I believe in the Jewish word “beshert”, which means fate or destiny. There is a lot that has happened in my life that I had no control over. In one sense, I believe my path was chosen for me. But in another, equally important sense, I know I have always determined for myself what to make of my life. No one—not the Nazis, not my parents and certainly not the rules of society—chose the kind of person I would become. Destiny may have charted my course, but I chose the pace. Destiny may have written much of the script for my life, but I’m still the executive producer.

I’ve spent my 80+ years marching to the beat of my own drum—living audaciously in the here and now. I know that destiny may have handed me more than my share of sour grapes, but I refuse to let that be the determining factor in how I experience the precious gift of life. Not since my family’s escape from the Nazi camp have I stood aside while someone else dictated the outcome of my future.

I refuse to be defined by my age. I plan to continue evolving and living with gusto. My mantra is and always will be, “Don’t tell me I can’t do it,” whether because I’m a Jew, a woman, a wife, a mother, a grandmother. There may be events and experiences that don’t go my way and there may be obstacles to overcome, but whether I experience adversity or prosperity, I will always cherish life with all of its challenges.