Adult Learning is Good for your Health: Give it a Spin!
Posted on 12/16/2022 @ 05:00 AM
Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, begins this Sunday night and commemorates the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian-Greek armies and the subsequent rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. One of the ways that this victory is celebrated is by the lighting of the Chanukah menorah.
Though Chanukah is generally translated as "dedication," referring to "the (re)dedication of the Temple" (Chanukat HaBayit), the word Chanukah also shares a root with the word for education, "chinuch.
The importance of adult Jewish education in relation to Chanukah can be seen in the deeper meaning and significance of a certain game played during the holiday.
According to legend, when the evil king Antiochus decreed that Jews could no longer study Torah or practice Jewish rituals, a creative response helped Jewish life continue.
In fields and caves, Jews gathered to study and pray in secret, and kept spinning tops (Hebrew: sevivonim; Yiddish: dreidles) and other of games of chance nearby. If they heard the Syrian-Greek soldiers approach, the Jews hid the books and began “gaming” instead.
Thus, what looks like a game today was actually an act of courage and spiritual resistance to oppression.
Chanukah reminds us that one of the greatest gifts we have is access to meaningful, relevant, and dynamic Jewish learning.
Learning has the power to illuminate our lives and serve as a spark to inspire others.
Did you know, adult learning is not only “chicken soup for your soul,” it’s also good for your physical and mental health?!?
Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between adult learning and better mental health, both in academic studies and from field research.
The benefits of getting involved with learning as an adult are:
- a greater sense of identity,
- increased ability to cope with life,
- a greater sense of purpose, and
- a greater sense of overall happiness.
Dr. Marny Lishman, a health and wellbeing psychologist, advocates lifelong learning as a way to enhance our quality of life.
She writes, “Lifelong learning helps with cognitive decline and improves memory. Research has also shown that keeping the mind actively learning new things can decrease the symptoms of anxiety and depression.”[i]
Overall, lifelong learning enhances one’s quality of life.
During the pandemic, CAJE’s Department of Adult Learning & Growth attracted a global learning community that continues to study with us, including learners from Switzerland, Israel, South America, Canada, and all across the United States.
We regularly hear from our students how the learning we provide has made a profound impact on their lives as individuals, for their families and in the broader Jewish community.
Deep friendships have formed between students.
In fact, 60% of learners take 2 or more classes a semester and 36% of learners take 4 or more classes a semester!
Our learners have inspired their own children and grandchildren to learn more, to ask more questions, and to engage in Jewish learning and rituals in a meaningful way.
Our learners feel a sense of pride that they are passing the light of Jewish learning on to the next generation.
This year, as you spin the dreidel, remind yourself that learning is a gift you can give yourself, and that privilege should not be taken for granted.
Become a part of our global Adult Learning community and it might even help you live a longer and happier life!
Chag Urim Sameach | Happy Chanukah!
Join CAJE’s Adult Learning and Growth for these two special classes starting in January:
with Dr. Samuel Edelman
with Rabbi Norman Lipson