Annual Symposium on Positive Aging

Symposium 2021

The 6th Annual Symposium on Positive Aging: Friendship, Connection, and Community took place on Monday, October 25, 2021. This signature event of the JCC's Wechsler Center for Modern Aging featured a conversation between Rabbi Joy Levitt, CEO of the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist Anna Quindlen

The afternoon session included an array of thought-provoking workshops designed to educate and inspire, focusing on the theme of friendships and connections through shared interests and experiences. 

Attendees selected one workshop from a variety of offerings. Topics include Exploring Friendships Through Theater, Empathy and Support on Your Health Journey, The Life I Want to Live As I Age, Impactful Volunteering, The Evolving Nature of Friendship, and more. Optional small group breakout sessions will create opportunities for conversations and connections over lunch, and a movement session will be incorporated into the day. Recordings of all sessions will be available.

The 6th Annual Symposium on Positive Aging was generously sponsored by 305 West End Assisted Living, The New Jewish Home, and Inspīr Carnegie Hill


Event PartnersJCC of the North Shore (Marblehead, MA); Sid Jacobson JCC (East Hills, NY); Mid-Island Y JCC (Plainview, NY); Riverdale YM-YWHA (Bronx, NY); 14th Street Y (New York, NY); The Sirovich Center for Balanced Living (New York, NY); Edlavitch DCJCC (Washington, DC); B'nai Jeshurun (New York, NY); Ansche Chesed (New York, NY); Manny Cantor Center (New York, NY); Gordon JCC (Nashville, TN).


Empathy and Support on Your Health Journey
Rabbi Mychal Springer, Manager of Clinical Pastoral Care at NewYork-Presbyterian, in conversation with Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky, Congregation Ansche Chesed
Being there for a friend who is ill requires more than just listening. We need to be able to make space for the other person and manage our own fears as well. Join us to learn and share ways to encourage good health and healthy aging with those you are close to. Wherever you are on your health journey, having a friend truly listen as you go through it builds connection and community.

The Life I Want to Live as I Age
Alice Chera, CPCC/ACC, AKC Life Coach
Putting together a personal wish list, and determining how to transform your wishes into reality, is an essential first step in deciding what kind of life you want to live as you age. How often have you said, "I wish I could, but…"? Whether it’s taking a dream trip, rekindling a relationship or beginning a new one, or even learning a new skill, it’s not too late to make these things happen. In this interactive workshop, we’ll learn how to gain new perspectives on having the courage and confidence to move from self-imposed limitations to possibilities through techniques such as vision mapping, and get the inspiration we to fulfill our dreams.

Impactful Volunteering
Gary Bagley, Executive Director, New York Cares and Rabbi Shuli Passow, Director of Community Engagement, B'nai Jeshurun
Volunteering can be a powerful way to make a difference in the lives of others—and in your own. It can be a meaningful and fun way to make friends, connect to community, enhance well-being, increase self-confidence, provide purpose, learn new skills, and increase social interaction and support. But it’s not without its challenges, including concerns about your comfort, knowledge, and skill levels; whether the work will be interesting; and whether your work will make a difference. Explore the potential rewards and challenges to ensure that your volunteering has a real, lasting impact.

The Evolving Nature of Friendship
Rabbi Laura Geller, co-author of Getting Good at Getting Older
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the past 19 months, it’s the value of true friendship. As much of our world has turned upside down, and the stress level for many has been at an all-time high, having friends to speak with and lean on has been a literal lifesaver. But as we come out of these long months, we realize that some pandemic friendships may be just that. How do we decide which are still of value to us, how to help them thrive in a post-COVID world, and how to cope with ones that are lost (or the loss of friends themselves)?

Exploring Friendship Through Theater
Scott Klavan, actor, longtime JCC drama teacher, lifetime member of The Actors Studio
Theater has long been a way to present stories of friendship and community, loneliness, and alienation. The very act of performing in a play, or attending one, can be a meaningful communal experience. In this workshop, we’ll offer funny, moving performances by actors of scenes from plays dealing with these themes. We’ll also give interested participants a chance to join the action, performing in a scene themselves.

Reading and Writing: Family, Friends, and the Solace of Books
Nessa Rapoport, author of Evening, in conversation with Susan Weidman Schneider, founding editor of Lilith magazine
A book of any genre can be a wonderful companion and an inspiration—a place of comfort and exploration as we age. Reading can enlighten us about our closest relationships and inspire us to engage with others. Nessa Rapoport is a contemporary author who focuses on the themes of friendship, connection, and community, building characters who learn from old and new relationships, deal with family secrets or friends’ betrayals, and learn to carry on. In 2020, she completed her own nearly 30-year journey to create her recent novel, Evening. Nessa will share insights about the creative process, bringing memories to life, and writing as a sanctuary. Join her for this discussion with her friend and founding editor of Lilith magazine, Susan Weidman Schneider.

Social Media: A Link to Connection
Barry Elkins + Abby Rich, Tech Soup
Facebook has long been the most popular social media platform, but in recent years, the younger generation has moved on to others–Instagram, WhatsApp, TikTok, Twitter, and more. Learn how these platforms work and how they let users keep in touch and share with others, helping to build their relationships with family, friends, and community. Participants will have the opportunity to share, connect, and interact with each other.

2021 Who's Who

Rabbi Joy Levitt is the CEO of the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, a position she will hold until December 2021. Prior to coming to the JCC, Rabbi Levitt served congregations on Long Island and in New Jersey. Rabbi Levitt was ordained at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. She is the co-author of A Night of Questions: a Passover Haggadah. She serves on the boards of the Shefa School, a Jewish community day school for children with language-based learning disabilities; Plaza Jewish Community Chapels; The Jerusalem Foundation; and Israel Story. She is married to Rabbi Michael Strassfeld, and together they have five children and three grandchildren.

Anna Quindlen is a novelist and journalist whose work has appeared on fiction, nonfiction, and self-help bestseller lists. She is the author of nine novels: Object LessonsOne True ThingBlack and BlueBlessingsRise and ShineEvery Last OneStill Life with Bread CrumbsMiller’s Valley, and Alternate Side. Her memoir, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, published in 2012, was a number-one New York Times bestseller. Her book A Short Guide to a Happy Life has sold more than a million copies. While a columnist at The New York Times, she won the Pulitzer Prize and published two collections, Living Out Loud and Thinking Out Loud. Her Newsweek columns were collected in Loud and Clear, published in 2004.

Help us continue to ensure accessible programming for everyone. Please support The Wechsler Center for Modern Aging at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan.