The first weeks or months of retirement may seem like a well-deserved vacation, but what then? Retirees who never had time for hobbies or learning when they worked are often at a loss for what to do. Many languish at home, rarely getting out. For this reason, 13 years ago Yad Sarah established its Golden Age Club.
"Moadon Gil HaZahav" (as it's called in Hebrew) may be one of Yad Sarah's best kept secrets, yet 500 golden agers have no trouble finding their places throughout the year in an exciting and completely volunteer run adult education and recreation program.
Golden agers art class (Photo: Devorah Kravitz)
Volunteer co-coordinators, Rina Sherman and Miri Adams, explain that club members may attend as many classes as they wish, and all for a nominal participation fee. Students come from all over the greater Jerusalem area, Mevasseret Zion to East Talpiot.
Most classes – from Feldenkrais and folk dancing to Torah study, language learning, history and storytelling – are held at Yad Sarah House in Jerusalem during the morning hours. However, Tai Chi (one of the most popular offerings) takes place in a nearby green area. Teachers, also volunteers, are highly qualified in their specialties.
"We have waiting lists for many hands-on courses such as painting, drawing and handcrafts. We are always looking for more volunteer teachers, especially in these areas, so that we can accommodate everyone," Mrs. Sherman said. She also emphasized that they could use more classrooms, as they now must share space with a new program at Yad Sarah House which provides after-school activities for special needs children.
A Hebrew Ulpan is also offered, free of charge, to those who work at Yad Sarah through Jerusalem's Tikun Ha'Ir Project. Participants are elderly immigrants from Russia.
As this reporter sat in the program's small office, Muriel Isaacs, a long- time volunteer English teacher came in with her granddaughter Meital Deganie, age 6. "I love my students," she smiled. "They are highly motivated and show amazing concern for each other. We are like a family." she said as they rushed out to class.
Photo: Devorah Kravitz