Jew By Voice

A monthly column on Jewish community dynamics by teacher and scholar Erica Brown.

The Holiday Sprawl

10/01/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
Story Includes Video: 
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In day school they tell you that the Hebrew month after the jam-packed fall holidays is called Mar-Heshvan; the pre-fix “mar” here means “sad.” We are sad that we have run out of holidays and have a blank month ahead. I feel terrible admitting this, but I feel a bit relieved and, of course — because being Jewish — I feel a bit guilty for feeling relieved.
We all love holidays, but the condensed way that the season barrels into the first weeks of school and work schedules, knocks us over every time. Out-of-office e-mails, the huge outlay of money and the tedium that can accompany meal after meal, service after service, cleanup after cleanup can be daunting. People at the office think Shmini Atzeret must be made up. How many holidays can one religion possibly have in a month?

Erica Brown

An Open Letter To Frank Bruni

07/30/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
Story Includes Video: 
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Dear Mr. Bruni,

I hope this finds you well. Thank you for your memoir, “Born Round: A Story of Food, Family and a Ferocious Appetite.” I was not born round but have been successfully making my way to that shape for years. I admire your honesty and your discipline in discussing your weight struggles. On the food and family front, Jews and Italians have a lot in common. You do pasta. We do challah. It’s all carbs.

Erica Brown

For Israel, The Writing On The Wall

07/02/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
Story Includes Video: 
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On a recent trip to Israel I spotted some unusual graffiti: “Am Yisrael Chai,” written in royal blue Hebrew letters on a pillar holding up an overpass. The truth is that I have seen this graffiti many times before. In fact, a friend who saw this writing on a wall years earlier loved it. “What a country!,” she said. “Even the graffiti is meaningful!”

Erica Brown

Running On Empty

06/04/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
Story Includes Video: 
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Many of us remember Jackson Browne’s “Running on Empty” as a theme song of adolescence. He created an image for us of moving blindly ahead on long, bleak expanses of highway and made it a metaphor about life. Today we might move from roads to treadmills, but the sentiment stays the same.

Erica Brown

In Sickness And In Health

04/30/2013
Special To The Jewish Week

Syndicated columnist “Dear Amy” received a letter from a woman who said people were ignoring her sick friend because they found it too difficult to visit.

Erica Brown

Denial: Not A River In Egypt

The Angel of Death will be coming to a location near you. Let's give those we care about the gift of our love and wisdom while we can.

04/03/2013
Special To The Jewish Week

The Nile has come up a few times in the past 10 days: floating infants, bloody waters, frogs popping up out of nowhere. It’s the season.

Erica Brown

Blood Upon Our House

Gun control should be the Jewish cause of our time.

02/26/2013
Special To The Jewish Week

“You shall not bring blood upon your house.” (Deuteronomy 24:8)

Erica Brown

My Gateway Drug: Groupon

Why does the Jewish community work so hard to attract the indifferent while taking others' loyalty for granted?

01/29/2013
Special To The Jewish Week

My teenage son calls Groupon my gateway drug.

Erica Brown

Getting To Nordstrom’s

Judaism is a great product. So why does our poor customer service get in the way, again and again?

01/02/2013
Special To The Jewish Week

These are days when retail lines are filled with disgruntled people returning holiday presents that they can’t re-gift, like that sweater with only one sleeve or the alarm clock that plays “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy.” It’s a great time for sales and also a great time to think about customer service.

Erica Brown

What To Wear To The Post-Nup?

12/04/2012
Special To The Jewish Week

So I just got my first invitation to a post-nuptial agreement party.

Erica Brown
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