A Tribute to Natalie Brown

Friday, 6 May, 2011 - 12:58 pm

This week our community suffered the loss of a beloved member, Natalie Brown. Natalie’s passing after a years-long fight with breast cancer, leaves us all struggling to find words of comfort for her husband Joel, daughters, Ruth, Sarah and Rebecca, parents, Lila and Norman Millen, sister, Jennifer Fertel and the entire family.

Much has already been said about how special Natalie was, and much more will be said in the days to come and beyond. I would like to share a few of my thoughts.

Some of the words that come to mind when talking about Natalie are: mensch, stalwart, cheerful, positive, practical and loyal. I paraphrase our morning prayers, “L’olam Yehei Adam” loosely translated as “first thing is, be a mensch.” Natalie epitomized this ideal as she related to people, whether at Kosher Cajun, the store she and Joel started and ran together, or out and about. She always displayed a positive attitude and cheerful disposition, even during the most difficult times of illness. There is no question that Natalie served as the anchor of her family as she steered them through life. Her strength was visible both during the good times as well as the tough times. Undoubtedly this strength will continue to serve Joel and the girls as they pick up the pieces and make their way forward.

In addition to all of her personal qualities, one of Natalie’s greatest merits, along with Joel, is the role they played in promulgating Kosher in the city of New Orleans. Having grown up in New Orleans during the late 70s and early 80s, when Kosher availability was minimal, I can attest to the fact that they were pioneers in the transformation of the Kosher scene in town.

During these last years, as Natalie battled for her life, hundreds, if not thousands of people prayed for her recovery, recited countless Psalms on her behalf, and increased their Tzedakah and good deeds in her merit. Torah classes were formed by her friends and many Mitzvahs came to the world to facilitate the recovery of Nechama Devorah bas Leah. All of this indicates how beloved Natalie was to so many people. However, does her passing mean that it was all for nothing. Were the prayers, Psalms, Torah study, good deeds and charity all wasted? Since we did not get the result that we wanted does that mean that it was all pointless and to no avail? G-d forbid – absolutely not!!

Firstly, who knows? Perhaps the added years that Natalie had with her loving husband and children, were the result of all of the prayers and goodness. Furthermore, the feeling of love and care from so many people will surely provide a measure of strength and comfort to her family. Finally, all of the sincere prayer and good deeds of these past years in Natalie’s merit, will serve her well in the world of truth, and will create a solid foundation for her children and family as they live life inspired by her example and the thousands of loving prayers and Mitzvahs of her friends all over the world.

Natalie Brown will be missed, as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, relative, friend and community member. Yet her life will serve as an inspiration for all of us. Surely about Natalie we can declare, “her memory will be blessed.” I am confident that Natalie continues the fight in Heaven as she stands before the Heavenly Throne asking G-d to have mercy on her sisters-in-suffering, in our community and around the world. Indeed Hashem, bring us to the time of no suffering and no illness, when “death will be removed forever and You will wipe the tears from upon all faces.”

To Joel and the family, know that we are here for you. May Hashem comfort you amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

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