Freda Mushlin

Freda Mushlin (Kushner)

Sunday, May 20th, 1923 - Sunday, May 24th, 2020
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Freda Mushlin, nee Kushner, age 97. Dearly beloved wife of the late Jack for 65 years; devoted mother of Elise (Paul) Rosen, Gary (Okki) Mushlin, Phillip (Marsha) Mushlin and Clarice Mushlin; loving grandmother of Jeremy (Melanie), Sheri, Brian, Michelle, Jennifer, Rebecca (Justin), Rachel (Jonny) and Sara and great-grandchildren Claire, Nathaniel, Natalie and Jack.. Dear sister of Norman (the late Dorothy) Kushner and the late Joseph (survived by Frances) Kushner. Fond aunt and great-aunt of many nieces and nephews. A private funeral service is necessary, however family and friends that can’t attend may view the funeral at Freda’s webpage on Monday June 1, 2020, 10:30 AM live, or any time after the funeral. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in Freda's name to the charity of your choice. Info Mitzvah Memorial Funerals 630-MITZVAH 630-648-9824.
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Service Details

  • Service

    Monday, June 1st, 2020 | 10:30am
    Monday, June 1st, 2020 10:30am
    Private family service-Live web cast available below
    see video below
    In lieu of signing a register book, please leave a condolence message on the "Memory Wall" of this webpage so the family can know who watched the service.
  • Reception

    Monday, June 1st, 2020 | 12:30pm - 3:30pm
    Monday, June 1st, 2020 12:30pm - 3:30pm
    Zoom Shiva
    Address Not Available
    Times are CST If using your computer, Join Zoom Meeting by link (no password necessary, click below): If using the app, enter Meeting ID: 958 939 0612 Password: shiva If calling by phone, call: 1-646-558-8656, then enter Meeting ID: 958 939 0612 Password: 352772
  • Shiva

    Zoom Shiva
    Monday after the funeral from 12:30 to 3:30 CST If using your computer, Join Zoom Meeting by link (no password necessary, click below): If using the app, enter Meeting ID: 958 939 0612 Password: shiva If calling by phone, call: 1-646-558-8656, then enter Meeting ID: 958 939 0612 Password: 352772


We encourage you to share your most beloved memories of Freda here, so that the family and other loved ones can always see it. You can upload cherished photographs, or share your favorite stories, and can even comment on those shared by others.

Private Condolence

Clarice Mushlin

Posted at 11:33am
(May 20, 1923 - May 24, 2020)

Life Experiences, Stories, Values, etc.
(my recollections)

Mom would always joke that she should write a book! — Everyone who knew her … & who was privileged to have heard her stories … her lived experiences & the values contained in the wise, compassionate (& sometimes, humorous) decisions she made within them, would agree.

Unfortunately, that book was never written. So in her memory, & in her honor, I would like to provide a small sample of the many stories passed on to me … in an oral tradition. They span a long, full, rich lifetime.

The plethora of stories reflect not only the values of her era, but include my personal observations of her decisions … i.e., the stories developed within my lifetime, & their impact on me … They were illustrative of her lived Jewish values, & of the wise humor with which she handled life’s many stresses:


The ROSENBERGS' LIFE IN N.Y. & Michigan:

Freda’s mother, Bessie Rosenberg (Kushner), her Zayde and Bubbe Rosenberg, & the rest of the family, entered the U.S through Ellis Island … during the Era of the Russian Pogroms. Bessie’s teenage years were spent working in New York’s Garment District. This was during the time of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. Like Frances Perkins (later Secretary of Labor under F.D.R.), Bessie & members of her family became staunch supporters of worker’s rights, of Unions & of the Labor Movement.

Even before coming to this country, Freda Mushlin’s Zayde dreamed of owning a (family) farm. The Rosenbergs eventually left New York & purchased a Farm near (in) Sodus, Michigan. While living on that farm, mom was a keen observer of her Zayde & Bubbe’s lived Jewish values. [Within the community, her Zayde was considered a "Hakham", a wise elder.]

Among those farm values … love & respect for the animals they tended. She regularly observed that her Zayde & Bubbe Rosenberg would ALWAYS feed the animals before eating breakfast. She often stressed to me that, according to Judaism, you must always take care of the animals BEFORE tending to your own needs. …

She used to show me photos of her Zayde with the Dairy Cows. He named each of them, recognizing their unique personalities. … And in those photos his demeanor & expression reflected his love & pride for each individual.

