My Jewish Journey – From Childhood into Seniorhood

Bar mitzvah at Western Wall, Jerusalem. (Steve Lubetkin Photo/Used by permission)
Bar mitzvah at Western Wall, Jerusalem. (Steve Lubetkin Photo/Used by permission)

In this poem, Larry Rosenberg relates his intriguing 80-year journey of exploring the Judaism’s meaning and role in his life. He practiced Conservative Judaism from his childhood until after his Bar Mitzvah (complicated as a closeted gay), in the 1940s-1950s. Afterwards, he layered on other spiritual traditions to create his version of Universal Spirituality, in the 1970s-2000s. Since age 60, he has gradually reasserted Judaism as a source of wisdom, inspiration and joyfulness. This has improved his coping with the seniorhood’s challenges, so that he is enjoying his life’s most purposeful and fulfilling period.


While uncurious regarding my Jewish family’s history

I heard about my Great-Grandfather – a man of mystery

In 19th century Poland, he served in the Rabbi profession

No details beyond his photo in my Grandma’s possession

Oy, I feared the judging stare of his white-bearded face!

Imagining God’s like this, yet I knew I’d need His Grace

Before I arrived, the family had ceased being observant

But insisted I learn Judaism as if auditioning as God servant

All my studying made me feel like a Holy Temple sacrifice

If a subpar job I did, why they might make another slice!

At age 13, Jewish schooling climaxed on my Bar Mitzvah Day

First the synagogue service, then the party in a Jewish Way

So many family and friends judging my every Hebrew prayer

Had a nightmare they’d evaluate me on tough questionnaire!

How could I my persistent anxiety could overcome and hide?

Just in time realized the solution:  Put on Smiles a mile wide!

Afterward, could I finish relating to Lord Our God Eternal?

So eager to enjoy the wider world – sexual and fraternal


As my ancestor the Rabbi’s face watched from the wall

Nervously aware my imagined yearnings risk my Soul’s fall

Does my cocktail of Jew and Gay poison me as a sinner?

God reads my lustful thoughts, can’t make them dimmer

His threat fills my ears: “If you’re gay, big time you’ll pay

Misery awaits you, Kido, a suffering life as you burn like hay!”

How to halt the rising torments of Judaism’s guilt and shame?

Overhauling my ghetto mindset becomes a fervent aim

Opened to the teachings of the world’s spiritual traditions

Elated to discover their similar transcendent propositions

Grafting Buddhism, Taoism, Etc.’s wisdom onto my Judaism

Brilliant Light in and out of my Universal Spirituality’s prism


The insights of Seniorhood reconnect me to my Jewish genes

Abraham’s God, Ten Commandments, Miriam’s tambourines

My Bubba’s cooking, Yiddish humor, Fiddler on the Roof tunes

Kabbalah’s mysticism, Jerusalem of Gold, Sabbath afternoons

Yes to Self and World:  Proudly Jewish in substance and style

A Spiritual Being of Love and Joy – simply call me versatile!

Learn more about Adventurous Aging and how it helps making Judaism a creative force, among others (such as wellness, purpose, love, joy, community and peace), to enhance seniors’ mindsets and lifestyles for living one’s best life yet, at You can contact Larry at and 1.928.202.0010 (USA, Eastern Time).

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