Author: Avi Shafran

Govrov Selichos, 1939

This time of year in 1939, in a Polish town called Ruzhan, a 14-year-old boy had his plans rudely interrupted. The boy, who, fifteen years later, would become my father, had made preparations to...

Opinions Gone Wild

I’m greatly pained by much of the reaction in the Orthodox community to what has come to be called the Iran Deal. To be sure, there are elements of the agreement that are less...

Atticus and the Yomim Nora’im

The American 1960 classic “To Kill a Mockingbird” was in the news this summer, the result of the publication of an earlier version of it, a sequel in reality, that its author, Harper Lee,...

Exhibit A: Us

It’s not his name but I’ll call him Yochanan, after R. Yochanan ben Zakkai, who, the Gemara tells us (Berachos 17a), was first to greet anyone, Jew or not, he passed in the street....

Clear Lens, Clear Image

I hadn’t planned to awaken at 3 a.m. on Wednesday night, even though it was the peak time for catching sight of meteors – commonly called “shooting stars” – born of the earth’s yearly...

Be Alarmed

Back in 2007, at just about this exact time of year, a priest in the Netherlands city of Tilburg was fined the equivalent of several thousand dollars for ringing his church’s bells early each...

Tisha B’Av With Faigy Mayer, o”h

An essay I wrote about Faigy Mayer, o”h,’s death, the haste with which some blamed it on her chassidic community and the importance of addressing mental health in the Orthodox community ran today in...

Say It Ain’t So, Mike

In 1990, attorney Mike Godwin introduced what became known as “Godwin’s Law,” the contention that if an electronic discussion (regardless of topic or scope) goes on for long enough, sooner or later someone will...

Spaced Out

“Are we alone?” asked the oversized headline of a full page ad in the New York Times last Tuesday. “Now is the time to find out,” it answered itself. The open letter that followed...

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