The unvoiced thoughts and ideas of a septegenarian.




As a young girl I saw others bow down to Elvis; applaud the Lone Ranger, pretend to be Superman and idolize Julie Andrews.  As they grew older,  the Lone Ranger lost to Paul Newman and Hepburn replaced Andrews.  I worshipped Esther Williams whose grace in the water I tried to emulate. June Allyson took second place: I thought I looked like her.  Never would I have bowed down to Elvis.


Maturity changes things. We leave behind the heroes of our youth and admire others who have touched us in some way or who have made a significant impact on the world. We learn of others who excel at something close to our hearts.  I discovered Hypatia, curator of the Library at Alexandria, teacher of Plato, mathematician, philosopher and astronomer: a woman who exemplifies women’s rights and equality.  I admire women who have succeeded in the political arena and women who write with velvet pens. But above all, there are three who are my heroes.




My heroes are my three children.

They exemplify the best of humanity,

The best of parents,

Devoted to family and friends,

Committed to the welfare of others.


Six open hands;

Three mouths that speak kindness and consideration;

Six legs walking in paths of righteousness;

Three voices praising the world’s beauty.

Role models all.


They wear smiles on their faces,

Are unselfish and generous,

Know how to listen,

Slow to condemn,

Averse to anger and vanity,

Disdainful of sloth.

Tolerant of the views of others.


Fighters – they never say “I quit.”

Builders – encouraging the best in everyone.

Humanitarians – giving to those in need.

Students – ready to open their minds;

Teachers – sharing their goodness and knowledge.

Parents – raising responsible, angelic children.


They win gold stars

And blue ribbons

From Mom.


Who are your heroes? Post a comment.

Julie Rose


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Why did I spend some 40 years rising early each Saturday morning to attend Sabbath services? Why are some Catholics committed to participating in a daily mass? Why do devout Muslims make a hajj?  And why do some people fail to participate in such activities?  I don’t go to praise the Creator. I don’t go to beg forgiveness for my sins.  I don’t go to plead for something.  I go to give my children roots. I go to revel in a spirit of community – of oneness with others.


It isn’t the oneness of Hashem * I treasure.

It’s the oneness of we.

You say there can be no oneness of we.

Yes there can.


When I see hundreds, nay thousands, of Jews

Marching on behalf ofIsrael, civil rights,

Blacks, the downtrodden,

I am at one with them:

They are as one with all.


It matters not whether I enter

A shul, a yeshiva, a synagogue,

Or a congregation by any other name.

Inside the doors oneness is felt,

Seeps through my pores.


I have failed to learn the lyrics to Hatikvah

Yet when hearing it sung in a crowd

I tremble with pride.

I stumble when reading Hebrew;

Warmth flows when I hear it.


It pervades my soul.

It is my road to the Baal Shem Tov;**

Josephus, Hillel and Maimonides;

A streetleading to Wiesel and Ozick and Bernstein.

My path up a rocky hill toMasada;

My sword during a crusade;

My portal to Treblinka;

A pass to fly with the IDF;

An invitation to dig in the Sinai;


And an admission ticket to a Passover Seder,

Any place, any time.


* Hashem – one of many Hebrew words for God. Others are Adonai, Jehovah, Shekhinah, Elohim.

**  Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, literally master of the good name, 18th century founder of the Chassidic movement.

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Julie Rose


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You may be familiar with that song from Fiddler On The Roof. Remember?

A blessing on  your head,

                       Mazel Tov, Mazel Tov

                        To see a daughter wed               

                       Mazel Tov, Mazel Tov

That’s not the blessing I’m referring to. There’s another for that bride that comes to her much earlier in life.  One of the traditions observed at the Jewish Sabbath dinner meal is the blessing of one’s children.  Parents place their hands on the child’s head and to girls say: “May you be like Sara, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.”  For boys it’s “May you be like Ephriam and Manassah” (Why it is Ephriam and Manassah and not the equivalent patriarchs is another question.) It makes no difference how old a child is. I have observed eighty and ninety year old parents blessing fifty year-olds.

