America's 7 Best Aging Programs

The Nation's Top Programs For Aging Jews

Painting for Life: Village Shalom residents and members of the community attend a Paint Like Picasso intergenerational workshop.
Courtesy Kansas City Jewish Museum of Contemporary Art
Painting for Life: Village Shalom residents and members of the community attend a Paint Like Picasso intergenerational workshop.

By Anne Cohen

Published May 21, 2013, issue of May 31, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 2)

Village Shalom

PROGRAM: Mitzvah Garden
ORGANIZATION: Village Shalom
Overland Park, Kan.

Yadviga Finkelstein was 87 when she first took up a spade, thanks to Village Shalom’s Mitzvah Garden program, which enables residents to cultivate a 640-square-foot plot of land outside the assisted-living facility.

Ken Sonnenschein, a psychologist by weekday and farmer by weekend, started the Mitzvah Garden 13 years ago. His program helps connect residents with the land while donating their crops to food pantries in the area — hence the name. Residents grow a range of produce, including tomatoes, peppers, beets and apple trees.

On special occasions, residents also get to taste the fruits of their labor. During the home’s annual Tu B’Shvat Seder, Finkelstein took the seeds from a carob plant and planted them in her room. Though she passed away four years ago, her tree is still growing strong.

Hebrew Senior Life and the Rashi School

PROGRAM: Multi-generational programming with the Rashi School
ORGANIZATION: NewBridge on the Charles, Hebrew Senior Life
Dedham, Mass.

Three years ago, the Rashi School, a Jewish day school near Boston, opened its first permanent building on the campus of NewBridge on the Charles, a leading Massachusetts aging community, making possible intergenerational interactive learning among seniors and children. Among the many programming initiatives, third-graders study immigration by meeting with residents and staff members who are immigrants, rather than learning only in their classroom. The same goes for Jewish holidays. This year, students interviewed residents about their Passover memories and made illustrated storybooks, giving the final products to their subjects as gifts.

Courtesy Dayle Friedman

PROGRAM: Wisdom Circle
ORGANIZATION: Growing Older: Wisdom + Spirit Beyond Midlife
Philadelphia

Last fall, Rabbi Dayle Friedman brought two groups of women together to support each other through the “long haul” ahead. The gatherings, which she called “wisdom circles,” were born out of her extensive study of the Jewish response to aging and address issues of what it means to grow older. The first group, comprised of 13 women aged 50 to late 70s, and the second group, with six women in their 50s, meet monthly (for $20 to $30 a session) to talk about everything from dependence and pride to managing cluttered homes — and their discussions are all based on Jewish texts.

Alain McLaughlin

PROGRAM: Psalms, Songs & Stories™
ORGANIZATION: Songwriting Works™ Educational Foundation
San Francisco

Songwriter and entrepreneur Judith-Kate Friedman has been leading seniors in song at the Jewish Home, a residential health care facility, since 1997. Ten years ago, after meeting the Jewish Home’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Sheldon Marder, Friedman decided to inject an explicitly Jewish component into her work.

The pilot project for Friedman’s initiative, called Psalms, Songs & Stories, is a weekly two-hour session, where eight to 18 people (average age 88) gather for intensive text study led by Marder. Then they put their own prayers to music using Friedman’s collaborative songwriting process. The benefits have been tangible: When the Jewish Home held a dedication ceremony for its new synagogue, it was to the tune of six original psalms written and performed by residents. While the project might be on its last legs due to budget cuts, Friedman is hopeful: “All you need is a rabbi to work with a professional songwriter.”

Anne Cohen is a news intern at the Forward and editor of the Shmooze blog. She has also contributed to Wewomen.ca and Vayable.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.