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Emeritus Group

Socializing and stimulating discussions for seniors led by Henry Berman and Rabbi Cohen. Join us!

Henry Berman knows the Emeritus group has a loyal following. He recalls one event: “A few winters ago we had a session scheduled about Kabbalah. The predicted wind chill was 25 below zero that morning. I contemplated rescheduling, thinking everyone would hunker down at home and nobody would show up. Well… the number of attendees was the same as usual, with many congregants in their eighties. I was impressed!”

Henry collaborates with Emeritus Rabbi Norman Cohen to lead Bet Shalom’s Emeritus Group (formerly the Retiree Group; Emeritus is a respectful honorific for seniors). Having transitioned in recent years from full time to other types of employment and enjoyment, they are now giving other people who had left decades of work life the opportunity to get together, study and learn within our spiritual community.

Each session begins with a “check-in” about what is happening in the lives of those attending, and this has been emphasized since the pandemic began. Rabbi Cohen says he has included it “in committee meetings, board meetings adult education and Torah study since Bet Shalom began in 1981! It is the hallmark of Bet Shalom and is an expression of Gen. 18 in modern times. Our tent is always open and welcoming to those who enter. And we stand at its opening to greet anybody who wanders in our vicinity.” In this way the Emeritus group embodies Relational Judaism.

The enjoyable meetings cover topics ranging from Jewish issues like antisemitism and Zionism to societal issues like affordable housing and racism. Global events serve as catalysts for other topics like the Tree of Life attack in Pittsburgh, annexation in the West Bank, and the pandemic’s impact on our High Holiday experiences. At our meeting last December, participants shared fascinating stories about their families’ experiences immigrating to the United States.

Participants have gotten to know one another better and met new people. They appreciate and respect each other in a comfortable environment, recognizing that the perspectives of seniors are valuable. And the transition to an online format has not impacted participation at all.

Meetings are held every six weeks or so, currently by Zoom. Topics are announced in advance, and the meetings are interactive. There is no minimum age or requirement to be retired. If you would like to be added to the Emeritus list, contact Rabbi Cohen at Rabbi.Cohen@Betshalom.org.