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JCC State of Mind – February 2, 2024

Posted by Admin on February 2, 2024

“Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”
-Betty Friedan

I’ve always had a very different perspective of aging than most of my peers growing up. As a young child, I gravitated towards my great uncle Jack, who was a writer, proofreader, and editor. When my friends were beginning to use the internet in the early 90’s, I would send him handwritten letters with my school assignments to get his feedback or to ask for him to write me stories about our family immigrating to the United States. When we were able to travel and visit in person, I would spend hours listening to him talk about his time in the military, being an active player in the civil rights movement, and a foster parent. He was an extraordinary person. He taught me that the key to aging well is to keep your mind and body active, volunteer your time and give back to your community, and never ever stop learning. I believe that his influence navigated my career path to eventually become the Division Director of AgeWell at the JCC and Program Coordinator for AgeWell Pittsburgh, with my focus on ensuring that older adults in the community are provided with critical services to help people continue to “age well.”

AgeWell Pittsburgh is a collaboration between the Jewish Association on Aging, the Jewish Community Center, and Jewish Family and Community Services collectively serving over 10,000 older adults and their family caregivers in Allegheny County. With the support of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and United Way of Southwestern PA, the three agencies came together in 2004 to better serve older adults in the greater Pittsburgh Community. The collective goal of AgeWell Pittsburgh is to promote connection and community by keeping older adults healthy and independent for as long as possible. Through enhanced collaboration we have successfully brought and piloted numerous evidence-based programs into the region, such as HomeMeds, Parkinson’s Wellness & Recovery Program, and Aging Mastery Program, that have significantly enhanced the overall health and wellness of those we serve.

AgeWell at the JCC, a Nationally Accredited Senior Center Program, has a long-standing reputation for developing comprehensive, evidence-based, and trusted systems for supporting day-to-day nutrition, health, recreation, volunteerism, and social connectedness for older adults. We engage in advocacy leadership across private and public sectors to help solve the challenges faced by older adults in the region. AgeWell at the JCC has a proven track record as an effective leader advancing best practices as a network provider of Allegheny County Area Agency on Aging serving over 200 older adults on a daily basis.

Bronia Weiner (Z”L) was an exemplary model of “Aging Well.” Bronia was one of the last remaining survivors of the Holocaust having suffered the horrors at the Bershad concentration camp in Transnistria, where she lost her mother and baby daughter Ruti. After the war, Bronia reunited with her husband Karl and moved to Romania to start a family. In 1960, the family fled communist Romania leaving everything behind, in search for freedom in the United States, settling in Pittsburgh. In 2004 at 86 years young, she registered with AgeWell at the JCC, which became a second home for her. Bronia was a fixture at AgeWell, having lunch daily with her friends in the JCafe, volunteering her time with our choral group, and attending many programs, but especially enjoying the Yiddish Conversation class where she was able to keep memories alive through songs and discussions with other Yiddish speakers. She participated in the CheckMates program, a telephone reassurance program, where she received a friendly check-in call weekly from another program member and she also received Holocaust services from Jewish Family and Community Services. For more than 15 years, Bronia was the shining example of active participation to keep her mind and body healthy, volunteerism in the community, and benefitting from services with AgeWell Pittsburgh and AgeWell at the JCC, which helped keep her independent and thriving until she was over 100 years old!

On Sunday, January 28, 2024, Bronia passed away just shy of 106 years old, leaving many wonderful memories of her beautiful smile and Yiddish songs that could be heard in the halls of the JCC. “Smile,” Bronia would tell others as she reiterated her mantra, “Make someone smile and you have to smile too.”

Wishing you and your families a Shabbat Shalom.

Sharon Feinman
Division Director, AgeWell at the JCC

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