Jewish center for Harford? The Aegis Logo


Posted 2/26/10

A rabbi from a Jewish outreach organization is looking into setting up a center in Harford County, and is holding a meet-and-greet in Belcamp this Saturday to test the waters.

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman, a native of Long Beach, Calif., is an emissary with Chabad-Lubavitch, a Hasidic organization with 3,300 institutions around the world that focus primarily on outreach to unaffiliated Jews.

Schusterman said he has been in contact with about 85 families, many of whom have expressed interest in a Chabad center for Harford County.

He hopes to meet interested residents personally at a party starting at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Wingate by Wyndham hotel in Belcamp, at 1326 Policy Drive.

The party marks the start of the festive holiday of Purim, based on the Book of Esther, and will include a multimedia reading of the story, light refreshments and sand art for children.

“Right now I’m identifying whether there is a need, and whether the community would want another center,” he said.

Temple Adas Shalom/Harford Jewish Center, a Reform congregation in Havre de Grace, is the county’s only Jewish hub, with about 175 member households.

Schusterman said he thinks there are about 2,000 Jews in the county.

“There is a limited amount of Jewish resources, and a lot of Jews feel like they’re they only Jew in the county,” he said. “I want to make Judaism more accessible, and it shouldn’t be an uncomfortable thing if you are a Jew in town.”

The center could offer educational programming, prayer services, holiday celebrations and youth groups.

Schusterman has created a Web site,, as well as a Facebook page to gather input.

“What I have seen so far is there’s a lot of people who would like more adult education and more of a sense of community,” he said.

He does not yet know exactly where such a center might be located, although most residents told him Bel Air would be ideal.

Schusterman, 25, would be coming with his wife and seven-month-old daughter.

He lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., and also works as a game show host at the Jewish Children’s Museum there. The game show is called “Spiel of Fortune.”

“I know how to have fun,” he noted.

Although Chabad is mostly aimed at Jews, the center would be open to anyone in the community.

“Those who are not in the Jewish faith but are learning about the Jewish faith, they are also welcome to come and learn,” he said.