I’m New at Being Old”, a book by Lucy Rose Fischer, Ph.D., caught my eye at Bookstock many years ago. The award-winning author, an honored Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America, is famous for her specialized studies in the field of aging. When she approached sixty years of age, Dr Fischer followed her dream and embarked on a second career as an artist. Her colorful portraits adorned book and have been featured in many exhibitions in the Midwest, Europe, and Israel. I am inspired by her as I, too, write many different chapters in my book of life and will continue to work, make art, live and learn.

What do I learn? I learn from the lives of JSL residents and other amazing members of our community, who make the best of tough situations and continue to try new things, just as I learn from the examples of my parents, cherished aunts and uncles, cousins, sibling and friends who have already lived many chapters of their life stories, and who continue to ask, “What will I be when I grow up?”

Can I sail through the changin’ ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?”
 Stevie Nicks

I look to others as guides and models of excellence. Our collective stories live on in each of us.  And then if we get involved in our community, we can learn more when we attend all the special events like JSL’s Eight Over 80 or when we joined together 2000 strong at the Detroit Zoo in solidarity with Israel.

This past Wednesday, we attended the Graduation of the Class of 2024 Hillel Day School, and it was a highlight for so many families. Each of the graduates came into the room and walked under the chuppah, held by past graduates of Hillel (many of their parents). (yep, I cried). The impressive 8th grader Ayal Starr welcomed all the guests completely in Hebrew and shared with gratitude the values taught at Hillel: to be respectful responsible, kind and to be yourself. He thanked his teachers, his parents and all the families for attending.

My grandson, Brody Maddin, was elected by his class to deliver the message from the graduates and he spoke with confidence and conviction in his important remarks.  I was impressed when he said he felt prepared and ready to face the future because he was guided by his dedicated Hillel teachers. Whatever disappointments, uncertainty and obstacles come his way, he said he feels that he and his classmates are ready to confront them, and they will focus on seeking new opportunities and making the best of any situation. Above all, he said he learned that “it is most important to stay present during real life moments because more often than not, those moments are when we learn the most.” (This Moment is All There Is.)

I pray that the memories of this time at Hillel Day School will stay with all the graduates, and the gratitude they feel for having had the experience of attending this exemplary school, will continue to inform their lives now and always.

We then watched the Commencement Presentation, a spy movie about the importance of seeking values, written by the graduates. At the end of the program, several of the talented Eighth graders who are singers and musicians performed a rendition of “One Day”, Matisyahu’s prayer for peace and hope. Everyone in the audience stood and sang and clapped along and wept with hope in our hearts… One day… One day… One day… (more tears)

What is everyone doing this weekend? I’m excited to attend Bubbie Zaydie Camp with two of my energetic, bright, and delightful granddaughters, Lainey Maddin, 11, and Noa Rosen, 6. I know we’ll make new memories and share outdoor experiences with other families and friends. I anticipate lots of giggles and I hope as grandparents, we can simply slow down and reflect on each moment of joy, enough to remember in the future when our grandchildren’s children will be told these stories. It’s the reflections of moments shared that I most enjoy.

I visualize the end of the day lying in our little beds in the cabin with lights out, back lit by the moon from the window, and we’ll talk about the triumphs and failures of our days, until we pass out from exhaustion. I expect to participate in all sorts of games, campfires, arts and crafts, making memories -It’s all that matters. It’s how we leave ourselves with each other until we ourselves become memories.

Wishing each of you a safe and wonderful weekend filled with memory-making goodness.

Shabbat Shalom.

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