Leap of faith: the young ones

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Leap of faith: the young ones

Why 90 is the new 50, especially among women

Joan Collins went on a world tour at 90
Joan Collins went on a world tour at 90

“And the life of Sarah was one hundred years and twenty years and seven years; [these were] the years of the life of Sarah.”

The Torah tells us that Sarah, our matriarch, was 127 years old when she died. Rashi, the best of the Torah commentators, who was an esteemed rabbi and a vintner well into his own old age, insists that all of Sarah’s years were equally good. Her age only enriched her experiences.

Sarah, we are told, negotiated a lot of new adventures in her advanced years. She moved home with Abraham and moved others to draw close to God. As the Torah explains, she took to Canaan “the souls they made in Haran” – indeed she gave her name to all future proselytes. Those who choose Judaism take the name ben/bat Avraham v’Sarah. She even had a baby at the age of 90. Sarah was so surprised that she called him Yitzchak, after she laughed on discovering this late gift.

Sarah, more than anyone else in our Torah, manifested the impressive ability to live well as she grew older. She would have been in good company today. Joan Collins has released a new memoir, Behind The Shoulder Pads – Tales I Tell My Friends, and embarked on a world tour at the age of 90 looking like her energy has not diminished one iota. Barbra Streisand has released her long-awaited book, My Name is Barbra, harking back to those first albums. She looks back on her extraordinary life with the strong message she is still in the thick of it even in her 80s.

I love these role models for living well with longevity. At my Finchley Progressive Synagogue, we recently opened a new group, Living with Aging, to share experiences with fellow travellers.

We live in new times and the wisdom of our elders shines brightly. The changes of this past millennia are huge and yet I see countless octogenarians and older managing and negotiating technology with grace and capacity.

Yehuda ben Teima got a lot right as recorded in 200CE in the Mishnah: “At 60 seniority; at 70 fullness of years; at 80 spiritual strength… and onwards.”

I was fortunate to have a grandmother until her 97th year and my 52nd. Not a day of my life passed without appreciating what she brought to us and that only increased with her years on earth. She with her sharp mind and quick laugh, growing ever more elegant as she aged, rivalled Sarah in the graciousness of her advancing years.

I’m sure all the amazing women in this article would agree that 90 is the new 50.


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