A Unique Place to Pray

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One might not expect to find a Jewish prayer room in one of Baltimore’s Catholic hospitals, but thanks to the late Frank Barrash, whose wife, Etta, was treated at the hospital nearly 50 years ago, MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital in Northeast Baltimore boasts the only such room in the city.

The Barrash Jewish Prayer and Meditation Room, the subject of this week’s cover story by Connor Graham, opened in March 1971, almost a year after Etta died, and has since provided solace for Jewish and non-Jewish hospital staff, families and patients. The room has a mezuzah on its doorframe, a stained-glass Star of David and a small library of Jewish texts.


“It’s such a cozy, warm little jewel in a sterile hospital,” said Michael Barrash, Frank and Etta’s grandson, who does his best to maintain the room, and whose own life was powerfully affected by its presence. As you’ll read, the tiny room has had an outsized impact on its visitors, particularly those dealing with family illness and death.

In other news, Orthodox LGBTQ advocacy organization Eshel recently published the results of a survey of parents of LGBTQ kids. The survey found that parents want the Orthodox community to engage in dialogue about the issue, and that parents would rather see their kid find a life partner than be celibate. Victoria Brown spoke to Eshel Executive Director Miryam Kabakov and Baltimore resident Mindy Dickler, founder of Jewish LGBT organization JPride Baltimore, about what the results signify.


This weekend brings some Jewish concerts to Baltimore. On Sunday, former Chizuk Amuno Congregation Hazzan Emanuel Perlman performs at Bach in Baltimore’s Celebration of Psalms concert. The performance features Leonard Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms” and Antonín Dvořák’s “Psalm 23” performed in Hebrew. That same evening, Beth Israel Congregation kicks off its Jewish Music Month with a performance by eclectic multi-instrumentalist Seth Kibel and his quartet.

Elsewhere in the community, a new crime-monitoring app, Citizen, recently launched in Baltimore, but Jewish neighborhood watch groups Shomrim and Northwest Citizens Patrol don’t plan to use it. Susan C. Ingram explains more inside.

Happy reading!

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