The phrase “Dor L’Dor” literally means generation to generation.
At Congregation Ahavath Torah in Englewood, its meaning goes even deeper. There, Dor L’Dor is a group of vibrant retirees who are dedicated to remaining active, to stimulating their minds both spiritually and intellectually, and to participating in programming that entertains and delights.
Back in the year 2000, this group was known as the Road Scholars. Its co-chairs were a pair of sisters, Toby Salzburg and Rita Blass, then of Englewood, who wanted programming for retirees in the community. (The sisters now live part-time in Fort Lee and part-time in Florida, and they have handed over their responsibility for the group.)
Fast forward to 2011, when a fresh crop of interested participants joined the ranks of the newly retired. Ruth Schapira was one of them — now, she is the committee’s chair. In 2011, “I began to introduce classes, shiurim, at the Roosevelt condos in Englewood for seniors who were not as active,” she said. “I asked Rabbi Mordechai Gershon, the assistant rabbi of Ahavath Torah at that time, and also Rabbi Zev Reichman of East Hill Synagogue and his wife, Chana, to give these classes. Barbara Goldin, Rabbi Goldin’s wife, then wished to partner with me, and we worked together to combine these groups and bring them to Ahavath Torah.” (Shmuel Goldin is Ahavath Torah’s recently retired longtime senior rabbi and has joined Rabbi Isaac Swift as the shul’s rabbi emeriti.)
Ms. Schapira and her husband, Lou, also decided to change the group’s name. They wanted the community to know that the programs were intergenerational. “They are not only for retirees but for everyone who has a flexible schedule during the day,” she said.
The programs have included day trips to museums in New York City and New Jersey, lectures, and movies. Ms. Schapira is particularly proud of a two-part art appreciation program. The program’s first part consists of brunch and a lecture by Sheryl Urman, who is a local artist and educator. “Sheryl takes a current exhibit and gives us background information of the artist and his works,” Ms. Schapira said. A bus trip to the museum, led by either a docent or an audio guide, follows for the by-then-well-prepared participants. The second part of the program is wonderful, she said, but people who lack either the time or the physical mobility to make the trip benefit greatly from the first part.
The shul’s Lunch and Learn with Rabbi Goldin, another Dor L’Dor program, drew between 50 and 60 participants. His farewell talk, on July 25, attracted more than 100 people to say goodbye to him.
Now Rabbi Chaim Poupko, the shul’s new senior rabbi, holds the reins. “I’ve been amazed at how Ruth and her committee have put in so much time and effort to bring in so many retirees to this wonderful program,” Rabbi Poupko said. “They don’t just send out an announcement or put up a flier. They take the time to reach out to as many people as possible, and invite them personally to the programs.
“It’s because of these efforts that the Dor L’Dor group has grown in popularity and numbers. The participants are intellectually curious and enjoy presentations that stimulate thoughtful discussion. I’ve had opportunities in the past to give classes to them, and it’s always a treat to study with them.”
Rabbi Poupko knows the importance of keeping seniors engaged. “Several individuals from our community have begun recently to explore how Englewood can become a city where it is easier to age in place,” he said. “Dor L’Dor will always remain a critical piece of this endeavor.”
Ruth Schapira’s dedicated committee includes Englewood residents Esther Fruchter, Beryl Niewood, Diane Katzenstein-Feintuch, Deborah Berger, and Ellen Flamholz. These are the women who keep the program beautifully decorated, culinarily pleasing, and simply all-around entertaining, wonderful, and friendly.
Fran Altman has participated in a few of the Dor L’Dor events. “I am new to Englewood — I moved just three years ago,” she said. “From the moment I went to my first Dor L’Dor event, I was hooked. All the participants were more than welcoming and extremely friendly. I’ve since become friends with some of the women. My husband comes sometimes, and we go out as couples with the nice people we’ve met. I love the programming and the lectures are inspiring. I look forward to going to Dor L’Dor events.”
Dor L’Dor attracts participants from across the Jewish community and all over Bergen County; it welcomes participants from all Jewish backgrounds. Its next program — about the High Holidays, taught by Rabbi Poupko, with entertainment by singer and humorist Meish Goldish to follow — is set for noon on Tuesday, September 12, at Ahavath Torah. For more information, email email@example.com. The program costs $15 dollars in advance, $18 at the door.