Jew By Voice

A monthly column on Jewish community dynamics by teacher and scholar 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?

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?

Special To The Jewish Week

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

Erica Brown

Good To Go

Special To The Jewish Week

Right before Yom Kippur, my husband and I put a deposit on two burial plots. We paid with a credit card (we need the frequent flyer miles for cargo) and received word that our eternal real estate in Israel was in process. In case our prayers were not effective, we had an alternative.

Erica Brown

Born To Repent: The Boss And Elul

Special To The Jewish Week

I grew up in Bruce Springsteen country.

Erica Brown.

The Art Of Personal Transformation

A Jewish perspective.


In my work as a Jewish adult educator, I constantly speak with people who are poised to change. Often a significant life event prompts them to return to learning — the bar mitzvah of a son, divorce, the death of a parent, the intermarriage of a child — as an anchor at a time of personal upheaval and as an opportunity to grow. Adults negotiate an alarming number of fears, from job loss to rejection in relationships. We seek higher education at a time of fear and disjuncture as a place to find answers to questions that may not be answerable. We seek inspiration.

MICHAEL DATIKASH, Music lesson, Queens Gymnasia/Jewish Institute of Queens, 2005.

The Father Of Pharaoh

Special To The Jewish Week

Candlelighting, Readings:
Shabbat Candles: 4:19 p.m.
Torah reading: Leviticus 12:1-13:59;
Exodus 12:1-20
Haftarah: Ezekiel 45:16-46:18
Havdalah: 5:23 p.m.

In this week’s Torah reading, Joseph brings his family down to Egypt to live in the land of Goshen and enjoy relief from the famine in Canaan. He tells his brothers to send a personal invitation to his father. However, the invitation is marked by irony, a telling word play and a sad statement of family distance.

Erica Brown

Touched By Angels

A New Rosh HaShanah machzor from England’s chief rabbi.

Special To The Jewish Week

It is hard to pray. It is a privilege to pray. We have a need to pray.

The new Rosh HaShanah prayerbook by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks transcends denominational borders.

Observing The Three Weeks, For History’s Sake

Special To The Jewish Week

In 1999, Dr. Ismar Schorsh, then chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary, made a rather unfortunate observation. He claimed that Conservative Jews who observe the Three Weeks, a period of collective mourning for the Temples’ destruction and all subsequent calamities, was about as rare as a polar bear at the equator.

The Vows Of A Jewish Ascetic

Special To The Jewish Week

Candlelighting, Readings:
Shabbat/Shavuot candles: 8:04 p.m.;
8:06 p.m. (Tues.); 9:15 (Wed.)
Torah: Num. 4:21-7:89;
Ex. 19:1-20:23; Num. 28:26-31;
Deut. 14:22-16:17
Haftara: Judges 13:2-25;
Ezekiel 1:1-28, 3:12;
Habakuk 2:20-3:19
Havdalah: 9:12 p.m.; 9:16 (Thurs.)

Erica Brown

A Holiday Of Impossibility

Special To The Jewish Week

Shabbat Shalom
Candlelighting, Readings:
Candles: 7:24 p.m. (Fri.); 7:26 p.m. (Sun.); after 8:29 p.m. (Mon.)
Torah Reading: Ex. 33:12-34:26 (Sat.); Ex. 8:17-15:26 (Mon.); Deut. 15:19-16:7 (Tue.), Num. 25:19-25 (Mon. & Tues.) 
Haftarah: Ezekiel 38:1-14 (Sat.); II Sam. 22:1-51 (Mon.); Isaiah 20:32-12:6 (Tue.)
Shabbat ends: 8:26 p.m.
Passover ends: 8:30 p.m. (Tues.)

Erica Brown
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