Monthly Archives: June 2004


The phone rings. Karen and I pick it up at the same time. Normally, we let the phone ring until Chloe or Lila gets it. We do this because: a) most phone calls are for the girlses, and b)Karen and I hate the phone, we hate talking on it, we hate spending time on it, […]

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True Emotion

Here is what Karen did not say at Ariel’s unveiling: A year has passed. This has been a year of reflection and yearning, but most signifigantly, of dissolving defenses. The protective layers are wearing away. The very impulse that propelled me to speak at Ariel’s funeral is now countered by an opposing force. For when […]

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Shadow Anniversary

June nineteenth was our twenty-seventh wedding anniversary. Ariel’s Yahrzeit was the next day. To wake up in the morning, gaze across the bed and say, “Happy anniversary,” is not our first impulse. In fact, more than anything, Karen and I wanted to quietly acknowledge our years together, and then quickly move on. You cannot be […]

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A Grave Problem

Besides Ariel’s unveiling this past weekend, we also hosted the first Ariel Avrech Yahrtzeit Lecture. With money that has been donated by generous friends and relatives, we brought Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky from Jerusalem to Los Angeles. After the speech, there was a brunch. Ariel always enjoyed a hearty meal. The caterer who did the brunch […]

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The unveiling for my son Ariel took place on Friday, June eighteen. Karen and I drove with the girls to the cemetery in Simi Valley. In the back seat, the girls shared the i-Pod earphones and sang along with Avril Lavigne. Karen and I looked at one another and smiled. If it were not for […]

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A Stubborn Grief

The first time Karen and I visited Ariel’s grave was right after shloshim. I was so filled with dread that I asked Karen’s best friend, Audrey, to drive us to the cemetery. Little was said during the forty-five minute drive. Most vividly, I remember exchanging a long glance with Karen and in that split second […]

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City of Angels

No one ever warned me that a central part of mourning is the mundane task of making endless arrangements. Ariel’s unveiling takes place this coming Friday, and we have family and friends flying into Los Angeles. They must all have places to sleep, and they must all be fed. We are Jews and so cucumber […]

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The Last Kaddish

The Kaddish has been called an echo of The Book of Job. Job said: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in him.” The Kaddish is an expression of faith on the part of the mourner that although he is grief-stricken, he still believes in God, still trusts in the meaning of life. It […]

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The Only Club I Have Ever Joined

Seven years ago, a young child in our community died. Karen and I did not know the parents well, but we paid a shiva call to their home. As we sat in the house, I talked with the parents at length. At the time, Ariel was in the midst of his first round of chemotherapy […]

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Ariel in Love

She first came to our house for a Shabbos meal, a lovely young girl and her mother. They are not particularly observant, but the daughter is interested in learning as much as she can about Judaism. Brought up in a proudly Jewish household and affiliated with the Reform movement, the daughter, incredibly bright, ferociously independent […]

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A Blockbuster J’accuse!

A few weeks ago I was in a Blockbuster, desperate for a film, something, anything to give me some relief from the unrelenting hollow feeling that is called grieving. A Mom and her son were in the same aisle. He was a hyper little ten year old, grabbing videos off the shelves and chattering away: […]

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Crouching Jew, Hidden Tears

Here’s my Friday, pre-Shabbos schedule. I get up early and go to shul for minyan where I say Kaddish for Ariel. Most people, including Jews, mistakenly refer to the Kaddish as The Prayer for the Dead. In fact, the Kaddish never mentions death, nor guilt, or memory. Rather it is a declaration of faith in […]

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Ariel Recaptured

In the last year of Ariel’s life he lived at home. Being a screenwriter, I make my own hours and so arranged my schedule around Ariel’s needs. My office is in back of the house and so Ariel was able to call me if he needed something. Still, I spent most of my time in […]

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Within a Budding Schoolyard

I was ten-years old when I fell in love with Karen. It happened in fourth grade. The students buzzed with the news that a new kid had transferred from Ohel Moshe, a yeshiva in Bensonhurst. I was playing punchball in the yard when I saw the new girl standing in the schooolyard. Karen was alone, […]

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The Whiteness of the Blog

Ariel attended a rigorously orthodox high school here in Los Angeles. The boys studied a vast amount of Talmud, leaving just enough time for the secular subjects. Ariel thrived in this academic envoronment for he loved Talmud and Torah and took great joy in the complex arguments that make up the Oral Law. I, however, […]

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Women and Shoes and Blessings Part II

An hour after I posted the last entry, I left my office, walked twelve paces into my house and heard the dangerous sound of someone reciting the numbers to my credit card. I knocked on the door to Chloe’s room and entered. There, Offspring Number Three was pacing the floor with portable phone in one […]

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