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Still learning in their 8th, 9th and 10th Decades

by Nanci Levy | Jul 31, 2018

Yiddish ClassYou might think that the time of life between Primary School and College or Graduate School is the peak time for learning. It’s a time when your brain is like a sponge, you have an abundance of energy, and generally fewer responsibilities than you will as an adult. Well, I believe that there is second peak period in your life for learning. For those who are fortunate enough to be in relatively good physical and mental health in their later years, that period of their lives can also be filled with learning. Knowing this, we provide an abundance of opportunities for learning at Handmaker.

Yiddish class once a month refreshes our Yiddish speakers’ memories, and teaches some residents a new language that they are not quite as familiar with. At current events class, residents discuss the news of the day, and often also get a history lesson from other knowledgeable residents who want to share their wisdom.

Every Monday we have a Torah Study class, full of engaged learning. And after the Torah is read every Shabbat morning at services, there is often an opportunity to study again, after we have our Kiddush lunch.

Those who want to expand their minds creatively can attend our watercolor painting class, or come to one of our Learn Art from the Masters classes with Tucson Museum of Art docents to learn how to paint in the style of famous painters. And, starting this fall, we will host a series of “Art Talks” on a variety of artists given by docents from the Tucson Museum of Art, arranged with the local Brandeis National Committee. (For more information, go to handmaker.org/about/calendar/spiritual-cultural or tucsonbnc.org.)

Every month from October through April, we have lectures on a variety of interesting Jewish topics given by Rabbis, Judaic Studies professors and other brilliant volunteers in our community.

And, for residents who are interested in learning about other cultures and places, they can feel like they have traveled there when they attend our Around the World program. At each class, attendees learn about the history and culture of different places around the world and celebrate the art, traditions and music of the place that they are studying, creating a craft inspired by that destination. Residents can also participate in our Out and About program, taking trips to visit interesting places out and about in Tucson such as the Tucson Botanical Gardens, International Wildlife Museum and the Pima Air and Space Museum.

Learning at Handmaker is not just about intellectual pursuits. If they would like to take an exercise or yoga class, or learn Tai Chi, those classes are all available to our residents on a regular basis as well.

So, while our minds may not be as sponge-like in our 80’s and 90’s as they were in our teens, we often have more time and patience and want to learn just for the sake of learning in our later years. Our Handmaker residents do love to learn, and we continue to create opportunities for them to do so, right in their very own homes.

And lucky me, only in my 5th decade, I get to learn along with them.