Articles by Eta Kushner

A Storm of Chesed


“The clouds moved so quickly that it was like watching a video on fast-forward,” said my cousin Mark Rosenthal about Hurricane Irma. Mark, a dentist in Parkland, Florida, will be making a lot of guacamole in the next week or two. At least 20 avocadoes were blown off his backyard tree, leaving just two hanging on. Fortunately, other than the avocado cascade and a few other unexpected landscaping changes, his house was undamaged.

This was fortunate because his elderly mother and four friends (along with two dogs) weathered the storm with him. Sheltered inside with hurricane shutters blocking any view of the outside, they, like so many others in the area, went without power for several days, and sat in the heat with only candles for light. By the second or third day post-hurricane, the others left for home or places that had air conditioning.

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Coming Soon to a Shul Near You: KLEE Shabbat


When is a dish is not a dish?

When it is a KLEE, of course!

A KLEE can be anything you have handy – a bowl, tray, platter, or, yes, a dish. (It is the Hebrew word for container, after all.) Or you and your children can make one out of clay or cardboard, even Clicks or Legos. Whatever form your KLEE takes, the point is to keep it on display in your home and fill and refill it with the products of Eretz Yisrael.  

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Exodus after 2,500 Years


By now, Baltimore’s Persian Jews – with their exotic pink shul on Park Heights Avenue – are a familiar part of the community. Like previous groups – the Russians, the Yekkes, and the Holocaust survivors – who escaped difficult circumstances and made their homes in Baltimore, the Persians add a unique and colorful flavor to our diverse community.

Jews have lived in Persia (modern Iran) since before the time of the Second Temple. Their arrival in Baltimore was a “fluke” (also known as “hashgacha”). That is, it wasn’t exactly planned that way. During the tranquil days of the Shah, Rabbi Naftali Neuberger, zt”l, had initiated a program whereby contingents of college-age men would come to Ner Israel yeshiva on student visas to get rabbinic training. They would then return to Iran, where high-level Jewish education was lacking, to bolster Jewish life. Before the second half of the plan could be implemented, however, the Iranian revolution of 1979 changed everything. Those who were in Baltimore stayed, and many others fled their ancestral home following the violent regime change.

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Dalya Attar: Bringing an Orthodox Voice to Annapolis


Dalya Attar wants to “put the ‘more’ back into Baltimore.” Dalya, a first-generation American, former Bais Yaakov student, and Assistant State’s Attorney in Baltimore, is running for office on the Democratic ticket. She is aiming to become one of the three state delegates for District 41. Although the primaries will not be held until next year, on June 26, 2018, Dalya realizes that, as a relatively unknown face to the majority of the voters in her district, she has her work cut out for her.

Yitzy Schleifer’s recent win of a seat on the Baltimore City Council showed how teamwork and community support can help guarantee success. However, District 41 encompasses a much larger and more diverse area than the one that Yitzy represents, so the coming year will be a critical one in getting her message out.

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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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