Thank you for being a part of our 8th year of Jewels of Elul. I hope that you found the Jewels from the past 29 days to be mind and heart opening. We’d love to hear your feedback.
I extend my huge thanks to all of the people who made the Jewels project READ MORE
What makes us different from or better than God’s other creatures? A cheetah is faster, a butterfly more beautiful, and a lion mightier by far. Scientists tell us that dolphins can laugh, elephants can exhibit altruism, and malamutes can love. Animals procreate and they protect; they grow ill and they die. But we alone know READ MORE
In my early twenties, I read an interview with Lillian Hellman. Midway through, Hellman became irate, brandishing her cane in the interviewer’s face. I thought: “I can’t wait until I’m old.” As it turned out, I didn’t wait long. In my mid-forties, I began a slow but relentless decline, including brain fog, fatigue, a weakened READ MORE
ELUL – the alliteration of this beautiful word evokes love. The word is composed of the first letters of the phrase from the biblical Song of Songs “ani l’dodi v’ani lo. I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” Love is Elul’s theme and is the force that lets us grow older with wisdom READ MORE
Judaism is all about life – love of life, reverence for life, building new life. But life also brings death. The pessimist says, “You begin dying the moment you are born,” not only referring to the steady decline of our own lives but also the universe around us. We consume resources to clothe, feed, educate, READ MORE
As a physician and scientist, I have seen remarkable aging. The patients whom I care for, often with severe physical disabilities, experience a process termed “accelerated aging.” This means that some of the “normal” declines in body organ function that we see associated with age occur earlier than anticipated. Unfortunately, the result is a shorter READ MORE
I don’t really like to think about growing older, I like being 9.
If I get older I will be like my grandpa and become slow. You also are not able to see that well and can’t do or build the things you like. I get to do all the things my friends do. When READ MORE
My whole life I have been drawn to elders. From grandparents in New York and San Francisco, to great aunts and uncles around America and the world — my youth and early adulthood overflowed with the stories, convictions, artistic expression, and unquestioned love and interest from this previous generation. There were weeks spent in Virginia READ MORE
At my high school prom many decades ago, the organizers chose Billy Joel’s “Just The Way You Are” as the theme. I thought it was the most ridiculous choice, and I voiced it loudly. Why wouldn’t we change? Mention high school to any adult and very few would want to go back. Now with many READ MORE
I have gained perspective on the art of aging over the last decade of my 74 years. The gift of perspective is, in a word, “gratitude”- the conceit that my cup is half full, and each day more and more so.
Years ago, my life was filled with excitement, wonderment and adventure, but also beset READ MORE
We live in especially youth-centric times when the “Art of Aging” most often refers to the kind of superficial rejuvenation found at the cosmetics counter or surgeon’s office. Then there’s my mother, Edna Shalala. At a spirited 100-years-old, she discovered long ago that the true fountain of youth resides within. My mother’s longevity can certainly READ MORE
Thanks to advances in modern medicine and lifestyle, most Americans will survive the diseases that once killed us swiftly and predictably—infections, childbirth, cancer, heart disease—and will instead live out our final years plagued by the multiple chronic conditions associated with aging. Half of us who make it to 85 will suffer from dementia and virtually READ MORE
In a dilapidated log cabin, near a cornfield, there lived an old farmer. He had lived in the same place for so long that he attracted a lot of attention from passersby. Some believed his age to be 110, yet he maintained a youthful disposition and a sparkling sense of humor. Once a tourist stopped READ MORE
Write a letter. Address it to those you love – your spouse, your children and grandchildren, your friends. Put into this letter everything life has taught you: What you learned from childhood, from growing up, from your education. What you learned from marriage and raising children. What you learned from work, from your triumphs and READ MORE
I have for many years wondered whether, as I grow old, I should fight against it or gracefully and passively accept it. The poet Dylan Thomas memorably wrote, “Do not go gentle into the good night…Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” It is not clear whether the night he referred to was death, READ MORE
My beautiful, wonderful grandmother was, in the end, in a cancer existence. The illness was eating her inside. She lost her ability to speak to others, to walk, to hold up her body, to chew food. Being so helpless, she was graced with caretakers who were kind, hardworking, and loving. Relatives visited her often. She READ MORE
Whatever controls my genetic material, I’m happy to be enjoying the dessert course of life, and my pressures are self-chosen. I realize more than ever that time is sacred and should be spent thoughtfully and judiciously. Time is all we have, albeit never knowing how much, and I try with a little self- management to READ MORE
My son was nestled in my lap last night, slumbering at last, while I trolled the Internet for entertainment. Somewhere in a moment between status updates on Facebook and searching for shirts on oldnavy.com, I felt a gentle nudge on my arm. I looked down, and he was awake, his eyes as round and bright READ MORE
Recently I had a conversation with someone who said to me, “You wrote a very beautiful book; it’s very uplifting and encouraging. However, isn’t there a dark side to aging?” And he is right, there is a more somber side.
