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Ministering to the Elderly Seminar Focuses on 'Shattering Stereotypes of Aging'

Clergy, medical experts and social-work professionals will converge to discuss ‘Stories of Living: Shattering Stereotypes of Aging’ during the Sixteenth Annual Seminar on Ministering to the Elderly, Tuesday, March 15 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Miami Jewish Health Systems’ Douglas Gardens Ruby Auditorium, 5200 Northeast Second Avenue.

The program is sponsored by Miami Jewish Health Systems (MJHS) in partnership with The Jewish Chaplaincy Program of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation and Jewish Community Services of South Florida (JCS). Both MJHS and JCS are local partner agencies of Federation.

This year’s conference builds upon the “Aging with Meaning Conference” held last year. While that program addressed the communal contexts and spiritual tools available to help people create meaning and possibility from despair, this year’s conference will focus inward to the person as subject.

Presentations will show how storytelling can not only convey one’s inner sense of meaning, but also how the very act of telling the story can construct new personal meanings as well, infusing every stage of life with a sense of purpose.

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“At Miami Jewish Health Systems, we try to take a holistic approach to each individual, considering their physical, emotional and spiritual well-being,” said Jeffrey Freimark, CEO of Miami Jewish Health Systems. “This conference reflects how we at MJHS care for our fellow human beings.”

“To tell one’s story is to articulate the core values which inform the way people live,” said Rabbi Frederick L. Klein, Program Chairman and Director of The Jewish Chaplaincy Program of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.

Dr. Marc Agronin, a board-certified adult and geriatric psychiatrist, and Rabbi William Cutter, Founding Director of Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health at Hebrew Union College, will deliver the keynote addresses.

In addition to serving as Medical Director of the Mental Health and Clinical Research at Miami Jewish Health Systems, Agronin is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine and noted author of various psychology books. He was named the “Clinician of the Year” by the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry and in 2011 was elected as a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.

“The care managers and other geriatric experts of Jewish Community Services, as well as all those who work with senior populations, must remember to view the elderly not as a homogenous group but rather as individuals,” explained Fred Stock, MSW, President and CEO of JCS. “Dr. Agronin's pioneering work and seminars like this, geared to healthcare professionals, members of the clergy and family caregivers, challenge us to think beyond stereotypes and appreciate the distinctive history and unique nature of each person we serve. In doing so, we enrich all our lives.”

Cutter currently serves on the Advisory Board to the University of California Los Angeles’ Medical Center Department of Spiritual Care. He also supervises chaplaincy training at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), where he has taught since 1965, and served as the Assistant Dean and Director of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education, which he helped found in 1970.

As part of the Seminar on Ministering to the Elderly program, the sponsoring organizations will recognize Rabbi Jody Cohen of Temple Israel of Greater Miami, as its Clergy of the Year. This award is given each year to a member of the local clergy whose selfless dedication to the elderly embodies the qualities of spiritual devotion, compassion, understanding and interfaith cooperation.

For more information about the Seminar on Ministering to the Elderly, please contact Rabbi Frederick Klein at or 786.866.8620 or Alicia Schindler at or 954.253.2830.

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