Welcome to the Growing in Wisdom Initiative directed by Rabbi Beth Lieberman!
Powerful and transformative, Wise Aging is designed to facilitate explorations into the ways that Jewish texts,spiritual wisdom, and contemplative practices can help us to grow older with spirit, resilience, and grace. Join us as we explore Jewish texts, spiritual wisdom, and contemplative practices in order to cultivate wisdom and the ability to be present to each moment. Our IJS-trained facilitators are Ellen Cervantes and Rabbi Beth Lieberman. Please contact Rabbi Lieberman at (310) 403-1602 or
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.
Jackie 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
What is your story? What does your future self feel like, look like, act like?