Left to right: Gyda Chud, Carol Ann Fried and Tammi Belfer at Jewish Seniors Alliance’s Spring Forum May 28. (photo from JSA)
The first in-person Jewish Seniors Alliance Spring Forum after a pandemic-imposed hiatus was held at the Peretz Centre for Secular Jewish Culture on May 28. It got people out of their seats, moving about, meeting others – and laughing.
Laughing Matters was presented by Carol Ann Fried, an energetic and inspirational speaker and consultant. She was introduced by Fran Goldberg. Tammi Belfer, president of JSA, welcomed the 40-plus people in the audience. Belfer spoke about JSA’s partnerships with other organizations, but especially with every person in the room and all its members.
Most of us who attended Laughing Matters did not expect to have to change tables, to speak to strangers, to scream at others, and then tell them they are awesome. But this is exactly what happened! The session was a whirlwind of movement, playfulness and laughter. Meeting new people is cause for celebration – to do so in the form of a game involves even more fun.
So, we played games. In one, we each took the lead and, while introducing ourselves, made announcements at our respective tables. How else would we learn that Gyda Chud’s mother would turn 100 next Saturday? Or that Naava Soudack’s daughter would be acting in Henry V at Bard on the Beach this summer?
We also imagined holding a cellphone with a photo of an important event in our lives and described it to the group. We learned about mother-of-the-bride/groom wedding dresses, about grandchildren and about trekking trips. All these exchanges were accompanied by laughter and delight.
We then switched tables and initiated a conversation with a total stranger, with the objective of finding commonalities. Some of us discovered that their tablemates grew up in the same city, same neighbourhood and went to the same school, but they had never met – how wonderful to finally do so!
At my new table, we were asked to complain. About what? My partner, whom I had only just met, complained about American politics, but then found a silver lining about the States. In turn, I complained about Israeli politics, but then described the beautiful country I grew up in. Yes, there are always two sides to each coin. We ended our encounter with a high five, exclaiming: “You are awesome!” It was a nice way to make a new acquaintance.
Throughout the entire session, Fried delighted us with her good humour and charm, her creativity of mind and spirit. Gyda Chud, past president of JSA, thanked Fried for introducing us to new people, new friends and new activities.
Tamara Frankel is a member of the board of Jewish Seniors Alliance.