Welcome to the Growing in Wisdom Initiative directed by Rabbi Beth Lieberman. Growing in Wisdom Initiative explores what matters to us as Elders, NextStagers, and Boomers. Rabbi Lieberman will be reaching out to talk to many, but if you already know that this interests you, please contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (310) 403-1602. There is much we can create together. The following inter-generational and peer groups are in development:
Encore career discussion groups, the Adopt-a-Family program, Grandparents Groups, and more.

STS has also had 4 Wise Aging Groups to date (Wise Aging is a program of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality). Powerful and transformative, Wise Aging is a combined journey using that Jewish texts, spiritual wisdom, and contemplative practices in ways that can help us cultivate wisdom and the ability to be present to each moment.


This blog is a series of short writings about congregants who have opened their vision in life's second half, and come to see and appreciate their unique value as mentors, and as catalysts for social change.

Simchat Chochmah - Celebration of Wisdom

Jackie Ben-Efraim with TefillinJackie Ben-Efraim began her Celebration of Wisdom ceremony (Simchat Chochmah) by committing herself heart and soul to God – wrapping tefillin, for the first time ever, in morning minyan. The minyan was followed by a feast made even sweeter by the outpouring of friendship, love, and blessing towards Jackie. After all, she was turning sixty, ready for a new life chapter of purpose and growth.

The Simchat Chochmah ceremony celebrates becoming an elder of the community. Its purpose is to honor wisdom that has been acquired, connect us to ever deeper levels of Jewish practice, and, as Savina Teubal (z"l), creator of the Simchat Chochmah ceremony, to acknowledge this next stage of life, which "is truly a time when we can, when we must, make the effort to give the next generation the benefits of our vision, complete with its realities and its dreams."

Entering this new life stage with a sense of calling has precedent in Jewish tradition. Abram was 75 years old and Sarai 65 years old when God told them to go forth. Perhaps we can see in our ancestors' models that each one of us has a special calling, a new path to pursue, as we grow into wisdom. After all, Abraham and Sarah's going forth allowed them to embark upon the most important work of their lives.

In his book, From Age-ing to Sage-ing, Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (z"l) calls upon the 'elders of the tribe' to inspire others to live by higher values, and to offer hope and guidance to those who seek models of a fulfilled human potential.

Thank you, Jackie, for being a model for us, and for sharing your vision of the future with our Shomrei Torah community.

Would you like to celebrate growing in wisdom with a Simchat Chochmah ceremony? Call or email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (310-403-1602).

Who Is Your Future Self? by Rabbi Beth Lieberman | 10/21/2015

According to the Wall Street Journal article, "To Age Well, Change how you feel about Aging". The emerging truth is staring us in the face: a child born today will most likely live to see his or her 100th birthday. Laura L. Carstensen, Ph.D., Founding Director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, points out that “more years were added to average life expectancy in the 20th Century than all years added across all prior millennia of human evolution combined. In the blink of an eye, we nearly doubled the length of time that we're living.” How are we to respond to this stunning gift of time? As a rabbi, I wonder how this will affect the community -- how it will change family life, work life, and religious life. And I wonder what my own future will look like... Take my parents -- both American born, a NYC public school science teacher and a garment industry manufacturer. They were anticipating retirement at 65, and both made it pretty close to that. My father (z”l) sold his business, got out of Bronx politics (his service life), and set about to play golf and enjoy the sportscar he had waited a lifetime to buy. I have little doubt that if he had lived longer, he would have pursued his dream of writing fiction. My mother tried her hand at golf, and Florida, and got bored. She then began learning Spanish and film history, teaching art, traveling the globe, and returned to her core--her scientific bent-- by intense study to then serve as a tour guide at the Bronx Zoo, which she is still doing to this day. I have recently entered my fifties, lucky enough to have a wonderful marriage, two kids still at home, thirty years in the literary world under my belt, and now, a second career. My work ahead seems less of a sharp turn than a combining of what I’ve been doing with endeavors I feel I was born to do: teaching, building community, and aligning the sacred with daily life. I am happier and more curious than ever. I have no intention of making my world smaller or more rigid as I grow older. I plan to continue enlarging it, bringing it as wide as possible, however it will have to be done. I’ve already had one encounter with cancer that gave me -- yes -- gave -- an appreciation of the ways illness and disability can shape us. What will my perspective be in ten, twenty, thirty or more years? Ripe with anticipation, I eagerly await my future self.

What is your story? What does your future self feel like, look like, act like?



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