Local | Senior Lifestyle

Bilgray scholar takes holistic approach to healthy aging

Rabbi Richard Address
Rabbi Richard Address

How should we be thinking about and preparing for the likelihood that we will live longer lives than our ancestors? Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min., founder of the Jewish Sacred Aging project, will discuss new ways to approach life’s “third age” as this year’s Albert T. Bilgray scholar-in-residence.

Address will give three free talks in Tucson, starting on Thursday, March 2 at 7 p.m. at the University of Arizona Hillel Foundation with “In a Sacred Image: A Jewish Approach to Health and Wellness,” exploring how Judaism looks at the issues of both physical and mental health.

The traditional Jewish approach to health combines mind, body and spirit as a “holistic medical system,” says Address, the author of several books on aging, including “Seekers of Meaning: Baby Boomers, Judaism, and the Pursuit of Healthy Aging.”

Often, as people reach their 60s, they experience a “spiritual revolution,” beginning to wonder what legacy they will leave to their children and grandchildren — as well as what their children’s legacy might be, says Address, who in 1997 founded the Union for Reform Judaism’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns.

At Shabbat services on Friday, March 3 at Temple Emanu-El, which begin at 7:30 p.m., Address will deliver “Going Boldly to Our Next Frontier: An Approach to Life’s ‘Third Age’ from Jewish Tradition and Texts.”

He will explore four basic texts from the Torah that approach the topic of aging in a healthy way and how they model a “chuppah” of relationships, just as the wedding canopy can serve as a symbol tying together the relationship between a bride, a groom and God.

No matter how we plan, life may play cards we are not prepared for — “Mann traoch, Gott lauch,” says Address, which translates from Yiddish as “Man plans, God laughs.” How we deal with the randomness of life determines who we really are, he says.

On Saturday, March 4 at noon at the Temple Emanu-El Rabbi’s Tish, Address will lead a text study on “New Rituals for New Life Stages,” exploring the newest prayers and rituals that give meaning to the celebration of aging.

With baby boomers living well into their 80s and 90s, “we’ve collected new rituals for times and moments we didn’t expect,” Address told the AJP.

Tish participants are asked to bring a dairy/vegetarian dish to share at the potluck lunch.

Temple Emanu-El will host a Shabbat dinner with Address on March 3 at 5:30 p.m. The cost is $36; prepaid reservations must be made by Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 327-4501 or tetucson.org.

The Bilgray Lectureship is a collaborative program between Temple Emanu-El and the UA’s Arizona Center for Judaic Studies, honoring the memory of Rabbi Albert T. Bilgray, senior rabbi at Temple Emanu-El from 1947-1972 and the guiding force behind the formation of the Judaic Studies program at the UA. This year’s program is also cosponsored by Handmaker Jewish Services for the Aging, Jewish Family & Children’s Services of Southern Arizona, B’nai Brith Covenant House, the UA Department of Religious Studies and the UA Hillel Foundation.

Chloe Raissen is a student at the University of Arizona School of Journalism.