WHY 18


18Forty is a new media company that helps users find meaning in their lives through the exploration of Jewish thought and ideas. By addressing contemporary issues openly and honestly, 18Forty expands conversation, deepens understanding, and elevates experience. With a commitment to exceptional design and intellectual integrity, 18Forty is rethinking Jewish wisdom and reframing Jewish values for a modern world.

The year 1840 marked the climax of the first industrial revolution. This era saw new labor-saving inventions, scientific advances, academic theories, and the beginning of increased general education levels. These advancements brought massive societal benefits. At the same time, they created substantial societal dislocation and produced new challenges for people to find meaning in this world.   

As the industrial revolution progressed, a profound question about religion emerged:  Would the rise of industrial, technological, and academic progress render religion obsolete or would these disruptive societal changes make religion crucial to understanding this new reality and provide meaning to peoples’ lives?  

One mystical text portended a religious revolution in 1840. Some interpreted this as a reflection on the need for redemption from the ills of modern innovation. Others focused on the more positive message of newfound opportunities for religious enlightenment in an age when human creativity was being redefined.

Today, we are once again faced with the choices and challenges society confronted in 1840 on an even greater level. While many of the benefits brought by these changes are self-evident, these rapidly accelerating changes are causing new societal and individual challenges. The levels of anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns are rising at an alarming rate, especially among Millennials and Generation Z. Traditional familial and communal emotional support networks are being replaced by impersonal online communities. And the exponential rate of technological development makes the future feel unpredictable.

As a society, how will we construct meaning in today’s age of limitless information? Some will see religion as an anachronistic artifact from a simpler and more naïve time. 18Forty hopes to confront some of those challenges and present a new vision for the value of religion in the modern age.

Was the year 1840 the end of religion or the beginning? In this special podcast, David discusses the significance of the year and how it remains relevant today. Follow along with the source sheet and listen below:


David Bashevkin is the director of education for NCSY, the youth movement of the Orthodox Union, and an instructor at Yeshiva University, where he teaches courses on public policy, religious crisis, and rabbinic thought.  He completed rabbinic ordination at Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, as well as a Master’s degree at the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies focusing on the thought of Rabbi Zadok of Lublin under the guidance of Dr. Yaakov Elman.  He is currently pursuing a doctorate in Public Policy and Management at The New School’s Milano School of International Affairs, focusing on crisis management.  He has published two books, Sin·a·gogue: Sin and Failure in Jewish Thought, as well as a Hebrew work B’Rogez Rachem Tizkor (trans. In Anger, Remember Mercy). David has been rejected from several prestigious fellowships and awards.


Yehuda Fogel


Yehuda Fogel is an editor and writer at The Lehrhaus, where he is proud to have worked with diverse writers and ideas. He currently studies clinical psychology, as a doctoral student in LIU Post. He has researched psychedelic use in the New York State Psychiatric Institute, and is an alumnus of Yeshiva University. Yehuda is fond of overthinking his bio and using Google Docs.

Denah Emerson


Denah Emerson received her B.A. in Art and English Communications from Yeshiva University. She subsequently earned a Masters of Fine Arts in Design and Technology from Parsons The New School for Design. Denah works as an artist, graphic designer, and research and marketing specialist. Denah embraces millennial digital nomadism as a wandering writer, performer, dance fitness instructor, financial advisor, life coach, and certified bartender. Denah is clearly a jack of all trades, master of none.

Sruli Fruchter


Sruli Fruchter is pursuing semikha at RIETS while working as a project manager for 18Forty and Dryve Marketing. He studied international and global affairs at Yeshiva University, where he was the 100th editor in chief of The Commentator. When not reading, writing, or tweeting about Rav Kook, Sruli enjoys adding books and articles to his ever-growing reading list. While his work has appeared in outlets like The Commentator and 18Forty, the New York Times is still a holdout.

Devorah Spigelman

Associate Editor

Devorah Markus (Spigelman) has spent time back-and-forth between North America and Israel pursuing various levels of education before settling down to work as an associate attorney in Tel Aviv. While not lawyering, Devorah enjoys procrastinating and doom scrolling on Twitter.

Cody Fitzpatrick

Associate Editor

In addition to 18Forty, Cody Fitzpatrick works with Valley Beit Midrash, in Arizona where he lives, and Tablet Magazine. In 2021, he was a Tablet Magazine Journalism Fellow. Cody holds a B.A. from Arizona State University in journalism and mass communication. For almost four years, he was a digital writer-reporter for the Tennis Channel, though, especially these days, he is no Rafael Nadal when he takes the court himself.



Maury Rosenfeld has worked as a speechwriter and researcher at the Orthodox Union, as well as with and under Dovid Bashevkin in NCSY’s educational department. Before that, he worked with young adults in crisis at The Door: A Center for Alternatives, in New York City. Maury is currently a smicha fellow at RIETS, and hopes to one day own a cabin in the woods. His writing has been rejected from several reputable outlets.

Zippy Wilson

Glaubach Intern

Zippy Wilson is currently a freshman at Barnard College. She is a prospective history major with a minor in political science. Last year, she attended Sha’alvim for Women. Some of her strengths include anything but decision-making, and she had a very difficult time deciding what to include in this bio.

Michelle Weingarten

Glaubach Intern

Michelle Weingarten received her B.A. in psychology from Yeshiva University and plans on attending dental school next year. When not looking into people's mouths, Michelle enjoys baking and playing sports.

Brandon Melamed

Glaubach Intern

Brandon is currently studying chemistry at Yeshiva University after having spent two years in Yeshivat Aish Hatorah. Outside of class, Brandon is an active NCSY advisor in San Francisco and a Yavneh Fellow for Yeshiva University, among other activities in and out of the Jewish community. He enjoys doing outdoor activities and solving puzzles in his own time, and likes music but is no Eminem when it comes to rhyming. Brandon's claim to fame is being an out-of-towner from some small town in Florida that people don't really know about.