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Welcome to Wise Aging! Explore how to live the later stage of your life fully, with joy, creativity, and awareness. In this class, we consider these years of active aging as an opportunity for discovery and growth, in contrast to the ageism that pervades our society and associates aging only with decline and disability. We will discover ways to cultivate a richer social existence, and the opportunity to learn from one another and share optimism, laughter, tears, and new insights.


About This Course

Wise Aging: Living With Joy, Resilience and Spirit (Part 2)

5 sessions, Mondays from 2:30-4:30pm

Feb/26, Mar/4, Mar/11, Mar/18, Mar/25

Hybrid class: In-person at HAMAKOM South Campus and via ZOOM


HAMAKOM South Campus

Conference Room A

6025 Valley Circle Blvd.

Woodland Hills, CA 91367


Via ZOOM (link sent upon registration)

Instructor - Valerie Edwards


All are welcome! You do not need to have taken Wise Aging Part 1 in order to attend this class.




In this introductory course in the Wise Aging Series, we will explore the later stage of life through topics that will include reflecting on our life stories, relating compassionately to our changing bodies, cultivating spiritual qualities that can sustain and uplift us, building nourishing relationships, and living with loss while finding light and purpose. We will draw on text study, discussion, meditation, journaling and other practices to help us live more mindfully, authentically, and joyfully.


The textbook recommended for this class is “Wise Aging: Living With Joy, Resilience and Spirit” by Rabbi Rachel Cowan and Dr. Linda Thal. It is the companion book that underlies much of our curriculum. This spiritually and emotionally uplifting book will enable you to deepen your experience of the course. It is available at


During each class, readings and/or exercises may be assigned. The readings may be from the “Wise Aging” textbook, and also from other sources drawn from the great wisdom traditions, and which will be provided. Participants are encouraged to complete the assigned readings and exercises as much as possible, as we will use those readings and exercises as the basis for our discussions and mindfulness practices. 


In addition to the Wise Aging course’s regular class meetings, Valerie will hold weekly drop-in office hours via Zoom for the duration of the course. Folks who register for the class will receive the office hours Zoom link. Anyone in the class who has questions or who would like to discuss wise aging topics in more depth is welcome to drop in during office hours. Valerie will also be available outside of office hours by appointment.




Courses in the Wise Aging Series

Wise Aging: Living With Joy, Resilience and Spirit (Part 1)

Wise Aging: Living With Joy, Resilience and Spirit (Part 2)

Wise Aging Level 2: Getting Good at Getting Older

Wise Aging With Movies


About the Instructor

Valerie Edwards, now a HAMAKOM member, was a long-time member of Shomrei Torah Synagogue. A devoted spiritual seeker, Valerie has been engaged in contemplative practices and the study of wisdom traditions for over 40 years. Valerie holds a Wise Aging Instructor Certification from the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, and has been teaching Wise Aging courses since 2017. She hosts HAMAKOM's Cinema Journey Film Series, teaches Wisdom Journey courses, and is a co-leader of the Shabbat Contemplative Circle. Valerie was a professional orchestral musician from 1972 to 1994, and an urban planner from 1990 to 2022, and is now retired. Her mission for this stage of life is to live and age wisely and joyfully, and to help others do the same.


More About Wise Aging (from Rabbi Rachel Cowan and Dr. Linda Thal)

A growing number of people are devoting themselves to this fascinating and creative work, which aims to reframe what it means to grow older in our society.  Contemporary Western culture provides little support or guidance for the journey some are calling Second Adulthood, The Third Chapter, Encore, or Prime Time. This stage of later adulthood allows us to appreciate more fully our lives as a gift of time, and to acknowledge this time as all the more precious because it is limited.


The ageism that pervades our society, and associates aging only with decline and disability (which we call the Declinist paradigm), works against many older people’s natural drive to continue growing and deepening in later life. In contrast to this view, we consider these years of active aging an opportunity for discovery and growth (the Opportunity paradigm). 


Swedish sociologist Dr. Lars Tornstam proposed a theory of positive aging that he called gerotranscendence: breaking through the limited perspectives and awareness that characterized our younger years. In earlier stages of life, we are by necessity focused on a largely individualistic agenda, achieving an education finding a job establishing ourselves in a career, raising a family. In later life, we begin to understand that our lives are deeply linked to our past and to history that goes back even before our birth. Likewise, we are connected to an unknown future that we are in the process of creating. During these years, we learn more about ourselves, appreciating our complexity, accepting our limitations, and developing a new kind of inner confidence and wisdom. We enjoy fewer, but deeper relationships and find pleasure in solitude. We are less interested in material possessions and freer to be ourselves, even in the face of social conventions.


Perhaps the most important opportunity at this stage of life is to engage in the inner, spiritual work that requires a passage from constant doing into the cultivation of being.  While the concept of spirituality can mean different things to different people, in general we may say that it is the search for something greater than the material world we can see with our eyes and understand with our rational minds.  Rabbi Arthur Green speaks of it as an inner life where a person reaches beyond their individual self to link with all other selves and to the single Spirit or Self of the universe which we might call ‘God’.


Why do we need spiritual practices? It would be nice to assume that a person becomes wise and compassionate just by gaining years, but that isn’t always so. For many people that growth must be fostered by spiritual practices adopted and followed in a disciplined way, practices which are intended to develop our awareness and mindfulness. To this end, Wise Aging encourages contemplative practices such as meditation, journaling, walking in nature, reading poetry, and listening deeply to a friend. Similarly, Wise Aging incorporates ideas that are present in all the great spiritual traditions, drawing on wisdom texts not only from Judaism, but also from Buddhism, Christianity and Islam.


So welcome to the club of thoughtful wise agers! We believe the experience will enrich your life and deepen your relationships with those around you. Our society aches from the lack of the voices of wisdom of its elders. Indeed the nature and quality of our lives on this planet depends as much on the wisdom gleaned from our experiences, as it does on the energy and discoveries of younger generations. Our voices, ripened with time and experience, must be heard. We may protest or lobby or speak out, or we may display our power through the way we are: loving, generous and wise. We are a blessing!


Elders are the wisdom-keepers who have an ongoing responsibility for maintaining society's well-being and safeguarding the health of our ailing planet Earth. They are pioneers in consciousness who practice contemplative arts from our spiritual traditions to open up greater intelligence for their late-life vocations. Using tools for inner growth, such as meditation, journal writing, and life review, elders come to terms with their mortality, harvest the wisdom of their years, and transmit a legacy to future generations. Serving as mentors, they pass on the distilled essence of their life experience to others. The joy of passing on wisdom to younger people not only seeds the future, but crowns an elder’s life with worth and nobility. 


-Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Ronald S. Miller - “From Age-ing to Sage-ing”

Sat, May 25 2024 17 Iyyar 5784