Posted in Adoption, Ancestry, Brown/Tanner, Genealogy, Memorial

In Memory Of Howard Joseph Brown

In Memory of 

Howard Joseph Brown 

19 February 1924, New York, New York ~ 23 January 2004, Delrey Beach, Florida 

Son of Maxwell Brown (Brzoza) and Rose Bornstein


Howard was my adopting father, married to Grace Judith Brown nee Tanner/Tannenbaum. Adopted at the age of 6 months we shared love and life for 61 years. One for looking for the connections with numbers, Howard shares this date with my birth mother Marlene Haimowitz – her birthday Jan 23, 1934.


May His Memory Be  A Blessing 


©2019, copyright, Sharon Haimowitz-Civitano. All rights reserved.

Posted in Brown/Tanner, Genealogy, Jewish History

David Scott Brown March 1, 1957 – Nov. 22, 1993

This post is a purely personal and deeply emotional for me to write. For many of you following my blog, you know me, you knew my birth-mother, Marlene Haimowitz or my birth father Vincent Civitano. You know me as a niece or cousin, as extended family, as friend, but you don’t know much about me prior to 2004 when I discovered my biological family. Today I would like you to meet the brother I grew up with; David Scott Brown. November 22, 2017 marks the 24th anniversary of his passing. I will light a candle and think about his kind, gentle spirit. David was born March 1, 1957. The name given to him when he was born was David Robert Harris. He was placed for adoption through the Louise Wise Agency in N.Y.C., the same agency I was placed with. I was eight years old when my adopting parents, Howard and Grace Brown adopted him. David was 4 years old and had lived in a foster home up until then.

“Louise Wise Services was founded in 1916 as the Free Synagogue Child Adoption Committee by philanthropist and adoption advocate Louise Waterman Wise. The agency’s original purpose was to find homes for Jewish orphans. Its mission changed over the years, as it increased its services to family counseling, foster care and residential services for teenage mothers and their babies.”                      

My mother, Marlene Haimowitz was in the residential home run by L.W.Agency, Lakeview Unwed Mothers Home on Staten Island.


But this is David’s story and to honor his memory I would like to share some of my favorite photo’s of David if you will allow me.


Adoption Day 

8I do not have an accurate date but it was about 1962/3

David’s story starts as a baby who was born to a drug addicted mother. He was left in his crib while she went off looking for a fix and never returned. A neighbor called the police when the crying from the apartment next to her had stopped after a few days. The story may have changed over the years as stories sometimes do but truly David came from a difficult beginning and it remained with him his whole life. I remember David as a timid, shy and often scared little boy. My earliest memory of David was coming home on the day camp bus only to see him driving off in the social workers car. As the bus pulled up to our house the car with David in it was driving away. I was heart broken and cried for hours. But the big day came and David joined our family and I had an instant brother.



This is our father’s mother, our grandmother, Rose Brown nee Bornstein. How we loved her and her peanut butter cookies. She made the best, melt in your mouth Rugelach too.

Anne & David.jpg

This is David with our grandmother Ann Tanner. A widow, she married my mother’s father, a widower when I was 7, just prior to David’s arrival.


David grew as you can see into quite a young man. He is in high school in this photo. This is probably about 1972/3. He was deeply introspective and questioning his sexuality in a time of much hatred and controversy surrounding the gay community. I can not remember when or how I found out he was a gay man. I don’t think it even was a thought or a question of if he was. David simply was David. A caring, optimistic, and generous man.


With our father, Howard Joseph Brown


David with our mother Grace Judith Brown nee Tanner (Tannenbaum)


Both pictures of David with my daughter Marissa-Rose shortly before his HIV turned to AIDS.




David Scott Brown lost his life and battle with AIDS on November 22, 1993








Posted in Brown/Tanner, Familes, Genealogy, Jewish History

Howard Joseph Brown

January 23 was the 12 year anniversary for the passing of my father, Howard Joseph Brown. Howard and Grace Brown nee Tanner were my parents. (They adopted me through Louise Wise Adoption Agency when I was 6 months old)  Howard, born 19 February, 1924, joined one brother brother, Marvin born 9 Jan 1919, making the family of f Rose Brown nee Bornstein and Maxwell Brown complete.

Recently, in previous posts, I wrote about Abraham Rosen, his wife Kate Brickman, and my/our birth connection to the Brickman Hotel family of Catskill’s fame. It was through this discovery and connection with current Brickman family members that a true desire to re-meet and discover my father and his family, my family growing up, not of blood but of love, that I revisited the documents and photo’s of my fathers passion – to sculpt. This post is dedicated to Howard and my Brown family.


above: Rose with Howard  below: Howard with his bicycle – I know, he was adorable but check out that bicycle!


