Today’s Question

Share your thoughts on today’s Jewel or answers today’s question. Questions by Rabbi Rafael Goldstein. Click on the underlined question title below to add you answer.

Question of the Day – Elul 29

If you could receive one text message from a loved one who died, who would it be from and what would it say?

Question of the Day – Elul 28

If you had to name what your legacy will be for your kids, other family members, or the community, what would it be? How are you making that legacy happen?

Question of the Day – Elul 27

If you could cast your sorrows out onto the water, what would you get rid of? Why?

Question of the Day – Elul 26

If you had to count your blessings, who or what would you count twice? Why?

Question of the Day – Elul 25

If you had to name three things that you see as the definitions of your culture, what would they be? Why?

Question of the Day – Elul 24

If you had to name an event that took place in the last year in your life that changed everything, what would it have been? What happened?

Question of the Day – Elul 23

If you had to describe one thing you believed to be true, then learned wasn’t so true, what would it be? How did you find out the truth?

Question of the Day – Elul 22

If you could go back to any place where you have once been, where would it be? Why is it so special to you?

Question of the Day – Elul 21

If you could spend one more day with someone you miss, who would it be, and what would you do?

Question of the Day – Elul 20

If you had to divide your life into “before” and “after”, what would be your dividing experience? What happened? How did everything change after?

Question of the Day – Elul 19

If you had to name three things you hope for in the New Year, what would they be? Why?

Question of the Day – Elul 18

Name three ways in which you hope to be different next year. How are you working to make these dreams come true?

Question of the Day – Elul 17

If you had to name two ways in which life surprised you this year, what were they? What happened?

Question of the Day – Elul 16

Is there a place in your life that you keep returning to? Where is it? Why do you go there? How has it changed over the years? How have you changed over the years?

Question of the Day – Elul 15

Rabbi David Ingber says that forgiveness is about “letting love win”. Can you name a time in the past year when you let love win? What happened?

Question of the Day – Elul 14

Name three things you discovered about yourself in the past year. What were they and how did you come to recognize them?

Question of the Day – Elul 13

If you had to name three goals you have for the New Year, what would they be? How does what happened in the past year relate to these goals for you?

Question of the Day – Elul 12

If you had to name the members of your “life-team” who would they be? How did these people get onto your team, and how do they manage to stay on the team?

Question of the Day – Elul 11

Nes gadol: A big miracle. Was there a time in your life when you experienced that kind of feeling, of a miracle taking place? Or was there a time when now, looking back, you see that something in your experience was so unexpected, awe inspiring or amazing, or indicative of the Hand of G!d?

Question of the Day – Elul 10

If you had to name three words that have significant meaning in your life, what would they be? Why?

Question of the Day – Elul 9

What three pieces of advice did you learn this past year? Who can you share this wisdom with?

Question of the Day – Elul 8

If you had to name two people whom you miss, for whatever reason, who are they? What do you miss about them?

Question of the Day – Elul 7

Who would you invite to your Bar/Bat Mitzvah/ Sweet 16/ Quinceanera or other end of childhood celebration from your adult life? Why?

Question of the Day – Elul 6

Where do you draw your strength from when you are in a crisis? How do you find the ability to move beyond the crisis? What advice do you have for others in a crisis?

Question of the Day – Elul 5

If you could have a “do-over” of one event that happened to you in the last year, what would it be? How would you change it?

Question of the Day – Elul 4

Was there a time during the past year when you felt shame? What happened? How did you get over it?

Question of the Day – Elul 3

If you had to name the time when you “came of age”, when would it be? What happened? How does it feel now, looking back at it?

Question of the Day – Elul 2

The Days of Awe are about forgiveness – of ourselves, of others, of G!d. What are you holding onto that you cannot forgive yourself, others or G!d for in the past year? Why are you holding onto it? What would it take for you to release?

Question of the Day: Elul 1

If you had to name three things you need to learn and three things you need to “unlearn” what would they be?

Jewels of Elul X – First Question

Were there times in the past year when you felt lucky to be alive? What happened? READ MORE

  • Tivona

    First, I miss as a group the Shir Hadash Recon community in Chicago–they “birthed” me as a Jew-by-choice, and I will always cherish them as my “family of birth.” Second, I miss my friend Cynthia in Wisconsin–her wisdom, courage, humor, honesty, love, and support. Blessings from the Pacific Northwest to all these dear ones.

  • Randall Konigsburg

    Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchiv once held God to a Bet Din for not bringing about the redemption of the world. There are so many of us, who are working for a better world. sometimes we work on one person at a time. Sometimes we broadcast our message of peace, humanity and kindness to hundreds and thousands of people. I am but the least of those who work for a better world.
    I hold my creator accountable for not helping enough. It is true I could do more. It is true I should do more. But all of us who work so hard could use a little support these days.
    I pray that God answer our prayers soon, but I will still hold God accountable.

  • guest18

    when i see my childrens faces

  • Randall Konigsburg

    Every day I try to learn. Sometimes I know I need to learn something, sometimes the lesson sneaks up on me. Sometimes it will be years before I understand the lesson.

    I don’t know how to “unlearn” a lesson. As I change and as the world changes there are some lessons that become less important and others the grow more important. My lessons are who I am and even the mistakes are part of me. I can’t change my past, I can only learn the lessons and grow into a new day.

  • Lynnesg

    3 things to learn:
    – Trust in G-d, that things will be okay and G-d will provide for all our needs (with a little help from me!)
    – Patience with myself and others; cease judgment
    – Trust in others; I don’t need to take care of everything

    3 things to unlearn:
    – Judgment
    – Worry about what may be, or how I will handle what will be; stay in the moment
    – The need to be “right” all the time

  • Karen Willner

    Three things I need to learn.

  • Randall Konigsburg

    It was three o’clock in the morning and the officer banging on my door told me to “get out now”. The house just 9 feet from mine was fully engulfed in flames and my home was in danger of going up as well. I stood on the sidewalk in front of my house and the house on fire, watching the firefighters struggle to save my home and grateful for those dedicated to saving lives.
    I wake up each day knowing how lucky I am to be alive.

    I am a Rabbi and visit those who are sick and those who grieve the loss of a loved one. I go home and hug my wife and look at the pictures of my children who are grown and successful in their chosen careers. I think of all that I have done to help others in pain and sorrow.
    I am not lucky to be alive … I am blessed.

    • Rafael

      Wow! I am glad you survived too and appreciate that you shared your story! May you continue to go from strength to strength!

  • Tivona

    My dad has early Lewy Body dementia and Parkinsons–a terrible diagnosis, right? But as his body and mind slowly decline, another interesting thing is happening. He is acquiring a sweetness and a loving quality that we kids never knew. The harsh, judging, critical aspects of him that burdened and estranged us are gone, and being with him, talking with him has become a joy, not an ordeal! This past year, I’ve had 2 week-long opportunities to provide respite care for him while my stepmom took some time for herself. And what a blessing this has been–for him and I both to have lived this long and to be able to have reached this time! B”H.

  • Susan G Schwartz

    I have to say that I feel lucky every day – I wake each morning to the beauty of the sunshine on the water, and watch the sun set in the evening and am grateful for each day. However, there was one day in particular this year – my daughter’s wedding! There was so much love on that day. Through my happy tears, I felt incredible joy and pride.

  • Annie Gilbert

    So, lately I have had some moderate hardships. I do my best to ask God to help me harness what I have learned, in terms of relationships (rocky), financially cleanup, and job satisfaction. I have been blessed by two conceptual realizations: simplicity and mindfulness. They help me focus on both fulfilling me and how eac moment

  • Annice Benamy

    Two situations stand out: First, I always feel lucky to be alive when I see my beautiful daughter. God blessed me with an extraordinary child, now young adult. Second, I was privileged to celebrate Shabbat with Temple Sinai of Bergen County at State Line on the Palisades Parkway in Alpine, New Jersey. What a beautiful site to experience Shabbat overlooking the Hudson River and New York.

  • Lynn Gottlieb

    I was hiking in the Olympic Peninsula and the beauty and majesty of our wonderful state made me feel not only lucky to be alive but lucky to live here.

  • Arnie Rotenberg

    When my grandson was born; and when I’m with Destiny, my granddaughter. And when Cindy and I are on our own. It is at these times when feeling love, and feeling alive.

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  • Maggid

    I do not have a place to invite people into – BUT, our shul is super welcoming . . . all of us together make sure Our Spiritual Home is a Welcoming place of Peace . . . where we all wear out best selves – and “walk the talk of inclusion.”

  • Shiremet

    Inviting people into my home meets the hospitality mitzvah, so I offer my home whenever there is an opportunity. However, I have learned through experience (three times), that if you are inviting someone to stay until “they are on their feet again,” that some will stop trying to “get on their feet,” if they think they have a “free lunch.” HaShem has taught me to use a little more discretion, not just go on an emotional impulse.

  • Debbie

    The last time I had people over we used the round wooden table my parents always used when we celebrated Pesach, and I had created a Seder for both Christians and Jews, and my friends really enjoyed it!

  • Tovapark

    Leaving state service to enjoy retirement
    Getting to know my strengths and areas needing improvement
    Volunteering for the Greater region of the Jewish Federation
    Shalom, M.

  • Chanah Leah

    Regarding hopes for myself–the ability to leave old hurts behind, the courage to confront new problems as they arise, and the will to make the best possible use of each and every day. For the world, (as ever) peace, serious attention to climate change, and a serious shift towards economic justice for all.

  • Karen

    My three hopes for myself are; freedom from destructive eating, freedom from anger, freedom from unnecessary worry. All worry is unnecessary. It doesn’t change anything.

  • Peggy

    Breast Cancer Survivor and Mental Health Survivor. Although the Cancer may be back and the Mental Health issues will always be here.

  • Faye

    At this time in my life I have come to terms with any negative impact being in the club of having a parent with mental illness. My mother was bipolar with some schizophrenia exhibiting by the time I was a teenager. She wasn’t always fragile. There was a time when she was younger and even worked as a store detective. So things change through the years. And sometimes, people manage their mental illness and other times not so well. The other club I am not too happy about being a member of just since last year is the divorce club! I could have chosen the cancer survivor club, I am a member of that also. But that is a good thing I guess. Back to divorce 50% of all marriages end in divorce. So after 32 years mine ended. But back to the clubs…. I attribute my divorce mainly to alcoholism and substance abuse of my spouse. So I am a proud member of Al-Anon which has helped me to focus on my needs and change how I live this life. I used to try and please too much. Learned that guess where??? While coping as a child of someone with mental illness. Finally breaking that circle! Growing in Al-Anon has helped me to see so much. I work at having healthy relationships now with everyone. Or detach from people that aren’t positive for me. The other club I am happy to be a part of is my Temple group. It was through my involvement with my Temple’s choir, playing guitar for services, having my first adult Bat Mitzvah, and acting in Purim plays that I really have had a chance to celebrate who I am. While my marriage was not healthy, I was developing a new sense of self and I thank the wonderful Spiritual Leader who became our Rabbi for coming into our Temple and bringing the music of life!

  • Sima18

    Two clubs that I wish would strike my name from their membership lists are the Procrastinators Club and, well, I’ll think of another one later. I believe myself to be a welcoming member of all the clubs to which I belong.

  • Annice Benamy

    The first club I wish I didn’t belong to is the Widow Club. I lost ,y beloved husband, David, 8 weeks ago today. This is a very lonely club. The second club I don’t want to belong to is the Empty Nest Club. My daughter leaves for her 3rd year of college this week and then I will really be alone for the first time in my life.

    I am a welcoming member of WRJ Sisterhood. I think every woman should belong to their synagogue’s sisterhood for friendships, networking, and programming. The second club is the Mother/Parent club. I love being a parent to my wonderful daughter, Ilana. It has been such a joy watching her grow in to smart, beautiful, young Jewish woman.

  • Ora

    I could name so many. And, yet the easiest is a huge smile and a hello. So easy and yet whether at work or at synagogue, so often not even a hello. We can share all with the world on Facebook, Twitter, online, etc. and yet—face to face it seems so hard to be welcoming.

  • Pesach

    Does the welcoming make sense if the Jewish partner and the non-Jewish partner have no inclination to live Jewishly? Yes, we brought up our children to be liberal minded and follow the American way of welcoming. We lived the American way of tolerance and accepting all and the values which helped, economically, those who were in need and the organizations which represented those values. We, I believe, provided a Hebrew education in the house and the synagogue and now, we hear that love trumps Judaism and that the non-Jew is able to be a wonderful mate. It is quite disturbing that I feel that the family is not as dynamic for a Jewish way of living and celebrating and addressing values which had such importance over the many years.

  • Karen

    Pay particular attention to people around me and try to notice if anyone seems to feel out of place; if so, make an effort to say hi and put them at ease.

  • Kay Moore

    Invite them into my home for shabbat.
    Connect them with groups/organizations in which they may have common interests.
    Be a friend.

  • Jackie

    Welcome them with smiles and greetings; if met during services, invite them to a Shabbat dinner; invite their children for a play date with your children if they are of the same age. Incidentally, I have done all these things in the past. I do not do the last, b ecause my daughter is grown up and has children of her own and I cannot do the second, because my house was sold to get a small. one I could manage at my advanced age — well into my 80s.

  • John

    I am really ‘blown away’ with many of the wonderful comments I have read. For myself, I would take it down a level and keep it simple. When you encounter a stranger – make eye contact with ‘warm’ eyes; smile; and say hello. These three simple things can make all the difference in the world. This is how it was for me – I came to my synagogue a stranger, knowing little to nothing of ritual, belief or practice. It was a Friday in August. I will never forget that evening. A congregant did these three things (warm eyes-eye contact, smiled, and said hello) that made a lasting impression in my mind and heart. I kept coming back. Some years later after a lengthy process, I converted.
    The takeaway? Sometimes, the most precious jewels are those that are small and seemingly insignificant.

  • Karen

    Three ways I could be more open to the strangers near me is, to invite them in regardless of what I’m serving for dinner, that my table doesn’t have to be set with the best I have and that I don’t have to be a perfect hostess

  • Faye

    Growing up in a divorced household where my mother was bipolar and my father busy with other people’s children I mainly spent quality time with my friends and their families. Not that their life was so much healthier,but it was different than mine. I guess it would be nice to honor the parents that were there for me through my mother’s breakdowns. I am also recovering to create a healthier life after living with an alcoholic and substance abuse spouse for over 32 years. Now I see what strength it takes to change oneself. And I consider myself a changed person due to Al Anon principles. So when I do social activities, I prefer to be with people who are at least working toward being healthy and responsible for their actions. They don’t have to be rich, exciting, learned, talented, they just have to be honest and have integrity….and have some sense that the opportunity to take actions to live a meaningful life is available to them everyday they wake up. No one is perfect, but we sometimes have to stop and change our course of action.

  • Joanie G

    I would want to sit with all four of my grandparents, all of whom perished in the Holocaust before I was born. It would give me the opportunity to ask them the kinds of questions about their lives and my parents that my grandchildren ask me about their parents. Perhaps more importantly, it would allow me to share with them that we are living a life of Jewish values—that their legacy did not die with them.

  • Arnie Rotenberg

    I would sit down with my children, wife, and Rabbi and his family. The discussions and music would be awesome.

  • Annice Benamy

    Each time I enter one of my synagogues which I belong to, I am the recipient of radical hospitality. Specifically, my Cleveland, Ohio synagogue has a lovely atrium and lobby where congregants and families can sit and talk with each other, drink coffee, have a bagel, or read the NY Times. When my daughter was in religious school, I would sit in the religious school atrium to talk with friends, catch up on each other’s lives, and enjoy the hustle and bustle of the school. When I worked the Sisterhood gift shop, I always welcomed customers with a smile and conversation to show I was interested in them. Radical hospitality is important because many feel left out or overlooked. Going out of one’s way to bring happiness and smiles to someone is a genuine joy.

  • Dominique

    “If you had to name 3 people for whom you especially need to roll out the welcome mat this year, who would they be? Why?”
    First, my mother, who is 85, and with whom I’ve had a really rocky relationship my whole life. But, she’s in Europe, frail and cannot really travel, and I am here in the US, paralyzed and not able to travel easily. I would like to take her in my arms and say “I love you no matter what.” Second, my son, who lives close by, and somehow we have trouble relating, although he is an attentive son, there is a barrier somewhere, I’m sure from me, and I would like to dissolve that barrier. And third, my father who committed suicide when I was 2 years-old, and I would want to tell him that I’ve missed him so much.

  • bobbespeech

    Aattending the graduation ceremonies of 2 of my grandchildren and one of my great grandchild. As I age, these precious passages enrich my soul and enhance my life.I am so grateful that I have been able to take life’s journey with them and look forward to more
    delightful stops to share.

  • Lehmen

    The responses here are touching me deeply. I feel safest, I feel the
    most accepted at a psycho-social program that I attend. I have been
    blessed with a chronic and severe mental illness, but have been able to
    “pass” (I suppose you could say) in most circumstances, by dint of my
    intelligence and ability to express myself. I have had people say:
    “Funny, you don’t seem mentally ill”. When I am with my friends there, I
    feel that no one is pulling on me to be anything than what I am. I can
    relax – I don’t have to stand ‘en garde’. I have asked my Rabbi to
    teach the song “I Am Who I Am” (from La Cage Aux Folles) at my memorial
    service……Life is complex and complicated – full and rich. It has
    taken me so long to find myself.
    Todah rabbah & Lech b’shalom!
    Leslie Robin Neshama

  • Leslie Neshama

    The responses here are touching me deeply. I feel safest, I feel the most accepted at a psycho-social program that I attend. I have been blessed with a chronic and severe mental illness, but have been able to “pass” (I suppose you could say) in most circumstances, by dint of my intelligence and ability to express myself. I have had people say: “Funny, you don’t seem mentally ill”. When I am with my friends there, I feel that no one is pulling on me to be anything than what I am. I can relax – I don’t have to stand ‘en garde’. I have asked my Rabbi to teach the song “I Am Who I Am” (from La Cage Aux Folles) at my memorial service……Life is complex and complicated – full and rich. It has taken me so long to find myself.
    Todah rabbah & Lech b’shalom!
    Leslie Robin Neshama

  • Sharon

    Surprisingly this has been a very difficult question to answer. There are few places that I feel safe. I am one of those that creates a safe, warm, and welcoming space for others. I do my utmost to help strangers to a situation feel at home and supported. I do it for others but where have I felt safe and welcomed?

    I finally came up with two places. When I first joined Overeaters Annonymous over 25 or more years ago, I remember feeling safe and accepted without having to be who I thought they thought I should be. I knew I did not have to behave in a certain way to be accepted. I remember even telling my friends at the time how safe I felt.

    The second safe place for me, is in my relationship with my life partner for the past 33 years, almost to be 34 in November. I feel seen, heard, loved, accepted, and unjudged in this relationship. It is a gift from the universe and a nurturing comfort to me. Don’t get me wrong, we have our differences and our challenges but in the end the love, caring and acceptance and trust of each other is paramount.

    As an American I do not feel safe any more. Being Jewish, being a lesbian, being 74 years old, and being a woman are all roles that are subject to judgement and often persecution and discrimination in our society. The way I survive and cope in this society is “to do what I can do now.” I live from my strength instead of my smallness. I do what I can do now!!!! I create safe places for others and know that I make a difference in this world.

  • Debbie

    I went to a church that seemed open to diversity, told them I was tired of cringing and feeling frightened and mistrustful when I saw crosses (told them about my grandmother’s experiences of pogroms in Russia). I asked them if I could attend their study group and get to know more about Christianity. They welcomed me and we had a great time studying together. They never tried to convert me. They enjoyed how I could bring them a Jewish perspective on the Bible and on other things. We learned and grew for over a decade and I still remember them as being some of the most supportive, loving people I have ever met. I also remember a Quaker community near Philadephia called Pendle Hill, which also welcomed me and one other Jew. We studied Hasidic Tales by Martin Buber and they too had a very positive view about Judaism and Jews.

  • Bernice

    The Museum Minyan at Congregation Beth Yeshurun has been a warm, encouraging home for me. Minyaners are family for one another. I feel supported and uplifted by my minyan family. Do i attend every week to daven or to renew friendship? Hard to say: surely the answer is both and, when not one, then the other serendipitously occurs.

  • Marvin Beckerman

    Citizenship Education Clearing House (CECH) at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Since 1988 I have been workng with others to promote the active informed citizenship of youth in community and governmental affairs. It has also inspired me to also influence adults in the same way and has stimulated my work in the Jewish community
    for tikkun olam.

  • Marge

    From the very first CAJE conference I ever attended (Columbus 1999), I felt welcomed and accepted — I wore a “First Timer” ribbon pinned to my Presenter badge and people were genuinely and sincerely welcoming. The “vatikim” (old timers) made sure to find out who I am, and welcomed me to step up and take my place. I would likely never have recorded a CD (let alone 2) or begun my career as a traveling spiritual teacher were it not for that very first experience!

  • marlene

    my acceptance has always been within me. it doesn’t matter where i live, or where i am….. my comfort comes from knowing that god is within me and guides my path.
    i am a true believer and pay it forward with gratitude and deep appreciation and love and honor. marlene.

  • Tova

    Har Shalom Synagogue in of all places, Missoula Montana, has been and continues to be such a place for me. It is my home away from home. Everyone looks out for each other and welcomes the stranger.

  • Joy Krauthammer

    “If you had to name the place where you felt most warmly welcomed, accepted and encouraged, where would it be? Why?”

    The “place” is at my shuls where I have “felt most warmly welcomed, accepted and encouraged”, although I would also include Remo Music Center in North Hollywood, CA, and the Apple Store in Northridge. At Apple, I get to sit on a bar stool, and “everyone knows my name.”

    Lev Eisha in Los Angeles, my women’s shul with Rabbi Toba August, for at least the last 13 years, “welcomed me, accepted and encouraged me”. I have been their percussionist accompanying Cindy Paley, since the first Shabbat I attended. Love and appreciation has overflowed in abunDance toward me all this time.

    The same is also for Ahavat Torah, LA, and Rabbi Miriam Hamrell in the last decade that I attend whenever I can. This shul also is totally warmly welcoming, embracing of me, and probably all who enter. I’ve been invited to play percussion, and also encouraged to teach which I do. Both shuls have people welcoming congregants and guests at the door, and invite them to be involved.

    Some of my other shuls where I’ve been involved for over a couple decades have similar welcoming behavior. When present, I, too, do the welcoming in shuls that include B’nai Horin with Rabbi Stan Levy, and Makom Ohr Shalom with Rabbi/Cantor Monty Turner. At N’Shama Minyan with Rabbi Nina Feinstein at Valley Beth Shalom, again, I am always welcomed by the women (especially Shirley!), and encouraged to play my music which I’ve been doing for many years.

    As temple musician, I am one of the first to arrive at shul. When I see new people attend, I make sure to introduce them to others, and assist with prayer books, seats, etc. At Kiddush (even though I want to shmooze with my old friends), I make sure to sit with new people and introduce them to others so that they too feel comfortable, welcomed, and I invite them to return, and to contact me if they have questions. Not all shuls I’ve attended are welcoming, so I know the difference, and I try to make a difference by “Serving G*d with Joy”. For decades, this has been my spiritual intention. I was told by an old friend Theresa, obm, that I did this for her in kindergarten. Last evening I consciously made introductions at an art opening. (I learned in UJ’s MBA marketing class: if you see a need–fill it.) – Joy Krauthammer

  • Karen

    As part of the membership committee, we realized many years ago how important it was to make people feel welcome and have worked successfully in that direction. Because the land that our synagogue sits on has been dedicated as holy ground, we must act accordingly.

    I feel that welcoming people into the community that I love, showing them that I want them to have the same experience and feel the same feelings that I feel is the most important thing I can ever do. The reason I feel this way goes way back to when I was a teenager. I was active in the Temple as were my parents. But I could see how some adults struggled to belong and I could do very little to make them feel at home at sixteen. I became so resentful toward the ‘insiders’ for not being aware of this that I judged them as hypocrites. All nicey, nicey among themselves but not welcoming the stranger. (I didn’t realize until I was writing this that my mission to seek out newcomers stemmed from my childhood experience.)

    In picking three people I have welcomed; one became president of the congregation, one invited us to their daughters Bat Mitzvah. And another became one of our most active and generous members. Others have learned and chanted Torah, come to various functions and are regulars at services. There is no boundaries to where this spreads and all it takes is a smile and a warm greeting.

  • Marge

    When I was entering my sophomore year in high school, I got a call from the school guidance counselor during the summer. There were two new girls moving to my town from Illinois, and would I give them a call and welcome them. Debbi and Jane are still my friends…40 years later. I have given this explicit “welcome to my life, my friends, my family” offer many times over the years, and almost never regretted it. Once, I went to the ALEPH Kallah with a shy friend, and as we got to the big opening gathering, I turned to her and said, “during these coming days, if you walk into a room and it overwhelms you, come look for me. Nothing I’m talking about is so private that I can’t include you…and at least you’ll have a direction.” I take welcoming and belonging VERY seriously — I believe we are called to extend ourselves, not just react!

  • Karen

    Heaven to me would be the perfect golf course anywhere in Hawaii

  • Audrey Aronson Myers

    I see Heaven and hell as the state of this world. On a personal level it would mean being able to find a sense of wholeness a sense of Sh’leimut and once again finding a sense of mutual love that I felt with my former husband before our paths separated.

    Globally it would be a world where there was a sense of mutual respect and sharing amongst peoples. For me eternity is the hope that my life had been worthy of being honored and spoken about by the people (my family and friends) who I have tried to love and nurture the best I could.

  • steve

    A sense of absolute certainty that all of our loved ones who had suffered during life on Earth are at peace; all physical and psychological and emotional trauma had vanished. Love and memory remain!

  • Kathy Pullmsn

    I’d see those I love who went before, doing the things they loved most.

  • Meredith Neria

    heaven is about working together to bring about beauty and shalom because I think we will still have work to do, but we will work in cooperation, with joy and gratitude. I’m looking forward to openness and honesty, trusting and delighting in relationships. we will live harmoniously because we will understand Torah and live it, and we will be able to rejoice and be at peace with one another and with our Creator.

  • Lionhearted

    It would be a place where I would see all the people loved and all of those that nI never told that II really did love them.

  • Tova

    As a woman in the 60s and 70s working in a man’s world, I had to work a lot harder to get ahead. Sometimes I had to fight anti-Semitism and keep on being positive. I succeeded way beyond what some people thought possible because I worked hard, stayed positive and helpful, and was not afraid to ask for and take on huge projects.
    I feel good after accomplishing my goals but frustrated before getting results. The progress was slow but steady. I changed jobs when I encountered impossible bosses and was not afraid to ask for work or offer good ideas.

  • Chanah Leah

    This question speaks to my experience of having to travel a distance to find a decent synagogue, and in the process, to risk experiencing a less than warm welcome when the stakes were so unusually high. I ended up, for the most part, being very pleasantly surprised, but even that couldn’t entirely erase the pain of negative first impressions. The task, ever since, has been both appreciating those who put themselves forth to welcome me and forgiving those who didn’t.

  • Michael

    I just moved to a small town where there are no synagogues, for a job that I could not refuse. I found 2 Jews so far, and 1 is interested in forming Havurah group, the other is not. I’m still trying. I teach at a community college, and I am hoping that there may be a few Jewish students to start a Hillel chapter here. I just keep on davening by myself and hoping G-d will allow me to find enough Jews to have services on Shabbat.

