Computer program enriches life of local senior

Computer program enriches life of local senior

The JCC Computer Center for Adults at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades has opened many exciting doors for its students,” says Leah Duerr, center administrator.

According to Duerr, some participants have found jobs using what they have learned, “while others enjoy a stronger bond with their children and grandchildren by learning e-mail and internet skills.”

Still others, like Mary Mandel, came to the center to learn how to design her own greeting cards and, most recently, to write her autobiography.

Described as a dedicated, 85-year-old “perpetual student” who has been taking classes at the center for about 10 years, Mandel, said her instructors, is consistently the first to arrive for her classes. Additionally, they said, at the end of each term she arrives with platters of homemade cookies to celebrate her learning experience with her fellow classmates, teachers, and coaches.

Over the years, Mandel has taken many classes, repeating the ones she particularly enjoys.

Mary Mandel

“The teachers and coaches are so knowledgeable, and I look forward with great anticipation to my classes each week,” she said. “The skills I’ve learned have made my life easier and more enjoyable, and I plan to keep coming to perfect my skills and learn new things.”

Despite ongoing chemotherapy and other medical treatments, she attends two classes each week, as part of an effort to write her personal memoirs for her children and grandchildren.

“My oncologist tells me to go out and have fun, so that’s what I do,” she said. “And for me, fun is coming to the center, where I get to socialize with some very special people I’ve gotten close to over the years, and learn valuable skills that occupy and interest me. Coming to the JCC for these classes does me a world of good.”

The Tenafly resident has been a JCC member for many years and credits the facility for “enriching my life.” She has also been very active in the community, volunteering for the Girl Scouts and other organizations and working with the League of Women Voters.

Raised in New York City, she taught at Stuyvesant High School, worked in a lab, and later got a master’s degree in biochemistry at Hunter College, going on to become a research chemist. She subsequently received a second master’s degree, in English as a Second Language, from Columbia’s Teacher’s College. Her husband, Dr. Louis Mandel, was the assistant dean of Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.

“Everyone at the center takes great pleasure in knowing that the JCC Computer Learning Center gives people like Mary the opportunity to attend classes that give them so much personal gratification,” said Duerr.

For additional information, call Duerr at 201-569-7900, ext. 309 or visit

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