But how does one find a new mission at age 50 or 60 or 80? A growing array of books, courses, programs and now Web sites exist to provide suggestions, and many of them offer valuable detailed guidance, worksheets and resources. Working your way through them all can be a chore. Here are five tools.
So graduates, from one contemporary to another, and in the spirit of sharing with my sister what I wish I believed then, I offer you some knowledge I acquired on my journey -- just consider it my master's degree in "life thus far."
Alex Baum, who will be celebrating his 84th birthday on Dec. 30, fought in the French Resistance, survived two and a half years in the concentration camps, and has since dedicated his life to performing good deeds, most notably in his advocacy of amateur athletics.
Israel is now stuck between Iraq and a hard place; those in the administration who most uncritically support Israel don't know what they're doing, and those who have better ideas are more critical of Israel.
Experiencing the classic symptoms of altitude sickness -- fatigue and hallucinations -- Hall had refused to continue down the mountain and ended up passing out. The two sherpas with him concluded, after poking Hall in the eye and getting no response, that Hall was dead. Suffering from lack of oxygen themselves, they hurried down the mountain.
We are donors to universities, museums, orchestras and hospitals, but when it comes to Jewish philanthropy, we fall short. Today, perhaps 20 percent or less of Jewish giving goes to Jewish causes.
Any organization's program and operational decisions should stem from the philosophy, beliefs and vision that are its reasons for being in the first place. These basic values, however, are often assumed, yet rarely articulated.
The key to whether the Saudi plan becomes a serious option -- even if adopted by the Palestinians -- lies in Washington. The American goal remains a negotiated two-state solution based on Bush's "vision" that he outlined in June 2002.
"The Federation improved our lives," said Khananashvili, now a 48-year-old social worker and Beverly Hills resident. "They gave us our start here and protected us under their shield. We're very grateful."
After schlepping 40 years in the desert, it's hard to imagine a CD to exercise by coming from a people who have harbored a subconscious distrust of walking. But with my daughter's upcoming nuptials, my unending kvetch about fitting into the dress won out over my skepticism.
The timing couldn't have been worse. I was happily toting a batch of homemade bread and a broccoli quiche to a pot-luck birthday party, eager for some good fun and good eats. But I had barely crossed the threshold, when Sandy, the hostess and erstwhile birthday girl, announced that she had lost another 10 pounds on the Atkins plan.
Born into a strongly Democratic family but later a founder of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Berman, at 51, is a man of strong physique and opinions.
"I am fed up with intermarriage and with rabbis who reach out to gay and intermarried couples," he said during an interview in his spacious Sunset Boulevard office.
Moving from a familiar home and letting go of things owned for years can feel like an additional loss. It's not just the loss of the objects that has an impact; it's the connection with the past that these objects symbolize.
While projects like tempera-painted honey dishes and party-whistle shofars are de rigueur, preschool and elementary school teachers take seriously the idea of having the High Holiday message of personal accountability set the tone for the whole year
What is the touchstone that unites a 26.2-mile marathon with a Siyum Hashas celebration of completing the 7.5-year page-a-day Talmud cycle?
We have spoken slander; we have acted presumptuously; we have practiced deceit. Each year we beat our chest and resolve to change.
Starting next year, Jewish Journal readers who received their weekly newspaper by donating to The Jewish Federation will still be able to get it, but not as part of their Federation donation.
Even a wizard at niche marketing would tremble before the title of Julie Salamon's most recent book. "Rambam's Ladder," based on an ancient text by Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, sounds like it's bound for the remainder bins even before it hits the Judaica sections.
Marc Miller's fundraising goal is to surpass last year's record $2.25 million Federation campaign by 10 percent.
There is much skepticism about what will transpire in the coming weeks and months, with fears that Israel will be forced to make too many concessions or that Palestinians will get a state without first cracking down on terrorism.
"The economy is very sick," Netanyahu said. "There is no money in the till, and we have a deficit of NIS 30 billion."
As the recession continues in Israel, Bank of Israel economists expect unemployment to climb to 12 percent, meaning that more than 300,000 Israelis will be out of work this year.
As a stand-alone goal, the removal of Saddam, even killing him, is morally justified. From the Jewish point of view, he is a rodef, a pursuer.
The marketing campaign was launched earlier this month in a collaboration by the Southern California Israel Chamber of Commerce, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, the Government of Israel Economic Mission and the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute.
Bush wants to use the road map to break the current impasse between Israel and the Palestinians, but Sharon fears that the plan may offer the Palestinians rewards without ensuring real change in their approach to Israel.
On Dec. 19 at a forum on energy independence hosted by the American Jewish Congress, Laurie David revealed a new anti-oil television advertising campaign designed to make the suburban soccer-mom set shudder with shame every time they pull into a gas station.
Earlier this month, a group of Lubavitch Jews gathered in a downtown Moscow synagogue to welcome the 16 books that were returned to the movement from the Russian State Library, formerly known as the Lenin Library, where the collection has been held for the last 80 years.
What started out as a joke between friends fast became a million-dollar goal for a retired Jewish soccer player.
Ethan Zohn emerged as the sole survivor of the third installment of the CBS reality show "Survivor" during the two-hour Jan. 10 finale, defeating Kim Johnson, a 57-year-old retired teacher from Oyster Bay, N.Y.
At the Valley Cities Jewish Community Center, the metaphors were dire. "This is like a horrible accident, and we're the paramedics," Mike Brezner told an advisory committee meeting on Monday night.
Are you prepared for Palestine?
Earlier this week, President George W. Bush brought the world closer than ever to the reality of a Palestinian state side-by-side with Israel. In a speech to the UN General Assembly last Saturday, he said, "We are working toward the day when two states -- Israel and Palestine -- live peacefully together within secure and recognized borders."
This coming Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is expected to outline a plan toward ending violence in the region that will make clear the ultimate goal of a Palestinian state.
Should Israel's goal be to defeat the Palestinian Arab terrorists who are waging war against it? Or should Israelis be striving merely for a few days or weeks of quiet?