Recently, US News and World Report noted (see here) that the youngest “Baby-Boomers” have now turned 50. The article goes on to discuss how this massive generation is now on the cusp of retirement, and by extension, there are many implications that will be seen throughout the United States.
At a Jewish communal level, this news is also worth noting.
After all, aside for some synagogues that have a large membership of people who are of retirement age, most shuls do not focus much of any programming events for senior citizens or those who are soon to be retired or semi-retiring and will have more time to now attend classes or consistently learn with a member of your community kollel for a couple of hours each day.
However, with tens of thousands of “Jewish Baby-Boomers” who are or will soon be entering the retirement stage of their lives, it would be wise to consider ways in which you can create additional programming that will attract new people and strengthen your current members in this age bracket.
Below, are two recent initiatives that you can implement into your community or can serve as inspiration when it comes to designing programming that best suits your community.
The first one that we want to bring to your attention is sponsored by the Orthodox Union in collaboration with STAJE: Information For Jewish Baby-Boomers (a communal organization seeking to help make the retirement-age years meaningful for American Jews) and Congregation Bnai Yeshurun of Teaneck.
Together, they kicked off The SAGE (Seniors Actively Growing and Exploring) Initiative, a four-week series featuring leading rabbinic, communal and mental health professionals, focused on enhancing the educational opportunities of the Jewish Community. Explaining the reason for the new initiative, Rabbi Judah Isaacs, director of the OU Department of Community Engagement, stated, “The OU recognizes that many people are retiring, and looking for active ways to nourish their souls. The goal of the program is to acquaint active retirees with opportunities for spiritual growth in their community.”
Explained Yosef Segal, STAJE educational director, “STAJE is an organization that is committed to fostering a culture that views this second phase of adult life as a highly meaningful opportunity and mandate for personal and religious growth. Therefore we are very excited to partner with the OU on this innovative lecture series. We hope this lecture series will help bring an awareness to the tremendous potential for growth that this phase in life offers.”
The speeches addressed such topics as: “The Secrets to a Long Life,” “Grandparenting: Get it Right and Everybody Wins,” ”Do Supplements Really Do a Body Good? A Review of Some Vitamins, Minerals and Essential Nutrients,” “The Role of Thinking for the Observant Jew,” “Boomers-Planning for Retirement and Later Life: Estate and Financial Planning.”
Keep in mind: much of the impact of this sort of event, workshop or series can be achieved on a smaller scale.
You can also reach out to STAJE to see how you can bring The SPIRIT (Stimulating Program Initiative for Retirees That Inspires Thought) Initiative to your shul or organization.
The second idea that we want to bring to your attention comes to us via the National Council of Young Israel.
National Council of Young Israel has succeeded in sponsoring and establishing four senior centers (each meets in a Young Israel synagogue) in the city of New York. While each of the senior centers is governed and operates independent of the synagogue where it meets, the clients they serve hail from both their general local community and the membership of their synagogue. This will allow Jewish seniors who live in and around your shul or organization to be a part of all that you offer and strengthen their roots and commitment to Torah study, Israel, etc. If you’d like to consider bringing this idea to your city, see this page for more information.
We hope that this post has been informative and will serve as a catalyst towards servicing the growing population of both “Jewish Baby-Boomers” and seniors in your area. Hatzlacha!