Dear Friend,

If you grew up in the 1990s, you may share some of my coming-of-age firsts: first time speaking on a cell phone (a brick-like contraption with a long antenna), first email account (remember AOL?), first time purchasing an airline ticket online (it took three days to finalize), first time calling home with a calling card (goodbye quarters!).

But while most of us were just discovering the expanse of the World Wide Web, my friend’s father had been making himself (and others) at home there for years. Rabbi YY Kazen (or “YY,” as he was known) was the pioneer who has been credited with founding the first Jewish presence on the Internet. As early as 1988, he was fielding questions and sharing Jewish texts on Fidonet, and he was among the very first to register a domain name, birthing in early 1994.

Today, it’s fun to work for People nod with appreciation when I tell them what I do, often telling me how much they enjoy the site and its offerings. Things were different in the mid-‘90s, when most people wrote off Rabbi Kazen and his cohorts as a group of dreamy geeks.

They saw potential and they pursued it, against all odds. To use a Chanukah reference, they were modern-day Maccabees, not letting naysayers or so-called “realists” get in the way of their passion for Torah, Judaism and their love of the Jewish people.

Let’s learn from them!

Menachem Posner
On behalf of the Editorial Team