Also among the farm animal stories: mom’s childhood amazement at the seemingly complex social structure of chicken behavior. (These chickens were raised for eggs.):
Each morning, one specific chicken led the others out of the coop … & off to roam the farm; every evening, they returned, led by that same leader, one chicken following the other. She also recognized each individual chicken’s personality.

The Rosenbergs would also cultivate fruit & vegetables on the farm. They were known for the superiority of their fruit & vegetable products.

Later in life, members of the family (esp. those who continued in farming) continued to value the organic methods that made their produce highly valued. … They strongly denounced the advent of Agribusiness for its cruelty & its inferior, poisonous products … entailed by its profit-driven practices (incl. the use of herbicides/pesticides) … its idolatry of the Almighty dollar over the compassionate care of farm animals … & over the quality & safety of its produce.

These early experiences, I believe, enhanced my mom’s innate compassion for the welfare of animals. Among the many charities she supported, were animal sanctuaries (e.g., Best Friends Animal Sanctuary) as well as many other Animal Welfare organizations.

Other early farm memories included those of folk remedies for illnesses. Among these were the notorious Gogol-Mogol, which many of the farm children dreaded. (This was a drink concocted from raw egg yolks and sugar, beaten and ground until they form a creamy texture, with no discernible grains of sugar.)


Childhood & Teenage Years in Chicago:

Freda Mushlin was born in Chicago on May 20, 1923. As a young girl, she remembered NEVER remaining in one place for very long. Her early Chicago school memories included being frequently moved from one school to the next. During the Era of the Roaring ‘20s … & during the subsequent Great Depression of the 1930s, wealth disparity permeated her world.

Within her many memories of poverty …

the hesitancy to invite friends to the home, as they rarely had even the rudimentary furniture that other families had; the times she would be teased by other children because her shoes were substandard.

One story stands out among the others:
One evening, as my mom’s father (Harry Kushner) was returning to their home. Bessie locked the door, & instructed the children to ignore his pleas to open it … to pretend no-one was home. This was necessary for Bessie to do, in order to support her children. To qualify for government assistance, there could not be an able-bodied male living in the home (esp. one who was not actively willing to be gainfully employed). [Bessie was a creative & skilled seamstress; she took in as many individual commissions as she could handle. But this was not enough to generate sufficient income to provide for the children. (At some point, Harry Kushner relocated to California.)]

[I surmise this experience occurred, after F.D.R. became President, & the New Deal social programs were introduced & implemented; mom rarely included the dates of specific events in her stories … she emphasized the impact of those experiences, & the lessons learned from them.]


High School & Junior College Years:

Among the many stories told of these years,
a few really punctuate her Jewish Soul & Values:

She would relate to me memories of her dates with "suitors":

For example, whenever eating out on a date, she always waited for the suitor to order. This allowed her to assess what her suitor could afford. She ALWAYS ordered a menu item that cost LESS than what her suitor ordered.

She and her girlfriends would always have with them “mad money”… just in case a date would act inappropriately, & they might end up having to find their own way home.

***Mom was always a compassionate seeker of wisdom. As opposed to the abstract intellectual seeking “knowledge” for “knowledge’s sake”… or for vain prestige, her wisdom was guided by empathy and compassion, & was grounded in life experience. ***

Mom was graduated from (H. Manley) H.S. (on Chicago’s West Side) in 1940; she was graduated from Herzl Junior College in 1942. During those years, mom’s teachers encouraged her to pursue a career in teaching; a career which would require a College Degree. She enthusiastically embraced the notion, but unfortunately, her mother became seriously ill around that time.

Even though her mother strongly encouraged mom to pursue her dream, i.e., to go to College to become a teacher, she decided to sacrifice this dream in order to remain close to her mother. Attending a “Teachers’ College” would require mom to leave her neighborhood … to be away from her mom, when she needed her most.

[Side Note: At some point before anyone knew Bessie was fatally ill, Mom’s dad, Harry Kushner invited Mom & Uncle Norm to live at his resort in California. They visited that resort; neither of them were happy there … Harry also offered Mom a place to live, while attending a university in California; she declined that offer. During that time, it was clear that Bessie’s health was not improving, prompting mom to cut her visit short.]

