SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — One thing members of Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel in South Orange prize is connection — to their synagogue and through the many ways in which TSTI brings its members together. One example is PrimeConnection, a group for adults in their prime of life that provides monthly opportunities to connect with peers at dinner and a movie, holiday celebrations, stimulating educational programs and more — all designed to meet the needs and interests of those ages 67 and older.
PrimeConnection members recently celebrated the group’s first anniversary with an elegant luncheon, attended by 75 people who came to hear from Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, shed light on political polling ahead of the midterm elections.
“Our members are engaged, bright and interested in current affairs so we wanted a meaningful, provocative program before the elections,” said Ellen Barocas, who co-chairs the PrimeConnection with Doris Spector, of West Orange. Ellen Barocas and her husband Irv, Cedar Grove residents, joined TSTI in 1975; they raised their family at the temple, where she also served as president.
Ellen Barocas said that the group caters to many long-time members of TSTI who raised their families at the Reform synagogue and have known each other for years; but it has also welcomed new members who recently joined TSTI.
“We invited five new members — singles and couples — who were excited to learn they have a ready-made social circle here, with activities they can enjoy at this time in their lives,” Barocas said.
She explained that the temple clergy, staff and lay leadership had been talking for a few years about the need to reinforce connections within the community for its mature members — retired, semi-retired or still working, but all interested in getting together with a vibrant group of peers. When a group of members approached Rabbi Daniel Cohen last summer about starting PrimeConnection, he got behind it immediately.
“We had an extremely successful first year, thanks to the support of our clergy, steering committee and PrimeConnection general membership,” said Barocas, who has applied her years of programming experience as assistant executive director of the New Jersey Y Camps to PrimeConnection.
On this year’s calendar are: breakfast preceding a Beatles tribute concert at the JCC MetroWest, a latkes and karaoke party for Hanukkah, a New Year’s Day “pajama” brunch, a pizza and movie night, a facilitated book discussion on Philip Roth’s “American Pastoral,” a trip to South Orange Performing Arts Center to hear a Juilliard quartet, and more. Part of the programming agenda is to support area nonprofits such as the JCC MetroWest and SOPAC.
Reflecting the group’s membership, PrimeConnection’s steering committee covers a spectrum of ages and interests, and is creating an array of programming designed for this age group. In addition to Barocas, the committee members are: Mimi Braun, Jane Brick, Bobbie Futterman, Daniel and Matty Goldberg, Richard Koch, Annette Littman, Ann Merin, Doris Spector and Gail Szenes of West Orange, Enid Friedman Rosenberg of Montclair, Mel and Alice Prager of Murray Hill, Lois Rose of Livingston, and Arnie Rintzler and Hanie Warshaw of South Orange.