpredictable. So I’m always just going with the flow, and seizing every opportunity along the way.

What had you wanted to be growing up?

I actually really wanted to be an orthodontist. Very weird! But then I realized I was so bad at math and science, and I was like, I’m not doing that. So then, basically, when it came to going to college, I auditioned on a music scholarship. When I auditioned for FSU, they basically were like, you can only come if you sing. So I was like, “Well then, I guess I’m going to sing.” And I did it all through undergrad, and it became like, “Okay, yeah, I’m going to be an opera singer, and I’m going to teach music and teach opera, teach voice.” So that’s kind of what I do.

@nonjewishnanny

#nonjewishnanny #orthodoxjewishthings #jewishtok #judaism #jewishnanny #babysitter#orthodoxjewishlife #orthodoxnanny #kosherules #teacher #jewishholidays #nannytok #babysittertok #education #bocaraton #boca #myjewishexperience #jewishculture #orthodoxjew #themoreyouknow #jewishsupport #jewishpositivity #religiousjew #justjewishthings #normalizereligousculture #bocananny #jewishally #tznius

♬ original sound – Adriana Rosie

What are some of the responses you’ve heard from fans of your social media?

People send me messages like, “Hey, I’ve actually strayed away from my faith, but coming to your page makes me remember and love all the good things I forgot about.” Or like, “I’m dressing more like this now because you actually make it look cute and inspire me.” So you could call me an influencer, but I think that’s a great influence to have.

That’s why I do it; people send me messages like, “Thank you so much. This means so much after all the antisemitism in the world.”

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