By Rachel Gross Weinstein
Many senior citizens in the community consider the Aaron Family JCC a second home, providing them with cultural programs, kosher lunches and a way to socialize with friends.
The senior department was restructured last month to allow more seniors to use the J. Senior programming has always been offered, but now all community members ages 65 and older can join the new Senior Social J for $44 per year instead of $350; they can also join the Silver Sneakers fitness program for a nominal fee.
“We are trying to be more open and want more seniors to feel welcomed at the J,” adult program associate Heather Cordova said. “Being part of this group shouldn’t be cost-prohibitive in any way. Seniors love coming to the J and we want them to be part of the community.”
Senior Social J hosts various events for members, such as dinners and shows. Since programming for the new group officially kicked off last month, the seniors visited the Chihuly Exhibit at the Dallas Arboretum and the Dead Sea Scroll exhibit at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth.
Events have also been planned through December, including seeing the Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular at the Verizon Theater in Grand Prairie, a Caribbean cruise and a tour at Scottish Rite Hospital, along with a Chanukah party at The Legacy at Preston Hollow and a presentation about Kwanzaa.
Other senior programming at the J includes book clubs, art classes, hot lunches, computer classes, Wii games, guest speakers and more. The aim is to start offering mah jongg games and Shabbat dinners for the seniors, Cordova said.
Meeting the needs of seniors is one of the J’s priorities, president Artie Allen said. Providing a way for them to socialize and enjoy themselves allows them to live happier lives, he said.
“Seniors are an important part of what the J does,” said Allen. “They enrich our lives and we enrich theirs, so we don’t want there to be any reason or barrier for them not to come. Caring for the senior population has been a passion of mine; we need to take care of those who have taken care of us in the past. They play a vital role at the J and in the Jewish community.”
Another unique aspect of the Senior Social J is the interaction seniors have with preschoolers, Cordova said. Seniors visit the preschool classrooms once a week and form relationships with the children. The children often perform dance recitals for them during lunch, and wave to them in the hallways.
This is what brings the most joy to Bea Kaplan, who is also on the senior adult board. She enjoys connecting with the children and is actively involved in the knitting group that produces hats and blankets for premature babies at Parkland Hospital.
“It’s such a joy being at the J with the babies and preschoolers,” she said. “They bring a real energy to our group.”
The connections seniors make at the J and providing them with multiple opportunities to live a fulfilling life are what make them such a valued part of the community, Cordova added.
“They create friendships and this provides them a sense of belonging,” she said. “It also gives them a sense of pride knowing they can spend the day at the J and have a wonderful time.”
For information about Senior Social J, contact Cordova at 214-239-7149 or email@example.com.