Milestone birthday

Gertrude Shankman

Gertrude Shankman, born Oct. 26, 1914 in Brooklyn, New York, celebrated her 103rd birthday last month at Handmaker Jewish Services for the Aging. Third-grade students from Tucson Hebrew Academy joined the festivities. When asked recently about her secret to longevity, her one-word answer was “accepting,” says Nanci Levy, community outreach coordinator at Handmaker.

Shankman, who recommends having a hobby or a craft to keep your mind off your problems, started a knitting class at Handmaker nearly 10 years ago, and still participates.

“As a survivor of both polio and cancer, Gertrude’s mere existence today is pretty remarkable. But it is her personality, intelligence and vitality that are most inspiring. She is so full of life, so curious about the world around her, and has much wisdom to share. And while she does not want anyone to plan any more birthday parties for her in the future, when she learned that her caregiver takes care of someone who is 106 she said, ‘I wonder what it would feel like to be 106,’” says Levy.