The Wise Aging Program for Portland/Vancouver


There is no set of instructions for getting older – for the shifts in our social and support networks, the mixed signals of entering retirement or the surprising turns in our relationships with ourselves, our parents, our partners, friends and colleagues.

Through Wise Aging, “my circle of friends has expanded. My ideas about friendship have deepened. I am open to hearing different ways of experiencing and dealing with life. I feel more supported than previously as I go through this journey of life.” – Sandy, Wise Aging Participant

The Wise Aging program offers a guided path, designed to help those 55 and over who want to discover new resources to enhance their later years with spirit, resilience and wisdom.

Those of us in this stage can count ourselves as part of an extraordinary, history-making generation –
pioneers in understanding and making the most of this “third chapter” of life. Many of us will be blessed with unprecedented healthy years ahead that do not signal the end, but are full of potential for learning
and growth.

Launched about five years ago in New York City, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and Phoenix by the Wise
Aging authors in collaboration with the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, Wise Aging now has more than
450 trained facilitators around the country. The Wise Aging program was piloted in Portland in the 2018 fall/winter. The pilot was facilitated by Cantor Barbara Slader and David Molko of JFCS, and provided the base for new program.

Sessions & Scheduling
The Wise Aging groups will meet for four 90-minutes sessions and have a maximum of 12 participants. Groups will start up in the area at Portland and Vancouver synagogues and community locations late
summer and fall. A permanent page on the JFCS website will include locations, dates, times, fees,
availability and contact information for groups.

“These years are indeed informative years, rich in possibilities… to deepen understanding and compassion, to widen the horizon of honesty, to refine the sense of fairness… the attainment of wisdom is the work of a lifetime.” – Abraham Joshua Heschel, To Grow in Wisdom

What is this stage of life about?

  • Becoming our most authentic selves;
    who are we beneath the roles we play,
    the personae we have developed?
  • Letting go, coming to terms
  • Learning to “be” as well as “do”
  • Refining the soul

Life Review

  • Assessing and reframing our narrative
  • Embracing the whole of our lives

Relationship with our changing body

  • Our life-long relationship to our bodies
  • Present to my body as it is and does with gratitude
  • The body as it enables us to live and do; as it feels and perceives; as it presents and represents us to the world and to ourselves
  • The disparities we sense between our chronological age; our body and our inner feelings

Changing Relationships with friends, family and self

  • The need to appreciate, cultivate and actively nurture relationships in light of changing interests,
    physical moves, illness and death, loss of workplace networks
  • Acknowledging the complexity of relationships with elderly parents, adult children, siblings, extended family
  • Winnowing, limiting and/or resolving relationships that no longer serve us well
  • Aloneness: loneliness vs. solitude, establishing a deeper relationship with oneself
  • Independence, Dependence, and Interdependence
  • Connecting with groups, social networks, community

Forgiveness and
Tochecha (“constructive criticism”)

  • Parsing the meaning of forgiveness
  • Forgiveness as a process that can be partial
  • Forgiveness for the sake of lightening one’s own burden
  • Self-Forgiveness; Divine Forgiveness
  • Constructive criticism: Is it true, is it necessary, is it kind?

Cultivating Spiritual Qualities for Well-being

  • Psychological and spiritual development can continue to the very end of life, but it often requires
    conscious effort and cultivation
  • Qualities that will serve us well as we face the challenges of growing older include: gratitude, patience, generosity, equanimity, compassion and joy
  • Spiritual practice for developing a heart of wisdom

Living with Loss and Finding Light

  • So many losses:  status and roles, health, strength, home, memory, family, friends, life itself
  • Acknowledging loss and grief; working toward acceptance
  • Spiritual practices that help us find light in the midst of darkness; meditation, prayer, psalms, journaling, community

Conscious Dying

  • Examining forms of cultural and personal denial of our mortality
  • The ways in which life can become more meaningful in the shadow of death
  • Practical and spiritual preparations for conscious dying
  • Dealing with “unfinished business”

Legacy and Stewardship

  • What was our inherited legacy, what are the legacies we are leaving?
  • How shall we hold regrets?
  • It’s never too late; it stops here!
  • Stewardship, planting trees for the future
  • Shaping our legacy; letting go of our legacy
  • What do we want to do with the time that remains to us, “being” and “doing”

Wise Aging Upcoming 2020 Groups

Where: Shaarie Torah
Dates: 01/21, 02/04, 02/18, 03/03
Time: 10:30 am to 12:30 pm
For further information, please contact Dinah Gilburd at or Barb Schwartz at
Where: Congregation Neveh Shalom
Dates: 01/13, 01/20, 01/27, 02/03
Time: 10:15 am-12:15 pm
Room 102
For further information, please contact Barb Schwartz at or Deborah Freedberg at