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December 21, 2014 | 29th Kislev 5775

How To Begin a Sacred Aging Program

The longevity revolution is upon us. 20% of America’s Jews are over 65 and the baby boom generation has now joined the swelling ranks of Jewish older adults. However, as distinct from their parent’s generation, boomers are exhibiting a greater sense of independence and spiritual searching. Too many have left congregational life, lamenting the “pediatric” emphasis of their congregations and the fact that their issues are rarely discussed. Our department’s Sacred Aging project was developed to provide resources and materials for congregations to begin to address this powerful element in our community. Failure to do so may render us irrelevant to a huge number of our people. How to begin?

  • have a conversation with key people as to what they are seeing in the changing family structures
  • bring together a small core group of people to begin to brainstorm what can be developed
  • create an assessment tool to examine the baby boomers of your congregation; their needs and dreams (see the survey on this from bet ha yam)
  • think about developing conversations on care-giving and support groups that aid families and individuals dealing with this new life stage (see To Honor and Respect and That You May Live Long)
  • create conversations on decision making in light of medical technology (see To Honor and Respect and A Time To Prepare)
  • invite people to tell their stories….bring people together to share how their personal life journey has been impacted by their Judaism and their affiliation with your congregation…..think about publishing these stories every year
  • bring together people and invite them to share their thoughts on the spiritual challenges associated with their own aging (see program in West Palm beach March 8) and encourage these individuals to fill out JFC survey on “Growing Older Growing Better”
  • As a result of your internal survey and conversations, identify the wealth of experience and talent that exists within your congregation’s older adult and boomer population and determine how to make best use of this “spiritual capital”.
  • Continue to check the Jewish Family Concern’s web site’s Sacred Aging section and contact Jewish Family Concerns department for more direct consultation

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