It’s a lovely tradition but for many years I wondered why we wish our children to be anyone other than who they are. Did I really want my Sara to be like the Biblical Sara or my Joseph to be like Ephriam? My bewilderment was resolved when  I heard the following  Chasidic story.

One day his disciples found Rabbi Zusya weeping and they asked him why. He explained that he trembled when thinking about the end of his life and being asked by the Almighty not “Why were you not like Moses?” but “Why were you not Zusya?”

Indeed.  Why were you not who you are? Once my feeble brain understood  that, I changed the blessing for my kids.   It became, “May you be blessed with the strength and the wisdom to become who you are.”

AND THEY DID!  I’m grateful and proud!

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Julie Rose


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Generally speaking it’s not a good idea to offer unsolicited advice but when you have lived 70+ you have learned a few things and it’s difficult not to share what you have learned with your loved ones. It’s unfortunate that some of those things are learned too late.

Had I known earlier in life what I know now, there are things I would have done differently. In the hope that my children and grandchildren wouldn’t make the same mistakes I made, I wrote them a letter a while back and told them what some of those things were. Here are about half of them:

  • I would have home schooled my children.
  • My home would have been filled with good music and there would have been firm, restrictive, rules on the use of the TV. I might have thrown it out.
  • I never would have started to smoke.
  • I would have worked harder to develop and maintain friendships.
  • I would have lived abroad for at least a year, explored the world’s great museums, wandered in Tuscany,  attended an opera in Rome, a concert in Vienna.
  • I would have made one more trip to Israel and participated in an archaeological dig.
  • I would have learned to play the piano.
  • I would have studied Latin.
  • I would have adopted a child.
  • I would have become reasonably proficient at some sport,  probably tennis.
  • I would have returned to school and earned my doctorate. I can’t tell you why.
  • I would have taken classes in photography, bought a decent camera, taken long walks in a forest and photographed flora and fauna.
  • I would have spent more personal time with each of my children. I might even have bit the bullet and gone shopping with my daughter.
  • I would have encouraged each of my children to become proficient at some musical instrument.
  • I would have taught my children to play Bridge.
  • I would have taken my kids to the opera and the theatre more often than I did.
  • I would have worked harder to have my books published, completed two unfinished novels and written a cookbook.
  • At least once I would have owned a convertible – car not couch – a red one.

There’s more but those are primary. Whether or not my children and grandchildren will benefit from that letter is open to question. Probably not. Their goals may be far different than mine but at least the letter gave them some insight into the woman who is their mother and grandmother.

What would you include in such a letter?

Julie Rose


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This is part one of a children’s story. All  together there are 12 such Old Witch stories, dearly loved by kids about  four to ten. All contain a lesson of some sort (say please and thank you) and all contain a bit of history – mention of the Parthenon, for example –  excellent jumping off points for discussion with older children.

Part 2 will  be posted shortly.  All of the stories are available by  request. Write to julierose601@gmail.com.


            The Old Witch was getting tired.  She slowed her swing down, took a deep breath and stopped to rest for a minute. Suddenly she felt something tickling her toes.  It felt like hundreds of tiny pins were poking her. She looked down and saw five little mice, huddled together at her feet. One of them was hanging on tight to a fuzzy blue slipper

“Well, hello,” said the Old Witch. “What can I do for you or are you just here to tickle me?”

The biggest mouse took one step forward, then one step backward, then one step forward and another step back. He was not a very brave mouse.

“You don’t have to be afraid of me,” said the Old Witch. I won’t hurt you.”

The mouse took another step forward and finally he said, “We want to ask you something Old Witch.”

“Go right ahead and ask,” she said.

The mouse said, “It’s almost winter and we don’t want to live outside when it snows and gets icy cold. We wonder if you might have room for us in your house. We just need a small space that’s warm. Even a shoebox is big enough for us.”

The Old Witch patted her lap and four mice climbed up her legs and sat down.

