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Positive Aging Initiative (PAI)

"Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength."

- Betty Friedan (1921-2006), American writer and activist


PSJC’s Positive Aging Initiative (PAI) seeks to change the perspective on aging from one of stigma and loss, to experiencing these years as a source of possibility, opportunity, and respect, through activities, support and community for members who are age 50 and beyond.

Positive Aging Initiative’s Shared Wisdom: Winter-Spring 2020

PSJC is the spiritual home to many artists, teachers, and others with wisdom and skills to share. The PAI is tapping into this treasure trove of Jewish intellect and creativity–especially among our seniors–through informal learning sessions held in congregants’ homes. Sessions are held during the day and evenings and weekends so everyone can participate. Registration is required. We are asking for a suggested donation of $5 per class to cover costs.  Go to the Calendar on the PSJC website and click on the event date to sign up. The host’s address will be sent to you once you register.


How to Take Great Digital Photos, with Matthew Septimus

Monday, January 27 at 7:30 p.m.

Home of Matthew Septimus

The camera is a tool. Whether your camera is fancy or simple, the most important thing is making the decision where and when to press the button. This class explores what makes a good photograph and how to put yourself in the right frame of mind to do it. Students will learn camera basics and the language of photography. All levels of experience welcome.


Jewish Child Soldiers during World War II, with David Rosen

Tuesday, February 4 at 1:00 p.m.

Home of Cathy Monblatt

Jewish children in German-occupied Europe during World War II were hunted like prey and ran for their lives. Among the survivors were children who joined partisan groups in the forests of Eastern Europe and lived to tell their tales. The experiences of these children will be discussed, as well as their meaning for understanding the Shoah.


Beginning Playwriting, with Marc Weiner

Monday, February 24 at 7:30 p.m.

Home of Marc Weiner

Learn the elements of a good scene and good play; what makes a good character; how conflict heightens every situation; and more. Participants will work on a scene with two or more characters and finished scenes will be read in class.

Revealing Shakespeare in Performance, with the Riemans

Monday, March 23 at 7:30 p.m.

Home of Lila and Michael Rieman

Gain a deeper understanding of Shakespeare through this workshop led by two seasoned English teachers. They will use the language of the texts to guide the presentation and performance of a sonnet and part of a play. Participants should be comfortable reading aloud.


Adapting Recipes to Your Health Needs, with Julia Kamen Birnbaum (with Baking Demo)

Sunday, April 19 at 3:00

Home of Jan Orzeck

Through a demonstration of how she bakes a healthy apple cake, Julia will teach us how to adapt recipes for seniors at risk of diabetes, liver disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, and other health issues.


Jews in New York Politics, with Daniel Soyer

Monday, May 18 at 1:00 p.m.

Home of Harolyn Cohen

Jews have been involved in New York politics since they first arrived in 1654, but their political roles and the political values they have expressed have changed over time. The class will focus on the evolution of Jewish politics in the city from beginning to end, especially during the 20th century.


What’s New in Particle Physics, with Ellen Briefel

Monday, June 29 at 1:00 p.m

Home of Ellen Briefel

What is everything made of and what holds it together? An experienced science teacher will guide us in looking at the latest answers and the experiments that have given us those answers, as well as current unanswered questions in the field.



Do you have suggestions for future Shared Wisdom classes? Are you interested in teaching a class yourself? If so, contact PAI at


Activities include informational sessions (like “Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Medicare”), as well as ones that focus on health and fun (theater and book groups, language classes, walking club, etc.). We address issues of access for older adults at PSJC and participate in advocacy efforts on behalf of the rights of older adults nationwide. We offer programs for people of all ages and needs within the 50+ age range, those who are still working and those who are retired, as well as individuals who are caregivers – including those younger than age 50 – of older adults.

Who Can Participate

Although PAI activities are designed for PSJC members age 50+, members of all ages are welcome. Contingent on space availability, nonmembers who participate in PSJC in other ways (e.g., attend High Holiday Services) are also invited to attend and PSJC members may bring guests.

Contact Information 

Coordinators: Jan Orzeck and Marjorie Rothenberg
Steering Committee: Ellen Briefel, Harolyn Cohen, Carol Diamond, Jane Dorlester, Leslie Fraidstern, Susana Honig, Grace Kerr, Cathy Monblatt, Roberta Moskowitz, Ann Smith, Itta Weiss
Contact Us: by email or phone 718-768-1453.