  • Faye

    There have been several experiences in my life where I tried to connect with relatives who were less than welcoming to me. What stands out was my own grandmother’s sister whom I tried to go see when I was 19. I wanted to talk to her and ask try to understand my own grandmother’s life more. She had passed when I was 10. That great aunt told me to come to where she lived and never answered her door or later phone calls. I felt rejected then and sad that I wasn’t allowed to interact with her. But perhaps she didn’t want me to visit with her personally. I will never know the reasons. Then there were all the little sayings and expectations my inlaws had in the years my former husband and I lived near them. I never felt like they treated us as adults or individuals. I never felt valued by them. They saw me as a caretaker of their son, not as his wife. These insights that I am explaining I attribute to the skills and learning I have made in a twelve step program. I now focus on what is right and helps me to grow and enriches life. I have worked very hard to change how I think, behave and make choices. One interesting idea that I learned from my readings is that to repent can mean to change. So much of growth and living a better life depends upon our willingness to try out new pathways and change how we live and react in the world.

  • Joyce Romoff

    Many times, I have felt unwelcome-at work, at synagogue, with acquaintances, with friends. It feels shameful. However, many times, I push through and find the “unwelcome” was a projection of my own shyness and unease, and I was welcome after all. Sometimes the unwelcome is IN us, not from outside.

  • Cheryl

    Often a feeling of unwelcoming is a feeling or fear of the unknown. I know I feel unwelcome when I feel apprehension. When I’m in a situation when I need to push through unwelcoming doors, I take a deep breath, put a smile on my face, introduce myself, and welcome everyone else with open arms! This happens to me when I attend a conference or a meeting when no one seems to know anyone else. We all stand around looking at each other, with not very much to say, even though we are all there for a similar purpose or interest. A colleague once told me I have a gift for welcoming people and I was stunned. That’s not how I truly feel when I walk into a room with people I don’t know, blank faces staring at each other, but I guess my smile and personal introduction is beginning to convince myself! I just started to believe there wasn’t anything unwelcoming in most groups, We’re all here with a similar purpose — to connect with each other.

  • Sharon

    Trying to find a place in the Jewish community after having spent a number of years as a Jewish professional. Felt very separate, but, with baby steps, it’s becoming easier. Still a work in progress.

  • Suzanne

    We attended a wedding and we knew only a few people. t the reception, we were invited to sit with the aunt, and parents of the groom! Before hand we felt a little out of place and uneasy, but once we were invited to sit at their table we felt much more at ease and we had a really good time at the reception.

  • Jamie Williams

    I decided to convert to Judaism in December. Most of the time, I feel like the odd man out; either at school , with my family or at work ect. I joined a conservative synagogue in Beverly Hills California, the single black jew in the entire congregation, but i never felt more at home. Even attending services by myself, everyone was so inviting and accepting. I must admit i was slightly nervous, not about the decision, but more about the reception. Even shopping in kosher markets prior to my formal conversion required much personal cajoling on my part. Now with confidence, I hold my head high and wear my Jewish title proudly

  • Mary

    As a converting Jew, I have never before been in such a supportive community and in times past, have felt excluded in my life. It has been a lonely journey since I’ve always been the ‘odd man out’ in many of my circles. But as I feel so at home in Judaism, I’m being warmly embraced and for the first time in my life, I feel like I’m a part of something larger than myself and the feeling is indescribable. I have wanted it all of my life and I am blessed to be here now.

    • Jamie Williams

      I really enjoyed your story. I am currently in the process of conversion, and i completely agree with you; i have never felt more at home and at peace. It has been an amazing experience.

      • Roine Oquist

        When I read your story it was as if I were reading about myself.. It took all my life to get here and i am so very grateful for everything that has come my way. I feel so welcome and part of. I am so happy and at peace.

  • Sarah

    My first thought was my husband’s grandmother who warmly accepted me into her home and heart when we first married (28 years ago). The surprising and unexpected part for me was that no matter how many years passed or how the family dynamics were developing she always welcomed me with warmth and joy. She has gone to be with G-d many years ago but it still brings tears of joy to my eyes when I think of her.

  • Leah

    After five years at my Reconstructionist synagogue, banging my head on the wall trying to feel part of the community (iy involved every way I could think of…), I decided it was time fora change. Among other synagogues we tried, my husband and I went to the “big and impersonal” Conservative shul. We arrives shortly before the Torah service. By the time the Torah service started, both rabbis and the cantor had come over to welcome us with a hand shake and hug. This was completely unexpected. Needless to say, that is where we joined.

  • Teme

    In 1973, when I joined my congregation, my then husband and I became leaders. After 20 years of marriage, we divorced. I was shunned by many whom I thought were my friends. Fast forward another 20 years of inviting others to sit with me in services, and often sitting alone. I learned to keep my expectations low and my acceptance high. During High Holy Days, I like to volunteer to usher. It gives me a great opportunity to welcome everyone and I find the act of welcoming is joyful. At a Kabbalat Shabbat, a former friend saw me sitting by myself and waved me over, saying, “No one should have to sit alone.” She was someone who had left town, after a divorce. She had just returned, many years later, and had had a similar experience to mine. This small gesture of welcoming registered in my body and my soul as a sweet, quiet comfort. She wanted to be with me and hear me sing, as this service is mostly music and she does not sing well. As I always find an opening of my spirit when singing this service, the impact of her welcoming was all the more resounding.

  • Margo Grace Carr

    Last year I decided to try and reach out to the local Jewish community, and I did it just before Yom Kippur. I had just left my husband of almost three years who is Jewish (I am now in the slow process of conversion). My husband had always been very dismissive about trying to find a new Shul in New York because of money, because of previous hurt feelings, because of……, and gave me a feeling that I, as a gentile, would really not be welcomed. The Synagogue President was so warm on the phone, and even as I explained all of the reasons why I might not be accepted, she brushed them all aside and encouraged me no to wait until the High Holy Days were over.
    I ended up attending the Yom Kippur services and was welcomed with open arms. The community here is very small. This town is small on its own, under 30,000, and is here just because of the Naval Weapon’s Station. It is a very religious town, but off base that means Christian or Mormon. The Jewish community meets on the base in a wing of the base chapel. There is a student rabbi that comes up once a month, and on holidays. And they make me feel like I have found a home and a place where I can explore and I look forward to being with them as I continue my process of conversion.

  • Chanah Leah

    Four years ago around this time, we left the synagogue we had belonged to for years when conditions became intolerable. Because this community was very geographically isolated, my family and I had to drive many miles to find a decent synagogue. And even then, my impressions from my first visit made me wonder if I had made a mistake–save for one person who, when we told him how far we were coming from, said “you can do it.”

    Subsequent impressions of this synagogue were fortunately an improvement, if anything I was amazed at the swiftness with which the community embraced us. And about four months later, this man who was so singularly welcoming and then disappeared, resurfaced in our lives and more than offered–insisted that we stay with him when we came up for Shabbat. It admittedly came at the price of being shomer shabbat, but by that time, the price of renting a nearby room was getting literally too high. And this brought us into the community more fully than we would have imagined, and ever since, we have celebrated Shabbatot and holidays together, and become like a family.

  • Marge

    I missed out on being in a consciousness-raising group in my dorm in Madison in the 70s because I didn’t go to the first meeting. After that, all my friends were in, and I was out. Fast forward to the late 80s, and I came back to my hometown and home synagogue where a relatively new Rosh Chodesh Chavurah had started. I was really worried they wouldn’t let me join, except I was wrong, and I’ve been part of the group since 1989 and it has changed my life, taught me to be a teacher and helped me grow in innumerable ways. Over the years, our group has held to the idea that we need boundaries, but if someone wants in, we welcome her!

  • chris

    Many years ago when my husband and I moved into our new house in a new neighborhood where we really knew no one, a neighbor couple, old enough to be our parents came over to welcome us and delivered pot of home made chili for us.
    This started a wonderful deep friendship that enriched my life forever. If they had not come over I probably never would have thought to later visit with them and quickly we developed an almost familial relationship.

  • Joyce Romoff

    My husband has a fairly rare liver condition. I found FaceBook support groups for fellow travelers and the group as welcomed me and made me feel at home, supported, and not alone. The virtual friends are not substitutes for nearby humans but they help!

  • sharon

    I have been very active in my synagogue for over 20 years. After my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer I started withdrawing more and more from temple life and all the committees I was on. Fast forward two years, my mom passed away and even though so many people from my congregation came to my house for shiva, i still felt completely disconnected. I didn’t return to anything at the synagogue. One congregant/friend really pushed me to come to this or that with her and helped me transition back in. Had it not been for her welcoming me back in and making me feel comfortable both with my withdrawing and my re-entry I’m not sure what my commitment/involvement with my community would be. Since my reentry I have realized that the community of women there means everything to me.

  • Debbie

    I am suffering from extreme loneliness. I came to L.A. to be near my brother and his family, but they have not been very inclusive, at all – they were warmer when I only came home for one week per year, than they’ve been now that I live nearby. I go to big synagogues and kind come and go, unnoticed. I attend a Torah Study and the rabbi there has been warmer and more inviting than almost everyone else – so that feels great. I could really use some coaching on how to find small groups that I could join, where I might find friends. I have a lot to contribute – I’m well-read, have many interests, am not bad-looking (kind of pretty – not a knock-out), and can be a good friend. But I think I under-estimated how hard it would be to establish community and friends in L.A. at the age of 63. Sorry I don’t have a happier story to tell. Being “unexpectedly included” is a precious, precious experience but seems to be a rare experience, unfortunately…

    • Margo Grace Carr

      I understand the feeling. It is so hard when you don’t feel that welcome, and it feeds into the insecurities that are already there. I pray you find your way to happier and more welcoming places.

    • Lynne August

      I know how you feel – you aren’t alone. I’ve moved to rural Mass to live with and care for my ailing father. It’s been a year and all of my efforts to make friends, find community have failed. I’m 62, and have many good qualities and all I need is a couple of friends and connection to a Jewish community, but it just isn’t happening.

    • Faye

      In your synagogue is there any other social committees you can volunteer on? The religious school might need help at times? And outside of your synagogue, perhaps you can volunteer doing something you have a talent at or interest? Then my other suggestion which can at first be a little different, but fun is to look online in your community and see what activities that interest you are on groups. There are so many to choose from in my area. LA in larger so I know there must even more there. It is hard at first to try new things, but that will open up new paths for you to walk upon.

  • Ronni Michaelson

    It is hard to be included when someone is handicapped. My husband became disabled 10 years ago. A number of our friends chipped in and bought 2 portable ramps so that he could get into their homes. That act meant the world to us. They are still our closest friends. We love them!

  • MarkS

    as I attend Temple services and functions, some members of the congregation have their little groups. I have approached them to engage in conversation.
    Family dinners are sometimes geared around certain matters that do not pertain to all, so I make sure the conversation is such where all can participate
    In giving talks or lectures, I make sure that everyone is included and not talk to specific individuals or groups

  • Barb

    I am converting to Judaism and after three and a half years of study and growing the day is fast approaching. I have had many experiences of walking into the unknown over the past 3 1/2 years. I have smiled, introduced myself, and joined in at any place that looked like it might need a helping hand. Fortunately I am in a very open and welcoming community. My new life long friends have given me so much, in so many ways. A mitzvoth a day will never be enough to thank G-d for this gift that I have been given.

  • bobbespeech

    As I’ve gotten older and my health has been affected, I realize I’m being left out of various family plans. Of course it hurts and as a result I’ve become more involved with temple activities. It does help somewhat….

  • Suzanne Geiger

    The first thought that comes to mind, is a unique situation I am in right now. My daughter has married a wonderful man from an Orthodox Persian family. I am with them on the West coast ( a culture very different from my own to begin with!) and I am with people who speak mostly Farsi all day and night. It has been really different! I have tried to learn a few words in Farsi, I smile and nod and try to be as “welcoming” with my body language as well as entering into conversations with those who do speak English. I am also a reform Jew and so their practices on Shabbat and mine are at times quite different! This is ok, we live in a country that (Thank G-d) celebrates uniqueness. I am also enjoying the new experiences that this is bringing into my life.

  • Jocheved Shayna

    Last Rosh Hashanah was an extremely upsetting experience. There was a lot of turmoil with a change in clergy, a choir that was told to cut their repertoire down to one piece and a general lack of communication between ritual and choir. This certainly was strange, and not the right thing to do at the time. I did forgive those involved, because we need to do it. As a result, we moved on to another synagogue that values tradition, yet uses melodies of different Jewish cultures. We were welcomed right away and have become active members of our new community.

  • Moshe

    Because mostly of my neurological disease, I am unable to learn, attend services and I lack the Koach to review what I have learned.

  • Cee

    I have chronic depression, a host of autoimmune diseases, conditions, and syndromes. And yes, I am taking medicine for everything. Recently I was diagnosed with a treatable, not curable form of lymphoma. My children are grown and have families of their own. What remains of my marriage is a toxic wasteland. My husband has decided that we no longer need to belong to a synagog as I was the only one was going. people whom I used to see at various groups have commented more than once that I am no longer “fun” to be around. and truthfully I don’t blame them. Even with counseling and psychotropic drugs, I don’t feel hopeful about the future. I am not writing this in hope of sympathy, or good counsel. (i have good medical care including a psychologist and prescribing psychiatrist) it is just that there are not three ways, times that I felt left out of strange. It is that I feel left out of life all of the time.

    • Margo Grace Carr

      I’m sorry your husband “decided” for you about Schul, honestly that would probably be one of the best things for you to keep you from feeling completely cut off. I know my husband was very similar about having negative feelings about going back to Schul, but I am so glad that I am going now.

  • Laura Porter

    I was very ill. Far from friends and family. Alone in a strange place not of my choosing.

    I was very ill and put into a Nursing home to recover. There were no religious services at all.I was either wheel chair or bed bound.The place the hospital found me a bed was 38 miles away from home. So I had a friend bring me my Torah. Every morning and evening I would read aloud in my room from it, in English. Soon I noticed that people where standing or sitting in wheel chairs near my door. I invited them in to listen. Soon their were four or five people, every morning and every evening. We would exchange names and thoughts about what was read.I found that they also where there alone many without family or friends to come to visit.By the time I left to go home I had made many friends some of which I still correspond with.

  • Beth Pennamacoor

    Funny you should ask! Recently I had this conversation with my health coach. She told me that because I am the Cantorial Soloist and the Director of Education, that people look at me on a higher level. It hit home when a group of women with whom I have socialized with in the past both as a group and individually had a birthday dinner for two of the women. They posted a picture on Facebook and I felt very hurt. Then I remembered two things. I remembered what my health coach said and that two my girls and grandchildren I am Mom and Bubbe and that made me feel much better. L’shana Tovah!!


  • Pamela Lear

    I moved to a new community where I knew no one 1.5 years ago. I made friends via synagogue, book clubs, boating clubs (we moved to the area for the boating), etc., and yet still struggled with finding real friendships. Of course, that takes time, but I have found the most effective way to really belong in a community is to “get involved”, to volunteer to help with projects, step up to provide leadership where it is needed, be open minded, and give new things a chance. It is important to be real, but to also moderate my opinions until there is a comfort level with new friends. I have tried to be as welcoming to the new community as I hope they will be to me. So far, I am loving it here!!!

    • Cheryl

      I love you attitude! Thank you!


    In a Bridge group an Anti-Semite made remarks to and about me; I found a nicer group. At dinner people were conversing in a foreign language; I told them it was impolite. At a lunch I could not hear the conversation at the other end of the table; I ate silently.

  • garbski

    Diffuse it with humor. If I feel uncomfortable, I tell a joke, or do something to make people smile. Then I don’t feel like an amoeba under a microscope

  • Sarai

    I’m continually being left out of my teenage daughter’s life. I took a road trip with her and she liked it.

  • Dee

    Choose Life! Forget about the cursrs and be more attentive to the blessings.

  • stephen olin

    Trying to live intentionally, with respect for all people and a conscious observation of the present. Judgement and Criticism is a serious matter and not to be taken casually or with malice. To enjoy gifting others as a substitute for self indulgence. Most of all to share smiles and words of encouragement.

  • Linda

    Don’t be too quick to pass judgment or resign yourself to accepting unsatisfactory outcomes as being permanent. People and situations can and do change. Life, across its many years and experiences, tends to bring equilibrium. Unhappiness today can emerge as something different tomorrow that brings great joy and fulfillment.

  • Aisha Rajel

    To be more grateful for whatever I have, To love myself more and treat me as my best friend. To show my love often to the important people in my life. Life is too short so we better enjoy it now.

  • Elisheva Yisrael Yerushalayim

    That no matter what people do to me, good or bad, especially bad, I must keep on living and loving as mandated by Adonai and don’t detour from my right doings, more important, do not let anger control me, least harbor hate within me, that the disappointment and betrayal of others doesn’t make a judge of every one of them, to forgive the ones who unintentionally hurt me, maybe they just needed to mature or become more mature themselves. And, to be able to do this, I must first take care of myself in every way and spend time for myself, even if it is only for half an hour. To sleep for 8-10 hours is ok, to rest if my body hurts is ok also, to day dream if my soul and heart so desires, to be dedicated and achieve my goals for the day and at any time, be thankful and give thanks to Adonai for allowing me to live this way.

  • Iris

    To live life in the present moment, not worry about yesterday or tomorrow. Find joy in the simple things in life, clear my mind of worry for the things we cannot change, do small acts of kindness every single day with a kind word or gesture. To find beauty and peace in nature all around us and count our small blessings every single day.

  • ARG

    To be more patient with others and myself and recognize the sacred in everyone.

  • Lori

    To trust my instincts. G-d set me on this path and if I just listen, it’s so easy to follow!

  • Suezt

    To do my good deeds, my mitzvahs as quietly as possible. There is value in not lauding my contributions to the world to anyone and everyone I see.

  • grammyz

    I will let go of negativity. I choose to be true to myself. I do not have to agree 100% of the time to seek peace. I can step back and not lose face. I appreciate my life.

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  • Jmassarano

    to give tzedaka whenever possible. Life is too short to hold onto money that others may need in that moment more than you! Respond!

  • I learned to let my congregation in. At a group break fast at a fellow congregants home, someone I knew only from shul hugged me and said it was great to see me outside of synagogue. I realized how much I keep my guard up there needlessly–because I also realized how much I’m loved there, and how much I love back. It was a totally amazing moment, a reminder of my personal t’shuvah challenge–which had been the theme of the HHDs this year for me–to stop being afraid of letting people be and remain close to me. 

  • Kwthenurse

    Be open to the knowledge that there is always more to do,  more to learn, and much more space to grow!  By next year, I will know how to read Hebrew!

  • Erin

    Being vulnerable.   This allows one to fully experience life, embrace yourself as human and worthy, and connect more intimately with others.

  • Rivka

    i’m going to try hard to live each day as it comes and not worry so much about what further losses  the disease taking my husband bit by bit will bring. this is difficult but improves life for me, him and for all who are around us.

    • Laura Porter

      It is difficult for you but you are stronger that you know. I will pray for you and your family.

  • Susandavidson

    My dream for the year to come is to love more, smile more and forgive more.  I wish to show more symplathy and empathy to everyone around me.  I wish to share more of what I have with family, friends, loved ones and those I do not know.  These are my dreams — my desire to build a better world for all those around me.

    • Laura Porter

      Very noble thoughts and ideas, the world will be a better place with your efforts

  • Charlyne Ashford

    I want to try to listen more, not to interrupt so often. I always want my family and friends to know I am always there for them

  • Nancy

    Nothing lasts forever – not the good nor the bad.  Enjoy the wonderful moments and remember that the tough times will not last.

  • Mary

    I am letting go! and living more fully in the present moment with a deep appreciation for my gifts and blessings.

  • Cantor Sheri Allen

    I hope to work on being truly present, focused on the moment I’m experiencing, not the moment I’m hoping to experience in the future.

  • sg

    don’t sweat the small stuff – perhaps one of the wisest ‘lines’ in recent times.

  • Godrezin

    Don’t mistake a faulty delivery for fault in the intent of the deed itself.

  • Jean

    I will count my blessings daily and  use my energy in a positive way.    I will try very hard not to worry about  things over which I have no control,  Life is good!!!

  • Carol Schachter

    I’m dreaming of a year of good moments of joy, with my family, dear friends and my Temple family. They will be my jewels…….

  • Barbara

    That being wrong is a vehicle for learning and improving; not an implement to lessen one’s value or self-esteem.

  • Stan

    Have faith in the future.

  • Stephen

    Hold onto the amazing memories and experiences you’re had, but accept that you need to move forward in life.  Take the next small step on your journey and accept that even the best things need to come to an end.

  • Aculpanosh

    Let go.

  • Sgfrisch

    Say “I love you” as often as you can.  Life is short.

  • Dennies

    For me, Elus 17. Passing on life’s experiences and lessons learnt to our offsprings and relatives. We need to tell our stories while we can so that our children can pass them on to their children.

  • Cfoster91311

    less stress.

  • Gkgoldman

    LIfe is like the ocean. It has its ups and downs, just like the ocean’s waves. The key is to learn how to accept the lows as part of a life that simply isn’t always fair and to revel in, share with others and express grtitude for the high points. 

  • Larsoncn

    We have always been a product of our world’s activities.  Remain a part of repairing the world as long as you can.  l’chaim.

  • Hannadrei

    The flowing continuum of “non-being” and “being,” through the “doorways” of birth and death

  • Barbara Gordon

    Slow down! I’ve been moving too fast.

  • Scripturesong

    We really enjoy being part of the “Jewels of Elul” community, thank you. My dream is for my family to discover what makes them passion about life, that they would take the risk to pursue their own dreams & “not be afraid to entrust an unknown future to a known G-d”. What I carry with me into this new year is a greater love & appreciation for those around me. A renewed ability to speak less, listen more, offer encouragement when needed & share my smiles with those around me!

  • batnarnie

    you cannot expect the unexpected..
    ……but you can prepare for it 

  • Zevalpert

    time is precious act with love and compassion to all

  • Lana

    keeping my connection to G-d helps me focus on all my blessings and start each day with a sense of gratitude.

  • Linda

    Keep developing passions in your life to give life that added dimension.  This can help keep you live life to the fullest and avoid your “fading away” and losing your vitality.

  • Suellyn13

    To not be judgmental .

  • H Eliashiv

    Take one day at a time, think positive and always do your best.

  • Steve

    I must think more positively and look at the good side of everything!!

  • Ellen

    I need to appreciate the gift of family and learn not to voice my frustrations when situations don’t turn out not exactly as I had envisioned them.

  • a mom

    I dream of a day when I trust the decisions my adult children make for themselves and not comment on them.  Also not worry so much that their decisions, when they don’t coincide with what I think they should do, will do them harm in the future.

  • Ken

    Good health, good friends, loved ones and most of all a positive mental attitude

  • Jbanks99

    do not take good health for granted!

  • Linda

    I am going to remember that I unconsciously apply unenforceable rules to relationships that often lead to anger and frustration.  I am going to open my heart to the people in my life and become more aware of the impact of my unrealistic expectations rather than seeing others as falling short.

  • Rsjp

    The world moves forward every day because someone is willing to take the risk.

    Rabbi Sally J. Priesand

  • Diane Statham

    Nothing is attainable without great effort and dedication.

    Diane Statham

  • Rosalie H. Kaye

    My wish for 5773 is that this hatred towards Jews all over the world will abate and the contributions that Jews have made that make life better for all- will be appreciated. My secondary hope and I guess dream is that there will be a more peaceful environment in the world.  Happy healthy and peaceful year to all!

  • Mary20122

    I need to remember to listen, to remember, and breathe.

  • Fred

    From Elul 1, never to put self inflicted boundaries on myself.

  • carol R

    Cherish family.  Cherish every minute you have here on earth to experience life.

  • Pennydq

    Absorb the miracles around me, paint, sing, love and share them as long as I can.

  • Abby

    Appreciate your surroundings. Take pleasure in your family, friends and those special people in your life. Enjoy the moments and do not wish time away.

  • Ellen

    Breathe deeply and move forward. Never go a day without “blessing ” something in my life. Keep that focus.

  • Naftalya

    Don’t lose yourself or forget that your dreams, needs, and hopes are as important as anyone else’s.
    Don’t forget your lifepath as a Jew to question, heal the world, and
    find your path. Don’t forget to reach out to friends; even a small
    gesture counts. Don’t forget: Patience. Patience. Patience.

  • bch

    Inspired by my rabbi’s sermon, I need to forgive myself before I can forgive others.

  • PDS

    Due to a series of events in 5772, I will be mindful in 5773 to be mindful of each day, and treasure it one at a time.

  • Karen Kuhn

    To be patient and humble – everything is temporary in this world.

  • Tsippy

    One lesson, among many, is to be more forgiving and less sensitive.

  • TAW

    I have learned, by watching my momma battle – and so far overcome – cancer, that humility and perseverance are a combination that can beat anything!  I learned by watching my (now) one-year-old that laughter is the best fix for anything!

  • Elaine Monnier

    Looking for a new job – solid history of good education, concientious approach to work, demonstration of adaptability/flexibility, and following up on network leads/suggestions, together with assisted assessment of skills. talents, accomplishments, and goals are invaluable for self-confidence and success

    • carol

      I hope you find a great new job.  My experience has been that a good education,  being conscientious (that’s my middle name!), dedication and years of experience mean almost nothing to most employers these days.  You need to be young, thin, and assertive.  However, all of those qualities you mention should make you feel good about yourself even if others don’t appreciate them.

  • Sms51

    I learned that self-discipline is possible, if your goal is important enough to you. And I thank Hashem for helping me in my learning.

  • wendy

    miracles do happen.

  • mwk1

    When I ask forgiveness, I must remember to forgive myself. It is easier to forgive others than it is to forgive myself.

  • Kaplan123

    When I am moved to do an act of loving kindness, I will try harder to do it promptly.

  • Lenore

    I will try to take one day at a time.  This past year has been one of sadness with sickness and death at the forefront.  To remain positive in the face of hardship.

  • Bijouxice

    Forgiveness and letting go of the hurt, the need to know why someone hurt you, really is healing.   But you really have to let go and that ‘s the hard part.   I think I’ve let go of this year’s greatest pain, but I’ll check back with you next year.

  • Daphne

    Never, ever, EVER take anything for granted. Kiss the ones you love and tell them you love them every day.

  • Kilian

    Things are seldom what they seem. Skim milk masquerades as cream.

  • Toby

    The hope that we can be civil towards one another and that no matter the conversation or situation we can remember that we are all human…she says somewhat wistfully.

  • Annlandau

    The one lesson I earn every year is the mysterious healing quality of laughter between friends, family members and yes, total strangers.

  • Judah R

    the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree

  • Elisabeth Rogolsky

    To always take care of getting “sideways” with someone in the moment it happens. Get clear and make the tikkun in the moment you become aware that wires got crossed between you and the other person. Take a breath, remember the Divine Connection that is always present and say, “I’m sorry”, or “wow that was off base”, or “yikes, that’s not what I meant” or..
    Don’t let a false wall even start between you and dear ones and stranger alike…

  • Millie Fradin

    Forgive yourself first, then be forgiving to others and take a positive attitute towards others and life and be thankful for all your blessings and the things you can do.  Do not get caught up in your limitations.


    From experience I learned never to give up on the ones you love who have become estranged.  There’s always hope.

  • Moosefeld

    Before you say something negative,think of three positives about the situation/person. You cannot take back unkind words once they are spoken.

  • Crystal

    I learned that friendships come in all shapes and sizes, and that to keep any relationship going it takes a lot of give and take.  The difference in age between friends matters nothing as long as the intent is there to make (and keep) the contact.

  • Karen Willner

    The lesson learned from this year is to not believe that age is the end but just a continuum of life to be lived as openly, joyfully and as full of wonder as it always was and still is

  • Charna

    Hopes and dreams when you hit a certain age, always come back to family and friends. May they all stay healthy and stand on the right side of the grass.

  • Rabbi Justin

    En boca cerrada no entran moscas.
    בפה סגור לא נכנסים יתושים
    Keep your heart open, let your light shine , share the Torah because positive energy cycles back magnified.

