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16 Over 61: Meet Stephen Rosen

This profile appears as part of “16 Over 61,” a collaboration between the Forward and the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan’s Wechsler Center for Modern Aging.

What hasn’t Stephen Rosen, 87, done?

Stephen Rosen

Image by Stephen Rosen

A scientist, educator and advocate for scientists, including the 400-odd emigres from the former Soviet Union for whom he helped find jobs in the United States, Rosen is the kind of person who never gets bored — and uses his interests to benefit his community. He’s an author, songwriter, sculptor, carpenter, career consultant and nap devotee: normal days involve one nap, and good days, two. And that’s just the start of the list.

Rosen, a member of the inaugural cohort of “16 Over 61” honorees, celebrated a second bar mitzvah at age 83. He credits his huge variety of interests, his family, his wife, his commitment to exercise and his humor for the joy he’s found in aging. Also useful? “I act immature,” he says.

Describe your ideal birthday celebration.

I recently celebrated my 87th birthday, surrounded by my brilliant and beautiful wife Celia Paul, who still treats me as if I were her equal; my loving grandson Jascha; my talented daughter Lisa; and my wonderful sister, Barbara.

16 over 61

The Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan and the Forward present 16 over 61. Courtesy of Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan and The Forward

You wake up on a beautiful Sunday morning with an unplanned day ahead of you, and no responsibilities. How do you choose to spend it?

I wake up every morning next to the nicest person I have ever met — my wife. She and I always discuss our plans over breakfast together. We might go to a museum, take a walk in the park, or have a visit with friends.

What makes you smile, no matter what?

I founded a Jewish Humor Group. So I always laugh at my own jokes.

When you get good news, who is the first person you tell, and why?

Celia, my wife, the love of my life.

What’s your earliest Jewish memory?

Biking to Hebrew School. My first Bar Mitzvah at 13. My most recent Bar Mitzvah was at 83, and it was a great experience!

What’s one thing you absolutely cannot live without?

My wife.

How do you feel you’ve changed over the years? What ideas have been most meaningful to you as you’ve traveled through life?

I have definitely gotten more respectful of small pleasures: waking up next to my wife, discussing books, current events, public affairs and socializing with friends — cutting myself and them some slack, accepting them as they are.

What does the idea of honoring and celebrating aging mean to you?

Enjoying family, friends, and every waking moment.

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