Bessie Kushner died in (1943?) leaving Norman Kushner an orphan at age 9 (?). Mom applied to become his guardian (at the age of 17), but under the law, she was deemed too young. Thus, my Uncle Norm was turned over to a Jewish Orphanage. (My Uncle Joe Kushner, younger than my mom, had at some point during this time, joined the Navy.)

Mom met (at "the movies"), fell in love with (at a dance in Chicago) & became engaged to my father (Year?). In the 1940’s (exact year?), he joined the Navy … many stories there too … but still too much ground to be covered.

[Side Note: When my mom first saw my dad, she was not all that impressed: I remember the story as going something like this:
Mom heard about my dad, from one of her girlfriends. He was working as an usher at a local movie theater. After first seeing him at this theater, mom's girlfriend said to her: "You should see the new usher at the movies, he's really cute!" Mom then went to the movies, saw the new usher, & said, "he's not that cute."]

Mom moved to, & lived in Boston, at my Dad’s request, since the Navy Ship, The USS Canberra (CA-70/CAG-2), was based there. While there, she worked for the Jordan Marsh Dept. Store. During this time, she developed her love of Boston.

After they married, mom became my Uncle Norm’s legal guardian, & he came to live with them.


My Early Memories of Mom:

When I was six months old, we moved into a house in a conservative, White suburban, largely Catholic, working-class neighborhood. (My parents could not afford to live in the “unrestricted” North Side Chicago Suburban Jewish areas, where many of their friends lived.) They belonged to a synagogue (B’nai Israel Congregation of Proviso) in an adjacent town, (first in Maywood, then in Westchester). She was very active in the Sisterhood. As a young child, I remember attending Sunday School, & beginning in 4th grade, attended Hebrew school. It was very important to my mom to provide her children with a Jewish education. On high holidays, we would walk the mile or so to the synagogue; as well as the mile or so back home.

[One of my earliest memories here, as a very young child (under 7 yrs. old): I was asked by one of the neighborhood children, “Why did you kill Christ?” My totally baffled response: I never killed, (or would kill) anybody!]

As their fourth & final child (with a significant age gap between me & the 3rd), my earliest memories cover a different set of experiences, than those of my siblings.

My father suffered P.T.S.D. from his experiences in the Navy (his ship was torpedoed by the Japanese in the South Pacific Arena). Unable to hold a traditional job, his mother (& my mother) set him up to be the “Proprietor” of a Dry Cleaning & Laundry Business, named Maryland Cleaners. (As per usual with these “mom & pop” businesses, the actual dry-cleaning process was provided by a vendor.)

While Dad’s mom was alive, mom was able to tend to the children & home on a full-time basis. My grandmother, Clara, died when I was six months old, requiring my mom to help out at the Dry Cleaning business & take me with her to work.

After the fire at their Oak Street store, they moved from store to store, continuing to re-establish Maryland Cleaners in new locations. Those buildings were in ... what were termed as ...“bad neighborhoods”. [This process of moving from store to store, was precipitated by the fact that they did not own the building(s) that housed their business.] When those building owners sold their buildings, my parents were forced to find a new building for their business. Finally, they ended up purchasing a building on North Ave. near the notorious Cabrini Green Housing Project. [Owning the building, provided them with the stability of not having to worry about moving.]

Unable to find a reliable babysitter for me, I was brought to Maryland Cleaners. As a toddler, I remember playing with boxes of buttons. I remember interacting with very kind & generous people … people who looked very different than me; people from different cultures than my own; people of the urban Black & Latino communities. [My dad loved making deliveries to, & visiting with his Puerto Rican customers; he especially enjoyed learning Spanish from them. … He became fluent in the language this way.]

I often observed my Mom & Dad "kibitzing" with their customers. Dad was a jokester, who enjoyed providing Delivery Service as part of their Dry Cleaning Business. My mom enjoyed getting to know their customers; she prided herself on providing superior service & quality work (through a quality vendor).

My parents always treated their customers (& the few employees they had over the years) with dignity, respect & warmth. Although my parents supported Unions, none of their workers ever wanted to join one; they perceived their working conditions to be relatively ideal.