GET INVOLVED! If you would like to help us with our work in general, request or run an event or activity, recommend a resource, or need help with an issue related to aging, contact us! Our goal is to have fun as well as to help!

Upcoming Events

We have lots of ideas for activities and events that are percolating but are waiting for the results of our survey to find out what our members want the most. If you’ve already taken the survey and have further feedback, or if the deadline has passed for you to take the survey, you can still give us your input by contacting us at Please check the PSJC Calendar for already scheduled PAI activities and events.

Events and Activities

Registration: We need to know whether we have sufficient registrants to run an event or a class. For that reason, registration is required for all one-time events. For ongoing classes, registration is required for the first class only. Note that new classes will be canceled if pre-registration is not sufficient. If that happens, we will let you know in advance. Also, if you are registered we will know to contact you if the class is canceled for any other reason, such as an instructor being ill or inclement weather.
To register:

Go to the PSJC Calendar.
Go to the date of the activity.
Click on the name of the activity.
A box will pop up, that says “Go to Event”; click on that.
That will take you to a short registration form that you will need to complete.
If the class costs money, bring the fee to the actual event (see below).

Cost: To cover our costs, $5.00 per session is requested (cash or check) and exact change is appreciated. For some activities the cost may be higher given the cost of running the class. If you can’t afford the fee, pay what you can; no one will be turned away because of an inability to pay. Fees should be given to the leader or instructor at the class or activity.

Location: All activities are at Park Slope Jewish Center unless otherwise specified.

Ongoing Activities

Regularly Ongoing Activities
Positive Aging Book Club: This monthly book club reads books of various genres chosen by the group. The dates and times vary so that those who are retired and those who are still working can participate. Check the PSJC Calendar for the meeting times, selected books and registration!
Previous book read by the group have included: Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders; and Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan.
Cost: Free
Registration: Registration is required for all PAI activities. Follow the instructions above.
Positive Aging Walking Club: This club currently meets weekly on Friday mornings at 9:30 am at the Bartel Pritchard circle park entrance on 15th Street and PPW. We have been walking in Prospect Park and will explore other nearby venues. See the PSJC Calendar to register!
Cost: Free
Registration: Please register so we can reach you if there are any changes due to weather and other unanticipated events.


We are seeking recommendations for classes and instructors. Contact us if you have someone to recommend. We welcome your feedback on everything we do or should do.


We have identified the following resources as helpful to people age 50+ but we do not officially endorse any of these programs or agencies. Our Social Services Committee would, however, welcome your feedback on these and other resources you would recommend. To do so, contact

Health Insurance
HIICAP: The Department for the Aging runs the Health Insurance Information and Counseling Assistance Program (HIICAP) to help older adults with health insurance issues. They hold regular orientation sessions on Medicare at their headquarters and have volunteer counselors available to answer your personal questions.

Contact Info: 2 Lafayette Street, NY, NY [zipcode], [phone number], [email]


ENGAGE: UJA-Federation's Engage Jewish Service Corps empowers Jews in their 50s, 60s, and beyond to address the needs of the Jewish community of New York City. The program is based in Manhattan. Volunteers use their lifelong skill sets, expertise, passion, and leadership to address issues that they care deeply about, including poverty, hunger, joblessness, and the needs of isolated elderly and people with special needs. Volunteers choose opportunities that fit their interests and availability or create opportunities of their own. Participants also join together in regular community-building gatherings that include discussion, reflection, and analysis, which provide opportunities to learn about related societal issues and teachings and facilitate connections between the volunteering, learning, and overall life experiences.

Contact Info: Rabbi Brian Fink, Director of Engage, at 646.505.4408 or


There will be no PAI classes/events on the following 2018 holidays:
New Year’s Day: 1/1
Martin Luther King Day: 1/15
Tu B’Shevat: 1/31
President’s Day: 2/19
Purim: Erev 2/28, 3/1
Passover: Erev 3/30-3/31
Yom Hashoah: 4/12
Shavuot: Erev 5/19, 5/20
Memorial Day: 5/28
Fourth of July: 7/4

Tish’a B’Av: Erev 7/21, 7/22
Labor Day: 9/3
Rosh Hashanah: Erev 9/9, 9/10, 9/11
Yom Kippur: Erev 9/18, 9/19
Sukkot: Erev 9/23; 9/24-25
Shmini Atzeret: Erev 9/30; 10/1
Simchat Torah: Erev 10/1,10/2
Thanksgiving: 11/22, 11/23
Chanukah: Erev 12/2
New Year’s Eve: 12/31

Sun, August 9 2020 19 Av 5780