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Dear Andy

Thursday, 14 March, 2019 - 10:46 am

Dear Andy,

As you always enjoyed hearing a Dvar Torah, I am writing to you this letter and I know that from on high you are reading this.

Right before we moved here in 2010, you told me that if we were looking for the promised land, this is a Jewish wilderness. However, you encouraged us to be a light in the darkness. You regularly reminded me that Hashem will take care of us and that you are "just his messenger". You did not allow me to slack off from our main focus. Just last Friday we discussed that the emphasis until Pesach should be sharing the joy of Purim and the message of Pesach. Fundraising can be done afterward. Of course, we also spoke about family, raising children, inspiring the future, ensuring people value their Jewish heritage, Israel and doing good; your favorite topics to discuss.

I looked forward to our weekly learning, whether it was studying Pirkei Avot or chanting the weekly Torah portion. You were excited to take a break from the hectic day and put on tefillin and take a moment to daven. You would thank me for adding some light to the busy day. This gave my week a boost.

Andy, you were a guide and mentor to me and to many. I will miss your insight into what to do and how to do it. As a leader, you knew that people looked to you as a role model, and you set the bar high by example. Many may look at themselves as ‘not as religious as Andy’, yet they still know it is important, and were encouraged, to do more good.

You often reminded me of what Mordechai said to Esther in the megillah, (and I'll paraphrase): Hashem will ensure that the good that needs to be done in the world will be accomplished. The question is what role do we play, and do we get to be His messenger?

Andy, I give you my word. I will continue to follow in your ways. I will continue to be involved in this community, both the Jewish community and the community at large. While you are pushing us to do more from on high, we will be the foot soldiers with boots on the ground, continuing to make Harford County a place where Judaism thrives, where care for our neighbor is valued and where if we see a problem we ask, what can I do to be part of the solution.

In the secular world, they say rest in peace. Andy, do not rest in peace! Advocate on high for the Jewish people! Advocate on high for Harford County! Advocate on high for the family of the young joyous Tripp Johnson, whose happy life was cut short together with yours!

Tripp represents to me the month of Adar, the month of joy. As a community, we are in mourning, but we will continue to serve joyously and happily to make a real positive impact.

Your Friend,

Rabbi Kushi 

Comments on: Dear Andy

Kimberly Younger wrote...

Oh what sadness... Those on high guide us but the grief for the living can be treacherous in our boots on the ground. I’m thankful to have you and your family in the community I reside in to be a light when sometimes there is darkness.

Elizabeth Marquardt wrote...

Thank you, Rabbi, for the inspiring words about the loss of Andy Klein. I did not know him personally, but I fondly remember seeing him at the stores. I know he was a huge philanthropist in Harford County, and for that we in this county will be forever grateful. I am glad that he helped you so much in establishing a Jewish community here. What a loss his death is to us.

Terry Weiner wrote...

Rabbi Shusterman,

I am a congregant at Adas Shalom and was at the funeral yesterday for Andy. While most funerals are very sad, I found the words that many said in the congregation as well as the eulogies to be very uplifting. Andy was an inspiration and he definitely “walked the walk.” I have no doubt that he will be watching our actions down here and I do believe there will be evidence of him everywhere even though he is no longer physically with us.

I for one, will be stepping up to the plate more as he was an inspiration to all of us. I knew him on a personal level and he was definitely a “force to be reckoned with.” So with that being said, I enjoyed your letter to Andy and I know you will do him proud.