Long-time Forest Hills resident Susan Baron passed away at 50 years of age. An avid Zionist, she worked for the Israel Aliyah Center, now called Nefesh B’Nefesh, for 13 years.
Her father, Rabbi David Baron, was born in Basra, Iraq, and lived in Iran, Israel, and the United States. Susan accentuated the Sephardic tradition of her family while her sister, Linda Baron Katz, a Kew Gardens Hills resident, accentuated the Ashkenazi side.
“A trip to Israel, where the father showed where he came from, ignited a passion in her heart that was to stay with her for the rest of her life,” said Rabbi Moshe Rosenberg of Congregation Etz Chaim. “The land of Israel, and its people, and cultures, especially Sephardic culture and Israeli music, enthralled Susan.” She became active in USY, Young Judea, B’nai Brith, and Queens College Hillel during her life.
Susan was able to take both sides of her heritage “and become uniquely American,” said her cousin, Barry Langman. She traveled to Israel and Italy on her own, and “could make friends wherever she went” with her infectious smile and good nature. Susan always wanted to do the right thing and “was careful about the person’s feelings.”
Her father, Rabbi David Baron, principal of more than 500 students at the South Baldwin Jewish Center for 12 years, “wanted something more” for his daughters, so they transferred to the Hebrew Academy of Nassau County. “Our parents spent their whole lives trying to give us a great Jewish education,” said her sister Linda.
Susan and Linda both wanted to be teachers. They “even played school together on weekends,” said Rabbi Rosenberg. While Linda is 12 months older than Susan, they did everything together: climbing trees, riding bicycles, and playing with toy doctors.
Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld of the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, who officiated at the funeral, said Susan had “never lost her belief in Judaism.” Susan stayed all night with her mother struggling with cancer in an ICU. When her father became sick, Susan “stayed by his side, day by day, night by night.” When her sister Linda was getting married, Susan made sure everything was taken care of: Linda’s hair, nails, the flowers, the bridal shower, and “made sure I had everything I needed at the wedding,” said Linda.
Susan was emotionally supportive, protective, and would drop everything to help her sister, even when Susan wasn’t doing well, said Linda.
Zerly Kemalov, a teacher at the Hillcrest Jewish Center for 30 years, said, “I’ve yet to meet a kinder secretary than Susan. She was a bubbly, happy-go-lucky, helpful person, and had no problem helping anyone in need. Her loyalty [as a friend] was unsurpassed.”
By David Schneier