  • Myrna Ross

    “This is the day that God has given to us.  Rejoice and be glad in it.”  I can’t change the past. I certainly do not know what the future holds so I had better not waste the time given to me.  I pray that I will  be grateful for today and make the most of it.

  • Irlondon

    Savor the present moment.

  • Nina

    God believes in me.  

  • Sally

    look for ways to be useful and appreciate the people around me

  • Emily A.

    Just try my best and everything will go smoothly

  • Not to limit myself in my abilities and dreams 🙂

  • guest

    I don’t have anything to post; I just want a reminder next year.

  • Jkn

    “Go for the gold” – to find the good in everything. Every person. Every situation. 

  • Eihadlock

    People will always disappoint, but G-d is constant and sure. His Word is true.

  • Farfel2

    I fought two battles of breast cancer and have learned to pause before “jumping” to conclusions .  I am taking my time and really taking time to smell the roses.  

    • Crystal

       I, too, have had two battles with cancer:  Leukemia in 2009 – 2010, and breast cancer in 2010-2011.  And I know what you mean when you say that you are taking time to notice things and to be grateful for them.  Taking pause before acting is a good lesson to learn.

  • Follow your dreams. Discover your roots and your wings!

  • Valentine

    not to be afraid of polite  confrontation when I believe in something.

  • JP

    Show up and give it your all.  And, if you’re miserable, be willing to let go of fear.. and move on in gratitude for the experiences behind you. 

  • Leslie Robin Neshama

    One of the jewels I will bring into this New Year is my understanding Hope in a more profound way.   I have also learned how much love there is – all around me – if only I open my eyes, my heart, my mind, and my neshama.  Let this new year bring me willingness to love and be loved.  My dream is to be a vessel of Hashem’s goodness…….

  • Tarantella7784

    It does not matter if showing someone love is safe; it must be done. Open heartedness is crucial.

  • Mail2jodi

    Appreciate what I have and count my blessings!!

  • Linda

    I have learned the value of making daisy-chains (I do love metaphors 🙂 of all of the grace notes in my daily life. So many small, shining moments to treasure, to remember with a smile as I drift off to sleep. I am grateful for each one, and for the person who has given the gift of self to me.

    • Crystal

       I have made it a habit of counting my blessings each night as I am going to sleep.  I count those shining  moments, my friends, my family and all that I have learned that day — and know that they are all blessings in my life.

  • Mcnally Jp

    With a mighty hand, and outstretched arm, and a still small voice, God leads me.

  • anabanana

    To stop, 
    wait and see 
    what’s going on around you 
    before it passes you by…
    and you reached out to catch it a 

  • Monica Corton

    It is possible to stop and think in any situation before responding. Having a positive response is key to interpersonal relationships. I have and had a tendency to respond in the moment saying exactly what is on my my mind but you cannot always get the desired result by being fully honest….people just can’t handle the full truth and nothing but the truth!

  • Faye of the Outdoors

    I have learned a whole new way of living and interacting with others.  Following a 12 step program has opened my eyes 200%.   I knew something wasn’t right in my former marriage and everything felt out of control.  I plan to try and use the new techniques of managing my life in this new year.  I am finally doing things for me first rather than other people.  I was in a sad and unproductive circle with a former spouse.  Coping with what they sent my way.  I have learned  I DO HAVE A CHOICE. To make changes in myself and how I want to live.  No longer do I try to continue unhealthy friendships/relationships.   Sometimes, as much as we want marriages and friendships to last….it just isn’t possible.  I have Let Go and Let God show me my new pathway.

  • Jhackman33

    to forgive, not to nurture resentments

  • Ehhoover

    I need to be my very best person from the moment I wake until I sleep each and every day. G-d’s participation in my life will make this happen IF I am G-d conscious all the time. This is problematic for a self centered human who sometimes “forgets” my G-d connection.

  • Judy Podolsky

    Today and always – do not put your values on other people.

  • J24kman

    Tell the truth, unless it will hurt.  Don’t be a schmuck about it.  Do nothing unto others that I would not want done to me.  Keep reading the commentary  L’Shana Tovah.

  • Lggrn

    If you have something that needs to be done but you think it will be difficult…. DO IT! It may not be any easier but you’ll stop worrying and actually feel good about yourself in the process.

  • Melissabrooks25

    Love with detachment

  • Todd

    I will practice and improve on  listening to divergent views especially from people close to me and on emotionally important issues.  Even if it triggers an inner reaction, I will allow the other person to have her or his different opinion or perspective.

  • Laura

    There are never just 2 options to answer a question. There is always a 3rd option. This is especially important to remember as a parent and a spouse.

  • Lin304

    I will not be afraid to age and will do my best to age gracefully.

  • Madler822

    I am not going to let the opinions of others cause me any problems. I will make decisions based on my own good judgement.

  • Savta

    Life is fragile and fleeting; make the most of every minute and remember to tell my loved ones who they are via not only words but behavior.

  • Thom

    Laugh and smile a bit more…

  • Revbev97

    Leave the drama behind. Life is too short for needless drama.

  • Don’t sell out on my commitments to myself.

  • Sharyn Berger

    Live each day to the fullest.  No one knows what tomorrow will bring.

  • In all my flurry of days and good projects, I will set aside more time to a place of rest / quiet / meditation on scripture and the holiness of the Lord.

  • In all my flurry of days and good projects, I will set aside more time to a place of rest / quiet / meditation on scripture and the holiness of the Lord.

  • Raymond Davidson

    I intend to begin each day by acknowledging that “Today is the very best day of my life and then I will move toward making it so – I did this during the past year and it gave me a positive approach to each and every day of the year,”  Raj Davidson

  • Sassy

    Celebrate every day.

  • Rhondg

    Understand and appreciate today.  You never know what tomorrow brings until it arrives. 

  • peppi

    To set reasonable and attainable goals and then to enjoy the moments of achievement. 

  • Listen to my inner voice, so that it doesn’t have to send messages via my body.  Learn to embrace every moment.

  • Hollylev

    That life, as always said, is fleeting and can vanish in the blink of an eye. It is ours to make the most of each day – cherish our friends, love our families, delight in our differences, and make amends quickly. Take joy in our amazing world and do everything in our power to leave it better than we found it. We are the creators of today – dreaming of tomorrow. Listen to your heart, and create…..create a bright tomorrow.

  • Mbauerbach

    I learned from watching the Olympics that it is not whether I win or lose, or whether I “get” what I want that matters. My reaction to what happens is what determines my happiness.

  • womnspirit

    To remember that I really am exactly where I’m supposed to be and have faith that  everything is unfolding as it is meant to.

  • Susan Cohen

    That patience really is a virtue and I’m working on getting more and more each year.

  • Tomgrogan

    Restoration of normal conscious awareness

  • Freyja2180

    To believe in myself. Always.

  • Vmsalus

    Stay focused, grounded,  compasionate and happy!

  • Betterweighoflife

    i’ve learned that i *always have a choice* as to which thoughts i have that i can ignore and those that i can focus on.

  • Lila in Tinton Falls

    The power of positive thinking.

  • Ken in So.Fl.

    Life is way to short to worry about the little things. It’s a cliche, but true – Enjoy every dy as it might be your last.

  • H_caveda

    Wait 10 seconds before speaking b/c you can’t take back your words and what you do say can have a big effect on people

  • Ema in Nevada

    Stay focused on what I have, who I am and where I’m going rather than getting bogged down in what I don’t have, what other believe about me and that the road to my dreams is rocky and difficult. Being grateful and positive makes that path much more pleasant.

  • Barbarakline

    Rachel Cowan’s exlanation about Elul and “love,<" was the most positive of this year's messages and I will take it with me throughout the New Year. Perhaps because I'm getting older…in my 70s, but thankfully feeling much youngre most of the time, the emphasis on death pulled me down emotionally. I even began to wonder if I had been put on a track for old people. But, of course, the imagry of the old year ending and a new one beginning full of hope and possibility did make its way into my consciousness. Thanks for keeping me on the list.

  • Enjoy life

  • Enjoy life

  • Kathryn Morse

    time is prescious — especially time with loved ones

  • Aahammer

    Thank you so much.  We loved them.  Especially poignant because I’m celebrating (?) my 70th birthday this year.

    Arnold Hammer

  • Zbgreenberg

    To be more accepting of myself and others. We are human beings capable of good and bad. Seek the positive.

  • Punim7113

    My husband at the age of 51 became horribly ill. I realized I need to tell all my family I love them. I am grateful I said I love you to him right before he went into surgery. I know he heard it and came back to me. 

  • Ptarlow

    When I am distressed or suffering (like right now):  check about how hard I am pushing.  Can I ease up on a thought or expectation or standard to get perspective.  Pushing hard does not usually get me what I want.  

  • Suellensos

    My dream for the coming year is to accept and embrace my life as it is and to my best to treasure each day and use my days to make life better for those I love and the larger world.

  • Huntgoddess218

    I won’t allow anyone to speak disrespectfully of my son who has a psychiatric disability.

  • Ambenamy

    It’s never to late to live your dream.

  • Patience is a choice and it’s one I want to make every single day

  • Lou Simon

    Regular exercise in the pool will make me stronger.

  • Garbski

    To be myself and stop being the doormat.

  • Maxpom

    To never take good health for granted.

  • Marshad501

    I am going to be a better listener

  • Florence

    I need to watch my tongue. Keep my filter in place!

  • Kay

    To enjoy each day as it comes!

  • Sue

    I need to learn to be more mindful of everything I say and do.  I just survived a horrible car accident, and noone was seriously hurt, but had I not gotten distracted I wouldn’t have hit the median. I dream of not allowing a full mind to make me less mindful.

  • Ellen Peck

    Take one day at a time and enjoy things like the sunrises and sunsets, the phases of the moon, a rainy day…..

  • Karen

    That no matter my age, I can attain whatever dream I strive for.

  • Shari

    Always remind myself on a daily basis I have so much to be grateful for!!!

  • Joan

    I would like to really learn not to sweat the small stuff.  Most things that fall into that category usually work themselves out.  Life is short, aging happens so much faster than one realizes, I’d like to enjoy many more moments and hours in life than I do now, and spend far less time worrying.   Sarah

  • Afton

    You get more when you give more.

  • Periwinklekog

    Trust in abundance. Sometimes it actually happens.

  • Mnoname

    The “superwoman” thing just isn’t a great idea . . .

  • Sarah Chava

    Patience is a virtue, and it turns out, being virtuous isn’t always so easy.

  • Hannah Devorah

    At this season Judaism teaches us to reflect and ask for forgiveness – a process of teshuva:
    …from one person to another –  Bain adam l’havero  – relatively clear, definitely not easy. 
    …from God at the Yamim Noraim is less clear and definitely not so easy. 

    And yet…

    Teshuva does not appear to be something institutions are expected to do. 
    When Jewish institutions drive away the people they
    intend to serve through policies they enact, leaders they choose and priorities they espouse, who  – or what – takes on the responsibility for these actions in a given year, or over time?  If a board of directors is responsible, yet they change regularly, how can they understand what they should be responsible for, and to whom they are responsible?

    In a time when congregational and organizational membership is not the norm it was in the 20th century, could this be something we must address?

     In the coming year,  I am eager to learn what our tradition, and sociology, has to teach about this very real challenge to who we are, and what we stand for as a people, today. 

  • Juliejune


  • Jimgoldwa

    Every day is a gift.

  • ChanaBatMalka

    To be my real, authentic self and to or allow stubborn resistance dictate my life.

  • Vivipleas

    Every day is a gift, that’s why they call it the present.

    Sounds corny, but I have had 3 deaths of friends and friends family in the last 6 weeks!

  • Samuel Press

    To accept with equanimity aging and that one can “live” their life, regardless age and circumstance.
    Sandy Press
    (Rabbi Samuel B. Press) 

  • Judy Aronson

    There is no end to learning.  Just when you may think “I’m too old”, along comes the next great moment of surprise, awe, joy, or understanding. So now I am signed up for next Elul, and if I am here, it will be a nes gadol.

  • Anita

    This, too, will pass.

  • Devorah Steinecker

    The most wonderful thing I learned this past year was to be happy and joyous and thankful each moment – to appreciate the miracle and the perfection of each moment.

  • Lonna Kahn

    Live today and never trust that there will be a tomorrow.

  • Photobaron

    Life goes quickly, live in each day with gratitude and generosity as well as love.

  • Rob Allingham

    An unseen problem is far worse than one being deal  with in the open.

  • Jacki Browne

    It is hard to identify one lesson. The one thing is really many, and its basis is in living life mindfully and remembering that possiblilites abound, as long as one remembers this truth. May this day of remembrance continue throughout the year.

  • Barbara


  • Etzchaim18

    To release all excess from my life with ease and trust in the divine order of things.

  • OSWong

    I will continue to count my blessings and be a blessing to others.

  • Janlev13

    I want to be less judgmental

  • Deborah Chargois

    Treasure your friends.

  • Luz Oliver

    May I move through the process of aging with more grace and joy!

  • Vfforman

    May  we be blessed with good health,  and

    May there be peace in the Middle East and all of the world Amen.

  • Dan Fendel

    I want to have the strength not to let others reduce who I am.

  • Rabbi Schotz

    Relax more. For me, the opposite of fear is gratitude.

  • Bradyb1234

    Hopefully, I have finally learned how to balance my needs and those of others, and how to consistently take good care of myself.

  • Nek55

    To listen with an open heart more and judge with the inner critic less.

  • Barb

    To slow down, pay attention and be grateful!

  • Lone Wolf

    Read each Jewel of Elul.

  • Neil

    LIFE, is really good.
    Live every minute like it’s the last.

  • Janeen

    Just accept things as they are. Not everything needs to be – or even can be – fixed.

  • W2wkaren

    I am going to stay on the road to wellness. I am going to focus more on thepositive and live in the now. And I am going to appreciate everything and everyone in my life, staring with me

  • Vickie

    I can’t do everything. Especially all at the same time.

  • Tsippy

    A cat reflects my personality:  it is very intelligent, reserved, self-sufficient, friendly, loving and sensitive.  The same describes my beloved’s personality!


    Comment on Marshall Portnoy’s Jewel 29: Perhaps it matters MORE because our time is finite, limited We cannot take our moments for granted, that makes them more precious and beautiful. Besides, the moments count because, according to science, they very well may be eternal, though we cannot experience them that way. And finally our moments today shape the future, as we impact the lives and the world around us. L’shanah Tovah!

  • KennAgata

    On January 1, 1976 my father passed away, the last of my nuclear family of four to move on to the Yenni Veldt.  He was 62 years old.  My mother had passed away on July 27, 1975 and my older brother died at the age of 32 on January 15, 1974.  I was orphaned at the age of 29.  If ever there was ample reason to seek personal happiness in my life before this chain of tragedy unfolded, its enactment was truly an epiphany for me.  However long each of our journeys through life may be, it is important to reflect on our actions, live responsibly, give love and experience love in return from those whom you hold dear to you along the path and above all, with a sense of humor.

  • Kmaster28

    I have a loved one who has hurt me deeply.  This hurt does not go away and the peson keeps fanning the flame.  I have gone so far as to ask for (but NOT demand) an apology and have spelled out exactly what I am looking for.  I have even specified that the apology can take the form of, “I’m sorry this upsets you so, even though I believe you are wrong in your interpretation of our situation.”  I can’t even get that.  I love this person still and will continue to do for her but our relationship is not as it was nor will it ever be again, I’m afraid.  I grow more distant with each passing year.

  • Sheila

    Nothing keeps me from apologizing. I have apologized. One has not forgiven me. What I can do is continue to love, to pray for them and live as positively and kindly as I can.

  • Howard

    1) voluteer, make a difference
    2) hold a baby
    3) give to the Obama campaign

  • Todd

    Be engaged, remember that relationships and health are the most important things.

  • Sally

    Study with friends, Find ways to be useful, Share words of praise, Treat all with dignity and respect
    Never do anything that would make your mother cry

  • Faygel

    life is about new. new trees. new ideas and new friends.

  • Garbski

    Never grow up, never fear, never regret.   Always help, always laugh, always stay active.  I guess that’s about it.

  • Janet

    My favorite age remains when I was 28 years old.  I am now 63.  There was definitely something special, although non-specific, about that year.  Still young enough to be rather carefree but old enough to have a better sense of myself and my place in the world.  Although I have enjoyed each year of my Life, 28 still stands out as a special one.

    • Ken

      I am now 77 years old. Like most people of my age I have had my ups and downs; trials and travails;  good times and bad.  My favorite age, however, is seventy-seven. Shanah Tovah.

  • Tsippy

    My favorite time is now!  I thank G-d that I have health, home, a great husband, loving family and friends, more wisdom than ever, more joy and less responsibilities and worries. (age 81)

  • Fern

    A favorite time of  my life was w my junior year at Hebrew University.  Other favorite times were the summers I spent at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin. These times were special because of the people I was with.  In Israel, it was the freedom to do what I wanted to when I wanted to do it.  It was my first experience with independence and that was wonderful.

  • Annice

    A favorite time of my life was when I was in high school.  It is hard to believe that I would say that because at the time it was the worse time of my life. But decades later, I realize how lucky I was to attend a great high school, had great teachers, was totally involved in the music program, involved in Temple Youth Group and NELFTY and learning about myself and what I wanted to become after I graduated.  I wish I could relive those years to actually enjoy them, but I can’t. So I remember the positive memories and leave the negative ones underneath.  I don’t need those anymore.

  • Tsippy

    The quesrion is too difficult for me.  I think often of those whose lives enriched my early years and am grateful to each.  We are , indeed, “Standing on the shoulders of those who came before us”.  I am thankful for them and for the gift of memory.

  • Garbski

    I would go back to when my grandma was still alive so I could ask her – were we Jewish at one time?  Was grandpa Jewish?  Why did we always do things that were “family stuff” that really resembled what I do as a Jew, like Friday night dinners and lighting candles?  What really happened when you married grandpa? (and remember you were going to tell me) Why was my mom so weird about things?  (okay probably not that because I remember you telling her that yourself). I was too young to know these things and now, everyone’s gone and I am old. 

  • Barbara

    I would want to speak with Henrietta Szold and tell her that her vision and passion and commitment have grown to such huge proportions.  I wan to see her smile and tell me, Barbara of course it has.  I know in my heart that for the last 100 years, we, the women and leaders of Hadassah the Women’s Zionist Organization of America have grown her dream of a clinic to serve the children of Israel two two campuses of the most modern hospitals with cutting edge treatment and research and that she would have expected nothing less.  That we treat all sick, Jews-Arabs-Christians equally fills her heart with joy.  That we are still serving Youth Aliyah children completes her joy for the efforts of 330,000 members.  I need to thank her for giving my life such meaning on a minute by minute basis.

  • Lelman6018

    I have attended High School Reunions and am looking forward to my 50th which will happen sooner than I can believe.  Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s I imagine that my classmates would not be surprised to see the me that I am today.  While we were encouraged to go to college and pursue intellectual goals, I think I was raised to be a wife and mother, and after 45 years of marriage, and as the grandmother of two, I guess I have accomplished that.  I don’t suppose my classmates would be surprised that I have earned an advanced degree., and spent most of my professional career in public education.  I think I am still the same out-going, caring, happy person I have always been.

  • Tsippy

    I have attended High School reunions, to see old friends and enjoy talking to all,  they may have been surprised at my varied careers.  I am still the same intelligent, studious person.  I am more out-going and less inhibited, more confident.

  • Cantkar

    I began doing what I now do, and have always done in some form, back in Junior High School.  To my complete amazement, when I went to my 20 year reunion, everyone knew who I was… I was the person sitting at the piano with a microphone in front of her, singing the Alma Mater, leading the school in song.
    Many, many years later, that is still who I am, only now I get to sit at the piano with my musical grandchildren.  Lucky me!!!

  • Tsippy

    Today I am grateful for life, and health, home and family and friends, my husband’s love.
    Once upon a time I was grateful for good grades, popularity, life with my parents.
    At age 81 I hope to be able to remain thankful for what I have now, the three things I mentioned first.

  • Faye of the Outdoors

    I am grateful for the safe return of my son from serving in the military overseas, for my health after surviving metastatic breast cancer, and for learning how to live and  interact in relationships with people in a healthier way through practicing the 12 steps of Al Anon.  I used to be grateful for what I thought was a loving relationship with my former husband until I realized he no longer treated me the way a husband should treat a wife.  In fact, I was in denial for most of the marriage.  I coped and excused all the things that happened from his drinking, lack of respect for me.  I allowed myself to live in this relationship because I didn’t know it could and should be different.  I can’t think of two other things “I used to be grateful for” because I am still grateful for the other parts of my life today.  My involvement with Judaism, my friends and family, what I consider part hobby and part civic duty, the care of animals that are abandoned.  I hope to be grateful for others having remembered me as someone who did something to help in this world,  I hope to be grateful for having new and meaningful friendships and relationships as I grow spiritually and  I will be grateful for having had the chance to follow my talents and dreams to the best of my ability near the end of my days on earth.

  • Ambenamy

    Today I am grateful for my daughter, my husband, and my family and friends.
    I used to be grateful for having a job, having money, and owning lots of things.
    In the future I hope to be grateful for a long and productive life, leaving a legacy of what is meaningful to me to others, and knowing that I made a difference.

  • Joy Krauthammer


    water-filled, sun-warmed pool and its owner, so I keep my health and
    enjoyment, and can live in my own home. 

    Sunrise, G*d’s
    fig tree, gardens and gardener, and my passion for nature so I can eat from the
    vines and photograph beauty. 

    Family, Clergy, and The Compassionate One who love me and we share, and I Serve
    In Joy. 



    Plum, peach,
    nectarine & apricot trees, obm and the greater garden. 

    My husband,
    z’l, Friends, z’l, Family, z’l. 

    My rebbes,



    Family, Friends,

    revealed miracles, and a pool (or ocean) for health and pleasure.

    wonders, opportunities. – Joy Krauthammer 

  • Jcpb

    Three things I’m grateful for today:
    1. my immediate and extended family.
    2. my husband and I both work at home and get to be there for our son whenever he needs us.
    3. satisfying work and the time to play.

    What I used to be grateful for:
    1. a regular pay check.
    2. having an impact on future generations of Jews.
    3. having a job that kept me busy.

    What I hope to be grateful for:
    1. spending my golden years with the man I love.
    2. playing more and working less.
    3. watching my son develop into a mensch.

  • Phyl

    for today?  I am grateful for my children, my grandchildren, and Jehovah.
    used to be grateful for?  love, passion, and Jehovah.
    hope to be grateful for?  peace, more peace, and Jehovah.

  • Tsippy

    I admire:  a woman who is 93 and has such spirit and will to live that she survives illness and loss of loved ones and continues to smile and cheer others; a man 85 who is determined to be strong and not succumb to defeat and to lead the life he chooses; a woman 81 who lost her sight and retains her brilliant mind and sense of humor.

  • Lyn_stein

    Two people immediately come to mind.  First is my maternal grandmother, Esther Greenfield Walters, otherwise known as Nana.  My parents and grandparents always lived together.  My grandmother was the “inside” person which allowed my mother to return to teaching when I went into first grade.  Nana was there for lunch as we came home from school.  She was also the one who usually prepared dinner.  She was an excellent cook.  Nana was never interested in sitting still; she always wanted to keep busy.  As she aged, her activities became more limited but she always kept up with news and held her own in conversation.  When Nana was about 85, my mother told her that at her age, she could say whatever she wanted.  My grandmother followed my mother’s advice.  Some of the things that came out of her mouth caused us to say, “Nana!”  when she said something outrageous or off-color.  Then, she would give us the sweet innocent grandmother smile.  My grandmother has been gone for many years; she lived to ninety nine and had all of her marbles to the day she died.  Even as I write this, I have a smile on my face.  My ultimate wish is to have my granddaughters think of me the way I have felt about Nana.

    The other person is our Rabbi of blessed memory.  Rabbi Lewis was a brilliant man but he never waved that in your face.  He knew just what to say to help us through a difficult time.  He imbued us with a strong sense of Judaism.  He always had a smile on his face and a song on his lips.

  • Peg

    Burt Liebert, my mentor who never gave up on me; my father, who gave me uncritical love and support; Dee Yarnell, who smiles at my worst paintings,

  • Tsipppy

    I have been inspired to write a letter to my family as soon as I can; to continue my volunteer pastoral care; and to give more tzedakah.

  • Barbara

    Inspiration from Jewels of Elul:
    Ginny Mancini, “A decision is nothing more than the creation of  picture you decide to make stick.”

    Rabbi Zalman Schacter-Schalomi’s writing about December days inspired me to figure out what month I was in and where I had been earlier in my life calendar. It inspired me to write my own jewel which is in this comment list somewhere.

    Rabbi Sara Hurwitz, “Free the Mohini inside and move beyond our boundaries.”

    I’m close to 73 now. This year has been a very growth filled creative one for me. I did free the Mohini. Ginny Mancini’s quote was the basis of another writing. I love the wording and the freeing aspect of it. I’m somewhere in November, but November and December always seemed like long months to me. 

  • Urgrowing

    My mother in law. She died at 98. She continually saw the glass 1/2 full and impacted in a positive way all her came into her space. I feel warm, fuzzy and full when I think of her and her goodness and her ever present close relationship with G-d.

    I love you Virginia. You were and are a gift to me.

  • Bjanie

    A woman attending a synagogue program introduced herself as 102 years old.  She was petite, lively, wearing jeans and a smart modern haircut. I was inspired by her energy and vitality.

  • Jvpaull

    At her 100th birthday celebration, I had the honor of leading Molly Halpern in several folk dances.  She was one of my all time favorite partners and although I did the “man’s” part, she would subtly take the lead if I took a wrong step.  She died before her next birthday, but she taught me many lessons by how she lived her life to the fullest.  Always well groomed and dressed, she embodied inner and outer beauty.  And she taught me to keep moving.

  • The oldest person I ever worked with was 104 years old. Her name was Jeanette. when I met her, she said to me in heavy Yiddish accent: “Rebbi, Every day is a little bit voise. Mine eyesight is no good, mine hearing is no good, but mine appetite, mine appetite is still good.” I said that was a lot of worse days! She agreed. But she also loved to sing, especially things she remembered from shabbat services. She was such a sweet person. May her memory be a blessing.

  • Urgrowing

    The biggest mistake for me is that I did not learn to have faith in myself and my strengths. I listened to what others said I should do and tried to please them instead of my self. TRUST in me, trust in the universe, trust that time will heal and make all clear. I am learning this more and more each day and trusting my authentic self to live from my whole and trusting place instead of searching for the answers in some one else, some place else or validating my actions by quoting someone elses wisdom.

    Today SELF TRUST AND AUTNETICITY are my goals and where I go when I feel challenged. Life has a great flow for me today.

  • Annice

    I have made many mistakes in my life.  To limit it to 3 is difficult because I am not sure I see them as mistakes.
    1. My first marriage didn’t work out because of my spouse’s addiction. I tried hard to make it work but the insanity just had to stop.  It wasn’t really a mistake because the best thing that came from it was my precious daughter.  I learned that I had to stop enabling people, take care of myself and my daughter, and take his addiction seriously.  It made me a better parent and teacher and person because I focused on what was important to me. 
    2. I have rarely succeeded at a job when I took it for the money.  Most people work to pay bills, be materialistic, travel, etc.  I work because I want to make a difference, not really thinking about the money.  Another mistake would be when I took a job for the money.  After a few months I knew it wasn’t going to work out. I was miserable, my family was miserable, and it cost me some of my reputation.  I learned to be true to myself.  It changed me back to what I truly believed in – repairing the world.
    3. My last mistake was not believing in myself to become a cantor. Now at almost 50, I am going to try to pursue that dream.  I found every reason why it wouldn’t work out.  I learned through the years how to be confident and believe in myself.  With the help of my second husband, he has shown me how to build self esteem, gain confidence, and pursue my dreams.  This has changed me to help others pursue their dreams and believe in themselves.

