Observant Jewish seniors in Highland Park and Edison are blessed with access to a variety of intellectual, recreational and practical programs and services in the region that can be considered “Orthodox-friendly.”
The CAMEO program of Jewish Family Services of Middlesex County (JFS) offers seniors nutritious kosher lunches combined with enjoyable entertainment and opportunities for socializing. CAMEO (Challenging Adult Minds and Energizing Ourselves), partially funded by a federal grant, holds weekday lunches two times a week in the Highland Park Conservative Temple and Center, at a suggested donation of $5 per participant. The Orchid restaurant in Metuchen provides lunches, and activities include musicians, comedians, facilitator-led discussions of current events and game days. JFS has also started a CAMEO on the Road program, which meets in the Highland Park Senior & Youth Center, the East Brunswick Jewish Center and other locations.
For more information on CAMEO, contact JFS Vice President of Clinical and Senior Services June Stern at [email protected] or Murray Katz, past president of JFS and a board member of Congregation Ohav Emeth, at [email protected]
Five years ago Bella Lerner of Edison began organizing a Lunch & Learn group, with encouragement from Congregation Ohr Torah’s then-president, Robert Kreitman, and help from her husband, Henry; friends Mildred Goldblatt and Marcia Pheffer; and others. The program is open to all seniors in the community and meets at Congregation Ohr Torah six times a year during the fall, winter and spring months.
There is a nominal charge to cover the cost of lunch catered by Jerusalem Pizza of Highland Park. The program starts with a Dvar Torah and then an introduction to the topic of the event. In May the Lunch & Learn group featured Albert Einstein impersonator Marc Simmons, who engaged the large audience as he discussed the life journey, work, humor and outlook of the great scientist. The June 12 event will feature the screening of a movie about the Jewish brigade in World War II. For more information on the Lunch & Learn group, please contact Bella Lerner at [email protected]
The Jewish Community Center of Middlesex County, located at 1775 Oak Tree Road in Edison, offers many events that are low or no cost, open to the community and likely to interest observant Jewish seniors.
In May and June, JCC programs, at no or negligible cost to attendees, include a talk by a physician, “Sleep Issues As We Age”; Men’s Group discussions on Wednesday mornings on topics in the news; presentations on the life and literary work of Emily Dickinson; the musical work of Gilbert and Sullivan; an impersonation of Franklin Delano Roosevelt by actor/director Neill Hartlety; a talk on reverse mortgages; a weekly bereavement group led by an Orthodox Jewish chaplain; and one-to-one tutorials on electronic devices led by a teenage tech savvy volunteer.
The JCC also offers fee- and/or membership-based services such as access to their fitness centers and swimming pool (including separate swims for men and women), a wide variety of trips to sites of interest in the region and more. For more information on the JCC’s offerings of interest to seniors, please contact Sue Horwitz at [email protected]
While the Highland Park Senior Center on South 6th Ave conducts programs to serve all citizens of the borough, a wide array of their offerings will appeal to observant Jews. The center holds a Yiddish speakers’ group weekly on Wednesday mornings, computer classes on Friday mornings and chair yoga and senior walking groups on Monday mornings. The center screens popular recently released movies on Monday afternoons; in May, participants viewed “The Post,” “The Greatest Showman” and “The Shape of Water.”
The Senior Center also holds weekly lunches for a small fee that feature varied programs, with kosher options provided by the Orchid and Giddy’s restaurants on Tuesdays and Thursdays (courtesy of the Jewish Family Services’ CAMEO on the Road program). Additionally, the Senior Center provides transportation to borough residents to stops within town and to medical appointments out of town; rides are available at designated hours and advance registration is required.
Highland Park residents can attend all programs, and access the center’s services, for a $15/year membership fee. For more information on the Senior Center’s programs and services, and to request a monthly calendar, call the center’s receptionist Lila Guzman (a member of Congregation Ahavas Achim) at 732-819-0052.
Edison’s Senior Center, located at 2963 Woodbridge Ave., offers a mix of programs, most at a low cost to residents. Regular offerings of interest to observant Jews this past fall, winter and spring included an exercise class on Monday mornings, Wii instruction on Monday and Wednesday mornings and a Tai Chi class on Wednesday mornings. The center’s staff offers residents assistance with health insurance counseling, navigating state and local social services and support with confidential needs. The center also sponsors trips to sites of interest.
The Edison Senior Center provides free transportation for residents to local grocery stores and area malls, medical offices in Edison and Metuchen, the Edison Senior Center and the Edison site of the Middlesex County Nutrition Program. For more information on the center’s services, call the center at 732-248-7345.
By Harry Glazer