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The Art of Aging and Inter-generational Learning

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by Miriam Brosseau

For the past several years, Jewish musician Craig Taubman has hosted a marvelous series of Jewish thoughts shared over the course of the month of Elul. This year, the theme of “Jewels of Elul” is “The Art of Aging.” 

There are several Coalition congregations who have adopted an inter-generational model, including Temple Israel of Great Neck, North Shore Jewish Center, The Reform Temple of Forest Hills, North Shore Synagogue, and Hollis Hills Jewish Center. Their models are outstanding examples of honoring learners’ journeys at any age and I encourage you to watch their remarkable videos.

Below is the introduction to the series, written by Rabbi David Wolpe. How does this introductory thought relate to inter-generational learning? Share you thoughts in the comments!

Introduction to Jewels of Elul 8, by Rabbi David Wolpe
Originally published at JewelsofElul.com

“An aged man is but a paltry thing, a tattered coat upon a stick, unless Soul clap its hands and sing…”

So wrote Yeats in one of his most famous poems. The poet tells of the diminishing body. Because our physicality grows more tenuous and our frame more frail with age, we might consider our worth, our very being, as less than once it was.

But – “Soul clap its hands and sing.” The point of being old is not to pretend to be young. Rather it is about the spirit of wise age, blessings that arise despite the pain and loss that time brings in its wake. Who is to say that a youthful fire is more precious than a gentle, unvanquished ember?

The Midrash teaches that Abraham was the first to earn the privilege of appearing old – the privilege, mind you. White beard, white hair, a life full of losses, but his soul clapped its hands and sang.

Here is a booklet full of wisdom about age and aging, the land we will all visit if we are blessed. As each year passes, clap your hands and sing. Spring is green and vital, but winter has its beauty and its joys.

David Wolpe is the Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, California. At the time of this writing he had over 35,000 followers at www.facebook.com/RabbiWolpe


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