May 21, 2024
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Can a Local Orthodox 18 Ball Solve Your Halachic Questions?

Two long-time friends, who attended RYNJ then MTA together before going to different colleges then finding post-college jobs, were catching up over breakfast at Sammy’s Bagels a few months ago. While they were reminiscing and joking around when they came up with an idea. They thought up a novel product for the Frum community, one that was both humorous and evocative of one of the core experiences of observant life.

The idea could have just remained there—an amusement in a free-flowing conversation between friends, set aside when they parted that day. But instead, the two friends—Ari Schaffer (formerly of Teaneck) and Zack Schrieber (formerly of Fair Lawn)—decided to pursue it. They found a contractor who could produce their concept. And now they have a novelty gift that’s sure to amuse members of English-speaking observant Jewish communities around the world.

The idea they conjured up was for something they called the Local Orthodox 18 Ball, which looks like the Magic 8 Ball that generates random answers whenever someone shakes it and asks a question. The Local Orthodox 18 Ball, however, plays off the concept of asking a question to someone’s rav.

As Schaffer explained to The Jewish Link: “It’s not uncommon for Orthodox people who are giving shiurim or teaching a class about any topic to tell attendees to “ask your local Orthodox rabbi” before they say how they feel about any given issue. While the speaker is sharing their opinion, they want everyone in attendance to ultimately ask their own rabbi about what to do in any personal situation. But, people don’t always have a local Orthodox rabbi handy, so we created the Local Orthodox 18 Ball to be there in the meantime. Obviously, people should ask their own rabbi if they have a halachic question. But we thought this would be a fun gift nonetheless.”

The Local Orthodox 18 Ball offers 18 different responses to possible halachic questions. As the product description states, it’s “great for wedding shtick, or as a gag gift for friends and family. Especially good for use on Shabbos, when you can’t text or call a rabbi.”

After spending a few months “in the works,” Schaffer’s and Schreiber’s novelty gift concept became a reality shortly before Chanukah. And from the initial responses, the Local Orthodox 18 Ball has elicited a fair amount of interest.

Schaffer reports: “We got over a dozen orders in the very first day of sales, having done no prior PR and just spreading it through social media and word of mouth. We have already secured a spot set to sell them at the YU Seforim Sale in February, and have been in contact with Judaica stores and other retailers for distribution in local stores across the country.”

For more information on the Local Orthodox 18 Ball, and to order one or more, go to: https://www.techstafftoys.com

By Harry Glazer

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