All She Wrote

A monthly column from Elicia Brown, a thoughtful Jew, mother, wife and New Yorker.

Time To Make The Donuts

12/16/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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I can’t quite recall what I expected of middle age, but it didn’t involve endless worry: The precarious health of beloved relatives; the anxiety of maintaining our financial well being; the challenge of bringing shalom bayit to our nuclear family.

Elicia Brown

A Time To Die

11/11/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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“Death is the culmination of weeks of puking and dribbling or starving or whining in pain,” Lisa Miller wrote in New York Magazine last week. Or, as Dorothy (Rothschild) Parker mordantly put it: “[I]n all history, which has held billions and billions of human beings, not a single one ever had a happy ending.”

Elicia Brown

‘Give Peace A Chance?’

09/09/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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When I ask my family to consider how we can improve ourselves in preparation for the Jewish New Year, my daughter Talia, who is 12, grins and shifts her gaze to Joel. Oh yes! She has an idea or two for her 9-year-old brother. “Maybe it would be a good goal for you to stop putting your foot on this,” she says, indicating the wooden table leg they squabble over on a nightly basis.

Elicia Brown

‘The Enemy Has A Face’

08/05/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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As I write this, it is hours before Tisha b’Av, the day of Jewish mourning when we read the haunting words of Lamentations, of how Jerusalem “weepeth sore in the night.”

Elicia Brown

Essay: Israel At War: So Far, So Near

07/15/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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Here in New York City, it can be difficult to wrap one’s mind around the reports we get from Israel — the vicious deaths of four teenagers followed by more death and destruction; parents singing Hebrew lullabies in the bomb shelter of a Jerusalem bookstore; elephants sheltering their young in the Ramat Gan zoo as sirens scream and also the continuity of ordinary life, a mood that one Facebook friend describes as “tense normal.”

Elicia Brown

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall

06/10/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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My daughter Talia, who is 12, beams at me, a devilish smile spreading across her face. “Don’t worry, Joel,” she tells her 9-year-old brother, “girls are supposed to be skinny.”

Elicia Brown

The Key Also Rises

05/06/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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In my dreams, I sometimes find a hidden door in my Manhattan apartment that opens to a room I never knew existed.

I awaken with a start — and a sigh. Oh, how we could use that extra space, what with two growing children of the opposite sexes whose dynamics I once described on this page as “Enemies: A Love Story.” But to move? In Manhattan? This involves a nightmare of brokers and board applications, money and mortgages, all in an exorbitant market with limited inventory. I should know. After a decade of dreams, we are currently suffering through this headache.

Elicia Brown

A Time To Say Goodbye

03/11/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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“I am so sad,” my son Joel, who is 9, sighs, his restless energy making us all more miserable. All of us wished this day wouldn’t come, this day that marks the last stages of goodbye, not for a person but for a place. And although I’ve known the sadness of funerals before, and I realize the grief shouldn’t be compared, I’m doing it anyway. My in-laws have sold their beach house, the center for family gatherings for 15 years, and bought a smaller house nearby. It is a pretty home near town. Still, our hearts ache with the loss.

Elicia Brown

Outside The Box

02/11/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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On my bat mitzvah morning, a September Sunday some 30 years ago, I recall feeling an intense need to suppress a fit of giggles. Not only were my ordinarily garrulous relatives gazing up at me in respectful silence; a few men seemed to be outfitted as aliens for a costume party rather than attired for a bat mitzvah ceremony.

Elicia Brown

Mitzvah Impossible?

01/07/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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‘What about an Israeli pen pal?” my daughter Talia asks. She waits expectantly, smiling a wary smile, hoping that this time I won’t wince.  In a quest to fulfill a bat mitzvah requirement, she’s floated idea after idea in recent weeks — from eliminating illegal smoking in Central Park to purchasing projectors for underfunded schools — and I’ve torpedoed them all. Later, I suggest minor adjustments to her proposals, but she’s no longer interested. Not even a bit.  

Elicia Brown
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