Brooklyn Best is a new documentary that showcases the stories of our neighbors, as they recall their most treasured memories and share their local insights about growing up, living in, and experiencing the culture of New York's "borough of Kings." Share your stories, pictures and videos below, and we may include them in the upcoming broadcast on WNET stations THIRTEEN and WLIW21. Tell us about the special times and places you remember and the times you will never forget.
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Helène Aylon

New York City, New York

I was born in Borough Park and lived on 47th Street, in this Jewish ghetto of Brooklyn, until I got married. I went to the Shulamith School for Girls, a yeshiva on 49th Street.

When I left Borough Park in my adulthood, I became an activist cutting-edge artist. I wrote a memoir, published by The Feminist Press in 2012, called “Whatever Is Contained Must Be Released: My Jewish Orthodox Girlhood, My Life as a Feminist Artist.”

Although I was a nice Jewish Orthodox girl in my childhood, in my adulthood I became more of an observer. Though I left Borough Park, Borough Park never left me. It is in my work, though taking a critical stance (as you can discern in the last line of this blurb). This photo is from a visit one Friday afternoon in the 90s to my mother’s house, the same house I grew up in so many years ago.

I never did give my mother my critical art – for example, “The Liberation of G-D” (in the collection of The Jewish Museum and shown recently at The Andy Warhol Museum); instead, see the paintings on the walls from earlier times.

Here is a passage from the memoir that illustrates this moment this photo was taken:

“…at candle lighting time, the dazzling white tablecloth covered our large dining room table making it look like a world unblemished. Her arms would bring the Sabbath light toward her shut eyes in broad arcs, sweeping the light in toward her face – one time, two, three – all in slow motion. When she lifted her palms from her face, her eyes beneath were invariably moist. “Good Shabbos!” she’d call out and kiss whoever was witness to the great arrival of Shabbos accompanied by the moon, the comet, the Sabbath queen and the angels and the ‘Shechina’ – the divine feminine presence – all arriving every week at sundown when the siren was heard throughout the land of Borough Park to announce ‘lecht benching’ time – the moment to light the candles.

Yet nowhere in The Five Books of Moses is there a commandment for women to light candles; The Foremothers passed down this custom…”