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Wise Aging

The Wise Aging group advertised for Spring 2023 has been postponed to Fall.  Please see new dates below.

Are you interested in exploring your experiences, challenges, and opportunities as an older adult through a Jewish lens? If so, a Wise Aging group can help build insight, resilience, and camaraderie. 

The Wise Aging program was developed by the Institute for Jewish Spirituality in New York and is based on the book, Wise Aging: Living with Joy, Resilience, & Spirit, by Rabbi Rachel Cowan and Dr. Linda Thal. Topics include: cultivating nourishing relationships, living with loss, forgiveness, accepting our aging bodies, legacy and stewardship, and more. At each session, participants have opportunities for personal sharing, basic mindfulness practice, and text study. 

Temple Sinai began its first Wise Aging group in 2020 and subsequent groups have been held each year.  We are now accepting applications for a fourth group, to begin March 6, 2023. This group will be led by Karen Tanner and Ann Gordon.  Karen was in the first group which continues to meet regularly, and Ann co-facilitated the second group with Dan Fendel. This group will be open to temple members age 55 and up. Eight sessions will be held every other week two-hours and will involve 8-10  Temple Sinai members. Participants are expected to be present for all sessions, unless something urgent arises. 

The group will meet on Monday afternoons, from 3:30-5:30pm on the following dates: 

October 2, 16
November 6, 20
December 4, 18
January 8, 22

We expect to be able to meet in person at the temple. If so, participation will be subject to then-applicable Temple COVID policies.

We will accept people on a first-applied, first-admitted basis, with a few caveats:

  • Only one member of a couple will be accepted into this group.
  • We will aim to create gender balance in the group.
  • We will try to have a spread of ages.

If you apply but are not invited to be part of this group, you will be put on a waiting list for the next group.

The facilitators, the Wise Aging Committee, and Rabbi Mates-Muchin will review all applications.

Fee: $100, which includes receiving a copy of the Wise Aging text. The fee should not stop anyone from participating. Contact Rabbi Mates-Muchin for alternate financial arrangements.

To apply: CLICK HERE to fill out an application form, which should be submitted by February 17. We will let you know by February 24 whether you will be part of the group. We’ll provide meeting logistics then as well.



Background of the Temple Sinai Wise Aging Group

Temple Sinai’s Wise Aging Committee began its work in summer 2019, when several people contacted Rabbi Mates-Muchin with ideas for engaging seniors. Out of our initial meetings grew the plan for two initiatives:

  • The creation of a “Wise Aging Group,” based on the book, Wise Aging: Living with Joy, Resilience, & Spirit, by Rabbi Rachel Cowan and Dr. Linda Thal.
  • The development of a speaker series to address issues of aging.

We soon added a third goal:

  • The organizing of a facilitator training to build a cadre of leaders for additional Wise Aging groups.

We achieved our first goal with the formation of a group, led by a trained local facilitator from Temple Beth El in Berkeley. This group began in February 2020 (meeting once before COVID shutdown), continued for eight two-hour sessions, every other week, with the facilitator, and continues to meet as a self-led group.

A second Wise Aging group began in September 2021, with two trained Temple members as facilitators, and 15 participants. That group ran through February 2022, and now continues (as did our first group) as a self-led group. A third group began in Fall 2022, with two Temple members as facilitators, and 10 participants. A fourth group is expected to begin in Spring or Fall 2023. 

Our second goal saw fruition beginning in September 2020. Our speakers have been:

  • 9-3-20: Katy Butler  “The Art of Dying Well”
  • 11-22-20: Rabbi Dayle Friedman: “Embracing Reality: Preparing Ourselves to Live with Dementia”
  • 2-18-21: Rabbi Laura Geller, speaking about her book “Getting Good at Getting Older”
  • 3-21-21: Rabbi Richard Address: “A Chupah of Values: A Pathway to a Theology of Sacred Aging”
  • 4-18-21: Dr. Louise Aronson, speaking about her book Elderhood
  • 7-11-21: Dr. Linda Thal: “Living with Joy, Resilience and Spirit”
  • Summer/fall 2021: Rabbi Richard Address: A three-part series around the High Holidays:
    • 8-29-21: “Elul: Are We What We Worship?”
    • 9-12-21: “What We Choose Determines Who We Are: The Unetaneh Tokef”
    • 9-26-21: “The Sukkah of Peace?”
  • 12-12-21: Dr. Jessica Zitter, with Rick Tash, sharing and discussing the documentary “Caregiver: A Love Story”
  • 1-9-22: Andrew Mellon, on the topic “Unstuffing Your Life: More Love, Less Stuff”
  • 2-13-22: Dr. Kerry Byrne: “How to Build Strong and Meaningful relationships Across Generations”
  • 3-20-22: Aviva Black: “Family Love Letters: Preserving Your Life’s Stories”
  • 4-24-22: Stewart Florsheim, Ann Gordon, and Rabbi Andrea Berlin: “End-of-Life Choice in California”
  • 6-12-22: Dave Iverson, discussing his book, “Winter Stars: An Elderly Mother, Her Aging Son, and Life’s Final Journey
  • 7-10-22: End of Life Choices Part 2—Patient and Family Perspective: Stewart Florsheim and Ann Gordon speak with panelists Rabbi Mates-Muchin, Julie Stroud, and Alison Clay-Dubof
  • 10-9-22: Dr. Mary-Frances O’Connor, discussing her book, "The Grieving Brain"

Recordings of most of these presentations can be found here.
(Note: The presentation by Rabbi Address on 9/12/21 was accidentally not recorded.)

The third goal was realized in spring/summer 2021, with three Temple members, and three other East Bay Area participants, joining in a facilitator training led by the national Wise Aging organization. Temple Sinai was the prime mover in making this training happen, although it included participants from throughout the country.

One other development: As a result of Rabbi Geller’s presentation, a committee has been investigating the concept of creating an East Bay version of the “Chai Village” in the Los Angeles area that Rabbi Geller described. This work is in early stages of exploration.

Thu, March 23 2023 1 Nisan 5783