Judy Azer never thought of herself as a writer. Until, that is, she enrolled in a creative writing class offered through JCHE's popular Wednesday for Senior Learners program.
We would like to share with you an essay Judy wrote on the program that has helped unleash her inner writer.
Thank you, Judy, for your contribution to Wednesday for Senior Learners—a program that's at the core of our "village center" model that seeks to integrate our campuses with local communities by inviting the community in and offering our services outside. To learn more about the program and for enrollment information, please click here.
JUST LIKE THE OLD COMMERCIAL
by Judy Azer
Years ago, there was a commercial in which someone makes money on his investments. He looks up and says, “Thank you, Paine Webber.” That’s how I feel about the Wednesday Senior Learners program at the Coleman House.
A few years ago, Toby and Stan, friends from my Temple, suggested that I attend the seniors’ program at the JCC in Newton. I was interested in the free preview week. Donna assigned me to table 12 for lunch. There I met and became friendly with Linda, Paula, and Ruth. The four of us sat together for the lunch and entertainment, though we did not go to all the same programs. Mike Franklyn discussed current events. I loved it, and was so disappointed when the JCC decided to discontinue the program. My first year in the JCC program, unfortunately, was the program’s last year—or so it seemed.
Thank goodness, the Coleman House JCHE took up the challenge. I love the programs. Who knew I could write? Well, the Pulitzer Prize is not in the stars yet. Unlike most of my friends in Mike’s class, I had not written much before. Now I have produced a few pieces I am proud of, like my rhyme Green Trees and Zaandam about Alaska. I enjoy listening to the work of others, and our leader, Mike. Susan was on Nixon’s enemies list! I am impressed. Paula tells such interesting stories of people she encounters. Also—Natalie’s poetry, Ruth’s samovar, Naomi’s family, Rae’s rhymes. I miss Sheri and Inez, who had such fascinating tales of long ago.
I look forward to the speakers in our second hour, at least the ones that aren’t telling me how to age gracefully. The participants ask such great questions. Then lunch, which I bring from home. I enjoy the free-ranging conversation. Afterwards, I try to be attentive during the entertainment. Art Matters is fascinating—I have learned a lot. However, sometimes I realize that I have daydreamed—or worse, as I passively sit there and watch the art get stuck to the upturned tables.
I really look forward to Yiddishkeit. Lillian is lots of fun. I enjoy listening to her stories of growing up in New York. Who can forget Pokayenta and the Shmohawk Indians—and the milchedicke tomahawk? Here, too, are interesting people. If I start mentioning names, I will probably leave someone out.
Another reason I enjoy the Senior Learners is because, as one of the younger participants, I am impressed seeing men and women 10-20 years older than I am. It gives me hope that I still have several active years left in me. It is fascinating listening to stories of World War II, like having the button rip off your undies, then having them fall to the ground! The young woman calmly stepped out of them! In 1945, I was still in diapers.
Finally, I have made new friends—Natalie, who wishes she had met me years ago. I feel the same. If she can become a bat mitzvah at the age of 89, then it is never too late to learn. I am fascinated by her rhymes and the bookies in her past. A new chum, younger than I am, is Rae, with her knitting such lovely scarves to help others. She is, for now anyway, a new Red Hatter. Her wry observations make me smile.
All in all, as I drive to the Wednesday programs, I think, “Thank you, Coleman House.”
Wednesday for Senior Learners is a 14-week program hosted at our Coleman House in Newton that brings together local authors, historians, and scholars to deliver engaging lectures on topics ranging from presidential history to the art of writing a short story. The program, which is attended by residents as well as seniors from the Greater Boston area, also features entertainment, current events discussions, lunch, and exercise classes geared to senior adults.