I find myself now in my December days. In my book I spent a lot READ MORE
The “art of aging” translates for me into the art of acceptance and gratitude. Considering the alternative to aging makes clear our only viable response.
In “surrendering” to aging we are embracing life. And in embracing life we are able to celebrate our humble position in the grand scheme of nature. When I look out READ MORE
More than a decade ago, the equally celebrated and despised bioethicist Leon Kass published “L’Chaim and Its Limits: Why Not Immortality?”, a passionate homage, couched in the Jewish tradition, to the idea that aging is good. But is that a legitimate interpretation? In the Talmud, Satan, Yezer Hara (the evil inclination) and Death are equated READ MORE
Two years ago on my 79th birthday, I experienced two things.
One was ‘feeling’ a very large hand placed between my shoulder blades, gently but firmly pushing me ‘through the air’. It reminded me of when I was eight or nine, sailing a dingy in the Balboa Bay. I remember, to this day, the way READ MORE
How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are? Playing the trumpet since I was eight years old has given me the feeling, throughout my life and career, of being in the exact, present moment of my life. An ageless feeling comes to me when practicing, recording or performing. I believe READ MORE
“Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.” -Eleanor Roosevelt
As a five-year-old I thought life would be perfect if I could only wake up blonde and blue-eyed. Today I do not know why at this tender age I did not think life was already perfect. READ MORE
This is a conversation between two generations. Eli Brent is 86 and I am Noah Taubman, 24-years-old and his grandson.
“I don’t want to be good at aging.” We both laugh. It doesn’t matter who said it, but we agree. We’re not necessarily pessimistic, but we each characteristically resort to humor to begin one of READ MORE
Old? You think I’m old? Well, maybe you’re right. Why, I remember walking into ‘shul’ on a Friday evening and finding people eager to “DAVEN.” Old? Why yes, I distinctly remember where I was when President Kennedy was shot: in gym – between Talmud and Social Studies at the Skokie Yeshiva. Heck, I remember Early READ MORE
Poppy is four years old. The only shelf in the cabinet she can reach is the one with the plastic Tupperware. She has started filling containers with water, snapping on lids, and placing them about the house. It is her new favorite game. One for Mama, one for Papa, one for Tessa, one for Ollie. READ MORE
Age has been on my mind all my life. When I was a kid I had a giant shock of black hair that was like a helmet because it was stiff with a product called ‘Slickum’. To comb it, I had to dip my head in the sink and wash my hair every day. That’s READ MORE
Aging: a fearsome word in a youth-obsessed culture. The desired stage of life, youth, is depicted as threatened by the aging process. Granted; youthfulness, with its energy, its hope, its sense of the future, is a desirable quality of life, perhaps essential. But let’s not confine those qualities only to the young in years. Yes, READ MORE
As we age, our brains are hardwired to reject change. We are conditioned to resist new challenges and remain within our comfort zones. However, growing older should not mean that we must exist within self-imposed boundaries.
In the 1960s, President Eisenhower received the gift of a rare, white tiger named Mohini. For years, Mohini lived READ MORE
“An aged man is but a paltry thing, a tattered coat upon a stick, unless Soul clap its hands and sing…”
So wrote Yeats in one of his most famous poems. The poet tells of the diminishing body. Because our physicality grows more tenuous and our frame more frail with age, we might consider our READ MORE
A Note from Craig
Thank you for joining us on this 29 day Holy Journey. I am excited to share with you this year’s Jewels of Elul V.8 on the Art of Aging.
While the month of Elul begins on Saturday evening, over the next two days you will receive a READ MORE