Articles by Emma Michelsohn

Hide and Seek: Revealing the Nistar in Finding the Perfect Purim Costume

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While each Yom Tov comes with its own host of customs, foods, and festivities, Purim affords people of all ages the opportunity to unleash their creativity. From planning the best mishloach manos to plotting the best shtick, getting ready for Purim is a whirlwind of non-stop activity. But with all the excitement comes a bit of stress: how to decide on a costume, where to get it, and how to tie it into the chag. I decided to ask people from the community who are champion costumers for their wisdom and input. 

The Bulka family invests time every year in coming up with a theme that ties together their mishloach manos and their costumes. They started with having everyone just wear matching outfits. Their first “themed” Purim was Winnie the Pooh: their two-year-old son was Pooh, their newborn daughter was Piglet, and Dad was Tigger. Now, according to Mrs. Haviva Bulka, “we make or buy costumes or go to the costume gemach. We include a picture in our shalach manos package of our family dressed up, so that whoever we miss during our delivery can see us.”

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All about Annie


Another night, another practice.

Laughter trails through the rooms of Bas Melech as costumed girls run about touch-up their outfits. We are getting ready for a routine run-through in preparation for our December production of Annie. Aviva Cohen, our director, calls us together, and we begin.

How did I get here? Let me back up.

After leaving Bais Yaakov, I never thought I would find myself in a “production” involving young women of the community. But thanks to RINA, a new organization founded by Rivka Rubenstein and Rochel Ziman, I got my chance. It all started in the summer, when I saw an ad in the WWW about auditions for the play. I wasn’t sure how I felt about trying out. I was nervous, and I had never actually seen Annie (I know, I know). But I heard the buzz in Baltimore, and eventually several people close to me convinced me to go for it.

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Northwestern HS Meeting


Rumors had been flying for years, but the buzz started in earnest this past December, when the School Board announced that Northwestern High School, at the corner of Falstaff and Park Heights, would be closing its doors for once and for all. The immediate question on everyone’s mind was what is going to take its place?

On Monday, July 10, I attended a community-wide meeting at the high school building slated to answer that very question. The meeting was one of several conducted this summer by the Baltimore City Planning Department to allow community members and interested parties to explore various prospects for reuse and to share their desires and concerns.

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Running for a Greater Purpose


Something new has overtaken Baltimore. Organizations are putting a new kind of ‘fun’ into fundraising. Once upon a time, a typical fundraiser was a charity tea, a banquet, a Chinese auction, or a heart-rending letter in our mailbox. Today, we are seeing organizations turning to the internet to host “24-hour” all-or-nothing super-fundraisers, as well as using social media of every stripe to spread awareness of the cause. But nothing can beat the “fun” of sports-related events which marry athletic competition with serious dollars.

Two local groups that have successfully taken this route are the Jewish Caring Network (JCN) and Bikur Cholim. The former has been holding 5K races for men and women for the past five years, while the latter jumped in a year later with an annual men’s bike-a-thon. Both draw large enthusiastic crowds of all ages and have opened the world of fundraising to a whole new audience.

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The First Leg of My Leadership Journey


Walking into Goldberg’s Bagels on that first Monday, about 10 weeks ago, I was all nerves. I took a seat at one of the packed tables and, ignoring everyone, stared at my phone until the program started. Walking into the Senator Ben Cardin Junior Leadership Program (SBCJLP) with low expectations proved to be an okay move. Because as soon as I started learning with my mentor and heard the first speaker, I knew I was going to gain much from it.

As indicated in the program description posted on the NCSY website, SBCJLP is “an elite program opened to the Jewish community and public school teens designed to create the next generation of Jewish leaders through individual training and exposure to current world influencers.” As to the “influencers,” they had to be “individuals at the top of their industries and…carefully chosen to illustrate the wide ranging effects one can have on the community while maintaining a proud Jewish identity.”

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