For 20 years, Rabbi Laura Geller has encouraged congregants to discover holiness in their lives, and to fulfill Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills’ mission statement, which reads: “We honor each individual’s unique Jewish journey at every stage of life.” Recently she led the congregation and the wider L.A. Jewish community to honor a new stage of life, between midlife and frail old age. It has led to an extraordinary transformation in the lives of many individuals as we explore what it means to understand that there is less time ahead of us than behind. Along with other congregational leaders, Rabbi Geller spearheaded the Next Step Boomer and Beyond Initiative. Over 200 members aged 50-75 met to reflect on such questions as: What does this stage of life mean to you? What keeps you up at night? What gets you up in the morning? What do we need to do in our community to help us make meaning and purpose out of the time we have left? These conversations led to a new focus on spirituality, building community, giving back, and supporting each other through attention to health care issues, end of life choices, and economic challenges. Rabbi Geller is leading the way to help us use our accumulated wisdom to make a difference in the world.
— Julie Beenhouwer