  • Annice

    I would describe my life in terms of a watermelon.  There are sweet times.  And then there are the pits of life, the stuff that make me struggle or complicate life.  I’m blessed that there have been more sweet moments in my life than pits.

  • Joy Krauthammer

    “If you had to name three
    pieces of poetry or liturgy that bring meaning to you as you age, what would
    they be? 

    Why would you choose each?” 


    I don’t “fight against growing old”, and I don’t
    “passively accept it”, nor do I “go gently into that good
    night”, nor “rage, rage”, all poetic sharings thoughtfully pondered
    by one of the Jewels’ authors. 


    As long as I can laugh and I’m not in pain, I celebrate and light-heartedly
    accept my age-ing, and acknowledge poems that I relate to while my straight
    white/silver/grey hairs take over my head, not behaving well as did my dark
    curls. Sometimes to amuse myself, I add sparkly purple paint to my hair, a poem
    of pleasure. 


    My favorite personal
    whimsical POEM is one that is very often quoted to me, especially in shul, because
    I most always wear purple. In shul this last Shabbat, the rabbi called on a
    congregant to speak who introduced herself as “Joy’s disciple”, which
    was very cute because Shoshi was wearing purple! Inside and outside, purple
    makes me feel good, and I feel purple reflects my soul, so I wear purple as
    I’ve done for decades. My clothes hangers are purple, as is my truck, luggage, and eyeglass
    frames that people love to notice when up close. I’m told I have a purple aura.
    (I even order purple Birkenstocks!) To shul I also wear purple-feathered hats
    or kipas and a purple ribboned woven tallit or other purple embellished talleisim;
    many garments I’ve commissioned to suit my purple joy. My performing drum is
    dressed in purple sequins. 


    Thus, the ONE secular
    renowned POEM written in 1961 by English woman Jenny Joseph that speaks most
    easily to me is, “Warning”, but usually affectionately is known as
    “When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear
    Purple”, or “the Purple Poem” or “Old Woman” or
    “I Shall Wear Purple”.

    BlesSings,  Joy Krauthammer  


    Favorite lines from WARNING: 

    “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple. 

    With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.  

    “But maybe I ought to practice a little now? 

    So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised 

    When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.”  

    – Jenny Joseph

  • Barbara

    This morning a quote from a previous jewel and thinking about meaningful liturgy brought me to this  prayer which I sent out on my morning prayer blog. (

    “A decision is nothing more than the creation of a picture that you decide to make stick.” 
    Ginny Mancini from Jewels of ElulThis month of Elul I’m studying a few of the daunting High Holiday prayers that in past years have caught me unprepared and overwhelmed. I’m guessing the liturgy of most religions has prayers designed to scare the crap out of you. The Jewish prayer book for the High Holidays sure does.Un’taneh Tofef, a prayer of rhythmic almost hypnotic poetry sung to a haunting melody begins calmly enough, “And let us acknowledge the power of this day’s holiness…,” and before long moves into the question of “Who will live and who will die,” and a litany of ways to do it: who by fire and who by water, and who by warfare, wildlife, hunger, thirst, earthquake, plague, strangling, stoning and more. Then, not yet half way through the prayer comes the line, “Who at their end and who not at their end.” Often I stop hearing anything beyond this.In the year that is soon to be over, 5772 on the Jewish calendar, in what ways have I come to end a friendship, a possibility, or a creative act, because I don’t know what more to do? How often have I made a decision that is nothing more than the creation of a picture I’ve decided to make stick? How often have I ended before the end? Baruch ata adonai please help me to stop killing off parts of myself through doubt, unease, fear or the unwillingness to work through difficult times. Help me to be courageous and willing to stay with and experience the challenges of life without ducking out at intermission. Thank you. Amen

  • Craig Taubman

    I would choose Pirke Avot
    – Sayings of the Fathers. Nearly two thousand years old, it is the only part of
    the Talmud that deals exclusively with ethics and spirit as opposed to law.  For that reason alone I
    love it.  The other reason is that it
    teaches with short to the point concepts.  (“If I am
    not for myself, who will be for me? When I am only for myself, what am I? If
    not now, when?)  It’s also a smart book that is relevant to this day (“Who
    is smart? The person who learns from everyone”)  I’ve often wondered what Jewish practice would look like if we read from
    Pirke Avot each week instead of Torah. 

    • Silverlady

      I think it would be much more ethical and much less prone to excusing excesses.

  • Tsippy

    I choose:  Dodi Li, because it is inscribed on our wedding rings; the Psalm containg “the still clear voice within me because I seek to hear it more and more; and “Grief is a wonderful teacher when it sends us bact to teach and serve the living” because it has inspired me to lead my life.

  • Chanah Sherman

    primary source of poetry for me – the words that most truly speak to me – are
    from the Psalms and Proverbs of the Tanach. There are many which speak to me,
    so limiting them to three is quite difficult. Therefore, I’ll discuss three,
    but mention a fourth in closing.


    3:4 says much in its simplicity. “But you Hashem, are a shield for me, for my
    soul, and the One Who raises my head.” For a very long time the picture of a
    shield for or around me was that of a snow globe. The glass shield encompassing
    me kept out arrows slung from many sources. Whether it be the arrows of
    negativity from others or my own thoughts, of sickness, or of pain and
    disappointment of all kinds, I felt the global protection around me from G-d
    and was comforted. As I age and encounter frustrations accompanying the
    increase in years, I still call on the godly shield to protect me from falling
    under the onslaught. It gives me knowledge that nothing will afflict me other
    than what comes from G-d’s own hands.


    few decades ago I suffered a severe head injury. Healing resulted from the
    prayers of many friends and even strangers. Nurses told me that my recovery was
    a miracle, as there was little if any brain damage.  During my recovery period, as deeper parts of
    the brain slowly healed, the words that sustained me were those of Proverb
    3:5-6, which states, “Trust in Hashem with all your heart and do not rely upon your
    own understanding.  In all your ways know
    Him, and He will smooth your paths.”  Though
    my head returned to normal, these words still remind me that I don’t have to
    know all the whys of events or challenges, but I do have to realize that a
    steadfast trust in Hashem and all He promises will lead to smoother paths.
    Thus, now facing the end of middle age, the challenges ahead will be in G-d’s
    hands and I need not worry.


    I’ve always lived in view of mountains, Psalm 121:1-2 has spoken to me from the
    first time I read it. Now, as I see life from the vantage point of many years,
    and memories stretch out behind me, the heights are even more in view. I often
    find that “I raise my eyes upon the mountains, [asking] whence will come my
    help? My help is from Hashem, maker of heaven and earth. “Yet another reminder
    that G-d is in control – as the Creator of heaven and earth – He Who made all
    things is big enough to make sense out of my life and give me a real and
    lasting peace.  As I continue to rise to
    the heights of my life, eventually I will be able to look back and accept what
    challenged me, and look ahead to heaven where G-d also reigns.


    I’m not quite there yet, I still find myself desiring vibrant life and more
    Torah understanding, so I relate to Psalm 119:76-77, which states, “May Your kindness
    comfort me according to Your word to Your servant. May Your mercies come upon
    me, so that I may live, for Your Torah is my preoccupation.”

  • David Aaronson

    Ozymandius by Shelly
    Oh Seh Shalom

  • Ambenamy

    I always miss my grandmother’s smile. She left us in 1995 on day 2 of Rosh Hashana. She just died in her sleep after spending a wonderful holiday with the family. Grandma Pearl knew me. She knew how stubborn I was, how hard it was for me to be the oldest in my family, and how much I needed smiles in my turbulent teen life. As Rosh Hashana quickly approaches, not a day goes by when I don’t think of her and look at all the pictures I have of her beautiful smile when she saw the family, my daughter, and her friends. She was a Pearl.

  • Faye of the Outdoors

    My first reaction to this question is,”Whose smiles do you miss?” is  of missing those who have crossed over from physical life.  I am at a point in my life, lates 50’s where both my parents are gone, a few close friends, aunts and uncles.   How you feel about each individual and what played out before their passing may influence what you remember.  Sometimes there are both smiles that occupy your memories and sadness. Having had a parent with bipolar disorder  I can even smile at the strange things that happened while interacting with that parent while they weren’t stable.   And then there are those one may have had a close relationship with, who are still here.  But either the friendship or relationship came to an unexpected ending.  For some of these, I wasn’t too upset or surprised.  I also, keep the door open because I feel we have unfinished business  and there maybe more we need to learn from each other in this life.  If it is a spouse or significant other than of course it is more difficult to accept and only think of the smiles.  For me, it is difficult but a growth experience to move on without someone you have cared very much about for a long time.  I  have to think that perhaps God is creating an opening for a new friend to be a part of my life and it will be an enriching experience for us both. 

  • Jon Levinson

    You did what your heart prompted.  Kol HaKovod.

  • Joy Krauthammer

     Elul 12 Stunned by what I had done.  
    If you had to name three times of your life in which you were stunned by what you had done, what would they be? 
    What was stunning about them? 
    What does the memory of each bring to you?

    Stunned myself when I spontaneously told the nurse on duty what not to do with a medical tube while he cared for my husband, z’l, who had already been on life support for six months following 17 years of horrific cancer. “Stunning” because my action took loving courage. “Memory” brings sadness, discord, discomfort, relief, belief. Thoughts about being present for patient and for G*d. 

    Stunned myself at funeral for husband, z’l, during burial of deceased in plain wood coffin in ground, when I screamed out, “FREE AT LAST, HE’S FREE AT LAST.” Stunning was the absolute TRUTH and intensity I expressed as his soul took flight from his ravaged body. The memory brings me contentment knowing I made my husband the best funeral for the next part of his soul’s journey.

    Stunned myself when I climbed over gated and LOCKED very high wire protective gates, and gated wood fences. One Shabbos in Jerusalem at Hebrew University the nearby gates by the dorms were locked. In order TO GET OUT of the university I followed my daughter up and over the high locked wired wall. Stunning because in my life I’d never done something difficult like that. Stunning in desire, determination, courage, netzach, persistence, as well as fear of being left behind.

    With that event, shortly later, I used my experience and daring to climb over a high heavy LOCKED gated wooden wall surrounding the entire 110 acre Fort Worth Botanic Garden, the oldest garden in Texas, in order TO GET IN. After flying to Dallas and driving a rented car to visit the Garden, and finding I was too late and Garden was closed, I was NOT going to give up and go home without enjoying the beautiful serene garden, so UP AND OVER. Stunning because it was insane what I did. Yes, this later case I trespassed, but when I’ve trespassed my own boundaries, it took even more courage and adrenaline. The memories of up and over feat bring me great pleasure and a smile at my accomplishments and enjoyment of events.  
     – Joy Krauthammer

  • watermelon, honeydew — learning to read.
    apple — university; learning to discern with an inclination to put myself first.
    lime — nuance; post-professional training; developing professional social relationships, marriage.
    orange, peach, pineapple, raspberry, plum — parenthood.
    raisin — 60+ years of age; physical diminishment with a double side-order of irony.
    mango — retirement.
    papaya — I don’t relate.

  • Garbski

    pineapple – first time my mom came home with one and I thought it was a cross between a pine tree and an apple, being the out of the box kind of kid I was.

    raspberry – my first kiss.  Don’t ask

    watermelon – how I felt the last two weeks of my pregnancy – when I couldn’t move.  Thankfully first and last baby I had. Last craving too.  Hmmmm…

    apple – what else – Rosh Hashanah – when I can’t eat it with honey but must do

    lime – ah yes – what I didn’t use the one time I had a drinking contest with me, 5’4″ and him, 6′ 4″.  Guess who won – yes me

    orange, mango, honeydew – break out time on my face when I was a teenager

    plum – miss my plum trees – can’t grow them here on the prairie

    papaya – another one of my mom’s adventures with fruit.  Let’s just say I was the only one who enjoyed it.

    raisin – was in my lunch box every day.  Every day.  Learned how to lick and stick them to the ceiling in the classroom.  Lots of trips to the the principle’s office.  I did mention I’m was an out of the box kid, didn’t I?

  • Chas613

    watermelon, youth, before teenager when spitting out the pits was fun
    apple, Rosh Hashanah
    lime, learning to drink tequila as a visitor to Mexico
    orange, waking up in the morning
    papaya, my first visit to Mexico when I learned of their benefit to digestion
    pinapple, when I worked for Dole Banana, while I did not work with pineapples, they were part of the country history
    peach, when I lived on Peach St, and had a peach tree in the back yard
    plum, given to me in my lunches by my mom at grade school
    raisin, packing food a a food coop and scooping raisins into plastic bags from a bulk bin
    mango, my summer in Puerto Rico when I climbed a Mango tree to get some fruit and stuck my hand in a hornets nest.
    honeydew, visiting my grandfather who liked to eat honeydew
    raspberry, taking a few moments to enjoy the sweetness of life and creation by going into the backyard and picking a few to eat fresh.

  • Annice

    I would describe my life in terms of a watermelon.  There are sweet times.  And then there are the pits of life, the stuff that make me struggle or complicate life.  I’m blessed that there have been more sweet moments in my life than pits.

  • Nema

    Naming three things that I have done that have stunned me required a time span of 3 decades.
    In the 80’s it was running a 10K. Although I’ve never had an athletic build I’ve always liked sports and challenged myself to complete a local run. I didn’t finish last-pretty close though- I felt surprised by the accomplishment.
    In the 90’s it was pregnancy and childbirth. I was 40+and had an easier pregnancy than most 20 somethings- only gained 5 pounds- and got a beautiful, intelligent daughter to boot!
    In the 00’s, I found my spiritual side and decided to study for my Bat Mitzvah with a great group of 40 somethings. My studies started in a difficult personal year  2004. I had just started a new job after 16 years and then my dad passed away. Two years later, the B’nai Mitzvah service took place, the same week as my 50th birthday!

  • Annice

    Three times in my life in which I was stunned by what I had done:
    1. Pregnancy and birth of my only child, Ilana. This was stunning to me because the pregnancy was difficult as well as the delivery.  Now that she is 19 years old, the memory only brings happyiness to me that I was able to carry her  and that my beautiful angel is with me.
    2. Divorcing my husband of 15 years. This was stunning because I was involved in an unhealthy marriage for so long. The memory now brings me to closure to the divorce,  but reconcilation with my ex-husband that we can remain friends.
    3. Moving me and my daughter to NJ to marry my high school/college sweetheart and start life anew. This was stunning because we left our family, friends, and activities. We left our foundation to start over. The memory brings me still some saddness that we left everything we knew. But we are so happy with our lives now.

    G-d moves in mysterious ways. I always  believe that G-d has a plan for us but we don’t know that plan. It is difficult for me to still understand this because I like to plan ahead, where my daughter plans one day at a time, or even, one minute at a time. As I lay here with vertigo and not knowing my future tomorrow, I have to still believe that G-d’s plan for me will be in my best interest. It will be stunning that I accept this and hope that my memories will be positive after the experience.

  • Bkavadias

    So far there have been three incidents where I have been stunned by what I had done.  The first was when I got married, at 23.  I had not really been the sort to dream about or plan for “my wedding day” and instead, I was the first of my friends to get married!  The second was when the following fall, I left for a year exchange program to study philosophy in England.  I had never been out of the country, I was newly married, but we had married even knowing I had been chosen by my department for this honor.  We had discussed the opportunity, but had decided it was too good to pass up and we did not want to put off the married.  So there I was, between the hagim, off on this adventure the first year of my married life, on my own.  My third time was also an adventure on my own, but under sadder circumstances.  My wonderful husband of nearly 28 years had died of cancer in December.  Two weeks before he died, having used up all my family leave taking care of him, I was let go from my long term position at a national non-profit. My wonderful grandmother had died the year before. I decided I needed some time off to figure out what I was going to do next, to re-group, and was giving myself a year to do that.  So what did I do?  I decided to go study in Israel for a whole summer at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem! Less than a month before I was to leave, my father died.  I got up from shiva, packed, put everything in order and left behind my family, my house and my dog. I  got an apartment in Katamon and spent nearly two wonderful months in Jerusalem full of study, prayer, and travel.  I could not believe I had such an adventure in me and that I could leave everything behind; but, except for my grief, I did. 

  • Tova

    To name 3 times in my life when I was stunned by what I have done is easy. I was stunned that I moved to rural MT 13 years ago, upon our retirement. I moved so many times in my life as a Navy brat, that I never wanted to move again. MOVE was a 4 letter word to me. But he had made up his mind that he wanted to retire in MT. I went kicking and screaming with my spouse because I loved him and the only alternative seemed to be to live separately. He died a little over 3 years ago after suffering with cancer for two years, and I was surprised that I did not move away from where I had not wished to go. Upon contemplation, I had once again made a good adjustment from being a city girl to being a country girl. We had a good life here, and now, I have a good life here, with good friends and I was happy to stay.

    The second time I was stunned by what I had done was when I saw a  need to help our daughter get a really good education. When we lived in a big city she had a wonderful private school and whatever else she needed/wanted, close at hand. At 5 she had private music lessons at a very wonderful music school. Yes, she came home from school to tell me she wanted to learn to play the violin when she was just 5. At age 6, when we moved to rural MT a private music teacher who could keep up with her and challenge her, was not easy to find. We did the best we could, changing teachers several times when the teachers told me they could not teach her anything more. 

    I was surprised when her music teacher told us she should apply to Interlochen, a wonderful performing arts high school in Michigan that attracted amazingly talented students from all over the world. I was even more surprised when she was admitted at the tender age of 14, to her junior year of high school.

    My husband and I were not ready to allow our one and only to go off to school alone. She was a perfectionist, with an eating disorder, and we were afraid she would end up in a hospital. We agreed that I would rent a house near the school and she would be a day student, coming home each night to me. So, once again, I found myself moving! UGH!!! 

    Shortly after I rented a house, my husband was diagnosed with cancer. He insisted I keep the plan we had made, that he would be OK alone. And, the first year he was OK alone, but when I returned home for the summer, I realized how impossible it would be for him to live alone the next school year. Fortunately, in her junior year, I had created a support system for our daughter (a doctor at the school, a psychologist that she trusted, and a nutritionist) that I felt would be there for her during her senior year, living in a dorm with other students with eating disorders. So, she did her senior year on her own, and I cared for my husband who quickly was in a hospital bed and wheel chair. He did not get to see her graduate with honors. He knew that it happened but was too ill to travel, and died 4 days after she graduated.

    Life hands us challenges, One of my favorite expressions is: “Man plans, and G!d laughs.” I am not sure who wrote it, but it sure is true. I believe: “Life is short; eat dessert first!” And I do not buy green bananas, we never know if we will live long enough to enjoy them. Enjoy each day as much as we can, do as much good for others as we can, and life will surely be a blessing.

  • Sonia

    Maybe I was not stunned at the moment. And I will only tell one, because this one is quite strong. I was working in a hospital, en my 20s, and my work was taking blood tests in the UCI. Once I reached a patient, took his pulse to find the artery… and found there was none. Out of nothing, just from remembering what I saw from the doctors, I told him in a loud voice, to pull out his tongue, which he did, and I made a sign to the nurse, who ran to the doctor. The man’s heart had just stopped, and I by being at the time at the moment, saved the man’s life.

  • Lois

    For my 70th birthday I learned to read Hebrew and prepared for and enjoyed my Bat Mitzvah.  In additon to doing this for myself I hope that I inspired my 11 grandchildren to know how much Judaism means to me and you’re never too old to “go for it”.  Today is my 59th wedding anniversary. I never saw the years go by and wonder how the time could have passed so quickly..  Now that we are both aging we try to make the most of whatever time we have left in which to enjoy being together.  I was completely surprised when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, “but no one in my family had breast cancer”.  I accepted the support and “gifts” from family and friends which helped me get through the treatments and the disease.  I took a long hard look at my life and I don’t waste time anymore on the trivial things.  I try to remember every day that life is short and human beings are not immortal

  • Tsippy

    January, February, March: birth, education, reachiing adulthood ( 0-20years)
     April, May, June marriage and child-rearing ( 20-40 years)
    July, August, September,: professional life ( 40-60 years)
    October, November: widowhood and retirement 60-70 years)
    December: remarriage and intensified Judaism (70-80 years

  • Barbara

    If I divided the stages of my life into months of the year, then well into May I was asking when and why questions: when will I be old enough to walk to school by myself, get an allowance, wear a bra, drive a car, babysit, get a job, support myself, and why don’t they like me, why doesn’t he like me, why did he leave me, is he the one, should I marry him? Through August I asked about changing careers, going back to school, wondered if I would survive my children. By then the leaves were falling, the air turned crisp with a whiff of rain and it was mid September. What will I be when I grow up? What do I want to do now that I’m retired from my second career? What will it take for me to be satisfied? And if not now, then when? 

    I think it might have been October when the answers came flooding in. Doris Mortman whispered in my ear, “Until you make peace with who you are, you’ll never be content with with what you have.” “Perhaps loving something is the only starting place there is for making your life your own,” advised Alice Koller, only I’m sure I heard “loving yourself.” It took me until the third week in October to start loving myself enough to be satisfied with my answers to the questions. 

    Now it’s November already. Somewhere along the way, I stopped asking so many questions. Even my parents in their graves are sighing about that. I wish I could tell them I’m loving myself enough to flower as a writer and artist. Love, gratitude, and major time spent taking care of my body are my answers as I look toward December. 

    Baruch ata adonai thank you for all the hand holding and understanding my words through my tears. Did you always know I’d turn out OK? You did, didn’t you! Amen

  • Anita

    I think I’m in November. This evening I asked my husband this question, if you knew exactly when you were going to die, what would you do with the time you had left? While he was thinking, I said that I would sell our condo, move to a high rise apt. in a concierge building and
    not have to think about where I was living and what I needed as I moved into my December. The only problem is that I may be in December. Then what? So I think I’ll just stay where I am and concentrate on tikkun olam instead of worrying about me. My time will come, and ready or not, I’ll be there to greet it with open arms and a todah for a wonderful life.

  • Faye of the Outdoors

    Jan -April- I see these months as the childhood into young adult years. Where the experiences and training lay the groundwork for who we manifest into.  For me, it was my love of animals and music.  I learned to play the guitar, sing, write a few songs, and some piano.  I raised and cared for all kinds of animals.  And thought I would be a veterinarian.

    May -August.  I see these months as the years of my establishing life.  Having the career and or family relationships.  I worked and thought I was in a healthy marriage.  But I knew…I  had a husband who drank and used pot.  But I still carried on and tried to live a life that was full for there is much to do to raise a son.  I joined a Temple and grew emotionally and spiritually.

    Sept-Dec.   This is where I am now.  My son is grown and completing college after he served in the military.  I found it necessary to divorce that husband of 3 decades because he didn’t want to work on our life together.  I learned that marriage could be more and there should be sharing. I also lost my father this year.   I know change is inevitable.  It is how you handle the changes that will matter in the long run.  I am not one to move forward quickly and master a different life in a short time.  For me, this growth is going to be slow and steady.  And I will have set backs and there will be pain.  But someday, I will feel ok as I age into this new person I am destined to become.

  • Barbara Schwartz

    A year ago, during a break in the afternoon YK service, a friend and I were talking about the Jewels of Elul (I particularly like being introduced to Billy Jonas) and we started talking about Abigail Pogrebin’s jewel. Perhaps it was a result of all those sins encountered and dealt with in the morning that had us feeling low or fasting or the influence of this jewel. We decided to talk about things we were grateful for. This prayer from my morning prayer blog briefly tells the story. I began writing prayers in a very low point in my life and a few years later and after sharing my prayers with friends began this blog in 2012. 
    A Magic Key to Happiness“When you realize there is nothing lacking, The whole world belongs to you.” –Lao TzA year a go, sitting in the afternoon Yom Kippur service, a friend and I agreed to send each other a nightly email limited to three short phrases, three things we were grateful for that day. We offered no background or explanations or responses and for long periods of time we only connected in this way. There were nights she could only express gratitude for her dog who cheered her up in the darkest moments. I was particularly prone to being thankful for Trader Joe’s and for the internet during mine. Now a year later, through the prism of gratitude and holding each other accountable for reporting each night, we are each happier and more confident than we were last year. Find a friend, exchange gratitudes. It is a magic key.Baruch ata adonai I’m grateful for compassionate friends. I’m grateful for understanding the two most important prayer words are please and thank you. And thank you for Trader Joe’s and the internet too. Amen     

  • Mark

    Perhaps I am in July or August, more aware of the mistakes of my younger days and at peace with the present.

  • Diane Statham

    Yes,.  I have been too self-absorbed.

    When I realized that I could offer value in serving others, I became more creative and started to feel that I was growing a person and realizing more of my potential.

  • Zelda

    Yes, Once I stepped back and let life take over my stress was reduced. In most cases different roads will lead to different solutions, but not necessarily the  right or wrong answer.  I find there are many alternatives available and to hang on to one over another may cause rancor. Once I changed the atmosphere became  less charged and more was accomplished with better feelings. 

  • I agree with the comments about both the word “decrepitude” and the juxtaposition of the the words beauty and denial. Not my words, and not my thoughts! I wrote the questions for each day in response to the Jewel, and found this one puzzling. So my questions reflected my own struggle with what de Grey was saying. 
    In The Mikado, the words to one song state that “there is beauty in extreme old age”. Who am I to argue with Gilbert and Sullivan? In Hairspray, there is a song that says “You’re like a hunk of old cheese, babe. You’re just getting better with age.”  
    “Decrepitude” is in the eye of the beholder. Old cheese or a broken-down Chevy (same song in Hairspray). Either way, the beauty can be found, and, I think, cannot be denied. 

  • Decrepitude?  What a loaded word, and what an unfortunate and biased one to use when talking about aging.  Yes, physically we are not the same at 80 as we are at 20, but why do we even make a comparison?  I volunteer at an assisted living facility, and see true, deep beauty in so many of the residents there.  I ache at the impairments some/many of them have as a result of their age.  Yet, they amaze me on a regular basis.  The strength of their characters far outweighs any physical and/or mental weaknesses.  To me, the essence of what is wrong with the medical system.  They use youth as the standard for all that is good, and age as everything to be avoided. 

    I watched my mom age and celebrate who she was, at each and every stage of her life.  Toward the end of it, she became more beautiful, more soulful, more solid in herself.  That is true beauty. She certainly had physical impairments, and some early dementia.  Yet she continued to charm, to lead, and to bring people together with humor, brilliance, and kindness.  She was clear on her end of life desires, and let her children know, so that we would be sure to honor her wishes.  I was the one who had to invoke her DNR — something that was supremely difficult for me, and something that the medical establishment made me do five times in one day after she suffered a stroke. 

    My mom retained her cognitive abilities even as she became paralyzed on her left side.  She joked with her caregivers, she continued to do the NY Times crossword puzzle (although we read her the clues and wrote in her answers), and she and I had rich conversations about whether she wanted to fight or let go.  She chose to fight for more than a week, and then told me she wanted to stop:  “It’s too hard.”  I told her we would shift into hospice mode, and get her the medication and aid she needed as she moved toward her end.  I said we would get her morphine, and she said she didn’t want it.  Oh no, I thought…how could we get rid of her pain.  She got her inimitable glint in her eyes, and said “I want LESSphine.”  That, in a nutshell, was my mom’s beauty.

    Four days later, I sat with her as she took her last breaths.  She was listening to her favorite Yiddish songs as she left this earth.  It was a holy and beautiful time; one in which I was and am in awe.  Beautiful, even.

    • Mara

       Thanks for sharing your story.  Very beautiful and so much truth in what you say.

