Stories from my Closet: Bris Dress

Everyone, meet

Okay, it’s a London Times size 6 dress that I got at Housing Works Thrift Store on the Upper West Side at a huge sale. I can’t even remember how much it cost. All I remember are the changing rooms at that location, that reminded me of western saloons from old movies, and the fact that there was always more furniture, books and records, than clothes. I will always have fond memories of that place. And in all honesty, I think Housing Works is one of the most legit thrift stores in NYC.

This is also a dress I wore when I first went to a synagogue. To a bris ceremony.

I remember that day well. Having lived on the UWS for almost a year at that point, there were certain routine things I had to do. For example – sit in the car. Parking your vehicle in the streets of NYC is a form of art. And kudos to everyone who’s figured it out.I swear to G-d I still remember the street cleaning schedule, and when and where you could park your car on any day of the week. I remember that hump day, holidays and weekends were free passes, those were my favorites. Also any natural cataclysm, aka snow, freed you from having to move your car.

That’s what I did that morning, I sat in the car, reading a book, to two kids, who wanted nothing more, but to get out of that car. Then we got dressed, took a cab all the way to the East Side, and went to the bris.

The synagogue was surprisingly not that different from a catholic or an episcopal church. I don’t really know what I expected to see, but stained glass windows and menorahs, along with stars of David everywhere had a calming effect on me.

Unfortunately the ceremony was mostly in Hebrew, and I don’t speak that language, with an exception of a few well-known words and a Sabbath prayer.

Now it’s a well known fact that best cheese cake and dessert in general in NYC is at the synagogue. I don’t know where they get it, whether they raid Zabar’s on Monday morning before everyone else gets to it, or order from some secret dessert take out, it’s to die for. Here is a fun fact about me, I don’t necessarily like American desserts, French – yes, but that thick creamy icing rubs me the wrong way. But I will sell my soul for Jewish pastries, including challah bread.

And then there were bagels, mountains of them, and small mountains of cream cheese. Plus pizza, kosher pizza.

And then there was I in my thrifted dress, born again Christian at a synagogue, with just a chap stick and a flip phone in my pocket, wanting nothing more, but to be a part of the mystery, the religion, the act.

And now all I can hope for is for that boy to have a good Bar Mitzvah!

Shortly after we took a cab back to the Upper West Side, and I went back to my Upper West Side routine, never going back to the synagogue again.



PS. Stories from my Closet will be coming out every Friday on BeingZhenya now.




  1. Lovely dress

  2. Wonderful dress and a very nice story ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Parking in NYC is horrible!!! I suggest everyone get a small car:P


  4. olga choi says:

    Nice story~! ) And really lovely dress~! )
    Several days ago I regestered at IFB forum and received a lot of friendship requests from bloggers, so I start to review new blogs and this how I find yours~! )
    You have a really nice blog, interesting and clear, full of inspiring posts, useful links and nice photos, so
    I thought that it would be great to have so lovely girl among my followers and be your follower also~!
    Just drop the message in my blog if you like the idea~
    Nice blogging~!

    Olga / blogging from South Korea

  5. Hi, Zhenya! Like you, some of my clothes have stories to tell. I loved how you used the dress to relate your memories.

    • Hey, thanks ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s not that new of an idea, but I wanted to start writing about it for a while, and finally made myself do it ๐Ÿ™‚ Can’t wait to post one next Friday!

  6. Hi Zhenya, love this idea and I enjoyed reading about the memories. Now I’m wondering what stories my clothes would tell. Probably just stories of going to church which is pretty much the only time I get dressed up ATM…I’m going to look into it. Keep having fun.

    • Thanks Donna, and hey sometimes I dress up for no reason, just because I want to look pretty for no one in particular, not even my husband, just myself. It works wonders for the self-esteem – try it ๐Ÿ™‚ xo

  7. cute dress:-) And love that it brings back memories for you. Of course I’m going to pick up on the food (sounds delish), but wondering if you, as fellow Twin Cities dweller had been to Rye. Assuming yes if you love Jewish desserts. Did you like? I posted on it once and thought it good but too much butter (hadn’t thought there could be such a thing). Maybe because not enough sugar to balance it out? (I LOVE “thick creamy icing”) If you’ve been to Rye, did you like?

    • Oh Liz ๐Ÿ™‚ yes, I have been to Rye, love it. But there is nothing like Challah bread from Zabar’s or Fairway on the UWS :/ I love the buttery icing/filling/frosting. I remember when I was little my grandma had a glass frosting beater that she would put butter in, turn the handle for a few hours, and it was the tastiest thing ever!

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