I’m a writer – essayist, blogger, freelancer, and
the Close to Home columnist at the New Jersey
Jewish News. Life has taken me plenty of
wonderful places. I’m happy that I’ve now
landed here.

Drop me a note at merriukraincikblog@gmail.com.


Check out my latest essay for The New Jersey Jewish News and The New York Jewish Week, about finding comfort and beauty where we least expect it (and also about free love). Finding Comfort in Narrow Spaces

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(Willing to Share) a Room of My Own (Most of the Time)

August 14, 2017

I want to talk about space.

I’ve been thinking about it for a long while, but what got me writing about it today was the video of a mother husky and her pups that someone posted on Facebook. Ma pads into the doghouse in search of some quiet time. To her frustration, her adorable pups follow her in. She turns around and walks back out as they jump playfully around her, a cycle that continues over and over to our amusement, but clearly not hers. (Read more…)

A Clear View onto a Summer’s Day

July 27, 2017

My friend once had charming but drafty old windows above the bookcases in her living room. She set the same goal every summer for more years than she could count: to etch a pretty pattern onto the glass in order to conceal some of the cosmetic wear and tear. But real life always took over and she eventually replaced the windows instead. The etching idea never stood a chance. (Read more…)

A New Driveway, and a Mensch

June 25, 2017

Our driveway had been falling apart for years, crumbling to the point that when the landscaper rode over it with his mower one day, concrete pebbles flew everywhere and shattered my windshield. My husband and son mixed fresh concrete in an old dish bin and patched up the driveway as an activity. Their efforts weren’t going to win any beauty pageants, but it entertained them for a while and stabilized the driveway enough to get us through the following winter.  (Read more…)

Why I Love the Annual Library Book Sale

June 5, 2017

Every spring, I look forward to the book sale at our local library with a consuming sense of anticipation. For a book lover, it offers the best of all worlds. It takes place at the library, for starters. Since I was first let loose in the children’s reading room as a little girl, I’ve treasured a library’s comforting, book shrine atmosphere and the rapture-inducing scent of so many books in one place. (Read more…)

A Pear in Bondage

May 15, 2017

I was in the supermarket a few weeks ago, picking up the ingredients I needed for a salad recipe I was eager to try. The line was long. Luckily, I wasn’t in a rush that day.

A woman of a certain age was standing in front of me. As her groceries made their way towards the cashier, a pear separated from the pack and its stem became trapped in the conveyor belt. Working gently, I detached it, keeping the stem intact.

“Excuse me,” I said, returning the pear to its owner. She had no idea it had run amok, and seemed delighted to have it back.  (Read more…)

When Key Challah Isn’t Meant To Be

April 21, 2017

Right about now, my Facebook feed is beginning to fill up with images of stunning braided challahs just out of the oven. There will be others as the day unfolds, even more in the lead-up to candle lighting.

The pictures speak volumes about the irresistible lure of freshly baked challah, not to mention the magic of those first few bites on the Shabbos after Pesach. The moment is something akin to a lover’s reunion, one filled with anticipation, desire, and longing. Sure, we’ll look forward to challah the following Shabbos and every one after that until next Pesach, but it won’t be with the same intensity.  (Read more…)

A Sound Investment

April 5, 2017

I was at a wedding the other day when the conversation veered, not surprisingly, towards Pesach. I admitted how much I enjoy the holiday, while another woman in the community kindly disagreed. She confessed she wished it were over already and made me laugh with her description of the scene in her home. It’s so demanding, she said. What’s more, I’m a short-order cook for the whole eight days.  (Read more…)

Falling Madly, Deeply in Love with the Here and Now

March 14, 2017

One High Holiday morning many years ago, when my oldest was still very small, the township began to remove the massive metal plates that had been covering the gaping holes in the road outside our shul for months. My son and his posse of friends stood there transfixed, watching the trucks and the men at work. We moms all agreed we could never have planned a better activity to keep them busy for so long. (Read more…)

It’s Snowing, and I Have a New Website

February 9, 2017

It’s my favorite kind of morning. Snow is falling. Upstairs, my boys are sound asleep, happy to have the time off from school. I’m off, too, and these extra hours are a gift, wrapped up with the silence unique to a day like this. I’m sitting here with my coffee – one eye on the computer screen, the other watching everything go white outside the window. (Read More)

Meditation on Laundry

January 2017

Of all the practical aspects of parenting, laundry has always been my nemesis. Babies produce record-breaking amounts of it, and I found it impossible to keep up with the soiled onesies after the arrival of my firstborn. That the laundry room in our apartment building opened after I left for work and closed soon after I got home didn’t help. Nor could my husband, then a resident on 72-hour shifts with furlough for showers and rest. (Read More)

My Year in Books 2016

January 2017

My life travels from book to book. I finish one and pick up the next. Still, I have never before kept track of what I’ve read. I’ve only just read. (Read More)

Butterflies in Elul

December 2016

The other night, my freshman was busy picking out his clothes for the first day of school. He was that typical mix of nervous and excited most kids are before the undeniably huge leap to high school. Still, he seemed ready for this next stage of his life and the possibilities that await him – even for the long bus ride, the long day, and the long hours of homework when he finally gets home. (Read More)

Tishrei Takeaway

December 2016

One year, my son decided to have friends over for his birthday on a Shabbos afternoon. Unfortunately, he broke his arm while playing before the boys arrived and instead spent the day in the ER. (Read More)

At the Gym, So Too in Life

December 2016

I’ve been going to the gym regularly – nearly every morning except Shabbos – since the Monday following last January’s blizzard. Once, working out was something I rarely thought about, and then, only with dread. Now, it is something I think about all the time, something my body actually craves. (Read More)