May 29, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Orthodox Union’s SPIRIT Initiative Engages Retirees and 60+ Demographic

(Courtesy of OU) Close to 8,000 retirees worldwide seek weekly inspiration and insights from SPIRIT (Stimulating Program Initiative for Retirees that Inspires Thought), an Orthodox Union (OU) initiative that provides resources to those 60+. SPIRIT programs attract seniors who appreciate educational, intellectual and spiritual inspiration – including retirees, not-yet-retirees, baby boomers and sandwich generation parents.

Rebbetzin Judi Steinig, senior director of the OU’s department of Community Projects & Partnerships, and coordinator and host for SPIRIT.

SPIRIT’s sessions feature renowned speakers who share practical, interesting insights on Torah-based and secular topics, and its programs include a variety of recreational activities and entertainment. Participants join virtually from 45 states and 23 countries – including Ethiopia, Serbia and Thailand – with new attendees weekly.

The initiative, which operates through the OU’s department of Community Projects & Partnerships, appeals to participants from a wide range of Jewish backgrounds. The department’s mission is to enhance Jewish communal life through strengthening community leaders, organizations and infrastructure, confronting ongoing communal challenges, and responding to crises and natural disasters.

“SPIRIT programs cover everything, including finance, legal issues, relationships, mental health, nutrition, caregiving, kashrus, tefillah and Jewish history, to name a few,” said Rebbetzin Judi Steinig, senior director of the OU’s department of Community Projects & Partnerships, and coordinator and host for SPIRIT. “We also offer fun, appropriate classes, ranging from comedy to cooking to chair yoga.”

Rebbetzin Steinig says the attendees are highly educated, and that the sophisticated programming reflects their intellectual curiosity and knowledge. The high-quality programs often attract participants younger than 60. Rebbetzin Steinig frequently receives feedback from participants on how much they appreciate the well-organized, professional and versatile programming.

SPIRIT participants enjoy a comedy show by comedian Eli Lebowicz at a SPIRIT hybrid program at Congregation Beth Aaron in Teaneck.

SPIRIT’s weekly educational sessions take place on Tuesdays at 12 p.m. EDT, over Zoom. Following every session, everyone who registers receives a recording of the class; this is helpful for those interested in a session but who are unable to participate live. Sessions are also archived to access later.

In addition to the weekly sessions, SPIRIT also hosts “Let’s Talk!” This program creates an interactive space for participants to speak with each other about various topics of interest over Zoom.

SPIRIT also runs occasional hybrid programs, which take place at one of its 50 partner synagogues, with simultaneous online broadcasts for a global audience.

SPIRIT appreciates the promotion it receives from its partner synagogues. Is your synagogue listed here? If not, please, contact Rebbetzin Judi Steinig to get involved:

Retirees from Young Israel of Hollywood-Ft. Lauderdale at a hybrid SPIRIT program about Israeli real estate.

Anshei Chesed Congregation, Boynton Beach (FL), Anshei Emuna Congregation, Delray Beach (FL), Beth David Synagogue, West Hartford (CT), Bialystoker Synagogue, New York (NY),, B’nai Israel-Ohev Zedek, Philadelphia (PA), Congregation Agudath Sholom, Stamford (CT), Congregation Ahavas Sholom, Columbus (OH), Congregation Aitz Chaim, West Palm Beach (FL), Congregation Anshe Sfard, New Orleans (LA), Congregation Anshe Sfard Kehillat Torah, Glendale (WI), Congregation Beth Aaron, Teaneck (NJ), Congregation Beth Hamedrosh, Wynnewood (PA), Congregation Beth Ora, Montreal (QUE), Congregation Beth Sholom, Providence (RI), Congregation Bnai Yeshurun, Teaneck (NJ), Congregation Etz Chaim of Kew Gardens Hills (NY), Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, New York (NY), Congregation Machane Chodosh, Forest Hills (NY), Congregation Ohav Zedek, Wilkes-Barre (PA), Congregation Tiferet Israel, Austin (TX), Congregation Torah Ohr, Boca Raton (FL), Congregation Zvi Jacob, Utica (NY), Darchei Noam, Minneapolis (MN), East Denver Orthodox Synagogue (EDOS),, Denver (CO), Fleetwood Synagogue, Fleetwood (NY), Jewish Center of Atlantic Beach (NY), Kehillat New Hempstead (NY), Kehillat Shaarei Torah of Toronto (ONT), Keneseth Beth Israel, Richmond (VA), Ner Tamid Greenspring Valley Synagogue, Baltimore (MD), Suburban Orthodox Congregation Toras Chaim, Baltimore (MD), Suburban Torah, Livingston (NJ), United Orthodox Synagogues, Houston (TX), Young Israel of Bal Harbour, Surfside (FL), Young Israel of Brookline (MA), Young Israel of Deerfield Beach (FL), Young Israel of East Brunswick (NJ), Young Israel of Elkins Park (PA), Young Israel of Fort Lee (NJ), Young Israel of Hillcrest (NY), Young Israel of Hollywood/Ft. Lauderdale (FL), Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills (NY), Young Israel of New Hyde Park (NY), Young Israel of Plainview (NY), Young Israel of Queens Valley (NY), Young Israel of Southfield (MI), Young Israel of Stamford (CT), and Young Israel of West Hartford (CT).

To register for SPIRIT classes or to view archived sessions, visit www.ou.org/spirit.

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