  • Mara

    About 20-30 years ago I was at a gathering and met a woman who I am guessing must have been in her 70’s.  She was beautiful.  Her hair was a natural gray tone and she wore no makeup and she was beautiful.  I was a young woman at the time who could not leave the house without a full face of makeup. I said to myself “I want to be able to age that beautifully and gracefully.  I want to be comfortable with who I am and the entire experience that life naturally brings.”  I can’t tell you how HARD that has been.  Especially the hair color part!  Do I go natural, dye it, highlight it?   Yes I want to still have the body that allowed me to do dance and work out the way I once could without the little aches and pains that accompany this almost 60 yr old body already.  It is not an easy thing to master, this acceptance.  It also angers me that our society feels that youthful beauty is better than all else.    I love going to the gym and seeing not only the beautiful young men and women (including my own daughter), but also those like myself and older, who are helping themselves to stay vital, and not going to artificial means (plastic surgery, liposuction, etc)

    Life is a journey and one that I feel we should try to experience from all directions, coming and going… Still, your question asks:

    Is there beauty in decrepitude?  No.  My mother suffered with dementia for 10 years and when she passed away this past April it was a blessing for she had long lost the ability to communicate or do anything at all.  This once vital dancer, artist and intellectual, had, what some would say, become a vegetable.  THAT was not beautiful and I wish the laws of our land would have allowed her to die much earlier with the dignity she deserved.

  • Goldfish02

    The question is not phrased correctly.  Beautiful or to be denied is not a fair comparison.  Most very old people (85+) do not do well.  The Betty Whites or George Burns types are the exception not the rule.  So I would say it is not beautiful, but we should not deny it.  We need to accept it for what it is and make the most of it despite the very real limitations most of us will experience.  And we need to start now by helping the older adults who desire to feel more fulfilled in their lives.  The biggest complaint in any assisted living facility is that the older person feels useless, of no help to anyone.  Why can’t we take advantage of the limited resources they have remaining?  It might even make for a better world. 

  • Tsippy

    I define beauty as more than that which is seen; there is beauty of a good mind and beauty of a good spirit, as well as beauty of love and friendship, and many other beauties.  Yes, age can be beautiful as well as difficult.  Many people actually improve in looks as they age because of their inner beauty; but looks are not the true criteria of the total beauty of a person.
    I considered my Grandma a beauty, though movie and TV critics would not have agreed, but they did not know her and appreciate the true beauty of her personality and spirit.

  • Silverlady

    Over the past year, since the passage of the Marriage Equality Act, in NY, I have gotten married — twice!  Once in a civil ceremony and once in a religious ceremony.  I have focused on growing our relationship in spite of my wife’s degenerative disease which is progressing.  I have also focused on my relationship with Judaism — I attend Shabbat services weekly and meaningfully for the first time in my life.  I have also chosen to study to become bat mitzvah — for the second time in my life.  Each of these actions/activities have helped me to expand my world with old friends, new friends and myself.

  • Chana Dee

    tzimtzum:  starting a new job as an education director has forced me to focus on what is important…for our children, for the next generation…;  my youngest child going off to college has made me focus more on the adult relationships with my children, and how we negotiate the changes;   and also what kind of “Jewish family life” is important to me as an “empty-nester”

  • Daniel in the Forest

    Davening and Torah study help me to improve focus and in the face of a shrinking physical world, due to Post Polio Syndrome, expand my spiritual world.
    The great challenge is to not allow the self to become the exclusive object of focus in which case I must find others to help by for example volunteering at the local Veteran’s home or sponsering people in recovery.

  • Barbara

    I create learning opportunities at every turn

  • Jubileestreet

    When i sing – i feel complete and whole.  My motto has been “sing the note that heals the world” –
    I am learning to recognize other moments that feel as free . . . D’ya think we can recognize out “True Selves” if we pay attention more often?

  • Joy Krauthammer

    “How do you
    express your creativity? 

    Name two ways in which
    you are creative, and how that creativity influences how you live your


    The ARTS are how I
    seriously express my Judaism and neshama/soul
    through creativity.  Every day I illustrate my writing– prose and poetry
    with my photos of my own art, events, or nature for my (over 80) personal
    websites.  (ARTS was the theme of my illustrated MBA thesis.)


    I photograph others’
    creativity (especially a friend’s garden), and with that influence I LIVE MY LIFE with great appreciation and GRATITUDE. The other day I photographed a
    tree’s triple trunk that looked like the letter Shin, representative of G*d’s
    name. Last week I made a pretty purple ‘dress’ for my writing tool, my


    Another passionate
    expression I am blessed with is my drumming.  For over a couple decades, I joyously serve at temples as spiritual percussionist accompanying cantors and musicians.


    Creativity influences me
    because it makes me happy being surrounded by endless joy in community, and
    Torah, surprise, meaning, humor and beauty of life. Most of my hours are
    creatively spent, and mitzvot are daily.  


    I am influenced to do more
    of what I enjoy and am driven to do, because I know that people receive
    inspiration, pleasure or healing from my gifts and I receive their circulating
    joy.  Standing as musician by the bima, I look out and see
    faces of congregants and can tell if someone may be in need of compassion and I
    will share chesed/loving kindness.
    New people are visible to me and with intention I introduce them to each other,
    and I feel that makes the world closer.  


    I want others to manifest
    their passions, and in my workshops I am influenced to share and offer art
    projects that others may vision and seed their dreams with blesSings.
     Being creative, I “Serve G*d In Joy” in these ways that
    encompass Divine purpose, and my personal mission on earth.  My life is
    expansively filled with wonder, awareness, consciousness of what is around me,
    even seen as shadows, seeing the beauty and awesomeness of G*D from before
    sunrise to after sunset, even this moment as I write. 


     – Joy

    • Faye of the Outdoors

      It would be interesting to be able to see your photograph of the tree trunk that looks like the Hebrew letter shin.  Do you have a public web site that we can view the photo on?

  • Melenaka

    I express my creativity by designing my home environment to bring joy and beauty to me, my family, and my house guests. I also love photography and volunteer to take photos for events as a gift for the participants/

  • Klezlab

    I don’t want
    to be good at aging.

    I want to be
    good at living.

    I’m still

    There are days when my feet hurt when I get
    out of bed.

    I get out
    anyways and know that they just need help in waking up.

    They help
    the rest of me wake up.


    My eyesight
    is another matter.

     I put my glasses on.

     I take my glasses off.

    On. Off.

    On . Off.

    I get busy
    and forget where I left them last.


    My mind
    forgets that my body has aged.

    It thinks
    that I can still run –

    If only I
    practiced, which I don’t.

    So I pretend
    that if only…


    The days are
    no longer

    Or shorter

    It’s just
    that I get less done

    And have
    more memories

    That I
    forget until I remember.


    Life is

    To do

    To laugh

    To love.


    That I
    still do.

  • Tsippy

    I think creatively to plan activities and to solve problems, even pray creatively.  Baking gives me great creative pleasure; I bake challah for our own Shabbat Dinner and challah to share at Temple on Shabbat morning for Kiddush after services.  I also bake komish bread and special cookies to share with company and to take to others, though I do not like eating cookies, just the joy of creating them.

  • Vernica

    My creativity gets expressed through my work as an psychoanalyst. How Putting together the associations of my patients, their life history and my history and education, is a creative process. The professional writing I do is also a creative process. How does this influence my life? Hmm. I think it gives me a fuller and more satisfying life which then makes me feel better about myself.

  • Zelda

    I enjoying cooking and experience joy when a meal or a new dish comes out well. One of the projects I get a lift from is planning a luncheon for  an organization that I am involved with; food can be simple, but the logistics of pulling it off and working with others in the kitchen is a wonderful way to spend time. The pleasure that is shared when people work together to create something special for others is time well spent. 

  • Jon Levinson

    I am retired from earnig money and express myself through volunteering.  I am a volunteer Chaplain and Stanford University Medical Center where once per week I see anywhere from 6 to 10 patients and I lead a course on current events for seniors at my local JCC.  I have the time to do this and especaially my hospital work is more emotionally rewarding than any other volunteering I have done.

    • Joy Krauthammer

      Dear Jon, 
      Now I can see why you (chaplain) responded to me (“Stunned”) as you did. Bless you for the holy work you do.
      Joy K.

  • Diane Statham

    1) Helping to keep my Temple relevant and interesting (Chair, Adult Education)
    2) Traveling to appreciate other places and cultures and contributing to their continuance
    3)Helping to nurture secure and independent lives as a mother and member of NCJW and Hadassah and combating prejudice as a docent at the Houston Holocaust Museum
    4) Honoring and fostering respect for the natural world as a birder and a volunteer for TWRC Wildlife in Houston

  • Annice

    If you had to name 3 ways in which you will have left the world more vibrant as a result of your presence, what would they be?
    What will be said about me when I am gone, is how I think of this question.
    1. Educator – a passionate advocate to impact student learning both in public and religious education.
    2. Musician – a creative believer that “music speaks louder than words” in all her performances.
    3. Jewish-American – a Reform Jew who led by example how by living as a good wife, mother, daughter and friend to those who met and knew her.

  • Annice

    “If you had to name an older person with whom you have had deep conversations, who would that person be? What did you talk about? In what ways was the conversation memorable to you?”
    My Aunt Lillian, who passed away several years ago, was the family member who truly knew me. When I was a teenager and getting ready to leave for URJ Kutz Camp, I would visit her for hours to talk about life, being a teenager, expectations for camp, my parents, etc. When I returned from camp, we got together again to talk about my experiences and what we were looking foward to in the coming months.  Though I saw Aunt Lil every few months at family occasions, these summer conversations were the most memorable to me and I miss them now every summer.

  • malka

    Being an active member at my synagogue, good child to my parents, and good mother and wife.

  • Jul

    increasing joy, increasing depth of meaning, greater appreciation for inner and outer beauty.

  • Jubileestreet

    Smiling, Singing Loud & Free, Sharing Our Stories . . . 

  • Karly Whitaker

    Choosing to embrace motherhood and add my dancing daughter to the universe.
    Being a positive, optimistic force in a family that has many dark currents.
    The essays and artwork I have created, and will create.

  • Tgelb1

    Planted trees
    Volunteered in many capacities for many organizations
    Became a part of the Chevre Kadisha in my synagogue

  • Faye of the Outdoors

    Enriched the lives of my former adult students with special needs
    Always became involved when necessary to stop abuse to people, animals, the environment. Even caused drug dealers to take a hike from my neighborhood.
    Teach Judaic studies at a Temple and play guitar for services.

  • Ernest R Strauss

    1. 10 years as as a New York City Auxillary Police Officer.
    2. 20 Years as a volunteer EMT in Central Park.
    3 Two phenomenall children (a cantor and a teacher) and two remarkable daughters in law.

    I must have done something right.

    Ernie Strauss

  • Prof3025

    Being attentive to my Mother as she aged and was in a nursing home and I was able to vidit most every day.
    Taking my mother-in-law on our delayed honeymoon voyage.
    Hopefully having an impact on some of the many students thaT I naught.

  • Joy Krauthammer

    “If you had to name 3 ways in which you will have LEFT THE WORLD MORE VIBRANT as a result of our presence, what would they be?”ACTION: Baruch Hashem, My JOY (received publicly through my spiritual connecting to G*d ARTs: music, art, writing voice, and purple Jewish ritual) inspires and uplifts others which then encourages me.  Joyously sharing G*d’s gifts in the Sephirotic Tree of Life, including intangibles and small ~ love, compassion, friendship, justice, truth, beauty, awe, wonder, wisdom, nature, energy. Turning lemons into lemonade.  HEART: My welcoming smile for even one person, and inclusiveness, being present and responsive, and serving as shadchen in many realms.  MIND: Creating ARTs and Jewish educational programs, and teaching Torah.  .Shabbat shalom,  JOY KrauthammerPSI believe that the more one is cognizant of oneself in the universe, the more good one can continue to do with one’s G*d given gifts– out loud or quietly.

  • Mweisberg1

    My three children who are carrying on the traditions of Judaism and philanthropy that I learned from my parents, and are now teaching their children. My oldest grandchild will celebrate his bar mitzvah next June in Yerushalayim.

  • Karen Willner

    I have not done any major accomplishment but I know I have helped people attain their goals and listened when they felt lost.  I have seen them become whole again and able to move on.  I feel blessed that I could contribute to the vitality of the world by comforting and encouraging others to live their best.. 

    I also think I’ve been an example of joy and showing others than you can embraced the light in your life by letting go of the constraints that hold a person back.  Dancing, singing, hugging, laughing, crying  just because you feel like  it.  

    And, the last, is showing others I can change and grow and become aware of things I must change in order to grow.  

  • Loretta

    It would be my Christian friend, Mary. we are both active in interfaith affairs and often walk together.  This is the person I go to when I have a moral, religious, life question to discuss. I value her point of view and know she values mine.  While we differ in religions, we share the lessons to be learned.  I am 75 and she is 80.  We are not old, we are aging. 

  • Norma Glickman

    At the age of 84, I am blessed once again to have
    reached  Elul, my Season of Song, the
    time of year when the choir starts rehearsing for the High Holy Day services –
    an event I have enjoyed participating in for the past 39 years, even as I begin
    to realize that this important and enjoyable part of my life is drawing to a
    close – that although I still revel in the joy of singing – my voice is
    definitely beginning to show its age.

    How, then, can I continue to enjoy the pleasure of the
    moment, and not dwell on the distinct possibility that next year, at this
    season of song – I might very well be sitting in the congregation and listening
    – with nostalgia – and most certainly a few unbidden tears – as I recall a
    lifetime of being a participant and not an observer?

    As with many other significant events along life’s path –
    I’ve tried, in the last couple of years, to express my feelings in poems, whose
    words merely scratch the surface of my feelings, as I continue, this year, to
    share in the blessing of song. 

    Is there a magic elixir for Laryngitis of Aging!

    Is there a magic elixir for Laryngitis of Aging!

    Is there a magic elixir for Laryngitis of Aging!

  • Cecily Morris

    My Father-
    He spoke of the lack of tolerance growing up in USSR.
    Jewishness was not allowed to be observed.

  • Debra Darvick

    Conversations with one of my hospice clients.  Alas we shared only three, but the intensity, and her passion for seeking answers, remains bright in my memory.  After our introductions, she started right away, “What is the meaning of life?  I am still figuring it all out. What is it for you, at your age?” We discussed the day’s New York Times; she assigned me a New Yorker article to read and discuss the following visit. The intellectual passion that lit her blue eyes was as moving as it was contagious. I hadn’t been challenged like that in a while.  Maybe I was just hanging out with the wrong folks. Our fourth visit, the conversation was a semi-lucid journey through her past and sadly there was no  fifth. She comes back to me  in in her questions, still peering at me with those bright blue eyes, face framed by a white crown of newly-grown hair.

  • Estelle Chaikin Salen

    This amazing person would be my Mother, Anna Needleman Chaikin, who died at the age of 98 three years ago.   In addition to being my Yiddishe Mama, Anna was my best friend.  We talked about everything.  I learned so much by listening to her memories of life in the early 1900’s.  She was optimistic. and we both enjoyed quotations which we shared by mail in the early 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.  At the end of the eulogy I composed at her funeral, I concluded with a quote from Benjamin Franklin which read:  “She died of old age but she died young.”  This was my Mother and still is…she is by my side 24/7.  She is up there qvelling at 10 grandchildren, 18 great grandchildren and her two great, great grandsons I have been blessed to share with her!
    Estelle Chaikin Salen

  • Joy Krauthammer

    “If you had to name an older person with whom you have had deep conversations, who would that person be? What did you talk about? In what ways was the conversation memorable to you?” Today, this early morning while SWIMMING in a neighbor’s pool, my 90 year old Christian, daily life-guard Edith, when I told her about one of the Jewels of Elul questions, asked, “Why are these questions asked?” I went on to explain the Jewels of Elul essays on Ageing and described the ensuing questions. I told Edith that yesterday I had written and submitted about ‘rituals’ that carried with me from childhood until now. When I stated the only ritual that I could immediately remember that I had written, Edith stated, “That is not a ritual, it’s a habit”. I acknowledged to her that maybe I used the wrong key word but felt I’d answered correctly.  After that discussion I went home and reread the question and found the word was “ROUTINE” not ritual! Aha.  While still at the pool this morning we continued to talk about “tunnel” (in the Mohini 1 Elul story) and freedom and slavery, and even if we are removed from slavery, ‘it’ may still be within us and for what reasons, whether it is Jews, Black or freed jailed prisoners. We spoke of family, mitzvot, daily news (political biological rape issues (oy, I don’t bring up ‘abortion’), justice (principles), ethics (politicians, clergy and sports leaders), public policy and what is not written in the press, kindness, sechel vs brilliance, gardener and tools, technical issues with computers and how to deal with them.  We spoke of what to do for a person going onto hospice that would be helpful to them. We spoke of the beauty of the veggie garden (and then I ate her tomatoes), lousy LAUSD conditions, immigrants, Dems vs Republicans, the behavior of animals and people, medical problems and why not to drive with vertigo, caring for palm trees, beauty of blue skies when the sun appears and chases the solid grey clouds away, and malfunctioning Nikon cameras!  (even though I kept it dry in the water while capturing my reflection, not shadow.) OK, todays swim session lasted two hours for me in the water with not a lot of strokes, but paddling and keeping afloat in place near Edith’s life-guard chair, multi-pronged cane and phone. I continued to remove palm tree pruning debris from the pool while we spoke. (Why can’t she prune closer to Sukkot?)When I returned home, and she knew I’d be busily working on deadlines, Edith called to share a bit more about “tunnels” vs cages, and how one can or can not enter or exit to the light from the darkness. She was right on!  I reminded Edith that I realized I had mostly sub-conscious trouble with the word “tunnel” because it was what I had to go through during my grieving process for my husband, z’l. For 13 weeks, the support group clergy ended the session with “light will be at the end of the tunnel.”Why memorable? I am truly blessed that this 90 year old Christian woman is one of my closest, dearest friends in the world, whom I consider my mentor. As individuals, and members of a People, and a Nation, what we discuss matters to us, even when we disagree. Yesterday Edith wanted to know the difference between “my rabbis and my rebbes” that I mention every day, and why my rebbe is my rebbe, and do we pray with intermediaries or directly to G*d, and have I turned my rebbes into “idols”. Oy. And yesterday we also talked about, is it OK to speak with mediums and bring up the deceased, and Edith said, no one is here to say what really happens after we die! I decided that even though my path has crossed many mediums, not to discuss that last comment, even though I know where I have been…  I pray to G*D that Edith lives in good health to 120. I’ve already gone through a “tunnel”. – Joy Krauthammer

  • Pleasure-to-behold

    Actually there were three. Charlotte is over ninety, and is a social activist. She often reminded me that my artwork, which she was able to purchase, and then give away, was her means of expressing her social activism, as my artwork dealt with the subject of Justice. She has a realistice but indominitable spirit.
    The second one is my aunt, who is over ninety. She says we are lucky when we have a condition that can be fixed, but also lucky just to be doing the things we do day to day. She is a realist, but also might take up some of the things she liked to do years ago, now that her caretaking duties are no longer needed.
    And finally, a man who was a family friend, and friend to many in the community, who was also over ninety. He told me that I was already a very rich woman, because I had so many friends and acquaintances  who loved me and thought well of me.

  • Peter Eckstein

    In my community there is  a gentleman and a scholar (and I’m not being sarcastic about using that phrase.  He really is a gentleman and a scholar.)  He teaches adult education in every single synagogue and central agency in our area.  He asks for no compensation (though he likes getting free synagogue membership – which is funny, considering he doesn’t really  go).  

    What’s neat about Sig is that he is a self taught Jewish scholar.  He did that in his spare time. He actually was  a dentist. That was his profession.  That’s what he did to make a living.  He happened to have been Heschel’s dentist.  As in Abraham Joshua.  They had great conversations, Sig says, when his patient could talk.

    I’m not sure about this, but I believe he may have hung out with Kaplan and Buber, too.

    His way of being  Jewish is on his own terms.  He’s in his 80s, and he still teaches.  He still asks questions. His favorite topic and query:  God.   I think he teaches about the holy because he’s still trying to figure that out.

    So why is he the person I’m writing about?  Because when I grow up (and I’m 55, and am an established professional Jewish educator), I want to be just like Sig.  He’s the smartest person I know. Because he has taught me never to stop asking questions.

  • Elisheva

    I am in Israel and just communicated with a little girl 7y.o. We played/interacted mostly by
    jesters, hands moving, smiling, eye contact etc.  She didn’t know English.  We got along really well without knowing each other’s language, we just knew the language of love.  I am amazed that we could interact for a long period of time without verbal skills.

  • Diane Statham

    Last 2 days:  How beautiful an August day in Houston can be when you are on a nice golf course.
    Last 2 months:  How incredibly diverse and intricate life is in the Galapagos Islands.
    Last year:  How much I still can contribute to my community since retirement.

  • Diane Parkin

    In the last few days to bear witness to mikveh of the kallah and then the holy wedding in Jerusalem; in the last few months to watch the iris come into bloom  from rhizomes asleep thru winter to green then buds then beautiful blossoms; in the last year to  recognize in myself the ongoing need to learn, pray, share.

  • I amazed by how many people are responding to these questions! I am really amazed not just by the quantity of responses, but by the thoughtfulness, creativity and beauty  of these responses. I find it amazing that we can read one reflection and take it in, and connect spiritually to it, and, I hope, share common amazement in each other.  I was amazed two months ago when Craig asked me to write the questions again this year, since I never take this challenge for granted. In the last year I have been amazed by my own resiliency, my own ability to overcome pain, loss,  and sorrow, and to somehow keep going, to keep finding opportunities to stand in awe and radical amazement. The human spirit, the thing that so few of us can define but so many of us touch, is pretty amazing to me!

    • Joy Krauthammer

      Shalom, I appreciate your thoughts. Each time I open Jewels to read the responses (after I have submitted my own to the questions), I, too, have been “amazed” at the quantity, thoughtful quality, style, and great variety. I say to myself, I’d like to know that person, and clearly relate to many thoughts.  A couple answers I have even ‘replied’. Thank you for “writing the questions”. 
      Many blesSings to you to “somehow keep going” in beauty, light and awe. – Joy Krauthammer

  • Klezlab

    Fresh grapes on the arbor, watching my granddaughter eating her first one. The beauty of the clouds and the power of the storms below them. The smiles and laughter of children.

  • Stillhoping

    I’m amazed that during recent lay offs at my company that people, for the most part, have been remarkably supportive of each other. I’ve been amazed the last couple of months by returning to books I read early in my life (a recent project of mine) and find a new wisdom in them. I’ve been amazed this last year at the ability to continue to hope for a child (been struggling for years to have a baby) anew despite so many disappointments.

  • Karen Willner

    What has amazed me in the last few days is my husband and I meeting a couple that never felt like a ‘new’ friend but felt like people we’ve known for a lifetime.  All four of us enjoying each other, spending three hours over dinner and then another fifteen minutes in the parking lot like lovers who can’t get enough of each other. 

     In the last 2 months, I have been amazed by seeing my husband return to full health in looks and vitality.  

    It was amazing to me how I was lifted and carried by our community when I reached out and asked for their prayers for my husband.   

  • Skpeekaboo



    R. Kaplan [©November,


    God has given us many gifts.

    Two of them are tears and laughter.


    Tears can be isolating,

    Laughter: hollow.


    Or, tears can be healing,

    Laughter: medicinal.


    Tears can be self-pitying

    And laughter: self-mocking.


    Or, tears can be cleansing,

    Laughter: uplifting.


    Tears can bring a community together in solace.

    Laughter can strengthen community ties.


    Just as rain is cleansing to the muddy river,

    So too, tears can clean and heal the soul.


    Laughter reaches to the heavens and lifts the
    wings of angels.


    Tears and laughter are gifts from God.

    Use them wisely.


  • Zelda

    My granddaughter’s smile–(4 months- so dependent yet so powerful)
    The Mars landing– the genius to reach for the unknown, the search for answers, the creativity to find a solution to gaining success.
    The incredible hatred that exists in our world in-spite of all the good that surrounds us. People can seem to live in peace or tolerate their neighbors. (here and abroad)  

  • Ambenamy

    YESTERDAY: Yesterday I met an amazing 2-year-old that loved to choose books and have her mother read them to her. While mom read, the little girl tried to to say the words with her or would point to a picture, say the word, and then giggle. My daughter is 19 years old now and an only child. How much I miss the days when she was 2, wide-eyed, and wanting to learn and talk every minute. Little children always amaze me because of their curiosity about life.

    2 MONTHS: A visit to the Grand Canyon and pictures to relive the visit keep my amazement going everyday. What was incredible was the magnificent landscape that Adonai created and We maintain.
    The beauty of that land with the rainbow of colors and greenery reach far beyond the eye can see. All I could do was stare and thank Adonai for the beauty of the land.
    LAST YEAR: The previous owners of my home planted perennials. It always amazes me how the flowers come and go each each year. They are so beautiful and show the life cycle.

  • Jennifer

    On Monday evening I saw the sliver of new moon in the western sky; and pink alpenglow from the setting sun on the mountains in the east – amazingly beautiful.  Last February we went to the Sandhill Crane Reserve to see these enormous birds up close – amazing to watch them fly and fossick for their food in the shallow ponds.  I never cease to be amazed at the physical growth and increase in the knowledge of my two young grandsons.

  • Joy Krauthammer

    If you had to name something that really amazed you in the last few days, what would it be? What about something that really amazed you in the last 2 months? Name something that amazed you in the last year. What was so incredible about each of these things?
    YESTERDAY. The hummingbirds drinking the gallons of food my 90 year-old friend makes. The huge hawk in my garden next to the fig tree. Bon Bon the huge furry grey cat that likes me, got shaved (in the 110* heat) and now looks like a poodle. Amazed that Lola the big Black Lab really does doggie paddle in the pool while holding two green slimy tennis balls in his mouth.
    LAST 2 MONTHS. Figs ripening on my tree that return anew each year after I prune heavily for Tu B’Shvat. That lizards keep living on my porch and look at me. Also my baby granddaughter who amazes me with her new sounds and gestures.
    LAST YEAR. Amazed that I could share hundreds of baby fig trees that grow from the giving tree, and give fruit to new gardeners. Amazed that the gopher does not give up! 

    “Incredible about all these things” is that the Divine One created them on earth, and each must survive in their own way.
    – Joy Krauthammer

  • Joy Krauthammer

    Don’t think I’ll “describe A ROUTINE since childhood that I’ve carried throughout my life”, but list and share several because they give me pleasure to acknowledge them, especially wonders of nature.
    Trying to catch fireflies (on east coast), or a snowflake on my tongue. (now raindrops)
    Still blowing bubbles! (even in my kitchen)
    Still appreciating and picking up fallen seed pods from trees and examining the treasures.
    Searching for sea shells in the sand and ocean. (when not in The Valley)
    Stomping and crunching fallen dry leaves in the fall. Picking up red leaves and drying them. Crunching rubbery seaweed pods on the sand.
    Playing with cats, even though I’m highly allergic.
    Eating raw corn on the cob.
    Writing, but now on computer instead of 16 page hand-written letters.
    Eating 2 cooked eggs every morning. (egg whites only now)
    Using the same old childhood serrated grapefruit spoon and knife for my half grapefruit, but today I have the blesSing to also pick citrus from my tree.Learning every day, and showing kindness.
    BlesSings, Joy Krauthammer

  • Diane Statham

    Setting time aside to read and study has always been important to me.

    I always have breakfast in the morning.

  • Lois

    From the time I was very little I put myself in the stories I hear and read about other people and I do that to this day.  I think it has taught me to be empathetic.  It makes me very emotional.

  • Bobbi Zahra

    I read. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Some days more than others, but I read. And I have NEVER missed Remembrance Day, not even in 2007 when I was driving to Toronto with friends and stopped in some little town in Ontario just long enough to make it to the Cenotaph…

  • Joyce Romoff

    Reading before bed but I’ve migrated from a child’s cloth books, to bigger and bigger hardbound books, to paperbacks, to library books and now to eBooks. A book is a book is a book…
    Another routine is being down on myself, something I’ve tried to stop for my whole life. Still trying. Wish there was an app to stop that.