The Maxwell Brown Family –

Howard and Grace Brown nee Tanner

Through my family research I met a woman named Patti who is the 1st cousin 1x removed of the wife of my 2nd great-uncle (so fun to write that) It was through an exchange of emails I learned, that her husband, Yossi Daboosh, is an accomplished and fantastic artist/sculptor  just like my father. It was then I began to really think about my father and his passion, something I must honestly say, I had not given much thought to. Howard’s art… just was, it was part of him, part of my life growing up. I had never really thought about Howard the artist, only thinking of him solely as Howard the father who was an artist. Shortly after my mother passed in 2015 while cleaning out their home I came across a folder that held a treasure trove of photo’s of his work and spotty records and receipts of where the pieces went to.

What I really want to share in this blog post is my father, Howard J. Brown and his incredible career as a sculpture and artist. Everywhere in the house were balls of wax, beginnings of figures he was working on, tiny replica’s of sculptures to come.



This swimmer group is a sampling of ‘something’ that was chosen to go into an apt complex, as far as I can tell, in Brooklyn, New York. Below is Howard, myself with daughters Fawn and Marissa. This photo is at least 30 years old and a treasure, artist and family visiting “The Swimmer” but where? (of course we didn’t label the photo)


I have begun a project labeling photo’s, labeling jewelry, and tchotchke’s around the house, adding brief descriptions and stories to match. I can not go back and ask the questions I so want answered but I can anticipate the questions that will be asked and answer them now.


Above is the piece ‘Lily Pond’ (but I believe the title had been changed to Water Lily) for delivery to the Americana Towers also in Brooklyn. This is actually a piece I can remember posing for. I was about 10 years old, the year 1963. This life size statue sold for $785.00 at the time. Today I wonder if it is even still in the lobby.


I can remember this 2 piece grouping fondly. It was massive and intimidating. My father’s records are crude and the handwriting hard to read but this piece has a receipt with the date of Oct 29th, 1963, and a rush date on Dec 19, 1963 for The Gramercy Park Tower, East 18th St & Third Ave. The price tag was $1525.00. He delivered his own work, rented a uhaul truck to deliver his pieces. It was quite an ordeal.



I have no idea where this piece is located. Of course it is the one I am most interested in learning if it is still standing. I have been doing some google earth searches of addresses I have found from receipts and I have to admit, some of the buildings don’t seem to be standing, 1 has been remodeled and shows no sign of his work, others seem delapidated dumps in the slums. The interior design company that placed much of his work, Blair House Interior’s, LTD  has long since gone out of business. The trails seem to be running cold. However, I have a dear friend, living in Brooklyn who is tracking down a few addresses and information for me. I gave my Uncle Joe, living in Manhattan a few addresses as well to visit at his leisure. Hopefully I will have some answers soon as to the state of his work. My heart is heavy, I would so love to have one of his life size pieces in my yard. The thought of a new owner of or building manager removing his work and scrapping it is almost to hard to bare.

Howard’s passion was sculpting but he also painted.


His preferred medium was pastels, above, although he did work in oil, below.  I am blessed to have a number of his wonderful pieces in my home.




I have these two smaller statues  The Boxer, and this lovely, Woman on Rock. 

It was difficult to make a living and support a family doing what he loved the most. I believe Howard truly struggled in making the decision to leave his passion and find another, eventually  moving into education, attaining a doctorate in accounting, teaching at a number of colleges on Long Island before taking a post at St. John’s university where he retired from. One of my deepest regrets regarding my dad is that I did not value or truly understand the creative genius that made my father than man he was.

I found 2 brief write ups in the folder.  The first is from the Merrick Art League on L.I. The second a smaller write up for demonstration he apparently was doing.



Next project is to research the Robert Aron Young  and Avnet-Shaw Galleries.


Howard Joseph Brown your are loved and missed

Posted in Brown/Tanner, Genealogy, Jewish History

Yom Kippur Reflection

As the sun begins to set on Yom Kippur 2016, my thoughts quietly turn to the holiday observances of my childhood. I can smell the sweetness of simmering pot roast through out the house making my belly ache with hunger. We never did entirely fast, my mother always said she couldn’t for health reasons so a small meal, the occasional nosh, the sips of broth was allowed. We attended service to have our sins forgiven and usually broke the fast with a shared holiday dinner with my parents closest friends. Solemn at first, always joyful by nights end. I don’t remember at what age we stopped attending Temple on Yom Kippur to miraculously have our sins forgiven, but I do have a vivid memory  I took it very seriously. I must give forgiveness to get forgiveness, I must right the wrongs of the past year. It was quite simple what was required. How the meaning of Yom Kippur in our home went from observed as the highest of holiest holidays to virtually non existent before I left home has given me much to think about through the years. I have always clinged to some thread of what I consider my childhood Jewishness.

