Sue Anis and Margo Choukrane are sisters who grew up in the Bronx. Their mother and father were French Jews who were not synagogue people, but who lived in a Jewish neighborhood that provided Sue and Margo with a deep connection to Jewish people and culture.
Sue and Margo are living together again, this time in a mobile home that is not in a Jewish neighborhood. Sue never had any children, and Margo’s two daughters and one son all live elsewhere. They come to the Addison-Penzak JCC (APJCC) regularly for a wide variety of APJCC Older Adult programs, in their words, “to be connected with Jewish people, culture, and learning.”
For the past 15 years, ever since the founding of the 55+ Current Events group, Sue and Margo have been coming every week. Besides seeing the regular attendees, they enjoy meeting the people from out of town who come to the group sessions while visiting their families in the area. “There is a real mix of impressive people who make their way to the sessions every week — Jews and non-Jews, men and women, politically liberal and conservative,” says Margo, who, herself leads the discussions once a month. Sue echoes Margo’s sentiment that these sessions make her more aware and interested in what is going on in the world.
Sue and Margo have also been going regularly to the weekly Art History class for Older Adults, where a West Valley College instructor shares a DVD and holds discussions with them on topics ranging from Ancient Egyptian Art to the Impressionists and Modern Art. Encouraged by this experience, Sue and Margo are now trying out the new Craft in America class.
Besides classes and formal group discussions, Sue and Margo attend the monthly Older Adult Shabbat lunches with speakers or entertainers following the lunches. They regularly tour through the changing art exhibits at APJCC. But, perhaps the most endearing activity for them at APJCC was going to the Grandpals Shabbats with the APJCC pre-schoolers. “It is a blessing to be with kids the same age as your own grandchildren,” Margo says. She adds, “It is great to make friends with the parents and other grandparents at these Preschool events – people you greet and hug when you see them elsewhere around APJCC.”
For all the benefits Sue and Margo derive from coming to APJCC so often, perhaps there is no benefit more important than making friends and “being connected with Jewish people – people we know and understand.” In short, the APJCC is their Jewish neighborhood, different in ways from where they grew up in the Bronx, but a community, nonetheless, that is a home for them.