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16 Over 61: Meet Muriel Mandell

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.

Muriel Mandell, 99, is a model of commitment to her community.

Muriel Mandel

16 Over 61 honoree Muriel Mandel. Courtesy of Muriel Mandel

A devoted volunteer with SeniorNet and SeniorTechNYC, two organizations that work to help older adults incorporate technology successfully into their lives, Mandell hasn’t let the COVID-19 pandemic slow her down. She’s just taken to teaching on Zoom. And she’s kept writing children’s books and stories, building on a career as a journalist during which she worked for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Long Branch Record and more, and as a teacher who worked in classrooms at every educational level, from kindergarten through graduate school.

In addition to service, Mandell, a member of the inaugural cohort of “16 Over 61” honorees, is driven by the joy of ideas. Simple pleasures, like a beautiful day or a chat with her granddaughter, are pretty good, too.

Describe your ideal birthday celebration.

With family and friends outdoors, so all can enjoy greenery and flowers along with good conversation and food.

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?

16 over 61

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

In a nearby garden, reading the newspapers and a good book.

What makes you smile, no matter what?

My lovely granddaughter, Aviva.

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

My kids — to be proud of their mother despite the wrinkles.

What’s your earliest Jewish memory?

My mother lighting the candles on Friday night.

What’s one thing you absolutely cannot live without?

The ability to articulate an idea, a thought, a want — and the ability to read a good book.

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 still feel the need to contribute, to learn and to be challenged, but I have learned to find satisfaction in the effort.

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