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Cummings Centre celebrates 50th anniversary

September, 2010

In his book Bowling Alone, Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam laments the seeming collapse of social structures that used to bring people together.

Putnam presents gloomy statistics demonstrating that in the last 25 years, we invite friends over 35 per cent less often, families dine together 43 per cent less frequently and attendance at club meetings has dropped by an astounding 58 per cent. He suggests this drop in “social capital” impoverishes our lives.

MNA Lawrence Bergman puts his own spin on the celebrations.

Putnam would be heartened to visit the Cummings Jewish Centre for Seniors, where civic engagement and good cheer have been the order of the day for over 50 years. The organization offers a vast array of courses and activities from hands-on art courses to physical fitness, discussion groups, performing opportunities and more. CJCS provides help and information to its more frail members.

Retired engineer Eddie Lion, 90, says that volunteers—there are more than 1,000 at CJCS—are the lifeblood of any organization. Lion, who discovered and nurtured his skill at tap and ballroom dancing after he turned 65, has shared his talents with CJCS members by participating in annual large cast performances, for many years. Since he lost his wife, Phyllis, also a dedicated CJCS volunteer, Lion has taken a hiatus from dance. Now he participates in Team Shalom and greets newcomers entering the building, a job many agree is perfect for him. “I say ‘good morning’ and they start to smile,” Lion says.

Social Service committee practices socializing. photos: Barbara Moser

In 1976, at 39, Frances Bokser was too young to become a member of the organization, then called the Golden Age Club. She’s getting used to the fact that she is now, at 74, considered to be one of the older members. Describing herself as more of a “behind the scenes” person, she has contributed to almost every facet of the Centre.

“We keep expanding, to meet the needs of members,” she says, citing the Wellness Centre and the Craft Department that have evolved. “This is a big place, with many things going on and you’ll always find something to do. You just have to want to do it.”

Info on CJCS’s fall program: 514-342-1234.



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