Woman Sculpting at the Council Senior Center

Council Lifetime Learning

Organization Associated with Program
National Council of Jewish Women (New York Section)
241 West 72nd St.
New York, New York 10023

The Council Lifetime Learning program (Council House) of the National Council of Jewish Women (New York Section) conducts arts-based programs and activities focused on healthy aging and lifelong learning. The program fosters community, strength, and creativity. People join Council House to learn, create, express ideas, meet people, and enjoy a warm, inviting ambiance.
More than 300 individuals meet once or twice a week (depending on class schedules) throughout the year to create works of art, socialize with other older adults, and support one another. A total of 416 sessions in art, 156 seminar sessions, and four to five special events are offered to the community annually. Classes are available in a variety of media such as dance, design, musical theater, opera, visual arts, and more. In addition to traditional art-making, the council offers classes on gardening, social issues, and housing issues. Classes are led by volunteer professional teaching artists. The council also provides participants with the opportunity to showcase their work four times each year through exhibitions and performances.

Program History

The Council Lifetime Learning program was launched in 1945 when two members of the National Council of Jewish Women became aware that many older Jewish women spent time on Broadway during the day while their family members were at work or school. The council decided to provide a place for these older Jewish women to come together and create, and the program was born. Through this program, the council has developed strong community partnerships with a wide variety of organizations that include local theaters, hospitals, schools, and businesses, as well as the Department on Aging, the New York City Police Department, the Arthritis Foundation, and the Alzheimer's Association.

Program Assessments and Evaluations

Program activities are evaluated once on conclusion of a session through the use of individual assessments and attendance records. The evaluations are conducted by staff and volunteers and are reviewed by relevant committees (such as the Box Office Committee). The evaluations are used to guide the development and implementation of new programming and to improve existing programming.

Advice for Other Organizations Conducting Similar Programs

Look at your organization as an asset-based organization, and build on your community’s assets. Build on what makes older adults thrive in this third chapter of life.

Kinds of creative engagement/ program focus Creation of Original Work, Exhibiting Artwork, Viewing Artwork, Presenting a Performance, Attending a Performance, Participate in a Class, Participate in a Workshop, Participate in an Ensemble, Watch a Lecture/Demonstration
Arts Discipline: Dance, Design, Folk/Traditional Arts, Literature, Media Arts, Museums, Music, Musical Theater, Opera, Theater, Visual Arts
Interdisciplinary Connections: Civic Engagement, Ecology / Gardening / Natural Environments, Education, Employment, Health / Medicine, Housing / Placemaking, History, Science, Volunteerism
Target Audience: Active Adults, Caregivers - Family, Frail Older Adults, Intergenerational, People with Alzheimer's Disease / Dementia
Adaptive Program Design Hearing Disabilities, Visual Disabilities, Mobility Disabilities, Cognitive Disabilities
Program Setting: Aging Organization (e.g. Senior Center), Arts Organization
Program Service Area: Suburban, Urban
Type of Practice: Promising Practices