Articles by Eta Kushner

What’s Bugging You?


It’s a dangerous world out there. That’s why we wear seatbelts, look both ways, store foods properly, stay off the roof, and generally don’t hang out with lions and tigers and bears. One danger we face at this time of the year are the diseases carried by mosquitoes and ticks. Who ever heard of West Nile virus, Zika, or Lyme disease a few years ago? Today we worry about them.

The good news is that we can take steps to avoid harm by these and other pests. Yes, dangers exist, but so do precautions. There’s no need to spend our lives in bed, under the covers. Indeed, the first piece of advice I hear in my quest for information is from pediatrician Dr. Rochelle Kushner (who happens to be my daughter-in-law). “Don’t be afraid to go outside,” she says. “Don’t expect the worst, but do take precautions to protect yourself and your family.”

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Ordinary Heroes: Fear, Unity, Victory


It’s hard to believe that 50 years have gone by since the emotion-laden days of June, 1967. Anyone old enough to recall the Six Day War will remember the unbearable tension in the weeks before the outbreak of fighting. President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt and other Arab leaders held no politically-correct inhibitions preventing them from announcing what they planned to do. As one typical Radio Cairo announcement declared, “All Egypt is now prepared to plunge into total war which will put an end to Israel.” With his blockade of the Straits of Tiran, at the entrance to the Red Sea, and the massing of Egyptian troops on the Sinai border, there was no reason not to believe Nasser’s intentions. In Israel, there was a real fear that Israel’s Arab neighbors would join together to fulfill the old threat to “drive the Jews into the sea.”

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All Purpose What?!


I saw a sign in a store a while back advertising “all purpose shrimp.” Other than eating them (not for us, of course), how many purposes do shrimp have? Do shrimp make good doorstoppers? Can you string them together to make a necklace? Use them to wash windows? Remove stains? Fix squeaking hinges? Somehow I suspect these uses would cause unwanted odors. It would be a dead animal, after all, and I’ve yet to come across “shrimp scented” fabric softeners or air fresheners.

I’ve never seen “all purpose gefilte fish” advertised and can’t imagine what another use would be. Perhaps the canned type could be employed as bookends. And if a bookend fell off the shelf onto your foot, you could take a frozen gefilte fish roll out of the freezer and use it to relieve the swelling. But generally, we seem to use gefilte fish only for eating.

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Connected Yet Distracted

cell phone

When Mashiach arrives, the entire world will know it instantly! I heard this opinion many years ago, and it was hard to imagine, then, how this could happen. Today, the scenario is quite understandable. A few “shares” on Facebook reposted thousands of times, a few tweets forwarded, not to mention live breaking news, and you’re there.

But aside from its future role in heralding the arrival of Mashiach, the modern cell phone is truly a wonder right now. It has the ability to connect us with virtually anyone, anywhere, any time – and to access a seemingly endless amount of information – with a device that fits into our pockets. Like any technology, however, mobile devices can be a blessing or a curse. As Rabbi Yissocher Frand said in his pre-Yom Kippur drasha, “Is Your Master in Your Pocket?” we need to make sure that we are controlling our technology and not vice versa..

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From Boycott to Buy-cott!


It’s a shame that the customers at Goldberg’s Bagels are more homogeneous now than what we had come to expect from owner Yaakov Drebin’s clientele. Until late October, his shop catered to a mix of Jews of varying degrees of observance as well as people of different religions and ethnicities, and, of course, political affiliations. These days, most customers he sees in the shop are noticeably Orthodox. What happened to cause this change?

Campaign Fun Turns Ugly

A couple of weeks before the election, a few Republican campaigners made unannounced stops in various Pikesville locations to promote their candidates. One stop was in the parking lot outside Goldberg’s Bagels. For about 20 minutes, this diverse group, with Jews and African-American campaign people among them, gave out flyers and spoke to anyone interested in engaging in conversation. According to their reports, it was mostly a fun day for everyone. There was a lot of friendly banter and picture taking (particularly because some of the campaigners were wearing Trump masks for fun) as well as music coming from a truck emblazoned with Republican names, with Donald Trump’s prominently displayed.

According to several eye witnesses, while the group was outside Goldberg’s, a woman customer who exited the store began yelling and cursing at the Republican group outside. She was decrying their support for Trump, and also used foul language to describe the presidential candidate.

Richard B,* an African-American, was with the Trump campaigners that day and saw no problem at Goldberg’s other than the woman who was yelling. “I thought the campaigning went quite well. We all have rights to do what we do. Mr. Drebin told the woman [who was cursing] that everybody has their rights to free speech. I didn’t want to pay her any mind, so I just ignored her. We all had a good time that day.”

Mr. Drebin, who had been busy in the store and was not even aware of the campaigners outside, happened to come outside shortly after the woman customer began verbally assaulting them. 

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Where Have All the Doctors Gone? New Realities at the Hospital


Any hospital stay, especially an unexpected one, can be a time of great stress. It’s bad enough that you are not feeling well and are stuck in this strange place rather than at home, where you are comfortable. On top of that is the vulnerability you or your family experience by not being sure of the outcome of this episode. Unfamiliarity with the health care staff, who are (hopefully) attending to your needs, creates another layer of anxiety. It’s confusing to even know “who’s who.” Is this person entering the room a PA? Intern? Resident? Nurse? Doctor? Mickey Mouse? (If you see Mickey Mouse, you may need an adjustment to your medications.) Even when you feel you are receiving excellent treatment, it is obvious you are not the only patient your doctor or nurse needs to tend to, and understaffing can be a problem.

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