Bayla Sheva Brenner

Bayla Sheva Brenner is senior staff writer of the Orthodox Union.

Lone Soldier Parents: A Balance of Pride and Fear

August 14, 2014, by

While the current ceasefire brings the battle between Israel and Hamas to another tenuous halt, 6,000 miles away, American parents of IDF “lone soldiers” continue to hold their breath. According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, of the approximately 5,000 lone soldiers serving in the IDF, close to half are American boys. 40 percent of these

Armed With Love – NCSY Summer 2014

August 6, 2014, by

Shoshana and Dr. Yitzchok Schechter heard about Hamas’s rampant rocket attacks while driving their daughter to the airport. Ayelet, 15, was flying to Israel for NCSY’s Michlelet program. Their son, Yoni, 17, had left the day before to learn in the NCSY Kollel. NCSY promised their children the “best summer ever.” The Schechters expected nothing

The Family I Never Knew: My Jewish Genealogy Journey

July 24, 2014, by

My mother, a survivor of the Lodz Ghetto, Auschwitz, a Death March, the sole survivor of her immediate family, returned her precious neshama to Hashem on the morning of the 12th of Tammuz. Just shy of two weeks ago, in mortal time. Standing by her bedside, my husband and I shouted “Shema,” “Boruch Shem Kovod” three times,

The Dynamic Doctor Duo: A Couple with a Mission

April 25, 2014, by

Drs. Peter and Laurel Steinherz are not only married to each other—they’re married to a common calling. For over three decades they’ve worked in tandem, helping cancer patients survive in the face of seemingly impossible odds. They met at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He loaned her his textbooks and his dissecting kit—they married soon

Seeing Miracles Every Day: Meet the Landys — Then and Now

March 3, 2014, by

The Landys may very well be the most conspicuous family in Rochester, New York. Anita Landy drives around town in a big white bus, custom made to carry her lively crew of five, in addition to three wheelchairs, a ventilator and a service dog named Magic. Nurses traipse in and out of their home 24/7,

The Super Mashgiach: Rabbi Chaim Goldzweig

February 11, 2014, by

  Before PCs, iPads and iPods, there was Rabbi Chaim Goldzweig. An Orthodox Union rabbinic field representative who recently marked his fiftieth anniversary with the OU, Rabbi Goldzweig is known in food manufacturing plants across the globe as the OU’s walking, talking kosher database. In 1960, when Rabbi Goldzweig first joined the OU’s kosher division,

Convert Retrieves Her Soul from Cyberspace

February 5, 2014, by

In 1993, nearly twenty years after Shoshana Zakar converted to Judaism, she found out she wasn’t Jewish. Zakar had innocently posted a question to an online Jewish discussion group. The responses ultimately led her on a path that would dramatically change the lives of her and her family. Born in Spokane, Washington, Zakar didn’t have

Bestowing the Final Act of Kindness

February 5, 2014, by

It is called chesed shel emet—the truest, most selfless act of benevolence one Jew can do for another. Taking care of the physical and spiritual needs of the dead is a chesed without the slightest hope of reciprocity. But two women who regularly dedicate their mornings to performing taharot—the ritual preparation of the met (dead

Confessions of a BT Emigree

February 4, 2014, by

I was born in America, yet I consider myself a refugee. As a young adult, I fled the secular world for one truer to my soul. Although I am forever grateful for that decision, I sometimes feel like a woman without a country. No matter how hard I try to segue into frum culture, I

Congratulations, It’s a Girl!

January 23, 2014, by

I was around twenty years old in my parents’ home, in the middle of a sweltering New York summer night. Twisting from side-to-side, I finally gave in to the restlessness and the heat and descended the wooden stairs to the kitchen, with a drink of cold water on my mind. At the base of the stairs,

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