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PAGE 10A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, SEPTEMBER 1, 2017 How continuing education courses rejuvenate older adults By Pamela Ruben Like many back-to-school- ers, Ed April is preparing to return to classes. An eager student, he has already read through his required text on the Spanish American War. In just a few weeks, Ed will join with the thousands of students on the campus of Northwestern University, as he heads into his ninth year at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Northwestern University (OLLI). Though Ed is more than 55 years older than the average col- lege student, he shares that returning to campus each year for continuing education keeps his mind sharp. As Ed's daughter, I can attest to his enthusiasm for lifelong learning. For a sum- mer class on the study of evo- lution, my father took himself on a field trip via airplane to the Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C. When he wasn't visiting with his granddaughter (my niece, also a Northwestern student), he was snapping photos of dino- saurs and other ancient fossils to share with his classmates back on campus. For most of the years as an OLLI student, the 77-year-old "advanced collegian" has been a course leader. This semester the retired Chicago area ra- diologist is co-leading a class with three fellow seniors. Ed shares that one of the reasons he loves adult education courses is that grades are not a factor and that learning is for learning's sake. While OLLI students may cross the campus a little more slowly than the rest of the student body, they answer questions in class just as quickly--and with a bit more thought. Studies confirm Ed's statements, with current research showing that the use of vocabulary is preserved as we age, and the use of reason strengthens as we grow older. Like my dad, 75-year-old Elise Schilowitz of Maitland is a life-long-learner. The re- turning student at The Learn- ing Institute for Elders at UCF shares that the two-year waiting list was well worth the delay. Each Tuesday morning from September through May, she attends a rotating lecture series on a topic selected by and for the membership, who are 55 years and up. Elise notes that the keynote speakers make just about any topic fascinating, and that she leaves each class with an overflow of new information. One of the most interesting speaker groups was the team of UCF students who developed a "bionic" limb through the university's school of engineer- ing. Now that she's "in," Elise plans on attending for as long "she can drive," with hopes that husband, Henry, will become a fellow classmate once he retires. My husband, Tony, recently registered to enter The Rollins Center for Lifelong Learning (RCLL) at the Hamilton Holt School at Rollins College in Winter Park, geared to students who are 50 plus. He is looking forward to the innovative and enriching programs offered to "Senior Dr. Ed April (blogger's father), continuing education student and course leader at Northwestern University's OLLI program. Tars," known as the STARS program. One of the few perks of turning 50 next month is that I, too, will be eligible for continuing ed. Hope to see you on campus soon! Looking to add some class to your days? Continuing education near you Osher Life Long Learning Institute has many locations throughout the country, with several in the state of Florida. Visit http://osherfoundation. org/index.php?olli list for locations nationwide. To find out more about The Learning Institute for Elders at UCF visit https:// life.ucf.edu. Life-long learner, Elise Schilowitz, getting ready for fall classes at the University of Central Florida's Learning Institute for Elders. To find out more about the Stars Program at Rollins Col- lege visit http://www.rollins. edu/evening/rollins-center- lifelong-learning/senior-en- richment-classes/index.html. Tidbits from the Sand- wich Generation is a series of blogs by Pamela Ruben, Jewish Pavilion marketing director, about managing the multi-generations. Check out additional posts at www. jewishpavilion.org/blog. For no cost help for issues pertain- ing to older adults contact the Orlando Senior Help Desk, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, at 407-678-9363 or visit www. jewishpavilion.org. Rabbi 1S By Ben Sales NEW YORK (JTA)--Af- ter the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, voices abounded calling the demon- stration an affront to Ameri- can values. Rabbi Shai Held called it an attack on God. "One of the most funda- mental claims Judaism makes about the world is that every human being on the face of the earth--blackandwhite, male and female--is created in the image of God and is therefore infinitely valuable," Held wrote last week in an essay on CNN.com. "An attack on other people's humanity is by definition an assault on God." Persuading more people