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February 4, 2014 8:55 pm

Meet the Rabbi Who Opened Facebook’s Fourth Account a Decade Ago

avatar by Joshua Levitt

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Harvard suite mate of Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, rabbinical student Arie Hasit. Photo: Screenshot / Twitter.

Harvard suite mate of Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, rabbinical student Arie Hasit. Photo: Screenshot / Twitter.

As social media platform Facebook turns 10 years old this week, now with more than a billion members, one of its first users, today studying to be rabbi, in Jerusalem, told Canada’s Globe and Mail about his early involvement as a Harvard suite-mate of the company’s founders.

“I thought it was fun,” Arie Hasit told the newspaper in a telephone interview published on Tuesday. “I could never imagine, of course, that it would be what it is today.”

The first three Facebook accounts — at its original address www.thefacebook.com — were test profiles; the fourth was the company’s chairman and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg; the fifth was co-founder Dustin Moskovitz; the sixth was another founder, Chris Hughes. The seventh was Hasit, whose Facebook account now has 94,200 followers.

Moskovitz went on to use earnings from his shares of Facebook to create Good Ventures, a philanthropic foundation, while Hughes left the company in 2008 to help run the social media for U.S. President Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. He later bought a stake of The New Republic magazine, and become its publisher.

“My way of trying to change the world and making it better is that I am working as a rabbi, working with youth,” said  Hasit, whose involvement with Facebook never went beyond his role as an informal early user. “And I see that Facebook is an incredible tool. It’s even as simple as the fact that my high school students who run all of the programs are active on Facebook, and I get in touch with them and I send them programming, we send each others resources.”

In 2005, after graduating Harvard, Hasit made aliyah, immigrating to Israel, and is now studying at the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies rabbinical seminary, of the Conservative movement. He also works as an acting rabbi for NOAM, a Jewish youth group. Hasit also served in the IDF Spokesperson Division as a liaison to North American press, and spends his time following and chronicling the Israeli hip hop scene

On the occasion of Facebook’s initial public offering, in 2012, Hasit blogged at Ha’aretz about how he wished people would ask about his other roommates, including his first housemates — his family in Cherry Hill, New Jersey — and Joe Green, another Jewish Harvard student and early Facebook user who missed out on its IPO bonanza, after his Dad warned him about working for a start-up, but is still making a positive impact on the world.

“I have many friends from years at Harvard who do well. But Joe is one of the few that I can genuinely say does good,” Hasit wrote.

“Joe always wanted to utilize the internet to get people involved in something meaningful. Through his company Causes, Joe has utilized Facebook to raise over $30 million for a variety of nonprofit organizations. Joe has brought ‘tikkun olam’ (human acts which repair the world) to a new level in today’s world as he made charitable giving accessible to millions. I hope I can make the same impact with my work one day.”

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