This year I am reminded of a memory of something my mother instilled in me, whether truly or through the retelling of the story over and over but it went something like this…. the year must have been abt 1960/1 or 62 and I was 7, maybe I was 8, I think in about 2nd/3rd grade. Prayer was still said in school. We stood, we folded our hands, we bowed our heads and said something…a prayer to Jesus, to God, I am not sure but I do know this was a pre curser to

Engel v Vitale, the Supreme Court case brought by a group of parents in the New Hyde Park School District, Long Island, New York that ruled it unconstitutional to require a state required prayer. My mother supported this crusade and was very involved in it. She must have prepped me because I do remember getting into trouble and ending up in the principals office with my parents being called. On this fateful morning when it was time to bow our heads and pray I refused and boldly told the teacher when she demand why I wouldn’t that ‘my mom told me we don’t have to bow our heads and fold our hands to pray, we can just look up into the sky and talk to G-d whenever we wanted to.

This evening as I sit home on this 2016 Yom Kippur I am thinking about all those that came before  me, their hearts bowed preparing for the Kol Nidrei, the procession of the Torah scroll, my great grandfathers Samuel Haimowitz  and Benjamin LIpshitz , I think about my great great grandfather Selig Rosen, his whole life a Hebrew School Teacher…reflecting, cleansing their souls in preparation to face the coming new year.


Posted in Brown/Tanner, Genealogy, Jewish History, Uncategorized

1941 Confirmation Essay

The mystery of my last post is solved.

I had shared the essay my mother had written entitled “How to Face The Future”

I first thought her essay was a graduation speech written about 1946. Rereading and examining it I began to think it may have been written earlier. Posting the essay led to a dialog with Amy, a fellow blogger, well more than a fellow blogger, a woman who has been blogging her families history and discoveries for some time now as well as belonging to a few FB Jewish Genealogy pages that I have joined too. She is an incredible writer bringing detail and life to the past. That is how I met Amy…but back to the ‘essay’ It was Amy’s thought that perhaps the essay was a Confirmation essay and she would be happy to help find out a little more, where had my Mom grown up? That got me thinking and as I went to gather information to share with Amy I discovered something.

Confirmation is a Reform-originated ceremony for boys and girls that is tied to the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. It constitutes an individual and group affirmation of commitment to the Jewish people.

I went back to that Union Prayer Book and what I thought was simply a Service program turned out to be the Class of 1941 Confirmation Service Program                                                  My mother was 15 years old.


Her essay was 1 of 3 under the heading The Jew and the World and what a world we were entering into in 1941. It was June of 1941 when my mother wrote her essay and the state of the world was as follows

Hitler gave Himmler broad authority to physically eliminate any perceived threats to permanent German rule. Two weeks later, on July 31, 1941, Nazi leader Hermann Goering authorized SS General Reinhard Heydrich to make preparations for the implementation of a “complete solution of the Jewish question.”  and

December 7, 1941 the day that would live in infamy was around the corner. 

I am once again so awe struck and humbled to be physically holding, care taking these two pieces of my mother’s history, her past, her life. These two intimate and so personal memento’s of her life are literally the only two articles she held on to from her childhood. The actual essay and now the program that dates and explains what the essay represented.

My parent’s left Temple membership when I was about 10 years old but she never left her commitment to the Jewish People; her commitment to herself. Her faith was practiced quietly, at home and in service to her community.

Temple Israel of Lawrence New York where my mother attended as a girl and had her confirmation.

Below is a picture of Temple Emanu-El in New York City @ One East 65th St. All this talk of Temples brought back memories. My mother’s father Benjamin F Tanner (Tannenbaum) was a member here. I remember attending Passover service’s with him in a huge basement banquet type hall. (early 1960’s) The entrance was on the side of the building. My memories are of being overwhelmed by the enormous structure I was entering and the room being massive. The tables were set in a huge u shape. Men, old men in their yarmulke’s, Tallit over their shoulders, beards, odd smells, lots and lots of matzah, wine and grape juice flowing, the Afikoman covered by the Rabbi, breaking it and watching to see where it would be hid. I never went with the kids to look for it…


Now called Temple B’nai Torah in Wantagh, New York; it was known as Suburban Temple when my parents belonged and I attended until about 1963.