to talk about God has been at the core of Held's message as his profile has risen this year. One of the founders of Mechon Hadar, a traditional egalitarian yeshiva in New York City, Held has emerged as a public voice on every- thing from President Donald Trump to race relations to masculinity. Along with regular CNN columns, his essays on the weekly Torah portion reach 7,000 people. They are now being published as a two-volume book, "The Heart of Torah" (Jewish Pub- lication Society), due out in September. Through all of it, Held wants you to know that God is compassionate and wants you to be compassionate. That compassion, he says, also extends to politics. "I'm not primarily inter- ested in 'is there a God or not?' but what kind of a God is there," Held, 46, said earlier this month, surrounded by shelves upon shelves of reli- gious books in his suburban New York home--with more still in boxes. "I'm trying to make the case for a God who is about love and who asks human beings to live lives of love." On its face, the idea that Judaism should focus on God is anything but radical. But though Judaism pioneered the concept of monotheism, observant Jews tend to focus much of their energy on dis- secting and analyzing Jewish law--poring over the legalis- tic Talmud in school and often defining their piety in terms of Wednesday, Sept. 20th & Thursday, Sept. 21 st Make a reservation to dine with us or call ahead and we will have your order ready. Ask about our express pick-up options. V;,s eb: e or r t eo t llllllll DELl * BAKERY RESTAURANT toojays.com [ study and observance rather than "faith." Held, the son of a renowned Jewish Bible scholar, grew up with similar Talmudic inclinations. Though his home was secular, his par- ents sent him to Orthodox day school, where he learned to study complex rabbinic texts at an early age. He be- came observant on his own, studying in yeshivas in Israel before attending Harvard and gaining rabbinic ordination at the Conservative move- ment's Jewish Theological Seminary. He co-founded Mechon Hadar in 2007, an outgrowth of the pioneering Kehilat Hadar independent congregation on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. "If you say to a Jew who prays three times a day, 'Do you talk to God?' many of them will be like, 'I'm not sure,'" Held said. "That's kind of fascinating. I'm trying to be alive to the question 'What does the Lord, your God, ask of you?' I'm inviting people into that conversation." The Jewish emphasis on observance, Held says, has led religious Jews to surrender theological language to Chris- tians. In his book, Held tries to reclaim it, writing about God's "grace" and "election" of the Jews--terms historically central to Protestant Chris- tianity. He also displays his affection for Christian bibli- cal commentary. Held cites Christian scholars in the book and Walter Moberly, a Christian theologian, has a blurb on the back cover. "Jews in America have of- ten ceded some of the basic terms of Jewish theology and spirituality to Christianity," Held said, joking that some readers ask if he's "a little Christian." (The answer is no.) "So Christianity owns love, Christianity owns grace. Rabbi Shai Held, a co-founder of Mechon Hadar, a tradi- tional egalitarian yeshiva, has just released a book of Torah commentaries. The problem with that is that love and grace are really fun- damental Jewish theology, and we abandon those terms at a tremendous spiritual loss to ourselves." Held's personal life has also steered him toward emphasiz- ing God's grace. His father, Moshe Held, a professor of Semitic languages and cul- tures at Columbia University, died when Shai was a teenager, which led to difficult years with his mother. And he lives with a chronic illness that causes pain in his back, spine and legs, and subjects him to what he calls "debilitating fa- tigue," sometimes forcing him to stop work for hours or days at a time. At times, Held says, the illness makes him focus on himself at the expense of others. But at its best, it allows him to understand the pain of others. "I don't mean you're ill and you become kinder--I think often the opposite is the case--but certain kinds of capacities are born within you or expand within you," he said. "The question of seeing people who are not seen became in- credibly important to me in part through the experience of invisible illness." Rabbi Irving "Yitz" Green- berg, a leading modern Or- thodox theologian, notes this quality in his introduction to Held's weekly Torah com- mentaries. "[W]hat lifts this book from being an outstanding Torah commentary to a great work of religious thought and human moral development is Held's profound theology that the heart of Judaism's religious life lies in our relationship to God and fellow human be- ings," he said. Held's theology of love courses through his essays on even the most legalistic of Torah portions. In his Held on page 15A