Dalya Attar (b. 1990) was born in Baltimore to a religious Sephardic family of Iranian and Moroccan heritage. She studied at a Bais Yaakov school, and always knew she wanted to be a lawyer. Among her inspirations are Joe Lieberman and Sarah Schenirer. Attar studied criminal justice at the University of Baltimore, then moved on the University of Maryland School of Law (during which time she married and had two kids). After passing the bar, she worked in the office of Baltimore’s State Attorney, first as a juvenile prosecutor and then as a narcotics and firearms prosecutor. She was asked by Baltimore’s Jewish community to run for the state legislature, and realized she could make a bigger impact if she had a seat in government. Despite having no experience or connections in politics, and running against twelve other candidates in a district that is only 5% Jewish, Attar won a seat in the Maryland House of Delegates. She assumed office in January of 2019, becoming the highest-ranking Orthodox Jewish women in American history. Attar has used her position to help all communities in her district. She has co-sponsored and voted for legislation to reduce crime in Baltimore (which has among the highest crime rates in America), and sits on the House Opioid Workgroup to put an end to the opioid crisis. This year she introduced legislation to help Jewish women whose husbands refuse to grant them divorces. She is also working towards opening up job opportunities for people coming out of prison, and to get landlords to reduce the risk of lead poisoning. Attar has campaigned for more funding for religious schools, better pay for teachers, and voted against granting people the right to suicide. In her book, “morals and ethics come first”.
He who looks at things objectively, with an open mind, will see and recognize truth and understand the proper meaning of the Torah. The narrow-minded person, stubborn in his prejudiced self-righteousness, will see no more than what he wants to see. – Rabbi J. Immanuel Schochet
Nili Block and Sarah Avraham – Photo by Kobi Kalmanowitz
Nili Block was born in Baltimore, Maryland and made aliyah to Israel with her family when she was just 2 years old. At age 10, she joined her mother in Thai boxing classes. By 18, she won the KickBox World Cup in Hungary, a gold medal at the world kickboxing championship in Bangkok, and a European championship title, too. Block trains alongside Sarah Avraham, who also won the world championship in her division in Bangkok. Like Block, Avraham made aliyah with her family to Israel, hailing from India. Avraham was born in Mumbai to a Christian mother and a Hindi father who were both drawn to Judaism for many years and eventually converted. (They began the process with Rabbi Gavriel and Rebbetzin Rivka Holtzberg – who were tragically gunned down at their Chabad House in the 2008 Mumbai terror attack.) Block and Avraham are the same age, and are both coached by Eddie Yusupov. The former is now a soldier in the Israeli Defense Forces, while the latter is doing her part in Israel’s National Service. They are both Torah-observant Jews, keeping kosher and Shabbat even on their boxing tours. The two world champions hope to compete in the 2016 Olympics Games, if kickboxing will finally be included as an Olympic sport.
Words of the Week
Just as it is incumbent upon every Jew to put on tefillin every day, so is there an unequivocal duty which rests upon every individual, from the greatest scholar to the most simple of folk, to set aside a half-hour each day in which to think about the education of his children. – Rabbi Sholom DovBer of Lubavitch