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I wrote my ethical will when I was 47, as I began my journey learning and appreciating the value of this deeply meaningful tradition.
To my family:
In reading my ethical will, I hope that you find very few surprises. I believe I've been open about the things that I've valued over time. I've also tried to live my values on a day-to-day basis. I trust that I succeeded much more often than I've failed.
As I matured and accumulated life experience (and life is a great teacher), I think I gained an appreciation of the importance of balance in my life. Balance among the family, work, spiritual, and physical aspects of life. And, having fun. It's easy to let things get out of balance. When they do, life can get out of control and become miserable. Always try to maintain a balance in your life.
Having a good sense of humor is very important. I know you've all moaned and groaned at my puns from time to time. Overall, the laughter was well worth it. It's important to have fun and there is humor in almost all aspects of life.
It's impossible to be successful in everything you try to do. So, don't be afraid of making mistakes. Just be sure you learn something from them. Sometimes you can learn more from a mistake than from always doing everything right.
Respect life- yours and others. I'm a believer in the idea of treating other people the way you want to be treated. This is the proverbial "Golden Rule." My hopes (to you, Alisha and Hannah), are that you find a vocation that adds value to the world. This is my interpretation of Tikkun Olam. I feel very lucky to have worked in the hospice world and devoting some of my energies to issues people face at the end of life. I think trying to relieve suffering has been a worthwhile pursuit for me.
I hope you continue the traditions and faith of Judaism. Although this spiritual aspect of myself was relatively unimportant to me in my younger years, I feel you all have a wonderful foundation and excellent skills and knowledge in regard to the basic tenets of Judaism. I hope you will be able to pass these on to future generations.
I hope you are as lucky as I was in finding a soulmate like Sandy to share your life with; someone with whom to enjoy time together, grow together, solve problems together, face challenges together, support each other, and laugh and love together. It may not last forever, but the effort of staying together is worth it.
As I look back over my life, overall, I am happy with what I've accomplished. I've tried many things and would like to try some more. As long as you live you can always learn new things. This is an important value to cherish.
One of my regrets is that my parents and father-in-law weren't around to share in some of the things we (as a family) have done over the past 5-10 years. Another regret is not spending even more time together as a family. We certainly have taken some incredibly fun vacations: our three car trips (to the west coast, Canada and Niagara Falls, Hershey-Gettysburg-Washington DC-Williamsburg), Pinehurst, and of course Italy. I'm glad we kept journals for all of them. You kids just grow up so fast, and before you know it, you're out there, (or soon will be) and on your own.
You all have been a great source of joy and strength for me. I love you all very much.