  • Anita

    It started with a tzedakah box, blue and white, from the Jewish National Fund. Every Shabbat from the time I was about 4 years old, I put pennies in the slot on top. When the box was full, we emptied the box and sent its contents to JNF to buy trees for Israel. Later we used a brown metal box which we filled with nickels and dimes and quarters. When filled, the contents were divided between JNF and Jewish Family Service.  As I grew older, my tzedakah boxes grew more elaborate, but the contents were always divided between an Israeli charity and an Ameriican Jewish one. This year we sent the American half to a Jewish family that lost everything in a fire one week before the son’s bar mitzvah. Everyone in our community sent money or items of houseware, clothing, or the like. Their new home was now brimming with gifts from their community family.

    My grandchildren now help me save the money by putting in the pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters every Shabbat. When the box is full, then help me decide where the money should go. And then we start again to save and to send to the needy in Israel and in America. A wonderful family tradition that will continue through the gifts of my children and grandchildren.

  • Punim7113

    I really thought about this question. It seems inane but the only thing I could think of is making my bed. I know I am mentally healthy when I make my bed every day. I feel I can face every day if my bed is made. The rest of my home is usually a complete mess but my bedroom must have a bed all made up to be the true start of my day. To slip into cool sheets I smoothed that morning and crawl beneath my duvet I had fluffed up that morning, allows me to fall asleep carefree and relaxed.
    Now that I read this note, I realized that maybe making my bed is not so inane after all!

    • Mlle_cheron

       I have the same answer but you said it eloquently. 

  • Ggkl

    I love to sing. I have taken voice lessons; sing in choir and at Shabbat services — however, I love to sing when I am doing things … doing the dishes, in the shower, in the car, while rocking and putting my son to bed.  Even humming or just singing a pretty melody keeps me in balance. When I haven’t had music in my life, it always seemed less colorful. Less fun and somehow less real.

  • Mkmkm

    Reciting colors in a particular order.  I don’t know when or why it started, but when I think of colors, I always think in the same order: red, blue, yellow, green, brown, purple, orange, black.  That wasn’t the order in which I liked them–my favorite color was never red–it was just the way I remembered the main colors.  I am 63 and still think of colors that way.  Even my spools of thread are in the sewing box in that order!

  • Judith_kneeter

    doodling, drawing, painting

  • Moonblessing

    Having an imaginary friend

  • LTK

    Reading before going to bed!

  • Ambenamy

    My routine is not very exciting but one that I have done since 5 years old. I wake up, do my thing, eat breakfast while reading something like a magazine or newspaper and the leave for school – I am a teacher and lifelong learner and will always go to school. My parents raised me with routine and it is it is important in my life especially as I get older.

  • Jubileestreet

    When i was a child i used to wake up when it was dark outside.
    I stood at the window, looking out towards the hills and waited for the first sign of light. 
    The birds and i would know the exact moment of first light.
    I would watch the hills, trying not to blink, trying not to miss the exact moment –
    You see, it was my job to spin the sun into the sky.  I knew there was a little girl on the other side of the earth spinning the sun to me and as soon as the first edge of the sun reached the top of the hill i would start to blink my eyes as fast as i could.  I would blink with intention, and the sun would slowly rise from the hill – toward the dark sky.  When a larger bit of sun was showing, it would start to spin.  That’s how the sun gets up into the sky, it spins.  It spins because some little girl stands at her window and waits to catch the light another little girl is tossing over the hill.  I took my job seriously.  You KNOW I did because, when it was my job, the sun always made it up over the hill and into the sky.  Once the sun completely distances the hill – was fully round in the sky, it could sail the rest of the way across our part of the world with no problems.  of course, there was a little girl somewhere tossing the sun from our hemisphere to a catcher/spinner somewhere else in the world.

    I still watch for The Light.  Especially in Elul. 

    I don’t have to catch and spin the sun any longer, I do my best to display the loveliness of The Light, i talk about it and draw attention to it, so others may be drawn to IT as well.  Blinking or not blinking is not an issue, just holding the Light for everyone to see.

    • Joy Krauthammer

      Thank you for you being you. I see the Light you have spun, love it, and share it.  Love, Joy

  • Garbski

    When I get out of bed every morning I have always put both feet on the floor to make sure they still work.  Then I raise my arms up in the sky to check on them as well.  I’ve done it all my life but I have no idea why.  Now that I’m getting older it’s a little more important, I suppose.

  • Skpeekaboo



    R. Kaplan [©November,


    has given us many gifts.

    of them are tears and laughter.


    can be isolating,



    tears can be healing,



    can be self-pitying

    laughter: self-mocking.


    tears can be cleansing,



    can bring a community together in solace.

    can strengthen community ties.


    as rain is cleansing to the muddy river,

    too, tears can clean and heal the soul.


    reaches to the heavens and lifts the wings of angels.


    and laughter are gifts from God.

    them wisely.

  • Phyllis Berlant-Abrams

    Love, Laughter, and Kindness.  I’m 81 and if they don’t work, I still am ahead of the game of life.
    Good Genes help; Good health facilitates the process; The rest is up to “whatever gods that be.”

  • Diane Statham

    Secrets to a long life: stay involved with the world through activities with friends and the community; eat and sleep well; and get a hour of exercise a day.  All of these give me a buoyant sense of well-being.

  • Prof3025

    good health, an optimistic attitude, and love

  • Rabbit6230

    do what makes your heart happy! 
    Be true to yourself and our feelings.
    Take the time to savor what you eat, drink and do.

  • Jonathan Akers

    Living a long life is attractive! However, I would like to live a healthy,disease free long life. I believe that you need to include diet ,exercise and stress reduction. Research has shown that when we stopped hunting and gathering and started farming, the diseases of modern day started showing up.
    If you become curious over this please look at the Paleo diet by Loren Cordain PhD. Exercise outside, moving naturally. Running, jumping, lifting heavy things, stretching. No need for expensive club memberships. Curious? Look at Stress reduction, I struggle with that one too. Putting things into perspective, reacting appropriately to the situation, is sometimes hard. I try to meditate, clear true presence of the mind. I love Friday Shabbat services. There are other ways too.
    I know that these things work for me because I feel good right now.

  • Pamela lear

    Find joy in every day and every person you

    Smile, share, and be a friend; community &
    friendship makes everything worthwhile

    Experiment and try new things all the time;
    never let yourself stagnate


    You know they are working if you are able to wake up each
    morning looking forward to a new day and all that it will have to offer.  If you wake up dreading the day, it’s time to
    make some changes!

    • Ambenamy

      These are probably my 3 secrets to a long life also. To find joy everyday is sometimes a struggle but I keep trying. I love to smile and share especially with pessimistic people because they need it. And sincemInam a musician, experimenting and keeping creative will always be with me. I was dreading life last year, made significant changes, and now truly am blessed for everyone and everything in my life.

  • Karen Willner

    The secret to a  long life if to never completely leave  the  joy of imagination of childhood, continue to play with toys.  Be aware of the ‘secrets’ that lay outdoors.  Learn something new.  Laugh. Love yourself.   I know these things work because I’m not always in that space and when I’m not, I feel very old.  On my return, I’m light again and having fun.

    • Pamela Lear

      Beautiful sentiments; thank you for introducing me to this fabulous website!!

  • Tsippy

    Health, enjoyment of life, G-d’s blessings of family and friends.  How do I know these work?  Today is my husband’s 85th birthday; I am only 81!

  • Jubileestreet

    Loving a puppy certainly makes very moment of life mean more – I think loner seeming, love filled minutes makes life longer, more fulfilling.  Having someone argue and call unkind names certainly makes life miserably longer – and i suggest we avoid, change and/or walk away from abusive situations if they are long-term and lasting so, I guess I mean not all long life situations are desirable.  Honoring our parents/teachers/each other – (HaShem said parents, i just added on)  this honoring gives us long and memorable lives.  Thank you for asking.

  • Garbski

    laughter, love, and lots of chocolate!

  • 1. Finding the Funny/Not Taking Yourself Too Seriously
    2. Meaningful human/spiritual connection
    3. Lifelong Learning/Finding You Passion

  • Zelda

    laughter, kindness to others, pets.  J’m still here!

  • H2olvr

    Continue to learn new things
    Make each day an adventure

  • Diane Statham

    Still youthful:

    ..Open to new adventures and ideas
    . Looking for new ways to use my talents
    . Striving to stay physically fit

    Reflect  aging:
    . Welcome a slower pace of life
    . More cautious in taking on physical challenges
    . More cautious

  • Wolfffam

    I enjoy playing video games. I enjoy teaching. I enjoy the music of my youth.

  • Amy C

    3 ways I am still youthful: 1) I exercise my body and work to maintain and increase my physical strength. I also try to eat a healthy diet and get enough sleep. 2) I learn from other people both older and younger than myself and keep a sense of humor alive. 3) I stay hopeful that I can help improve the world (tikkun olam). Keeping a strong purpose is key to healthy living.
    3 ways I reflect my aging: 1) I try to accept the physical changes of aging by adapting and making adjustments both physically and in a mental attitude. 2) I realize that I cannot change others. I can only change my own attitude about what comes up in my life. 3) I celebrate the positive aspects of being a senior. I am grateful and proud of what I have learned, but stay open to learning more.

  • Jvpaull

    Favorite things I still do that are youthful
    I folk dance
    I read fiction
    I play musical instruments

    New to me now
    Zumba and line dancing
    Moda Ani with more fervor
    I read on kindle sometimes

  • Sarah


    Enjoying some of the same activities I did as a child.
    Playing with the grandkids.
    Looking forward to finding a seashell, or seeing a snowflake.

    Being brave enough to think outside the box.
    Parenting skills now being used for the grandkids.
    Knowing that the simple pleasures are the best.

  • Linda

    I am youthful in my being open to new ideas and approaches, my excitement about nature, such as the beauty in flowers blooming, the sun shining, and icicles sparkling, and meeting new people, hearing their stories, and learning from them.

    My aging is reflected in understanding that life is neither black nor white, but the wide spectrum of the rainbow, that in waiting to get to the destination, we lose the wonder of the way, and that the only person over whom we have a modicum of control is ourselves, and even that is limited.

  • Jonathan Z

    Three ways in which I am still “youthful”
    1. Physical activity
    2. Playing and performing music of all kinds (Jewish, rock and roll, etc.)
    3. Continuing education

    Three ways in which I reflect my aging
    1. Teaching
    2. Parenting
    3. Taking Ibuprofen!

  • Melenaka

    I am youthful in my enthusiasm, energy, and silliness!

  • Guest

    Retirement age, but still a writer for a living and for the pleasure of it, and still excitedly considering what I might become when I grow up.  Find myself in the same comfy curled up positions on furniture or, often, on the floor, as I got myself into when a teen and younger.  BUT speaking my mind in more situations; seeing improvements, sometimes subtle, in my creativity, and, in only the last year, getting deeply into studying all the things I promised myself I’d learn when I had the chance — from where every state is on a map, and the order of US presidents, to the order of parshiyot in the Torah that I study each week, and, very recently, a return to the Talmud I used to learn from, as a student in a Jewish day school. 

    • Joy Krauthammer

      Thirty years ago, when I was a young mom of  a Day School student, a friend asked me “what I might become when I grow up”. I talked to that friend today. We still are changing ‘hats’ and “speaking our mind”s! Amayn.

  • Mlle_cheron

    Filled with hopes and dreams
    Still do not know what I want to be when I grow up
    Eating spicy food

    Going to more “homecomings”
    Enjoying more of the moments in life
    Eating spicy food

  • EileenKugler

    * About to leave with my husband on our 4th volunteer trip to a rural South African school to improve literacy,
    * Love the new ideas and perspectives of teens and young adults, who challenge my stale thinking
    *Speak and write about the ways that diversity benefits each of us if we are open to getting out of our comfort zone

    Showing my age:
    * My feet are showing their displeasure at being stood upon all these years
    * My memory takes a bit longer to kick in
    * I don’t feel I need to prove myself 

  • Matt L

    Live Music – going to see a band and being among the crowd
    Being silly
    Being optimistic

    Knowing when to listen to my body
    Being more confident
    Being able to reflect and respond rather than react

  • Barb Truitt

    I find the easy and non-stop flow of questions from my five year old grandson an encouragement to look around and notice the wonder of the world and life.

  • penny kermit

    3 ways I am still young:
    I love the  feeling of being alive
    I still enjoy the beauty of ordinary things, soap bubbles, sliced red cabbage, an irridescent oil slick
    I still enjoy looking for imaginative ways to solve problems

    3: ways I know I’m aging:
    My beloved is no longer here
    I don’t get around easily. I limp, avoid driving to unfamiliar places
    I  have to ask for help with various tasks

  • Joy Krauthammer




    SOUNDS of the SHOFAR (SOS) inspire me to open
    with a blast, the beginning of Elul on day one, Rosh Chodesh, for self-reflection/Cheshbon Hanefesh, knowing I can meet Our Beloved in the field. A
    serious soul journey lies ahead, and I am inspired to meditate on SOS!


    SOS inspire me for the New Year to once again
    seasonally awaken to my Jewish tradition and heritage, and connect to my faith
    and beliefs, knowing SOS in the same sequence of blasts are heard around the

    SOS help me to stimulate others when I play
    shofar. Friends receiving SOS are a gift to me, and I am further inspired with Chesed to give more and joyously do more

    SOS, as I practice playing, inspire me to study
    Torah and understand more fully.


    SOS inspire me to Shma/listen silently to the notes, and more deeply, in awe, and with
    strong kavannah/intention to be a better Ba’alat
    Tekiah (as my husband, z’l, taught me when we bought our first shofar in
    the Old City.

    Sounds of the Shofar inspire me to breathe
    deeply, expansively –G*d in and out.

    SOS inspire me to use tools, instruments of
    music of my own faith, and to mamash
    delve deeper and higher into my Judaism.

    SOS inspires me to share with pride and joy in interfaith
    gatherings with my own authentic ancient Jewish instrument of sound– shofar,
    in addition to spiritually playing drum/tof
    and timbrel ala Miriyahm HaNeviah in
    temples. SOS inspire me to carve my
    own personal shofar.


    The shofar inspires me through grateful breath
    to connect L’Dor V’Dor with my
    children and their child; to the Holy One, Mount Moriah, Mount Sinai, and to
    our People, all the way back to the ram caught in the thicket by its horns
    (Genesis 22:13); and to our Matriarch, Sarah, who died because of the Akeda/
    the Binding. When I save
    little goats with their horned heads stuck in fences, and I give them
    freedom–I am inspired. Baruch Hashem.

    ~ JOY Krauthammer

  • Eray

    Spontaneity –  maintaining interest in new music & art movements – trying new foods & looks 

    Can’t pull all-nighters without suffering consequences! Loss of names & other words. The mirror!

  • rabbiadam

     I love new music
    I continue to add joy to the world
    My love for my wife and family grows deeper

    I am tired earlier than I used to be.
    I am more easily injured than I used to be.
    My love for my wife and family grows deeper.

  • Sblue5958

    I remain hopeful
    I laugh often
    I still believe a great love is possible

    I get tired more often
    sometimes I’ll forget that I’ve already said something
    sometimes I’ll forget that I’ve already said something

  • Harriet B

    I’m still youthful because I dance, love, and actively involved with Jewish communities all over the world.

    I reflect my aging when I limp when I walk, have mild aches and pains, have trouble finding words.

  • ArthurP

    I reflect my aging physically: walking and balance and stamina

    I stay youthful by befriending the older generations at my synagogue and by coordinating taking people to the cemetery in this season, and by driving people myself.

  • Madre pi

    I am still youthful because I am still willing to take risks, to explore and engage with new experiences and to keep expanding my experiences of the world by learning.  My aging is reflected by the fact that my risks are calculated, my explorations are often more planned and my directions for learning tend more toward cultivation of self in a holistic manner rather than learning in order to engage in a vocation.

  • Zelda

    I am energized by my community involvement- it keeps me youthful. I love to walk in the rain with the hope of seeing a rainbow. I don’t really know the meaning of no.
    I try not to answer immediately. I try to sit down to rest when I can so I can keep going. I won’t color my hair – I am who I am.

  • Barbarascohen

    As for youthful, I exercise daily, continue to enjoy reading and participating
    In debates, avoid judging people. As for sign
    Of aging, there are more aches and pains,
    Multiple trips to the do toe each month, my
    Physical appearance has changed (wrinkles
    And bulges.
    Barbara Cohen

  • Elaine Kaufmann

    I am funny, like to make people laugh, and love being with young children.  My legs give me problems walking, I am a bit slower and tire more easily.

  • Maggi Gaines

    youthful: welcome new learning, new experiences, new perspectives
    youthful: enjoy the challenging my body to continue to experience the world of nature, the world of athletics,
    youthful: not willing to give up or give in

    reflect aging: respectful of limitations
    reflect aging: somewhat anxious about the unknown
    reflect aging: incredibly grateful for what is and not what might have been

  • Monica

    Mentally I am 25.  I try to maintain a level of exercise to remain physically active.  I am fascinated by new avenues of learning and look forward to returning to graduate school yet again.
        I can’t lose weight as quickly as when I was young but I work hard not to be old or overweight.  I am more prone to be content to be at home and value time with friends.  I am looking forward to not being employed and seeking new adventures in the timeframe that I set. 

  • Paula Shulak

    Answers to Sunday’s question
    YOUTHFUL : 1.  Very active in theater, temple and politics
                         2. Do line dancing, ride bicycle, garden and do other physical activities (and at 76      that is not always easy).
                         3. Attending Road Scholar programs and traveling to do so
    AGING:     1. Aches and pains of Arthritis and bone marrow cancer
                          2. Head of white hair
                          3. Diet which restricts sugar and caffeine

  • Cindy Navarro

    I am open to new experiences, I continually take classes to learn new things and I am willing to try new technology.
    My age is reflected by my breadth of knowledge and willingness to share it; how much longer it takes me to complete some tasks; and the instances where I cant remember why I came into the room or what I was coming to get.

  • Suzanne

    Ways I’m still youthful:
    I’m  open to growing, changing and learning.Life is an adventure in constant motion, with many mysteries and surprises.
    There is still sooo much I dont know that I crave to know; there’s so much to look forward to.

    Ways I’m Aging:
    I can admit my weaknesses and vulnerabilities and am more courageous to be me.
    I appreciate so much about what I have – every breath, every chance  to experience
    G-d’s creation and to live my life.
    I remember my youth like it wasn’t so long ago and am glad that I have the experience of years to guide me and others.

  • Frblmng

    Aging in the wear and tear on my body; the aches and pains
    Aging in the short term memory issues
    Aging in resigning myself to not trying some new things becccause of fear of harm

    Youthful in pursuing new physical challenges
    My desire to see new places and experience new things
    The ability to laugh at the losses in memry and physical ability

  • Jcpberger

    Ways that I am still youthful:
    1. I have a two-year old who helps me see the world through a child’s eyes.
    2. I look for and enjoy opportunities to learn more about the world around me.

    Ways that reflect my aging:
    1. Raising my child with the values and traditions my parents taught me.
    2. Buying a Kindle so that I can read the books that I enjoy even though my eye sight is not what it used to be.
    3. Wanting/expecting my college students to have the same commitment and responsibility that I had when I was in college.

  • Ambenamy

    Three ways that I am still youthful are
    1. Keep current on Judaism, education, music, fashion, technology, etc.
    2. Redefining myself periodically to reflect current trends and attitudes of the 21st century youth
    3. Keep an open mind to new ideas.

    Three ways that reflect my aging are
    1. Raising my young adult daughter with the values and ideals I was raised with by my parents
    2. High expectations for respect and honesty from people like what was expected in my youth
    3. Seeing the grey hair in my mirror each morning.

    At age 49 I am torn between my youth and my aging. I feel the transition towards aging and I am fighting it. I want to remain relevant in the 21st century. I will fight the transition as long as possible.

  • Ercolew

    1. The High Holidays are approaching again!
    2. Think about how I have spent the preceding eleven months.
    3. Decide what aspects of my life I can work on to improve in the coming year – a call to action!

  • Linda Zimmerman

    1. Look inside.  Be more fully aware of the person you are now and are becoming.

    2. Look around.  Be more fully aware of your relationship to your community.

    3. Look upward/inward.  Be more fully aware of your relationship with God.

  • Ben

    1. It makes me aware that the awesome High Holydays are approaching. 

    2.The sounds encourage me to look around me to see how I can bec ome a better person-to do the will of G-d and to help  those near and dear  

    3. The  sounds reminds me of my connection to Mt. Sinai, theTen Commandments and the sounds of the Shofar that were heard prior to the words   to the pronouncements.

  • Ernest R Strauss

    1. It awakens us to sound that, in our times, is most unusual. Hardly something you hear every day. 

    2. It says to us “rejoice, rejoice.” Thousands of years after our faith was born it is alive, well, and flourishing. In some areas more than ever before.3.  It connects us, physically, to Joshuah and Moses: The shofar in my hand is the same instrument that was sounded at Sinai. Not a modern interpretation. Or a similar article. It is a ram’s horn. It is the exact same article that was at Sinai. Nothing else is as genuine. When you hear the shofar you hear the voice of the Eternal just as we all did way back in time. Ernie Strauss

  • Pfkaplan1

    It connects me to history…to all Jewish people for all time past, future and present. Ant that fills my heart with awe.

    It speaks to my soul. It says wake up, pay attention.Listen to your spirit.

    It gives me a way to mark time through my life. Year to year, decade to decade, the sound of the soar marks the ending of one and the beginning of another chapter.

  • Tsippy

    To do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with my G-d
    To think of anyone to whom I need to apologize or to contact
    To plan

  • inawe

    1.  As a call to action
    2.  An awakening
    3.  A gathering of the tribe with similar intent

  • Awed

    1. Inspires me to tumble down the walls around the prison in my mind.
    2. Inspires me to break out of self imposed generation and join my tribe.
    3. Inspires me to continue the song and lessons of our people, l’dor – v’dor

  • Diane Statham

    1) I am inspired to connect with my ancient Jewish heritage.
    2) I am reminded that a well-lived life must respond to new challenges.
    3) I am humbled to realize that I must strive to do better to become the person I would like to be remembered as.

  • Garbski

    1. I can imagine hundreds of shofars blowing from all over the world and feel blessed I can share with so many people the same wishes for a new year

    2. My hearing impaired kid can hear the shofars again and I am ever so grateful, even that one note that makes us laugh.

    3. I get to start over.  Woot. 

  • Funnynac

    1) The sound vibrations literally shake my physical and subtle bodies, initiating movement and change. 2) I am reminded to be grateful that my ears work and that I am blessed that I can hear sound.
    3) I am instantly tied to the generations before me and those yet to come who have and who will practice this ritual on this exact occasion.

  • guest

    I feel like its telling me to explore new things such as a course of study that I haven;t yet explored as well as applying what I’ve experienced throughout life to daily situations which we sometimes forget.    Linda

  • Sarah

    It is a call to worship. It is a beautiful reminder of High Holidays past. It is the voice of renewal.

  • It connects me to my ancestors- I feel as though the red cord has been extended as a lifeline and a way to keeps my place in our history. The sound of the shofar fills me with awe, and gives weight and meaning to my interactions with the Almighty. It seems to infuse the service with reality; it is no longer a mental exercise but a calling out to God from my heart and soul.

  • Wombatkitty

    I can usually feel the soundwaves of the shofar moving across my skin, reminding me it is the breath of life that makes the shofar sound, so it is the breath of life moving across my skin, waking up my soul, reminding me to pay attention to the holiness, the magic of life.

  • Karen Willner

    From this reading the three ways in which the sound of the shofar will inspire me this year will be, 
    Awake Up!  Don’t go quietly into that gentle night.  Don’t waste  precious moments that are given to me as a gift by squandering them on stresses I can’t control or forgetting gratitude for whatever is in my life, that even the negatives are lessons to be learned or ways to grow.  Allowing all things to bring me closer to Gd. 

  • Cecily Morris

     Fills me with awe & hope for the future.
     A look to the future of Judaism
    Greatful that my children & grand-children are hearing the same
    regardless of where they live

  • Sara

    Recharging that spiritual part of me that often slips away from Jewish time during the summer…

  • Ezekiel

    Most important for me is that the sound makes me remember the “voice” of G-d in me.  Secondly, it enables me to reaffirm my commitment to Torah, and thirdly, it is a beautiful sound.

  • Jafmf60

    1. To awaken.    2.  To ponder my past.  3. To celebrate today, with hope of tomorrow  

  • Klezlab

    The shofar is a the sound for me to get out the rut that I’m in, not even realizing that I’m in a rut because I’m running full speed with my head down. What am I missing? Friends? Others needs? Life?

  • penny kermit

    In ancient times the shofar blasts  could signal alarm,  like bugle calls, alerting the people to imminent danger. Therefore calls were sent from one direction at a time. 
    In this present time of great political challenges to our democracy like attempts to limit voting, like   threats against the governmental  safety net that supports us all,  threats against the general availability to receive and afford life saving health care,  threats against  care for our disabled and elderly, as well as crippling limitations to our education programs and other serious issues confront us .
    The shofar blasts remind us to pay attention and to try be as effective citizens as possible.

  • Aplutzer

    To do the best I can at tikkun olam
    To contemplate the things that are important in my life 
    To commune as one with the Congregation 

  • Tzirelsfm

    The sound of the shofar reminds me to really listen and concentrate.  To really listen, I keep my eyes closed.  The T’kiya G’dola sends shivers up my spine especially when more than one shofar is used.  It’s inspiring to listen to the call of the Shofar and how the sound surrounds me. That the blowing of the Shofar is taking place around the world tells me that we are Am Echad, “One Nation/People” and we connect to each other by listening to the calls of the Shofar.  

  • As a professional horn player, I would be encouraged, inspired, motivated to practice blasting long tones on my special, custom-crafted shofar so that I would feel my strength increasing as the notes lasted longer. I would play every day, sounding the shofar as one of the ‘Shofarot Siblings’ (my brother is also a professional horn & shofar player).  As the sound stretched out, the notes brought to mind the hymn: ‘Nearer My God to Thee’.

  • Risa

    To remember, to think with my heart, and to get my tush moving!

  • Zelda

    The Shofar reaches within my soul, it resonates through my body and heightens my senses. It is a call to action as well as a reminder to review the past with  a commitment to improve or correct when  necessary. It reminds me to live a full life. 

  • Annice

    The shofar inspires me to pay attention differently, to wake up my mind, body and soul diferently, and and to listen differently just like there are 3 different Shofar calls. Each Rosh Hashana I want to be different, act different Han the previous year. The Shofar helps remind me of this concept.

  • Eeschmalbach

    For many years I could not sound the Shfar – but my children could. The sound of the shofar reminds me of the relationship in the family – the wholeness comes from the ones.

  • Veronica Kahn

    The sound of the shofar has personal meanings to me which give me a sense of pride, a feeling that all is right and this “wake up” sound connects me.

  • Martin Bobrowsky

    The sound teaches us you can communicate without words
    Awakening from slumber doesn’t only mean from literal sleep but from the routine of daily life to have a heightened sense of what is around us
    The notes can resemble our deep breathing, our rapid heart beat when we are passionate and the Takiah godalah which tells us that when we have exerted our maximum effort we can still strive for one more second of holding the note: one more effort of tikun h’olam

  • Leo

    It wakes my spirit up. Reminds me to open my heart and give tzedakah  and to help others. It connects us to our past and our future.

  • Purplemouse

    To listen for the soft notes, to listen for the shrill notes, to listen for the smooth notes

  • It wakes me up; it calls me to action; it “breaks through” the obstacles I have placed before myself.

