by Julie Wolf, JFN Newsletter Editor
Sivan Elefson is an expressive therapist — a psychotherapist who uses artistic mediums when working with clients. She grew up in Framingham; her husband, Steve, is from Stoughton. When it came time for them to buy a home, they decided to stay close to home — closer than most. With their 7-month-old daughter, Analiese, they now live on the Framingham street where Sivan grew up. Here, Sivan shares with JFN what brought her back home and what it’s like to see the town she knew as a child through adult eyes.
You grew up in Framingham, but you’re not a Framingham native.
I’m a first-generation American in my family. My mom is Israeli, and my dad was born in Poland and moved to Israel as a young man. He and my mom met in the army and then moved here after they were married. My first language was Hebrew; I actually didn’t speak English at all until I was 4.
Before buying your current home, where did you live? What brought you back to Framingham?
We lived in an apartment in Brookline, which we loved. But I was working in Westborough/Worcester, and that was a very long commute. Since Steve works in Newton, we felt Framingham was an affordable option that was a halfway point between our jobs. Plus, it was my hometown — Framingham High School Class of ’97 — so I felt the community was a good one to eventually raise a family in. We bought the house back in 2008 and LOVE it here!
Was it just a coincidence that you ended up looking at a house on the street where you grew up, or did you have the inside scoop on a house there?
Well, the house had been on the market at the beginning of our search in February 2007, but at first I felt it would be extremely weird to buy the house directly across the street from where I used to live. I was very against it. But after looking at over 40 houses, and the house coming back on the market at a reduced price, my mom convinced me that we should take a look — like a good Jewish mother should!
So your parents live across the street from you?!
[No.] My parents moved to Newton in 2001 and are still there. Steve’s parents grew up in Massachusetts but moved out to Las Vegas back around 2001 as well.
Were there specific community connections that made you feel that Framingham was a place you wanted to raise your daughter?
Besides being a central point for commuting to our respective jobs, I remembered loving my childhood, where I played on the street with neighborhood kids, learned to ride my bike in the parking lot of an office building — which is now BJ’s — and having my bat mitzvah at Temple Beth Am. When we came to look at the house, my old neighbors, who owned the house at the time, greeted us very warmly. I felt comfortable there because it’s a similar-style home to the one I grew up in. And Steve said he felt very homey, too. It felt good buying the house from someone I knew well. I also remember seeing kids playing in the street as we drove up, which made me happy. It was a sign that it felt safe for the kids to do that, and it brought me back to my childhood days.
What about Framingham, in your opinion, makes it welcoming to young families, and Jewish families in particular?
It is affordable, a good value for your investment. It’s very close to major highways and retail shops. We have everything here! I used to take walks to Target and Shoppers World on my maternity leave with Ana. And it is a very diverse community.
I feel like there is a strong Jewish presence in Framingham. I imagine my parents chose to live here for the same reason, as there were many Israeli families living here at the time.
How has Framingham changed since you were a child there?
Not a whole lot. There’s some newer construction, homes and stores and such. Otherwise everything feels kind of the same. I guess that was part of the draw for me to feel comfortable living here. Since I had such fond memories growing up, I knew I wanted to raise a family here, too.
Do you have moments of déjà vu when you’re out with your daughter in town, or are you seeing the town through fresh eyes now that you’re a mother and a homeowner?
It’s kind of both. Driving down some streets definitely feels like déjà vu, especially the roads that lead to the schools I went to. But with the new malls and other construction, it does make me sad sometimes. I remember Child World on Route 30 and the old Shoppers World, where I used to love the long hallway to enter Toys ‘R’ Us. I remember running down the brightly painted hallway not being able to yet see the store, and the excitement of turning the corner and seeing the toys. But I know Ana will make her own memories with us.