When former First Lady and current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton turned 50, and someone told her how great she looked, she responded, “So what’s 50 supposed to look like?” As many Baby Boomers have reached that age and older, we have learned that it is just a number. We can choose to be upset, we can choose not to dwell on it or we can choose to persevere with our mission in life and have great times in spite of changes in how we look or feel.
Most of us have chosen to embrace the latter two courses of action. Why? For one thing, we have great role models. They may not have found the fountain of youth, but they have found meaning in each and every day. Obviously, it keeps them going as it rubs off on new generations.
Such a person is Adeline Cohen, recently honored at the Merage Jewish Community Center Celebration Ball. Cohen, who is in her 90s and a Heritage Pointe resident, has an infectious smile and a good word and a motivational comment for everyone. She thinks the secrets to longevity are to live with a purpose, to embrace age and to keep paying it forward. She reasons that if a person goes into his or her senior years with the idea of living every day meaningfully, there is no time to worry about the trivial things. “At the end of the day I know why I’m here,” she explained.
Cohen pays forward the lessons her mother taught her about helping other people, whether as a volunteer for the JCC, the Bureau of Jewish Education, Jewish Federation & Family Services, Jewish Federation’s Women’s Philanthropy, B’nai Brith, Working Wardrobes or Girls Inc. She has helped to create the senior adult program at the JCC, has tutored immigrants, has helped to train people for jobs and has gotten involved with a program that connects seniors with kids and helps them to discover the importance of doing mitzvah projects. She loves to connect with kids, not just as a mentor but as a friend.
Cohen, who has a master’s degree in psychology, also attracts interesting people and takes great pleasure in connecting them with one another. That was evident at her 90th birthday party, and it’s evident every week when she conducts “The View for Women of All Ages” on Tuesday mornings. She brings together distinctive women with different viewpoints to share coffee and conversation while discussing topics of interest to women.
“May you live to be 120” is a blessing Jews often wish upon one another. Some of Judaism’s important leaders, including Moses, supposedly lived to be 120.
We hope that Adeline Cohen and many other inspiring seniors in the Orange County Jewish community live to be 120. Knowing Adeline, she will still be motivating and helping people.