After the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in April 1968, there were intense riots throughout the U.S.; they were especially violent in Chicago. The deep respect & affection they earned from their customers resulted in the following story:

After the assassination (& immediately prior to the violent unrest plaguing Chicago during that Era), my Parents’ customers came into the store to advise them to place a photo of M.L.K., Jr. in the window (which, of course, they did). Their business was the ONLY ONE in the area that remained untouched by that violence.

This is the kind of mutual respect / kindness fostered by my mother’s caring, compassionate, empathetic nature.

A somewhat humorous story my mom often told, was the following:

[This experience occurs during a normal, friendly interaction with one of her German customers.]:

Not knowing mom was Jewish, the customer commented on the nature of Jews as being cheap, greedy, stingy & always cheating. Upon giving him his "change" in the business transaction, my mom remarked … with her usual good humor & wit … “don’t let anyone say that THIS Jew cheated you”!

This customer was so impressed by my mom’s response, he continued to come into the store ... to regularly converse on various topics with her.


My Values & Observations
as imparted by Mom (& Dad) through observations of their behavior:

Mom (& Dad) never promoted / tolerated racist attitudes from their children. At the very least, we were not brought up that way.
While racism, sexism & ethnic hatred raged throughout the Nation during my formative years, I was clueless whenever I was confronted with those attitudes:


Some of the neighborhood children expressed to me their admiration for our Elementary School Principal … “because he wouldn’t allow 'The Blacks' into our school". … Again, I was under the age of 7 (& so were these children). I could not comprehend the perceived value of banning 'The Blacks' from our school. These fellow classmates were taught to hate; I was not.

Growing up in a White suburban neighborhood; while, at the same time, observing my parents at their place of Business … living / working / interacting … in an urban, ethnically diverse, poor / working-class community, exposed me to the kindness, compassion, humor & humanity of those who look different than ourselves.

During, perhaps, the most impressionable phase of my life, I participated in my mom’s life experiences, her value-based decision making processes, her wisdom & humor:

I am eternally grateful to my mom (& dad) for bestowing me with this extremely important value.

Some Notes on The Later Years:

[In October(?) 2003, my parents moved to Brookline, MA (in the Greater Boston metropolitan area) to be near their grandchildren (my brother, Phil Mushlin's children). Phil & his family lived in Newton, MA; my mom was 80 yrs. old at the time.]

Well into her 80s, my mom remained incredibly sharp; her mental abilities remained completely intact (vastly superior to mine, I might add). Which leads me to her "pet-peeves" in regard to her experiences "while elderly" ... (for example, shopping "while elderly", going to doctor appointments "while elderly" ... )
As an elderly adult, she was frequently treated like a child:

Whenever she initiated interactions with store clerks, doctors, nurses, or other persons who did not know her personally, the following, inevitably, occurred:

Instead of directly responding to my mom's inquiries, statements, etc. ... people (store clerks, doctors, nurses, etc.) would ignore her, responding, instead, to the younger person accompanying her on these trips. Often, that would be me. My mom's ability to absorb & process information has always been superior to mine. Therefore, I would redirect their response(s) back to my mom! ... (It was always comical to see their reactions!) They seemed to initially assume, since she was elderly, that she suffered from dementia.

However, I did observe an exception that proves the above rule / custom. [The "rule": when encountering any unknown elderly person, assume that person is senile, & treat that person like a child.] This exception entails actual observation before any (pre)judgement is rendered.

Here, whenever anyone, who did not know her, overheard my mom in conversation (or overheard her relating any of her stories / experiences / memories, etc.), they almost always became enamored by her wisdom:

On one of our annual summer trips back to Chicago (to visit with relatives, old neighbors & friends), Melanie (the daughter of one of her dearest childhood friends, Lillian) took us to a Museum which featured an exhibit on the old Chicago Jewish communities. As my mom was elaborating on the photos that we were viewing, I noticed a small group that seemed to be following us. It seems that the Guide found my mom's personal, extemporaneous comments very elucidating; in this case, my mom's age (and lived experiences) added credibility & richness to the events depicted by the voiceless photos. The Guide respected & admired her input.

In her mid to late 90s, however, she became increasingly frustrated that her memory & ability to focus had slowed down; also, that her vision & hearing had deteriorated significantly. My mom had always considered herself to be fiercely independent, but now required assistance to remain living "independently". Thus, in the past couple of years, mom became "home-bound", and increasingly required home care (physical assistance).

