Friday, August 24, 2012


Art of Aging

Excerpt: "The month of Elul, proceeding High Holy Days, is set aside for contemplation and self-assessment.
Collected by noted national Jewish musician Craig Taubman of Craig N Co., the "Jewels of Elul" is a collection of stories, experiences, and inspiration from rabbis, teachers, and contemporary thinkers who share their insight on thought provoking topics."

Questions are posed (by R. Raphael Goldstein) to readers for the ELUL JOURNEY 5772
You can subscribe.
I submitted my immediate spontaneous responses to JEWELS OF ELUL. 
Some include:



* NO, because it was 3,000 miles away.
* This Jamaica H.S. 50th graduation reunion was held a few months ago, a few years earlier than normal, so that more graduates would not be dead, z'l, by the 50th year.
* I had no interest in going. If I had wanted to see classmates, I would have contacted them.
* A couple dear friends from H.S., I continue to nourish in relationship and visit. Others since the reunion, I have reached out to by e-mail (not FB), and was happy to have that temporary contact. 
* Most of my friends had graduated the prior year and wouldn't have been at my graduation.
* In addition, I knew I was going back east the next week or so for the birth of a granddaughter.
(The H.S. friends I still have today, did not go to the reunion.)


I don't know that there would be a surprise with what I have done. Being a Gemini, I 'do' a lot. (Maybe the other classmates have also.) The specific interests I was active in-- I have no connection with today (except photography, gardening, and catching fireflies).  What I do today is not what I did in H.S.  Well, some of it is in a different leadership garment. I take some crazy risks, just to get away with it, and accomplish what I want.  I am still a photographer taking risks. I skipped H.S. graduation to go and study art in Spain (without parental permission). (As protest, I also skipped college graduation ceremony, walking out in cap and gown, with Dr. Spock, and went on to graduate school also in art.) 

Knowing one was not allowed to photograph Spain's dictator, Generalisimo, Presidente, His Excellency Francisco Franco, behind a bush I hide with my camera and the gendarmerie caught me. I partied with toreadors in Avila, and was threatened with being sent home! I climbed out of my Madrid dorm and down fire escapes to escape. (Ask me why.) In college I climbed up fire escapes into Carnegie Hall and found an empty seat in the very front orchestra next to actor Stacy Keach, and to listen to folk singer, Judy Collins, following my Manhattan Xmas carolling gig. (And it is said "the only way to get to Carnegie Hall is to practice!") 

Challenging myself, I've continued to climb up and over high locked walls to get in and out of closed places…  When arrested in my last college year on the Schuylkill River, for trespassing (without walls) an island with mating geese, I was released from the police station. (I had told police I had no ID and I was "joyous Joy from Utopia".) I went on to take over my college president's office…  It was still the 'sixties'. When at times I (foolishly) hitchhiked up and down the eastern seaboard, I had a H.S. classmate with me, so she is not surprised.

My midot / personality character traits are the same and more refined. It feels good that people I hadn't contacted in fifty years until now, remembered me as active, and kind with a smile. Baruch Hashem, that's still me. (It's fine that no one can find me by my maiden name.)

Only in college was I consciously formulating my life's goals, not yet knowing concept of 'mission'.  My favorite worn t-shirt read, "Do what you love, love what you do, and the whole world will come to you."


I like this question. I'm still the same joyous person filled with ideals and ethics and awe in my core; always studying, learning, discovering, writing, celebrating and sharing. Since H.S., I'm no longer a violinist, clarinetist or pianist; instead I'm a percussionist and artist, reflecting the creative person I am. I have more experience, more wisdom and understanding, more gratitude and appreciation, more direction, more peace, meditation and introspection, more talents, more tsuris, more consciousness, intuition and instinct, more compassion and chesed / lovingkindness and trust in G*d and less in humans, although I am less judgmental of others, and more of myself during High Holidays, Tashlich, and Omer counting time. Now a senior and still playful, I know that the spirituality and love as a teen that I craved and embraced with the Hare Krishnas and swamis, embrace me now in Judaism and G*d.

~ ~ ~


Name three things you are truly grateful for today. 
Name three things you used to be grateful for. 
Name three things you hope to be grateful for near the end of your days.

A 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. 
Friends, 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, z'l.

Family, Friends, Love
G*d's revealed miracles/blesSings, and a pool (or ocean) for health and pleasure.
Peace/Shalom, wonders, opportunities.

- Joy Krauthammer 

"If you had to name something that really amazed you in the last few days, what would it be?"

