Development, Donor Impact Report, Faces of the J

Childhoods at the J Shaped Lifelong Connections

Brooke, Ben, Ella + Emet Pariser

Some of Brooke Pariser’s earliest memories are from the J. “I lost my first tooth in the sandbox on the back playground, and I remember the entire school spent the day digging and searching for it,” she said with a laugh. “And of course, I remember those same rainbow hallways in ECS.”

Brooke’s husband, Ben, and their kids, Ella and Emet, also had childhoods filled with J memories. Even though Ben grew up in Florida, he spent a few summers in Washington and attended summer camp at the J. Ella and Emet attended the Early Childhood School and summer camp.

“The J has completely formed my community and my kids’ communities,” Brooke said.

Brooke’s mom, Iantha Sidell, also built her community at the J after she first converted to Judaism. “Many of my mom’s friendships today were made at the J and she started her Jewish leadership journey there,” Brooke said. “It’s quite meaningful for me to have a similar experience and to see my kids continue to foster friendships with the children they connected to in ECS.”

The school continues to have a big impact on Ella and Emet’s lives and friend groups. When Emet was getting ready to start kindergarten in the fall of 2020, Brooke was worried about his options of virtual school or missing an entire year. So, she was thrilled when ECS started an in-person kindergarten program. “It was the best educational experience for him,” she said.

As Ella starts middle school this fall, Brooke notes that all these years and different schools later, Ella’s closest friends are still the ones she made in ECS. “This summer she spent three weeks at Camp Solomon Schechter and nine of the girls she was with at camp all grew up at ECS together,” Brooke said.

After Emet left ECS, the Parisers found themselves at the J less often. But recently, Brooke felt the pull back to her childhood home. This year, she joined the J’s board of directors (following in the footsteps of her mom, who served on the board for nine years) and is enjoying the opportunity to see the J from a broader perspective. “I love seeing the bigger picture and helping the J continue to provide for so many families like it’s provided for mine,” she said.

Ella and Emet’s connection with the J is deeply ingrained in them both and Brooke hopes they continue to feel at home there, just like she always has. “I feel beyond lucky to watch my kids grow up in the same building that I did, surrounded by such an amazing community,” Brooke said.

She notes that, no matter how long they’ve been away, whenever the kids come to the J, it feels like a homecoming. “When they walk into building, they run down the halls like they own the place. They’ve always felt welcomed and comfortable there,” she said.

Brooke also loves watching Ella and Emet’s Jewish journeys—which began at the J with Passover celebrations, Tot Shabbats, and Purim parades—continue to bloom. “The J was their first connection to Judaism and to the sense of belonging to a community, both the Jewish community and the community at large,” Brooke said. “Those early experiences provided them with a sense of pride in their culture and their community that has molded their relationship with Judaism in such a profound way.”