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The Wisdom of Our Elders

by Nanci Levy | Jul 11, 2017

Irving Silverman 2016 cropped 2
Irving Silverman is an expert in the art of aging. While most people at the age of 97 would be slowing down, Irving has just published his second book, Aging Wisely…Wisdom of Our Elders. It is a book about aging and longevity from the perspective of the elderly, as well as from many experts in the field of aging. It includes many inspiring life stories, in addition to information on the biology of aging and emotional responses to aging. There are insights into finding fulfilment in the later years, and how to use your internal strengths and the resources of the world around you to help to navigate the process of aging. This book will inspire readers to lead full and engaged lives into their 90s and beyond, as well as to appreciate the elders in their midst.

Born in 1920, Irving grew up in Brooklyn, NY, and graduated from the City College of New York’s Baruch School of Business with a degree in advertising and publishing. He had a 45 year career at the National Knitwear Association, but was most proud of his achievements in community service. After retiring, he created the Kosher Food and Jewish Life Expo. He established and led the Long Island Chapter of Parents without Partners after the death of his first wife, Henrietta. He was president of the New York Region of United Synagogue, and led an effort in 1980 to allow Jews to emigrate from the Soviet Union. He and his second wife, Nancy, built a lighthouse on their property in Maine, and after her passing in 2002, he designated the lighthouse as a wedding chapel and officiated at 35 wedding ceremonies there. In 2008, Irving wrote an autobiography and tribute to his wives, A Trilogy…Three Hearts…One Soul. Irving moved to Tucson in the mid-nineties and was an active member of the board of Handmaker from 2007-2010. He also participated in Handmaker’s Adventure Bus Program. He moved to Boston in 2013 to be closer to his children, but came back to visit and stayed at Handmaker for one month in both 2014 and 2015.

Never a man to remain idle, a few years ago he began thinking about the idea of putting together a book with his, and the thoughts of other elders, on aging. He wanted to gather together the wisdom of those who had lived a long life in today’s world and share it with others. He reached out to his vast network of friends for help. There was an enthusiastic response to his request for contributions, and in the end he assembled essays from a diverse group of 73 collaborators from across the United States, aged 68 to 103.

His daughter, Ellen Beth Siegel, became the co-author of this endeavor, helping to organize the contents and prepare it for publication.  Ellen wrote that “Sharing this enterprise is a gift that I’m grateful to give him…and getting this book out and into the hands of others thinking about aging is something that I too have become passionate about”.

Irving enlisted the help of many others, including Mariah MacKenzie, a student from a local High School. Mariah helped Irving with his email communications, typed up the dictations of his essays, and sorted through, edited and formatted contributions. She wrote that “Being a part of the creation of this collaborative work has been a privilege, allowing me to learn, piece by piece, the way that Mr. Silverman and his peers see the process of aging…we can all benefit from learning to accept help when we need it, to accept people and their differences, and to experience life while we still can. Older people in our society can teach us so much.”

When asked what inspired him to create this book, Irving said, "mostly, because I love older people because their lives are so full of exciting stories of living well and accomplishing so much”.

Aging is inevitable, despite all that some do to avoid the appearance of aging. This book is a testament to how people can age gracefully with a fullness of life. It is a reminder that we need to take the time to listen to, to appreciate and embrace the wisdom and accomplishments of our elders. There is so much that we can learn from Irving and others. Irving is an absolute inspiration.

Copies of this book are available on Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/Aging-Wisely-Wisdom-Our-Elders/dp/128414173X

Or at Jones and Bartlett Learning:
http://www.jblearning.com/catalog/9781284141733/