Posted in Brown/Tanner, Familes, Genealogy, Jewish History

How To Face The Future by Grace Tanner

I ended my last post with a picture of the few momento’s that I have from my adopting parents, Grace and Howard. While just ‘things’ they hold tremendous value for me. It wasn’t until my mother had passed away that I discovered the greatest treasure of all. Tucked away in her Union Prayer book was a yellowing folded paper in pristine condition folded in an envelope glued to the back of the book. Grace passed over a year ago now and I can honestly say I can not remember a day in 60 plus years that I ever saw her pick up or look at her Prayer Book. Our conversations on faith, our faith was limited to non existent. In fact as she drew near to her last day and was asked if she would like a Rabbi or any clergy for that matter, she declined. Did that mean she had deep peace? or had she remained stoic in her persona that at her passing she needed nothing outside of herself? I could not get to her in time and knowing she was alone and wanted no one had deeply affected me. That is why finding this hidden in the back of the prayer book, buried deep in her being, I knew she truly had a commitment and connection to the greater being of her inherited birth-right. She had peace and had walked her road, not my road, not your road but truly walked her road.


No words were said at my mother’s passing, there was no true family to gather to remember or morn her. Finding this essay was a blanket of comfort for me.

At first I believed this was written about 1946, my mother would have been 20, a year after Hitlers defeat. I have no idea why this was written, for who or whom or why. It sounds very much like a graduation speech and so I wondered if perhaps not a bit earlier and for her high school graduation. I will never know and I will never be able to talk with her about it.

What I do know is that in today’s world her words hold great meaning and truth.

“We shall strive at all times to reflect credit on ourselves and on our religion. (no matter what religion) We shall carry on to the best of our ability, no matter where the road will lead.”


Grace Judith Tanner (Tannenbaum) 1 February 1926




Grace Tanner and my father Howard Joseph Brown (1944)


15 March 2015



**Thank you for inspiring me to share this Amy   




Posted in Brown/Tanner, Familes, Genealogy, Jewish History

Major 6th Degree of Separation

It’s more than likely you have heard the phrase ‘6th degree of separation’ meaning that we are 6 steps away from any other person, a friend of a friend, an introduction. I just have to tell you about my most recent 6th degree of separation with 2 seemingly totally unknown families in my research that couldn’t possibly be connected.

In my last post I talked about Elias and Sarah Lifshitz I mentioned their first daughter Rachael born in 1914. Rachael, actually known as Ruth Rachael marries a man named Charles F. Phillips on 2nd August in 1936. His parents were William and Lillian Phillips. Now hold on to that information.

Just briefly let me remind you, for those who know, and for those that don’t,  I was adopted by Grace and Howard Brown. Grace was the daughter of Benjamin F. Tanner shortened from Tannenbaum. Benjamin was the son of Jacob and Rose Tanner. (I have done some research on this family but because it is not my biological family I have not spent any significant time researching them)

Now back to my Lifshitz family, to Ruth Rachael and her husband Charles Phillips. I started to dig into this Phillips family to learn a little bit about Charles and then bam! boy was I blown away. Look what I find on the 1920 Bronx census record. Living next to the Phillips is the Tanners.


4313481-01051Shocked was not the right word, disbelief beyond words actually but it’s them, that’s my grandpa Benjamin and all his siblings. When I close my eye’s and picture them I can imagine Lillian and Rose borrowing an egg or butter, perhaps even lending each other a spare Shabbat candle. The possibilities of their shared lives is endless…

This is truly 6th degree of separation. Meet the Tanners/Tannenbaums. That is my grandfather Benjamin standing to the right next to his father Jacob.



I just love these pictures. They are so precious to me. This was the perfect opportunity to share this family with you.


Here is Benjamin and his wife ‘Lillian’ Kronenberg 1924 wedding/honeymoon picture.



I had a problem with the census takers handwriting for the address the Tanners and Phillips were living at. At first I thought it was Fore St but I could not find that with Google Earth. Then I looked at the next street the enumerator went to and that was Tiffany. Going back to the maps and street views Fox was right there close by. Checking the census page again and again, yes Fore could be Fox St. So this last picture is of 826/830 Fox St, Bronx the home of the Tanners and Phillips. It was impossible to read the numbers but all indication is that this is the home of Jacob and Rose and after piecing together the numbers I could see; odd/even side, this had to be it. What’s even more eerily familiar is I actually have a memory of a home just like this, I would have been 4 years old  with the death date of 1957 for Rose. I remember entering the home and it was dark and smelly. I got an ever so slight glimpse of this ancient woman in a bed in a far back bedroom. We were visiting because she was dying. The only thing different is in my memory of this visit the driveway was not flat. I thought it went down into in basement type garage. But memory is just that, memories shaped by time and impression, embellished by stories shared many times over. Morphed and in some cases are totally different than what actually was. But I love this picture now and this will be the home of my memory and my family…families connected by the 6 degree of separation.