PS 2 days later:
Clouds in the early morning, colored in pink, and then later faster moving, changing patterns behind palm trees and then in patches covering the whole expanse of sky.
The water ripples reflecting in the pool that are made by breeze, motor, and my body parts.
The banana flower and bananas I only noticed yesterday for first time in Edith's paradise garden.
The weird, larger than similar to ant-like bugs that increased in multitudes from Edith's one leafy kale plant to all four or five plants.
At how delicious the bitter kale leaves are when sauteed with a little tomato.
The empty hummingbird feeders that Edith only filled a couple days ago, and are not empty.
The pool in its clean crystalness after the pool man has come and gone.
That the fig tree is now all leafy, free from its figs that I have been picking every day for over a month.
That the photos that couldn't be found where they should be in Apple's iPhoto returned to their right location, and that the Apple senior tech could make my photos send once again.
Amazed me that the Subway tuna sandwich maker didn't even put the 6th medium sized tomato slice on the roll, and that I had to ask for the bread to be covered.  :(  
Amazed that the Shul's Slichot drum circle facilitator after teaching the newbies how to follow his instructions, came to me and said, "Joy, play whatever you like." I was relieved.
Amazed that the Slichot pulpit rabbi told the new rabbinic intern my e-address by memory.
~ ~ ~

"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 words 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 car 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".

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

~ ~ ~

"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 for 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 chain-link protective walls, 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 chain-link 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 Ft. Worth, Texas Botanical Garden 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 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 bring me great pleasure and a smile at my accomplishments and enjoyment of events.

Elul 8
"How do you express your creativity? 
"Name two ways in which you are creative, and how that creativity influences how you live your life."  

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 computer. 

Another passionate expression I am blessed with is my drumming.  For over a couple decades, I 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 Krauthammer 

* Psalm 100:2

Reb Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen, zt"l, taught me: "Women have a very great potential within them to intensely experience spiritual life and joy within their bodies. This may be the deeper reason why the Talmud mentions that a woman of sixty will dance like a six-year old to the sound of musical instruments (Moed Katan 9b)." Amayn

May your work inspire others to serve the altruistic Divine purpose through the mitzvos of the Torah - the Divine Teaching.
Simcha and Shalom!

"... In order to fully and properly fulfill the life-giving purpose of our creation, we study Torah - the Divine Teaching. And in order for us to accomplish our personal and collective mission on this earth, we need to study all areas of Torah wisdom. Nevertheless, different neshamos may need to initially focus more on different areas of the Divine wisdom."

"... Yet when we strive to serve the Community of Israel - the children of the radical and righteous patriarchs and matriarchs - Hashem helps us! And in the process of serving our brothers and sisters, we ourselves grow and mature, as we become more loving and giving."

May Hashem help each of us to be a loving Kohen.
Have a Shabbat Shalom!


~ ~ ~

7 Elul
"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?"

Baruch Hashem, My JOY and passion (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.  

My welcoming smile for even one person, and inclusiveness, being present and responsive, and serving as shadchen in many realms.  

Creating ARTs and Jewish educational programs, and teaching Torah.  

Shabbat shalom,  
JOY Krauthammer
I 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.
Bottom Line: My leaving the world more vibrant is my "SERVING G*D IN JOY".
"Ivdu Et Hashem B'Simcha"

I think an earlier post, JOY AS HEALER,  in my Joy's Joy, also answers the question, 

                                                                                    ~ ~ ~

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 Elul 1 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.  (Enlarge for zooming with command +)

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 wise 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

LINK FOR older person with whom you have had deep conversations:

~ ~ ~

"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?"

The hummingbirds drinking the gallons of food my 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.

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.

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.

BlesSings, 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 serrated grapefruit spoon and knife for my half grapefruit, but today I have the blesSing to pick citrus from my tree.

Learning every day, and showing kindness.

BlesSings, Joy Krauthammer

~ ~ ~

 "How do you live your life as an art? 
 "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'
- Joy Krauthammer

My life as art comes from my heART. 
It beats as a drum and it 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 uplifting and inspiring, authentic, truthful and joyous.  

ART does not hide; my art shares emotion, feelings, thoughts, beliefs, newness, oldness, nowness and Tiferet/beauty.  

I am pro-active in the creative role of 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, higher and higher)  
 and picking up passengers along the Tree of Life, my path.  

My Chesed/loving-kindness, sharing, giving, receiving, and Netzach/forward direction is felt and can not be measured (as is "science").  
I instinctively and intuitively know 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 and joy and fairness.  
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.  
In others, I try to discover and reveal the hidden blesSings.  
If science directed, I would lead in anxiety, not hope and faith.  
I would count my tears of grief, not warmth of joy.  

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, and with whom, and at what times. 
I have some regrets. 
I offer Brachot/blesSings. I teach how to give blesSings.
As I age, I recognize my mentors, and the 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-- I am told 50 years later by people who knew me then, closely or from the distance. 
 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 relationship to the Holy One
and Serving G*d in Joy. 
We LOVE each other.
May G*d bless you.

-  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 world.
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 mitzvot.
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 BindingWhen I save little goats with their horned heads stuck in fences, and I give them freedom--I am inspired. Baruch Hashem.

~ ~ ~