“Aren’t you coming?” she asked the mouse still on the ground.

“I can’t leave our bed here,” he said.

“Is that what that fuzzy thing you’re hanging onto is?” said the Old Witch. “Well, I’ll just pick it up for you and you climb on up here with your brothers.”

“Now, let’s talk about this,” said the Old Witch. “First, who are you?”

“I’m Eeny,” said Eeny.

“I’m Menie,” said Menie.

“I’m  Minie,” said  Minie.

“I’m Moe,” said Moe.

“And I’m Bernie,” squeaked Bernie, the smallest mouse.

“Eeny, Menie, Minie, Moe and Bernie,” said the Old Witch. “How did you get those interesting names?”

“We’re orphans,” said Menie. “Our parents got caught in a mousetrap when we were babies and we didn’t have any names so we picked them ourselves.”

“I’m sorry about your parents. Mousetraps are evil things. Those are very nice names,” said the Old Witch. “Now, if you want to live in my house you have to understand there are some rules. First, everyone is polite to everyone else.”

“Oh,” screeched Miney, “We’re very polite! We always say please and thank you.”

“Good,” said the Old Witch. “Second, I do not like dirt. If you live in my house and go running in the fields or the garden, you have to wipe your feet before you come back in.”

“We can do that,” said Moe. “If you put a pan of water outside the door, we’ll even wash our feet before we come back in.”

“That would be very nice,” said the Old Witch. “Well, I can do better than a shoebox or a slipper.  I could probably even find four more slippers so you’d each have your own bed.  I have one room in the attic that nobody lives in right now. You can have that one. It does have a piano in one corner but I don’t think it will be in your way.”

“A piano,” screeched Bernie. “A piano! We play the piano!”

“What?” said the Old Witch. “You can play a piano.”

“Yes,” Bernie replied. “Moe and I play the black keys and Eeny, Menie and Miney play the white keys. We can make beautiful music for you and your friends.”

“What can you play?” asked the Old Witch.

“Just about anything,” said Miney. “We once lived in another house with a piano that was owned by the conductor of an orchestra. We listened to him practice every day and we learned a lot of music. We can play some things by Mozart, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, and a bunch of others. We can also play some rock music if you like that.”

“No thank you, I like the classical composers. Let’s go inside so you can meet everybody,” she said as she popped the five mice into the pocket of her dress and picked up the slipper.

It had been a quiet morning in the Old Witch’s house.  When she walked in she wondered where everybody was.  She soon found that Count Morbid was in the kitchen experimenting with a Chinese recipe and Rumple was at the grocery store looking for sour pickles. Slobolla had vacuumed the house four times and was pouting in his room because everyone else told him to turn off the vacuum cleaner. Rusty the Skeleton was curled up on the couch in the living room reading ghost stories. Skinnieminnie, who wanted to gain some weight, was at the kitchen table eating a hot fudge sundae with heaps of whipped cream. Between bites, he was singing silly songs to the Ugly Black Spider who sat on his shoulder.

When she opened the door, the Old Witch blew her ‘ATTENTION’ whistle and everybody came running.

“We have new guests,” she announced. “Here they are.” One by one she reached in her pocket and gently lifted them out.

“This is Eeny, this is Menie, this is Minie, this is Moe, and this is Bernie,” she said. “They are going to be living with us because they don’t want to freeze outside when winter comes. They have promised to be very neat and clean and the best news is that they can play that piano upstairs. Imagine that. Five mice playing a piano.”

“I don’t believe it,” said Rusty the Skeleton.

“I have my doubts about that,” said Count Morbid.

“Anybody can do anything they’re determined to do,” said Mr. Googolplex.”

“Let’s check it out right now,” said Rumple.

“Okay,” said the Old Witch. She opened her pocket and the mice jumped in. Everybody marched up to the attic. When the mice saw the piano they squealed with joy and jumped on the keyboard. Soon they were hopping up and down and the music of the Jupiter Symphony came floating out

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