  • Chana Chaya

    Wake up; pay attention; be in the present moment

  • to have more patience. to feel to be open to new challenges

  • Sesartist

    I am in awe of the fact that people all over the world are listening to those same sounds on the same days. It makes me aware that we are part of a large family.
    The sounds inspire me to listen carefully. To appreciate subtle differences.

  • Jvpaull

    to remember and reconsider the past

    To listen more intently

    To hope for the future of my children, grandchildren, and all their peers

  • Bgubar

    I think of myself as part of a larger Jewish community, that I need to help support that community with charity, and that all that has been done is over, and now is a new year!

  • Allan

    I think of the Beach Boys “I Get Around.”  It makes me happy and want to clap my hands and move my feet and even dance.  It also provides good memories of happy times past and present.

  • Joy Krauthammer

    How do you live your life as an

    How does this make a difference
    as you age?

    Name 3 ways in which you see
    your life as art, not science.

    I am an ‘Artist of Life’.


    My life as art comes from my heART. It
    beats as a drum and is open and flows in abunDance. It is open to you.
    It is open to Oneness.


    The Kavannah/intention of my ART I
    live is to be uplifting and inspiring, authentic, truthful and joyous.
    ART does not hide; my art shares emotion, feelings, thoughts, beliefs,
    newness, oldness, nowness and Tiferet/beauty.

    In the creative role and metaphors of
    life, I am active in writing, story-telling, sculpting, weaving, carving,
    potting, painting, planting, singing, dancing, drumming and photographing life.

    My Art of Life is a train track that
    travels as a Gemini in many directions, not direct on my journey (and I hope on
    my path, climbs higher and higher) and picks up passengers along the Tree of

    My Chesed/loving-kindness, sharing,
    giving, receiving, and Netzach/forward direction is felt and can not be
    measured (as is “science”). Instinctively and intuitively I ARTfully
    make a difference through my heART.

    ARTfully and heARTfully I am
    dedicated to being Joy. I will arrive at the Gate of Heaven and it shall be
    known that I was Joy, and not Zusha, nor you. ARTfully, I passionately and
    purpley infuse my life with love, vitality, joy and justice. If on a measured
    balance scale, my Artist of Life being would tip toward Spirit, not science (nor
    accomplished chores). ARTfully I am grateful to be alive in 4 Worlds of spirit,
    mind, heart and body.


    Artfully and heARTfully I am grateful
    for many of the challenges and opportunities in my life. I try to discover and
    reveal hidden blesSings. If science directed, I would be measured in anxiety,
    not hope and faith that I have. I would count my tears of grief, not warmth of

    As I age, when I look back being an
    ‘Artist of Life’, I am happily surprised at where I’ve been, what I’ve done,
    how I’ve done, with whom, and at what times. I have some

    I offer Brachot/blesSings. I teach
    how to give blesSings. As I age, I recognize my mentors, my teachers, and transformation
    as I honor the years from mid-life to elder and sage as I become wisdom keeper
    and mentor. In ceremony and empowerment, I celebrated my baby-boomer Simchat
    Chochmah ~ Joy of Wisdom.

    When I was a teen, aside from
    competitive scored sports where I was ‘captain’, I had no measurable skills,
    talents, degrees, but I had a natural innate joyous way of being; a smile and
    kindness– Baruch Hashem, I am told 50 years later by people who knew me then,
    close friends or not. I still smile joyously because I am connected to G*D and
    community, and embrace the sacred in my life.

    As I age, I am more aware of this Divine
    relationship to the Holy One

    and my Serving G*d in Joy.

    G*d loves me. I love G*d. May G*d
    bless you. ~

    ~ Joy Krauthammer

  • Stanley H. Friedman

    As a younger person life as art is a series of sketches, quickly drawn from a small base of experiences. As one ages the “models” of life become more selective and clearly drawn. The older one becomes the art of living becomes even more clearly drawn as the time left to spend with loved ones becomes shorter and shorter until near the end one can single out one or two singular moments in a persons life which made all of the “rehearsals” for the final moment worth while.

  • Tamar Leah

    I always try to be curious about the world I encounter and appreciate the everyday wonders that cross my path. I try to see Hashem’s spark of holiness in everything as well as myself and those I love. This approach helps me as I age for I feel more connected to the world and see my aging as part of the cycle of life. I express my creativity in my cooking(esp challah and decorated cookies for holidays at my synagogue), in sewing and crocheting, and in the way I help my family celebrate holidays and life cycle events.

  • Meamocha

    The art of relating creates widening circles:
    Begin within, seeing self Self as living art–enjoy the view.
    Expand the circle to share the art of loving kindness and humor with self and others,
    Widen the circle of compassion to share the art of loving kindness and humor in challenging relationships.
    Steward the earth and celebrate spirit with the palette of who you are.

  • Lila

    My life is a mosaic, aiming at a cohesive, pleasant pattern. As a musical piece, it has its changes in patterns, sometimes with discordant notes, but resolving in a fulfilling coda. I also work at the art of listening.

  • For me it’s ofetn too easy to contemplate what I have not yet accomplished. I try to orce my self to step away from that mindset and to look at the whole canvas; making sure to contemplate those parts of the work tht give me great pleasure to recall; along with the unfinished sections that still need considerable work.

  • Steve

    As I age I better understand comments made to me by grandparents and parents when I was a child. Perspective is an integral element of art and I am gaining a greater and deeper sense of perspectiveinto life. When I look into the eyes of someone who is suffering or rejoicing and I am motivated to emapathize with him/her because of what is in the heart(his/hers and mine) it is artwork of a sort. Recognizing error and the need for correction as part of growth takes into account the individual and the world around the individual.(An artist must come to terms with errors in production of the art and implement some form of correction during its production).

  • Kathryn

    I try to live life with loving kindness. It makes others and the world around me more beautiful. Focusing on the good in others, not judging others, and treating others the way I would like to be treated is an art.

  • xeroxmom

    I see my life as art and not science when:
    — I remember that life isn’t always about knowing (as with science), but about believing,
    — I recall that science has almost nothing to do with love, but art is about passion — loving life, loving others, loving God
    — I consciously approach things from a standpoint of how beautifully they are working instead of how they seem like they might need fixing

  • Beth Pennamacoor

    I smile every day as I walk in the door of the Temple. I immediately turn on my music. I sing all day along with my music. When I teach, I know that I am helping to create a well rounded student with Jewish education and values to last a life time.

  • Tsippy

    I am more alive as I age, connect more with others, offer counsel and prayers to those in need as part of my role as para-rabbinic, and add more prayers and rituals to my daily life.

  • phylly

    My Life is Art 1. in a house of G-D, in G-D’s house of Nature, and when I am with my children and grandchildren.

  • This question, “How do you live your life as art?” is such a provocative reminder that it is up to us to transform our life into art. And at this time, when we are about to enter the gates of a new year, it is especially poignant. In my teaching [poetry, creative writing, journal writing], I am always asking if we are living life, or is life living us? If we look at our lives as books that are being created, are we writing these books [these lives], or are these books writing us? I try to make each day artful in some way. It’s not always easy, because it’s easy to get distracted by the complexities of living. But just as we need to remind ourselves each Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur about Tzedakah, Prayer and T’shuvah, we need to keep trying to live life as art. As I become part of the aging process, this effort, each day, of turning life into something artful, becomes more and more important to me. It makes me feel fulfilled, and I thank God for the chance to give to others through my teaching and through my poetry. When the events in my life can be transformed into my writing, I know that I am here for a reason. Leah Schweitzer

  • Faye of the Outdoors

    I am one of those people who tried to have a plan in life, but didn’t always know how to manage my interactions with people. I grew up in a single parent household where that parent suffered from mental illness. She did get counseling and was put on the typical meds of the day. Tranquilizers and later on, lithium for bipolar disorder. So you learn to handle all the strange behaviors you have to deal with. And then perhaps, you choose a spouse who is also dysfunctional. I am of Jewish descent but didn’t observe much practice of it. I took an Introduction to Judaism class with a local female Rabbi in 1995 -96. This helped me to feel more comfortable and to be able to participate in the rituals, observances of Judaism. That was the beginning of a new growth for me. I was able to enroll my son who was 8 at the time in religious school. For me that was significant. I was doing all the normal family things for my son that I could. That is how I wanted my life to be. And as the years have passed, that son is a young adult who has already served in our military and is completing his education at the University level now. And after 33 years of marriage to an alcoholic I am strong enough to face it. The last few years were tough. And I would have chosen to work on this union, but my spouse isn’t ready to work on himself. And he left the relationship because that is probably the easier thing to do. I am still evolving and I do credit the Al Anon 12 steps for helping me to get in touch with how I played a role in my own dysfunctional marriage. Now, for me it is the biggest challenge of my life to create a new pathway and move on. I don’t understand how some people go from one relationship to another, then another. I know I need time to know me. After living in denial for so long, the art of living a life where I matter first is a big challenge. Being a part of my Temple family and being as involved as I am is very helpful and keeps me grounded. The Sages and Rabbis are all correct. You never finish learning and growing!

  • Diane

    I live through the lenses of my senses, trying to appreciate every day, and show appreciation to others. Life as an art has changed as I age since my senses have changed. My hearing and vision and even my own greying hair make my sensation of life different than what I experienced when I was younger. Three ways I see life as an art include: mind-body-spirit awareness through decisions I make about eating-exercise-praying; waking up every day to a unique sense of time, space and weather; and acknowledging that I can control my attitude and how I cope with whatever I am faced with.

  • Arthur

    I have become enamored of Rabbi Heschel’s comment: When I was young I admired clever people; as I grew older I came to admire kind people.

    Science would dictate that you stick with clever people. Life, with people is an art.

    Raising kids is not science it is art – my wife and I have done a good job if I say so

    Facing illness as we age takes art as well as science

  • margo

    The pieces of your life’s puzzle add up to more than the sum of the parts when it’s right. A symphony from the loves of friendship, the well placed kindness of others that just make the world better, the things you create in your life that paint a beautiful portrait of….

  • I try to give myself the time and quiet to take in beauty where I find it, I let that beauty inspire my thoughts, intentions and creativity, and I try to practice the art of listening-really listening to others.

  • pennyd

    Science searches for sure and certain answers, while art accepts and entertains my uncertainties, even my doubts, and encourages me to keep trying even if I don’t get it right. Science is always black and white, while art provides a rainbow of colors to brighten my days. Science ages me, while art keeps the child in me alive.

  • Marsha M.

    I didn’t have a favorite from last year, but I have kept my favorite from 2010, the one called ‘The Art of Metaphor’ by Rabbi Zoe Klein. It is so beautiful, that I have to read it every so often. Here it is, for anyone who wants to read it: A woman spoke with me after her double mastectomy. She couldn’t accept her body. We sought a new metaphor. Your chest is a sacred altar, and your breasts, the paschal lambs. “I look at myself now,” she later said, “and feel that I am sacred.”
    I believe to begin again one has to search for a new, personal metaphor.
    Start slow. What is comparable to the skin you wear every day? To what would you liken its color and landscape? Is it sand, vanilla wafer, maple syrup, wheat, parchment? Are you a mysterious, flaking scroll? Are age spots floating lily pads on the rippled lake of your skin? Do you have silver eel scars, bouquets of creases? If you were sand, which sand? Tide-washed Bermuda pink? Glittering Hawaiian black? Gray and moist? The blue veins inside your wrist, are they not the rivers of Eden? And your hair, is it glacial run-off? Mink? Straw? Fusilli?
    Start slow with metaphor and then move up. Is your home a jungle, a gingerbread house, a jewel box, a cookie tray after the cookies have been scraped off?
    Move up and then expand…Fear is a cricket in a warehouse, siren-loud but entirely squashable. Anger is acne clogging up love. Unforgiving is a slow, intimate poison. Loneliness is a fiercely protective beast. Self-pity is a lead shoe. Egocentricity is a hall of mirrors. A strong self-image is perfect lighting and a little airbrush.
    Keep practicing with metaphor, and one day, you will be walking along, and it will grab you: the metaphor that is yours and only yours. You will catch your breath, and know a very high, private truth.
    This metaphor will become your secret name, and by it you will know yourself, live in poetry, and begin again.

  • Honest

    The Entire Torah is still my Favorite Jewel !!!

  • Rhodag4

    My comment here is to first ask you to contact me as soon as possible……..

    The subject is: Barak Obama!

    It is obvious that he is not an honest person – how can I say this? His comments and facts speak for themselves – or – do you not ‘listen’ to what he says???????






    I am requesting that you do contact me… will be interesting to see if you do….

    Rhoda Gelman

  • Newmie2

    My favorite jewel was Mary J. Blige. Whatever it is that you have, you must make work for you.  In this way, we keep moving toward the light.  When we minimize our own talents, when we envy what others have, when we give in to despair, we choose darkness.  When we do so, we should always remember this is a choice, it is not destiny.  The light is always there if we have the courage to seek it.  And, with faith and trust in God, we need never seek it alone.
    The reason why I choose this one is she is so down to earth and real, her response resonates with me personally.  I was told years ago I could choose to live in heaven or hell, in other words, if you don’t do anything to change your situation and you are miserable, then you are choosing hell on earth.  so that is why Mary J. Blige’s comment resonates most for me. Because I chose to try to live my best life years ago, by asking G-d to light my path. And sometimes asking G-d to please give me enough sense to see & follow it!

  • Babschwartz

    I loved the Billy Jonas jewel. It was so funny and so true. I’ve forwarded it to many people. Thanks Craig, staff, and Billy. Barbara Schwartz

  • Melanie

    My son was six when he first started to understand that gift-giving was something that he wanted to do, as well as receive.  My birthday, Hannukah & Christmas are all at the same time, so his motivation was high to get me a present.  His stepfather took him into a gift shop & he carefully considered all the possibilities before he selected a wonderful, soft, brown, stuffed bear – clearly, the one item that from his young perspective, was by far the best choice. 

    I traveled extensively for my job at the time, & every time I went, I took ” Skippy” – & thus my son’s love – with me.  He knew I loved the gift so much that – while he is now 28 – he has gotten me a new stuffed “friend” every year since; other family members have also added to the collection.  The “stuffed friends” have formed their own family whose stories have been told many times, stories that will be collected & printed by this March as a gift when – hopefully, G-d willing (ptui, ptui)- my first grandchild is born.

    I knew my 6 year old son was shopping for a birthday gift.  I did not realize he gave a lifetime of giggles, stories, personalities & love.

  • Debbie

    To be able to give back, caring for my mother after all the times she cared for me, and knowing she was getting better

  • Babschwartz

    I was sitting in the loft of our cabin with my seven year old granddaughter, when a bolt of lightning hit nearby. She put her hands over her had and crouched down. When it passed, we looked and each other and laughed knowing that covering our heads wouldn’t do much good. It was that laughing together that brought me so much joy. 

  • Shiri

    Watching my first grandchild asleep in my arms.

  • Melanie

    “G-d dwells within you, as you.” Swamiliji   And so with others if you are open to seeing the G-d in them.  And part of the G-d in me is the one who is embarrassed to admit that without being dragged to a Julia Roberts movie, let my scorn fall away, & seeing G-d in her, I would have gained far fewer insights from Rabbi David Cooper’s Devakut meditation….

  • CantorAKR

    Thought on today’s jewel are Lennon/McCartney’s:
    Blackbird singing in the dead of night
    Take these broken wings and learn to fly
    All your life
    You were only waiting for this moment to arise

    Blackbird singing in the dead of night
    Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
    All your life
    You were only waiting for this moment to be free

    Blackbird fly, blackbird fly

    Into the light of the dark black night

  • Ian Arcus

    The profile would be that of two heads, my wife’s and mine, smiling proudly as we observe our three children moving off on their chosen paths, each seeking to continue to give back to their communities in the ways they learned in day school, Camp Ramah and at home.  Like Moses, we cannot physically see what the future holds for our children, but at this moment we can observe the beginnings our their paths and the direction of their lives.  That is a precious gift.

  • Melanie

    I’d give a suicidal friend the ability to see the light in her life.

  • Lbt980

    Mobib.  That is indeed the truth…and the challenge?  Did you forgive,  or let go?  It’s like a tug of war.  If you let go, what is resolved? Does it matter?

  • Mobib

    to be able to forgive .Holding grudges has ruined Family relationships and frienly ones. It just eats away at your being. Let it go and get on with life.

  • Rabbi Rafael Goldstein

    I’ll answer my own question. The very end of Le Nozze de Figaro by Mozart. After all the playing around in the opera, it boils down to one guy asking for forgiveness. In a tremulous voice, the soprano responds, having to let go of her bitterness and her hurt, even though it was very hard for her to do. That moment changes everything. And we hear in the music that asking for forgiveness is the easy part. The hard part is actually forgiving. But in forgiving, they can all move forward and come to a place of peace and joy. That’s sort of what the Days of Awe are about – not asking for forgiveness, but actually letting go of the bitterness, letting go of the hatred or the anger, holding no grudges, and just moving on. May we all be blessed with a New Year when we can find the ways to forgive. 

  • Irma S. Moss

    On Jan. 19, 2011 I got on a plane at Logan Airport going to Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv; I had committed to 3 1/2 months of volunteering at Reuth Medical Center in Yad Eliyahu.  Although I was quite excited and looking forward to this adventure, I knew no Hebrew, did not know a soul, did not know what I would be doing, where or how I would be living, or how I would get to Reuth with all my luggage.  I am 72 yrs. old and left the comfort of my home, family and loved ones, especially my grandchildren, and took the risk to see the light. 
    I received gifts on a daily basis from patients, their families, and the very overworked staff.  It might have been a smile, a simple ‘todah’, a delicious chicken recipe to use on a Shabbat when I got home, but mostly it was the light within that I felt at the end of the day.   
    As I am back home safely in my cocoon I now see differently.  I am more mindful and grateful and as I approach the High Holidays I will reflect and remember those who lightened my life during my volunteer experience at Reuth Medical Center.    

  • jonbenish

    To retire from teaching after 21 years in this country, not to mention the years that I taught in El Salvador.

  • ruthw
  • ruthw

    given this year’s theme, I think fellow subscribers will nejoy these photos:
    best wishes, Ruth

  • Rachel

    “Be a good Jewish human being”.

  • Shoshana

    A strong belief that there is a divine presence and to know that, no matter how bleak things are, to remember all the good in my life. 




    • Craig

      Rita, All of the Jewels are archived online here.  




  • Melanie

    Mom – thank you for teaching me to never back down from a challenge, to never be treated disrespectfully, to fight every fight that needs fighting.  Dad – thank you for showing me some alternatives to mom’s approach.

  • Shalom 49girl

    To be respectful of others.  I have, in turn, taught this to my own children.

  • DGrauman

    I would thank my parents for the instilling in me PERSEVERANCE. I’ve learned through this gift, that weathering the storm is worth the sunrise on the other side; even if the storm is long, brutal, and unforgiving. So, Thank you!

  • Melanie

    When my daughter got married.  Then when she got pregnant.  Families, love & life = light….

  • Isamar28

    When I decided I wanted to convert to Judaism. Soon after that, I started classes & meetings with a Rabbi. I’m still learning a lot & meeting with my Rabbi. Hopefully, this new year I’ll be blessed and proudly count myself as a Jew.

  • Craig

    Don Abramason Sent this to me. I think it is beautiful  

    are those who mistakenly think that world peace can only come when there is a
    unity of opinions and character traits.  Therefore, when scholars and
    students of Torah disagree, and develop multiple approaches and methods, they
    think that they are causing strife and opposing shalom.  In truth, it is
    not so, because true shalom is impossible without appreciating the value of
    pluralism intrinsic in shalom.  The various pieces of peace come from a
    variety of approaches and methods which make it clear how much each one has a
    place and a value that complements one another.  Even those methods which
    appear superfluous or contradictory possess an element of truth which
    contributes to the
    mosaic of shalom. 
    Indeed, in all the apparent disparate approaches lies the light of truth and
    justice, knowledge, fear and love, and the true light of Torah.”

    Olat HaRe’iah

                                 Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook


  • Rabbi Rafael Goldstein

    I agree with the comments about Ronald Reagan, and had questions about writing the question on this one. But I thought about Balaam. Here was a guy who was supposed to be a prophet, but didn’t see what was plainly apparent to an ass. If he could learn from an ass, I could learn even from the alleged legacy of Ronald Reagan. The question I wrote actually had two parts – one on a politician one can admire, and one about a politician one could not admire. But I am actually glad it got boiled down to one question. Yes, I absolutely do not admire anything about that lying hate monger Reagan, whom I hold responsible for the deaths of so many of my friends to HIV/AIDS. But I have to say that the positive question also gave me the opportunity to think about who I do admire. All politicians have their faults, some more than others. Some way more than others. But in a positive light, I would answer my question with the lesser of most of the evils. I really admired Yitzchak Rabin. Even with his faults, he stayed focused on what was most important – peace. 

  • not happy with this

    Ronald Reagan stood by while my friends died of AIDS. He was a wolf cloaked in a folksy sheep’s clothing. He made selfishness and greed out to be virtues, leading us to where we are today, with 15% of our country impoverished. Furthermore, he was a crap father to his son, who is full of hateful rhetoric. If this is a Jewel, no thanks.

  • James Moore

    I like especially Hillary Clinton, and if she had been elected in 2008 I think she would have had advice from Pres. Bill Clinton and I think a team of Pres. Obama and Hillary Clinton in 2012 would be unbeatable.

  • Yakoba

    One politician whom I really admire? – Definitely not Ronald Reagan – despite today’s  Jewel, he was not “decent, winning, humble, and honorable” politician. He spearheaded the present difficulties that we have with the financial industry and “I’ve got mine” mentality, besides closing the mental institutions and sending mentally ill people into the streets without any support.

  • Tigercreek

    Do I have to!!!

  • Linda kleinman

    I would probably thank them to be polite and realize that they don’t really know me.  If they did, they would see that in the last five years I have grown on the inside to be more the person i have wanted to become.  If they are commenting only on my physical appearance I would feel flattered, but know that that is a social lie.  In fact, for any serious person “you haven’t changed a bit in 5 years” is a bit of an insult.

  • Shira

    If someone said to me, “You haven’t changed a bit since I last saw you 5 years ago!” Here is what I’d answer.  I’d say:

    Well thank you.  I may not look any different outwardly, but I’ve changed immensly spiritually, internally in the past five years.  Through my studies and classes I’ve been taking at the Federation, I’ve become a new person inside!  God has changed my life in a way I could never have imagined.  Thank you for the compliment!

  • Melanie

    FAMILY – both experiences – & all their runner-ups – & always the connection.

  • Carol Elkind

    I would kindle the light for my Son.  He needs to begin feeling the light inside and out before he can move on.

  • Susanyhiler

    Being a Jew is a verb.

    My role is to do
    Gemilut Chasidim.

    As the saying goes, “pay it
    forward “. I believe when I learn something Jewish, I need to pass it on.  Sharing and caring! When you have a
    special skill, share it with others.

    Susan Y. Hiller
    Memphis, TTN
    Temple Israel 


  • Chana

    It would help make me bring out the best in every human being, and more; it would remind me of every person’s intrinsic holiness. I would be able to see everyone’s fullest potential and hopefully I’d be able to help pull out their potential from deep within their souls, into the world.

  • Melanie

    Don’t you really want to know if EVERYBODY could see it in EVERYBODY ELSE?  Then the Messiah would have arrived & the proverbial lion would lay down with the lamb.  But if it were just one person – they’d be a saint, prophet or – heaven forbid – proclaimed a messiah.  Mother Theresa or False Prophet?

    And I do love the sunglasses idea as well!

  • EdibleTorah

    Sunglasses. My relationship would change because they’d wonder why I was always wearing sunglasses, and squinted when they were around, and never looked directly at people. It probably would be kind of awkward.

  • Karen Willner

    I believe that sometimes I do see the Primordial Light hidden in a person.  I call it ‘energy’ or good ‘aura’ that surrounds a person for lack of knowledge about Primordial Light.  I can feel it and I am drawn to that person.

    It happened today.  I got into an elevator. A middle aged black woman was in the elevator.  I was immediately drawn to her. We exchanged a few words and, as she got out of the elevator, I told her what a great energy she had.  

    I’m sure we have all experienced this but, I wonder how many of us could identify what we have seen or felt.

  • Anonymous

    Easy enough…you can share Rabbi Riemer’s column by posting this link to your Facebook page:  Or for any future Jewels you want to share, just click on the title of the Jewel on the home page and share the link to that page!

  • Nechama Tamler

    I loved the column by Rabbi Riemer and would like to share it on FB. How do I do that?
    thank you in advance, for answering.  

  • Melanie

    To seek the truth & live it.

  • Melanie

    To seek the truth & live it.

  • EdibleTorah

    While this will post on EdibleTorah on Friday (, my answer here is:

    Raising children is not
    the most important job in the world, no matter what any pride-filled
    parent or teacher might say. It is certainly important, but in the face
    of curing diseases, mediating peace in the world or a host of other jobs
    both great and small which have a wide-ranging impact being a parent
    does not (in my opinion) compare.
    And I have deep respect for
    people who honestly assess their own situation and personality and come
    to the conclusion that kids just aren’t in the cards for them. Parenting
    is like any lifelong obligation, requiring effort, diligence and
    committment to the task. If someone says they don’t feel up to it, then
    it’s presumptuous (not to mention insulting) for anyone to say “oh, but
    you’d be such a great Mom”.
    Yeah, and I’d probably be a great concert violinist too, if I felt like spending the time and effort and actually even liked
    the violin. But I don’t. I’m not drawn to it in that way and the world
    is a better place for the lack of another mediocre musician.
    So no, parenting is not the most important job in the world.
    It is, however, the most important job in the world which I
    will ever do. I am (God willing) roughly halfway through my life, and
    it’s pretty obvious that I will never be the one to call parties to the
    table to negotiate a treaty in the Middle East. Or the MidWest. Or even Middleburg Heights. I’m also not going to find a cure for cancer, or the common cold, or frizzy hair.
    Don’t get me wrong, I love my work. But world-changing it’s not.
    only “big” job left to me is to be a good husband to a woman who
    deserves more than I could ever possibly provide, and to be a role model
    to my kids – showing them by my example (sometimes acting as a good
    example, and sometimes being the one their mother says “See? That’s
    EXACTLY why you should never do that.”).
    Maybe they
    will be the ones to find a cure or solution or invention. Maybe not.
    But at the very least I can teach them how to be good human beings, how
    to recover when their worst selves trip up their efforts to do their
    best, how to make their way through childhood to become both competent
    and happy adults.
    In short, my role in the world – the big job God has given me – is to help 4 new souls find their role in the world.

  • EdibleTorah

    While this will post on EdibleTorah on Friday (, my answer here is:

    Raising children is not
    the most important job in the world, no matter what any pride-filled
    parent or teacher might say. It is certainly important, but in the face
    of curing diseases, mediating peace in the world or a host of other jobs
    both great and small which have a wide-ranging impact being a parent
    does not (in my opinion) compare.
    And I have deep respect for
    people who honestly assess their own situation and personality and come
    to the conclusion that kids just aren’t in the cards for them. Parenting
    is like any lifelong obligation, requiring effort, diligence and
    committment to the task. If someone says they don’t feel up to it, then
    it’s presumptuous (not to mention insulting) for anyone to say “oh, but
    you’d be such a great Mom”.
    Yeah, and I’d probably be a great concert violinist too, if I felt like spending the time and effort and actually even liked
    the violin. But I don’t. I’m not drawn to it in that way and the world
    is a better place for the lack of another mediocre musician.
    So no, parenting is not the most important job in the world.
    It is, however, the most important job in the world which I
    will ever do. I am (God willing) roughly halfway through my life, and
    it’s pretty obvious that I will never be the one to call parties to the
    table to negotiate a treaty in the Middle East. Or the MidWest. Or even Middleburg Heights. I’m also not going to find a cure for cancer, or the common cold, or frizzy hair.
    Don’t get me wrong, I love my work. But world-changing it’s not.
    only “big” job left to me is to be a good husband to a woman who
    deserves more than I could ever possibly provide, and to be a role model
    to my kids – showing them by my example (sometimes acting as a good
    example, and sometimes being the one their mother says “See? That’s
    EXACTLY why you should never do that.”).
    Maybe they
    will be the ones to find a cure or solution or invention. Maybe not.
    But at the very least I can teach them how to be good human beings, how
    to recover when their worst selves trip up their efforts to do their
    best, how to make their way through childhood to become both competent
    and happy adults.
    In short, my role in the world – the big job God has given me – is to help 4 new souls find their role in the world.

