Wisdom after 50

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The 50s and beyond are a time for reinvention, re-assessing life goals, reconnecting with friends and spouses, and re-invigorating Jewish spirituality.

That’s according to local Jewish educator Devorah Buxbaum; Tobie Beckerman, an integrative gynecologist with an office in Gaithersburg; and Elise Museles, a former lawyer who created Food Story and works as an author, speaker and health coach specializing in nutrition.


They spoke to 70 women Sept. 27 at the Bender Jewish Community Center. The program, “She Says: Real Women, Real Conversations,” was sponsored by Jewish Women International. Here’s some of what they said.

On growing older and accepting life’s changes

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“Mindfulness is a buzz word these days. In Judaism, I would say mindfulness is kavanah [the Hebrew word for intention],” Buxbaum said. “It’s paying attention to yourself and what is happening to you —not necessarily fighting it but embracing it.”

On what to embrace and what to fight


“You should fight a lot for your physical health,” Beckerman said. “I wouldn’t throw in the towel and say, because I’m old I give up. There are new frontiers in medicine — lasers, cosmetic surgery, supplements — there are [exercise] classes — and if your knee hurts change your routine.”

On food

“Food is medicine,” according to Museles. “At our age, our grandmothers probably had diseases that we can now do something about. No one talked about nutrition to me when I was young. Eat the food that makes you feel good [physically].”

On three stages women encounter in Jewish life

“First we’re looking forward and dreaming about being a grown up,” Buxbaum said. “Then there’s the hard work of creating and raising a family. In the third stage you can take a step back and … actualize the mind … tapping into what you want to do, not what is pulling you down.”

On second and third acts

“I was a lawyer and took time off to raise my children,” Museles said. “As they got older I followed my passion and recreated myself. … It’s never too late to find a hobby, a cause, change careers, volunteer. All the things you wanted to do, now’s the time to do them.”

On a Jewish perspective of aging

“Age is very much celebrated,” Buxbaum said. “The Hebrew word for elder — zakan — is used for someone who is wise. Jewish law requires you to stand up for an elder out of respect. Every year, every birthday, is looked at as a gift to be cherished.”

Lisa Traiger is a Washington-area writer.

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