Mekusharim: Our Routes and Roots in New York

By Nancy Greenblatt and Sheila Bleckner | Issue Date: March 2011

The BJ Membership Committee proudly announces the birth of a new community member: a new committee whose name is Mekusharim, meaning “connections.” The goal of Mekusharim is to connect older adults to each other and to the community through a schedule of activities throughout the year. Mekusharim evolved after a series of focus groups last year at which members of the community aged 55 through 85 enthusiastically shared their experiences, ideas, and concepts. The result is Mekusharim, which will provide social, Judaic, and learning experiences in a variety of formats for the entire BJ community, focusing on the 55+ crowd. Similar to Tze’irim (for 20s/30s) and Bekef (35+), we are coordinating programs that will be interesting, fun, and offer opportunities for you to socialize with old friends and make new connections as well.

Mekusharim committee members. Photo Credit: Jacob ShemkovitzCo-chaired by Sheila Bleckner and Nancy Greenblatt, the Mekusharim committee is developing a range of exciting and innovative programs that will create meaningful opportunities for the 55+ers to gather for learning and fun. We will sponsor big events and smaller group events that will allow for more intimate get-togethers.

The theme of our inaugural year is “Our Routes and Roots in New York.” Samplings of some questions we plan to address in our first year are: How did each of us get here? From where did we come? What experiences do we share in common? How do we explain routes and roots?

We launched Mekusharim on January 11, 2011 with the film “Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg,” a documentary about pioneering actress Gertrude Berg and the making of her successful radio and TV series depicting the life of a Jewish family in the Bronx in the 1930s-1950s. More than 100 people attended this first event. After the film, we broke out into small groups, representing each of the five boroughs and hometowns far and wide, to talk about our neighbors, our neighborhoods, and beyond. We hope to stimulate interest among participants to then make visits to “their old ‘hoods!”

Our next event, on Sunday, March 13, is a brunch and book reading with Jane Ziegelman about her popular 97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement. The event will be at City Hall Restaurant in Tribeca, and we will enjoy tastings of some of the recipes described in this multicultural slice of life on the Lower East Side. Participants can expect lively conversation and interactive experiences about immigration in New York City.

The concluding program for the year will be in the spring. Keep your eyes peeled for additional information on the BJ website, www.bj.org, and in the Kol Jeshurun.

Mekusharim is a new addition to the multiple activities of the Membership Committee whose mission is inviting BJ community members to become familiar with and involved with each other and the many activities and learning experiences offered. We look forward to all of you joining the journey as we explore our ROOTS and ROUTES. We may even find long-lost relatives!

Sheila Bleckner and Nancy Greenblatt are longtime members of BJ and the co-chairs of Mekusharim. They’re excited about the direction of the new group and look forward to engaging new leaders in the process. For more information about Mekusharim programs, contact Belinda Lasky.