  • LT

    To be true to myself. To be an encourager of others and to help others find their truth. 

  • Miriam


  • Injewel1

    To help people find the Divine in embodiment and creativity.

  • Lauribk

    Listening closer to the source. Everything is provided, everything is here, if only we can open our eyes, see with our hearts, and listen to the many divine messages daily.

  • Donna Bloom

    Teshuvah with Kavannah. 

  • Cherie

    The technique could be called SeekOR

    • Craignco

      how wonderfully clev-OR   

  • Leah

    The first time I experienced a Channuka Seder at our Buffalo congregation. It happened to be the last night of Channuka. 12 tables of 12, each with Shabbat Candles and Channuka candles, plus a central set of each. As we all lit the candles and said the blessings, turning off the electric lights so the room was filled with the light and warmth of these many candles, the sense of community, unity and blessings was overwhelming.
    I still get goose bumps when I think about it -it has been almost 20 years!

  • New Jew

    The very first time I lighted Shabbat candles in my home on a Friday night. I was attending the Introduction to Judaism class and the rabbi demonstrated the candle lighting ritual and I knew I wanted to do it at home. It was an extremely deep, spiritual experience. One that I practice almost every Friday now that I am a Jew. 

  • DG_2010

    My most awesome experience by candlelight would have to be the smiles upon my husband and stepson’s faces on Shabbat when we shared the Light together. 

  • Eleni

    The light of a Havdalah candle (as part of the Havdalah ceremony) preceded our wedding ……

  • Lspm1223

    maybe in my own mind, I didn’t say things about others.  A fellow congregant irritates me, but recently I have gotten into the habit of trying to lose that thought when I am around her.  this I feel, is progress.

  • Craignco

    If I was smart enough to not say it last year, I will refrain from sharing it this year. 🙂

  • Sapperfamily111997

    I did not say “I hate you” to anyone without thinking about my words first.  If I was angry, I really thought about my words so that I didn’t say that.

  • Sharnadoc

    Gam Ze L’Tovah:  This Is Also for the Good. 
    My mother taught it to me from a story of Rabbi Akiva.  It has helped me thru really difficult times to try to look at the bright side and understand that it is all part of G-d’s mysterious ways. 

  • “Never be bored.”

    I realized long ago that my ife choices might not give me long-term financial security, or even the ability to have a family; but they would ensure that my life was never boring. As I got older this realization evolved into a conscious decision that, no matter where my life might lead me, I would strive to remain open to new experiences and people — good AND bad — so that even when I struggled in life, I would seldom be able to say I was ever bored.

  • Jackie

    if you will it is no dream-hertzl
    In an Israel course. It provides the inspiration and knowledge that i can do anything i decide to achieve.

  • Tzedek, tzedek tirdof………learnt it when I chose to be Jewish about 35 years ago.

  • Leslie Weinstein

    My yoga teacher would say in class, “Pull to center, then shine it out.  I find this helps me in every moment of my life.  When I can be truly present, grace happens.

  • Guest

    Some words from a song by Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon album

    Long you live and high you fly, smiles you give and tears you cry, all you touch and all you see, are all your life will ever be.

  • Florent

    In life sometimes you have to accepted help from other and reckon you need help,being an adult means knowing your limit and you need help from other to reach what you have to reach sometimes. Knowing your weakness and accepted it is already making you as a human being somebody better, wiser, a more growing up person.

  • YM

    With awkwardness: because I have come to feel like when I ask for help, there is the expectation that the request will need to be re-paid and I fear I won’t be in a position to return it. I then realized that asking for help can be a way to connect people and that it’s ok. However, I still struggle with the notion that there is a “tit for tat” expectation associated with it. Not sure if that is because of my thinking or the people I ask. I don’t want to think I am keeping score!

  • JKShimberg

    By actually asking for help and accepting it gracefully and with humility and delight.

  • Svken


  • Nellie Kleinberg11

    The most difficult day,although I did not know it then,was when my husband died suddenly. He was verey bright and I did not need to think when I needed an answer to everything from the ridiculous to the sublime.  How much easier it is not to have to think..

    • Lenore

      Oh, how I’ve been there….it’s a long, hard road to travel.  My heartfelt sympathy to you, Nellie.

  • When I had a stroke two years ago. Although, I was luckly enough to come out of this fairly unscathed in terms of normal stroke symptoms like paralsysis, spending a week in terrifying hallucinations made me realize the importance of everyday things as well as feeling a bit out of sorts as well. I could call it a vision quest of sorts, it wasn’t exactly coherant or meaningful on its own. Its might still develop over the next couple years.

  • Nbloch2

    The death of my two brothers, both much younger than me. Abner at the age of 45 in 1987 and Jonathan in 2004, aged 56. I think of them daily and miss them terribly. I wish that I had been able to help them live longer, and appreciate them more when they were alive. My heart aches while writing this, and I am almost on the verge of tears.

  • Florent

    When i stopped to talk and have any contact with my father… I  feel like not brave enough, to scare to have a real conversation with him. I don t know what words to choose and where to start. Now I am an adult but I still carrying lot of scar from the my childhood.

  • YM

    The death of my mother. Although I was in my 20s when she died, she never got to watch as I grew into my adulthood, married and most importantly meet her grandchildren…

  • Martha

    The death of my husband, at an early age, had the greatest impact on my life and the lives of my two sons.  That scar heals but never goes away

  • Chaim Moshe Halevi

    Although I am reluctant to qualify anything other than an earthquake, hurricane, et cetera as a tragedy, I would say it is living with fear and anxiety ever since childhood.  This has impacted me academically, experientially, physically, professionally, socially, and spiritually.

  • Curly1230

    The death of my mother. She died in 2009 the night before the first night of Passover.

  • Bonnieoddo

    The loss of my husbsnd


    finding out my younger brother has terminal Lung Cancer

  • Sharon Kendall Goldfarb

        Although there have been a few tragedies in my life, the loss of my father was

    the worse.  Not only was a kind soul, but a brilliant and could always say some-

    thing important to those in need.  He gave me courage and support,ambition and

    accomplishment – when I needed it.  He helped many people as a teacher and listened

    to his students as whole people.  I try to follow in his footsteps to help others…

    in fact my entire extended family is dedicated to their helping professions.  I be-

    lieve, because of him and his legacy.

  • Albafrank36

    Becoming a widow

  • Dubrush

    1. I married a wonderful man who wasn’t Jewish
    2. My career choices were many and varied, instead of sticking to one job for a lifetime
    3. I did not have children

  • Judy

    1. I moved away from NY where I was raised as soon as I could. 
    2. I joined a synagogue, and I have been a member ever since.  We had never belonged to one in the home in which I was raised.
    3. I had a third child.

  • anonymous

    I would not have gone to college
    I would not have married a Jew
    I would not have converted

  • Chaim Moshe Halevi

    I came out as a gay man; I left a career with a good salary and benefits; I left NYC.

    • Lester

      Those were disasters?

  • Yosefsimcha

    Love my children more
    Choose a different career
    Respect my parents more

  • Wymorejones

    I chose to move away from the place where I grew up.
    I chose to pursue a financially risky life in the arts.
    I chose to admit to, and seek pharmaceutical help for, my long-term clinical depression.

  • Mark Matchen

    1. Going to yeshiva
    2. Giving up the yeshiva life for Reconstructionism
    3. Studying English in university

  • Diane E. Holzinger

    Diane,  Unfortunately, my parents did not discuss with me the option of going to college after High School. I had been brought up to believe The cliche they sprouted which was beautiful but dumb. I believe this started when I was a baby, as I had an older brother who adored me. I was unexpected and born ten and a half years after him. So, I took the route of getting married and having two children in my very early twenties. I was unhappy in my marriage and got divorced fourteen years later. This was after I stared and completed my master’s degree in five years. The process was a difficult one for me. Now many years later I am grateful for the support I received from the same family and for my strength and courage to pursue my goals. I always have been grateful for my children and never regretted this choice. Now I am grateful for my grandchildren and my daughter’s choices of partners. I continue to seek the light of Hashem and live with the purpose of spreading this light to all beings.

  • Miriam

     My father didn’t think it was important for girls to go to college.  I
    attended anyway and then went on to get two graduate degrees.

    I became more assertive than I was told I “should” be.

    To my extended family, the “new” field of psychology was “a narishkeit”
    (foolishness).  I found it fascinating, and used what I learned to
    broaden my thinking and deeply enrich my life.

    My father was a loving caring, highly intelligent man.  However, many of
    his ideas about women’s roles were based on old country norms and I
    found myself accepting much of his truly wise advice and rejecting
    echoes of old confining cultural norms.

  • Sandyhookk

    Sometimes children hear different voices. My parents had become completely secular, but somehow i heard the voices of ancestors gently tugging me towards a more traditional direction. I joined my friends at the conservative synagogue’s youth group, learned Hebrew, and later dropped out of college for two years to live in Israel. My parents initially saw no problems with the first two choices, but regretted them later, blaming them for the move to Israel. As it turns out, my life is full because of all three.

  • Pat Barndt

    I choose to quit school against my parents advice and of course I regret that. I also did not marry a man as they would have wanted and I went into the military against their wishes for me. Two out of the three were good decisions for me.

  • Kara

    My supervisor@ the hospital where as a chaplain is a nun. She taught me that Carl Jung teaches that” bidden or unbidden, God is present”. This idea has changed my world this year.

  • anonymous


  • Vcondon

    For the last nine months I closely participated in my friend’s fight for her life and her peaceful acceptance of life’s end. It was a most profound experience full of life lessons, all of which I have not entirely grasped yet. I know as time goes on I will view it as a light that has permanently altered my life.

  • The day, shortly after I turned 40, that I sobbed about how spiritually homeless I felt. Afterwards, I made a trip to a coffee shop across town to think things through. Before I set out, I just put everything in God’s hands and asked for guidance. Then I got on the Chicago ‘L’. Half an hour later, after spending the entire trip reading about Judaism on my smart phone, it took me a long time to walk down the stairs from the station. In that one ride, following an afternoon of tears, I knew I had come home. I’ve been officially Jewish for three months, now. That day was a year ago, tomorrow. And without those tears, I would never have learned who I am. So the light that changed my world this year was the bravery that God gave me, finally, to let go and listen.

  • Gailywhale

    Funding from a jewish camp, Capital camps, and my Rabbi to allow my  3 children to attend. I was very moved and touched by the generosity and help. 

  • Mel

    This past year was my first with the woman I know is the great love of my life. We’d been friends for years, but a year ago we decided that we both wanted to be more. She has made me so much more. I couldn’t have imagined a more different partner from me; our perspectives on the world are very different, but our values and our hearts are the same. Our shared commitment to and love of Judaism is one of the strongest ties I’ve ever felt.

  • Florent Herbelin

    the hebrew hammer

  • Daleoz

    My brother died in February, and I feel his presence every day.  He reminds me of my childhood and my need to enjoy the time I have left.  He left me with a niece and nephew and their families who I had not seen for a while–they are a gift to me from him.

  • Golda

    My son’s comment to a teacher.  Last school year he was in 7th grade and too young to officially be enrolled in our local Hebrew High School program but I worked there and brought him with me.  He volunteered whenever hands were needed and played on the computer or read books or practiced his guitar.  The last trimester we offered a class, “Jewish Rockers and Rappers.”  I had rules bent and he was enrolled.

    Another teacher asked him how he liked the class.  His reply: What’s not to like?  It’s about two of my favorite subjects: Judaism and music!

    I could have burst with pride knowing he totally got what I have tried to instill into his life.  How many times do parents get an inkling that they’re doing something right?

  • Angel Of Caffeine

    The eternal optimism of my flatmate. This last year has made me a better person, because every time I have felt down, she has been there to lift my spirits again. I’m blessed to have her light in my life.

  • Steven

    I was blessed this summer to have a once-in-a-decade opportunity to visit our homeland of Israel. As a faculty member on an extremely left-wing college campus I encounter anti-Semitic hate speech against Israel and the Jews all too frequently (even a singular expression of such hate is “too frequently”, if you ask me).  Being able to once again see the great things that our people have acheived (with much help from God and despite much adversity) buttressed my faith in the Jewish endeavor realized in great part through our State.  The nation of Israel, the “light unto the nations” (Isaiah 42:6) was the light that changed my world this year.

  • Debra

    So many lights, difficult to choose one. The migrating hummingbirds at the feeder in my yard. Reuniting with colleagues and teachers at HUC-JIR when receiving an honorary doctorate. This brought a lot of nachas to my parents during a very difficult year, and I was so grateful to be a channel nachas for them as well as for the opportunity to celebrate this occasion. It was very expanding.

  • Caringb

    For me, the light that changed my world this year was the light of awareness: awareness of my own power, of choices. I had made a weekly commitment for the summer, and I learned that it was just not for me. The light came into my soul and I knew I could handle it with kindness and strength.

  • gaga

    the light in the eyes of my children and grandchildren as we gathered for our annual week together this summer.

  • Bethloves

    Setting May 12, 2012 for the date for my adult Bat Mitzvah as this furthered my commitment to learning to read Hebrew and more intensive studying of our traditions
    and beliefs.    Beth

  • Jamie1131

    Silent Meditation retreat led by Rabbi’s David and Shoshana Cooper and attended by 70 some folks @ Isabella Freedman Center :))))

  • Gigahaw

    A Project Manager at work named Jim Simon. He came into a dark situation with resources unable to come together to produce results. He used his talents and skills for communication and creative problem solving to help us accomplish some great projects that make a difference for our customers and for us. And all the while being a real mensch.

  • Golda

    My amazing, pure, child of G-d, my 4-year-old son.

  • Simplieb


  • EmaS

    a THERAPIST WHO ENABLED ME TO UNDERSTAND THE REASON I HAVE ALWAYS FELT LIKE THE OUTSIDER.  i HOPE I can go forward in a new path with more understanding of who I am and that I can make my own place whee I belong.

  • Judith

    Anger Management class.

  • JW

    URJ summer kallah

  • Lesly

    My Mom’s passing

  • Curly1230

    George Burns, The Marx Brothers, Moe, Larry, & Curly. Think of all the joy they brought into the world.

  • Bellaluna155

    Spiritual music…I turn it up and it takes me to another place..

  • Hrhmarla

    Sammy Davis,Jr.—May his Soul, rest-in-peace,man!

  • Bgubar

    Kirk Douglas,  Lauren Becall, Gene Wilder, Natalie Portman, Steven Spielberg

  • Pete Seeger

  • Linda

    Rabbi Alan Lew z”l, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, Sylvia Boorstein, and Jon Kabat-Zinn

  • Harchinam

    Rav Eliyashiv, gadol hador from Yerushalayim and/or Rav Aryeh Leib Steinman of Ponevich Yeshiva in Bnei Brak, successor to Rav Shach. There is no better way to prepare for the coming year than with authentic Torah wisdom from authentic Torah sources.

  • Adam

    Jon Fishman, the drummer for PHISH!

  • Laurie Tishler Mindlin

    Professor Joseph Reimer, Rabbi Carl Perkins, Barry Shrage, Jeffrey Solomon

  • Wendykantor

    Anna Quindlen
    Nora Ephron

    Rabbi David Grossman

  • Chuck

    Oneg Shemesh who is a wonderful musician and has a wonderful spirit.

    • Chuck

      HaRav Kook

  • Luckdragons5

    Moshe Rabenu. That poor man was led a merry dance by the children of Israel. I would like to know how he kept such a brave face

  • Betsy

    I would like to hear from author Joann Sfar author of The Rabbi’s Cat 1 and 2.

  • Judy1015

    Rabbi Gerald Wolpe. The wisest man I have ever known.

  • Ellen


  • BIW

    Suzanne Vega.  Her song lyrics show a deep understanding of the everyday moments of life.

  • Punim7113

    Ram Das
    Rabbi Larry Kushner
    Adam Sandler

    All famous in their own right. All with differing views. All born Jews, some practicing differently.

  • Cammie Cohen

    Stephen Hawking.  His spirit and drive to live each day no matter what obstacle he encounters brings light into my soul (and not just starlight).

    Helen Keller.  Though long gone, she has been my heroine since I first learned of her and her amazing quest to communicate.  Her incredible accomplishments in the face of adversity have been my guiding light.

  • Janie Unger

    Regina & Dr. Arthur Feuer, deceased now – Holocaust survivors who served other survivors for their entire lives.  They were dedicated to helping survivors get restitution, Arthur through his medical skills, Regina through her administrative skills.  At almost 96, Regina still had survivors asking for her help & they still call looking for her although she passed away in February.  Arthur’s death at 81 was caused in part, by the stress of having to relive the horrors of WWII as he took down the testimony of each patient that he was medically qualifying for restitution.  He always said “I always think I heard the absolute worst thing & then the next person comes & tells me his/her story.”  He carried their stories forever in his heart & mind.  But they were the couple that every couple dreams of being – so in love, dedicated to each other & their family & 
    the community teaching about love, tolerance & joy.  They had a good word, an uplifting thought for everyone.  They dedicated themselves to improving the lives of all who crossed their paths.  Teachers & healers, I know they would rise to share a gem of light!

  • Annsanz

    My friend, and rabbi, Lester Bronstein. I don’t think he knows I think this (as a matter of fact I know he doesn’t). But, I think he’d share wisdom, heart, and spiritual guidance.

  • gaga

    Maya Angelou

  • Tali Ann Katz

    Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Daniel Gottlieb, Avraham Infeld

  • Barbara Stoner

    Rabbi David Wolpe

  • Jubileestreet

    Rabbi James Stone Goodman

  • Rabbi Cheryl Weiner

    Rabbi Jonathan Omer-Man
    Rabbi Natan Margalit
    Rabbi Mel Gottlieb
    Rabbi Mitch Chefitz
    Rachel Brodie
    Rabbi Laura Duhan Kaplan
    Ellen Frankel 

  • Rabbi Cheryl Weiner

    Rabbi Jonathan Omer-Man
    Rabbi Natan Margalit
    Rabbi Mel Gottlieb
    Rabbi Mitch Chefitz
    Rachel Brodie
    Rabbi Laura Duhan Kaplan
    Ellen Frankel 

  • Laughter12

    Rabbi Stephen Pierce of Temle Emanu-el of San Francisco. He is brilliant and alsa a poet.

  • Julie

    I would ask an author such as Anita Shreve or Jodi Picoult. I would also be interested in hearing from Esther Jungreiss from Hineni. I would love to attend one of their Torah classes.


  • Tobyostan

    It would be Rabbi David Saperstein with hopefully some positive uplifting words dealing with the status of each of us living in this seemingly polarized, frightening country.

  • Delia

    Rabbi Laura Geller of Temple Emanuel Beverly Hills.

  • Bonnie Lombardo

    I would vote for Rabbi Zoe Klein because she is a truly inspired poet.

  • penny Kermit

    We had a friend whom we met when we first came to SF. They had lost a son 7 years old who died of a strep infection just before sulpha. My husband was about the same age. They “adopted” us and we cherished each other for nearly 30 years until their deaths. 
    James Mundstock was the most Buddah-like man I have ever known. He was an unofficial jew-bu, the most profound, thoughtful, world conscious man, incapable of an ungenerous thought. Without a formal education, he was the best read person.
    His mother died when he was born, and he was raised by his older brother. He described himself as the little Benjamin,After taking him at age 5 to a puppet show, they visited the local cantor where in telling about the performance, they so loved him that they adopted him and he grew up in their home. He had asthma as a child, and he was away from school. When he heard the wooden shoes coming own the path (in Hamburg), he opened the curtain and did a puppet show so he could have the companionship of the other kids .. etc etcI wonder what he would have to say about the  hideous things going on in the world right now, politics in America, israel, ….

  • Points14

    Joel Hoffman

  • Paula

    Rabbi Ted Falcon gets my vote to create a jewel.

  • Sund446

    Barak Obama

  • Farfel2

    I would love Rabbi Lawrence Kusher to write a Jewel

  • Lisaj

    Jon Stewart, he is smart, current and funny and epitomizes much of current American Jewery.

  • Elianah Sharon

    Rabbi Danny Schiff – Jerusalem

    No question, he’d be amazing! I can put you in touch!

  • Bellaluna155

    Rabbi Naomi Levy of California

  • Janet Lipsey

    Rabbi Laibl Wolf of Spiritgrow – Josef Kryss Centre, Australia,

  • Scripturesong

    Rabbi Daniel Swartz from Temple Hesed in Scranton, Pa. 570-344-7201. Thank you for asking.     ~Shalom~ Ellen

  • Rachel Cohen

    Thanks to everyone for the wonderful suggestions. We will put them into the hopper for future volumes.

    We here at Craig n Co. are walking around patting ourselves on the back as we have actually published Jewels from many of the people you suggested including, Judea Pearl, President Obama, Menachem Creditor, Naomi Ragen and The Dali Lama.All of the past Jewels can still be accessed on this website under the Jewels I-VI on the menu bar.  Keep your ideas coming.Shabbat Shalom! 

  • Pjhans Fl

    I would ask Cantor Benjie Ellen Schiller for a Jewel.  It was her voice that called to me many High Holidays ago on the “Days of Awe” NPR program and brought me back on my path to a full Jewish life. 

  • Shulamith2

    Quinn Caldwell, Pastor of Old South Church, Boston, MA

  • No one is better suited to write a jewel than myself, having had 80 years of life experience.

    I have overcome the pain of adversity by doing loving service to those in need and by loving I’ve experienced joy and happiness.-He climbs the highest by helping another up and living a life that has meaning and purpose beside one’s own limited needs,

  • Melvin J. Paris

    Melvin J. Paris of St. Petersburg, FL

  • Suzanne Allender

    Rabbi Nina Perlmutter of Heichal Baoramin in Flagstaff AZ.

  • Literate1Too

    Ditto to Rabbi Lawrence Hoffman

  • Annice

    I would love to see President Barack Obama write a Jewel because he has said some thought-provoking comments about people, life, America and other topics.

  • Worldmuse101

    Professor Judea Pearl

  • Carol Dikman

    Rabbi Lawrence Hoffman

  • Chaversteve

    Rabbi Ezra Weinberg

  • Miriam Eskenasy

    Cantor Barbara Ostfeld

  • Sharon Kohn

    Rachel Naomi Remen

  • Bookwoman

    Rabbi Menachem Creditor


    Sen. Joe Lieberman, Sen. Eric Cantor, Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, Naomi Ragen are some of the people I would like to see.  Conservatives and Orthodox Jews are notably absent from your list of luminaries.

  • Meow Chatula

    Joan Rivers

  • Carol Elkind

    Rabbi Michael Zedek of Emanuel Congregation in Chicago, IL

  • Devorah Heyman

    Rabbi Herman E. Schaalman

  • Rysaa

    Absolutely the Dali Lama.  I pray one day I can meet him!

  • I would pick Rabbi Marcia Prager and/or Rabbi David Ingver

  • Naomi

    The biggest no we, as a family, had to face was, after appealing the case to the school, was when my son, with documented organizational and attentional issues, was denied his special services that are legally binding. We appealed for a change in grade, or a “pass,” which was denied, when two teachers in two separate high school classes were clearly denying him his rights that were clearly noted in the legally binding documentation (called a Section 504).  First, he was failed for not showing up to a final because another teacher changed the time of another final, inadvertently changing his schedule, and his routine. The teacher failed him in the final. Although he told my son’s doctor he would work with us, he never returned any calls. and 2) was failed on tests due to the use of a scantron, which is not legally allowed to be given to my son, as well as being denied points, with papers considered late over the year for not remembering books or papers he left at home, also not legally allowed according to the special education rights my son had, within reason (at the time he had what is called a 504, but now he has an IEP, which gives him more specific goals and rights.) Within reason meant that he could not keep forgetting assignments because we wanted him to be accountable, but he could problem-solve and remember that he could print the document at school, and hand it in on time. However, he was not allowed to do so by this teacher. My son has disabilities that are often hidden, because he is also highly gifted. People have a difficult time understanding that being a gifted child is not necessarily a blessing, especially when a disability or delay that prevents him or her from achieving the way as   he or she should achieve. They need to learn to advocate for themselves, with the help of a case worker that is usually only provided with special services from the school, at the IEP level. My son did not have a case worker at first, but he was granted certain rights that did not allow a teacher to penalize him for his issues, such as forgotten books (he was allowed to have an extra set for school) or assignments that could be printed in school. He also could not use a scantron due to visual perceptual problems, and he was penalized for missing the final, for the very reason he has his special services in the first place. Teachers often felt themselves fooled, because he was so bright, thinking that my son was just being careless, rather than disorganized and inattentive, part of his “executive functioning” disabilities. After the appeal, we knew there was nothing we could do for him. 
    Although he has a high ACT score, and well-written essays, he is concerned about college. Although he has learned strategies as a senior that are serving him quite well. he is worried about his grades. It is painful that he did not earn these grades because of his lack of ability, but rather the lack of understanding about disabilities on the part of teachers in the regular education system. 
    Let this be the worst that can happen. We all have our health, and we are blessed with bright, enthusiastic children. When we think about it, though, it makes us feel beaten. This is the first time we have lost a battle for one of our kids, no matter how hard we tried. He knows what it is like to be rejected, and he knows what it is like to taste failure, and he knows that his parents can’t fix everything; these were lessons he learned a long while back. Basically, as a special education educator myself, after this, and all the rest, it is difficult for me to have faith in the public education system. It is a true sense of loss. 

  • edahgal

    My most challenging “no” was to our efforts to have a child–and then end up with breast cancer from the infertility treatments. I had to reimagine my world and find ways to reach to and help others struggling with the same issues.

  • Susan

    My daughter called me from jail begging me to bail her out after she was arrested with cocaine.  For two days I said no until I had gathered support for what was the right thing to do which was to get her into drug court which saved her life.

  • Craigs74list

    I had to say ‘no’ to my college boyfriend, as I had to break up with him. I learned that I could say ‘no’, even to someone I loved, and the world would not fall apart. I learned to trust myself, not to wind up with someone who wasn’t right for me.

  • Terry M

    The most challenging “no” is the one you hear when offering help or showing concern.
    I’ve experienced it when a person is burned out at work, sick, sad or confused and overwhelmed.

    I’ve learned not to take it personally or even believe it to be an honest expression of how the other person feels. I’ve learned to let it sit, to leave it alone in order to let another have the control of when & what he or she would truly  like or need from me.  I’ve learned that when people are most needy or when I am most needy of help, patience is the first thing to offer.

  • Goldak45

    The most challenging No I have ever experienced was going through a full term pregnancy and having a still born. No , to not having a child that I carried for 9 months, No, to the loss of innocence, No, to your body not doing what it is supposed to do and so many many more  No’s that one can only imagine. What I have learned from it is to be kind to yourself and let yourself wallow in self pity for a little while and then put in in its place and move on. I also leaned how to feel and listen to other families who are in the same “inner  circle”.

    • Sfrantbrooks

      My daughter experienced the same last July- it was a challenge not only to her and her husband but to those of us looking to experience grandparent and great-grandparent hood.

  • Anonymous

    Sounds like fun!

  • admin

    Sounds great to me!

  • admin

    Hi. just testing

  • admin

    I agree!

  • admin

    I think this is the best thing ever.

    • admin

      Say what?