“The Privilege of Aging: Portraits of Twelve Jewish Women,” offers an indepth exploration of women’s lives beyond age 75. You’ll meet twelve women from all over the country, women with different lifestyles, experiences, economic backgrounds, and connections to Judaism. You’ll read about the courage of a Holocaust survivor, the strength of a teacher to stand up for women’s rights, the determination of an artist to nurture a long-term relationship. Their lifelong journeys reveal how their earlier years prepared them for life as older women and what they learned from those experiences.
From her new book, Patricia Gottlieb Shapiro hopes both men and women develop a new vision of aging.
In “The Privilege of Aging: Portraits of Twelve Jewish Women,” Shapiro focuses on 12 women ages 75 to 102, illustrating how their life journeys prepared them for later life and contributed to their longevity and vitality.
Shapiro will discuss her book and sign copies of it today at the Agudath Israel Etz Ahayem Synagogue in Montgomery.
“The women in the book are leading active and engaged lives,” she said in a phone interview from her New Mexico home. “They also have physical problems. Some are cancer survivors. But they don’t let that define them. I wanted people to see that there is another way of aging.”
“One of the things I learned about writing this book is that there is another developmental period after age 75 — they are still growing and learning,” she said. “This is a time they come to terms with their physical limitations and losses. They let go of regrets, and they develop a sense of gratitude for the life they have led. And hopefully, they leave a legacy for their children. A positive legacy.”
Shapiro’s last book, “Coming Home to Yourself: Eighteen Wise Women Reflect on Their Journeys,” focused on 18 women between the ages of 55 and 75. After that book was completed, the 69-year-old thought of “how little we know about women after age 75. I felt there was another side of the story and that these women deserve our attention.”
Getting to know the women while writing “The Privilege of Aging” gave Shapiro hope when she saw how they managed their lives.
“They’re dealing with physical problems and limitations,” she said. “One of the hardest things is losing your friends, your limitations. But they are still involved in their community and living active lives. That was encouraging to me. These women, who can really be role models.”
Shapiro, who is Jewish, chose Jewish women to interview for her book for a couple of reasons: She thought it would provide a different angle and a certain depth, and she was looking for women she could identify with.
“Even though the women are Jewish, the issues are universal,” she said. “I could have chosen any group.”