Nevertheless, even in these later years, my mom's mind remained remarkably sharp. Most of her friends & acquaintances were amazed at the richness of her experience, wit & wisdom, exemplified within the stories, memories, & advice she would share with them. Advice, by the way, that was only given when requested; she always seemed to avoid unsolicited commentary on another person's circumstances or predicaments.

Her part-time caregivers (Bianca & Lisa) frequently told me ... that they considered her "family"; that "she is like a grandmother to them". She also engaged in long, fairly intellectual conversations with a studious immigrant caregiver. Olga (from Moldova) is employed by Springwell. Mom referred to her as "a scholar", someone who loved to learn (& whose interests went far beyond the goal of gaining fluency in English). Mom enjoyed discussing American history, culture, & current affairs with Olga (which in turn, assisted her language fluency).


[This next section is a rough rendition of what I'm trying to convey concerning my mom's core values]:


Mom considered her JEWISH IDENTITY as DEFINING her.

My observations:

THESE characteristics permeated her Soul & were reflected in all her stories, life experiences, conversations & decisions:

Jewish Identity: Compassion, Empathy, Self-Sacrifice, Humor, Wisdom, Tolerance, Love of the Arts (esp. Opera)

Mom’s core values:

Caring for Family;
Caring for Community;
Sacrificing material comforts for the welfare of others (esp. for Family / Community);
Advocating AGAINST cruelty toward those less fortunate;
Advocating AGAINST cruelty toward non-human animals;
Always stressed the intrinsic value of “doing for others”;
Especially stressed the importance of “Tzedakah”
Love of reading, love of learning, love of the Arts

Her charitable giving spanned many categories … including:
Animal Welfare, Animal Sanctuaries, Anti-Hunger Programs, Disability organizations, a variety of Jewish Causes, Veterans Organizations …
[The above shows just a sample of the categories.]

Family & self-sacrifice always superseded material gain.
Mom never favored one child over the other. She accentuated the positive in each; understood/tolerated the limitations of each. She would often find explanations / excuses for the disappointments caused by each at various times in her life.

Whenever I would be overwhelmed by feelings of low self-esteem, she would always suggest that I get involved in “volunteer activities”, that helping others is the best way to help oneself.

She bent over backward NOT TO INTERFERE in her married children’s lives. She prided herself on her financial independence, esp. from her children.

The ONE accusation that would hurt her to her CORE would be ANY suggestion … from anyone … but, esp. from a family member … that she would deliberately (or even unintentionally) treat ANYONE, with anything other than the utmost of respect, dignity & compassion; that she would place her own needs over the needs of others.

ALWAYS true to her core values: ... THAT (i.e., putting her own needs above those of others, treating others with anything less than the utmost of respect, dignity & compassion ...) is something that she NEVER did.

Sara and Cary

Posted at 12:29pm
Sara and Cary
We were honored to be included in the heartfelt memorial and shiva events for Freda.
When Jack and Freda moved to Brookline (during our 30+ year friendship with Phil and Marsha) we especially enjoyed visiting with them at the family holidays and events. Freda was a rare and beautiful individual, a positive role model for family and friends of all generations and we will miss her.

Irene Tanzman

Posted at 04:28pm
We will miss seeing Freda at the Mushlin Sukkah party and other events. She was a great lady. Always nice and interesting to talk to. I remember once when Jennie was over for a playdate with Pauline. They were about four or five years old. Jennie was so happy and excited because Jack and Freda were picking her up.

Melanie Heifetz

Posted at 01:00pm
To the Dear Mushlin Family,
Deepest condolences from our family to yours. We will always remember Freda with love and gratitude for the beautiful friendship and many acts of kindness she extended to our mother, Lillian, over the course of a lifetime. We hope you are receiving the love and support of all those who care about you- and that it helps sustain you in your grief, now and in the days ahead.
Wishing you peace,
Melanie Heifetz & Ann Censotti

Justin Belsky

Posted at 11:21am
I joined the Mushlin family when I married Freda's granddaughter Rebecca (daughter of Phil). All of my grandparents were deceased at that time. Bubby welcomed me into the family and quickly she became my new bubby. She was warm and always had wonderful stories to tell. She will be missed by all but her stories and memories will be kept in generations to come. We were honored to name our son (Jack) after her husband. I am so glad our children were able to meet such a wonderful lady before she passed. We love you bubby!

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