Learning opportunities are all around us


You are never old enough, or wise enough, to stop learning.

No matter what I do or where I go, I pick up some tidbit of information that causes me to stop and think, “Hmmm. I didn’t know that.”

Nobody who knows me would ever call me a know-it-all. But you’d think that by a certain age, you’d have picked up quite a bit of knowledge.

And that may be true. But I’m here to tell you that my 90-year-old mother will pass along some bit of information she’s picked up from a book, or from the daily newspaper, or online at one of the many websites she visits, and it will be news to me.

She’s even learned a few things from Jewish Rhode Island.

I’ve always believed in the joy of learning, but it has been brought home to me a number of times this summer as I’ve spent time with family and friends. And you really come to appreciate how magical it is to experience this joy when you spend time with the youngest members of your family.

One of the joys of parenting is how much your children can teach you about yourself and the world around you. Watching my baby granddaughter, I realize how much there is to learn and how fast it all gets absorbed at that age.

We went to the New England Aquarium a few weeks back. And while I learned a few fun penguin facts that I couldn’t believe I’d missed in my years-long penguin obsession (did you know that molting penguins don’t eat?), my granddaughter learned that there’s such a thing as penguins. Imagine that.

I wish I could remember learning big things for the first time – language, walking, throwing a ball. Imagine what babies must experience and how joyful their learning must be!

And the ongoing aspect of learning was further reinforced during a recent interview with Michael Fel, Temple Emanu-El’s new rabbi. He said he loves to learn with congregants and members of the community. It’s one of the joys of his job, he told me.

That got me thinking about all the ways we continue to learn in the course of our daily lives. Something as simple as reading the newspaper can add to your knowledge.

Of course you should read Jewish Rhode Island, but we can’t be your source for national and international news. Institutions like newspapers are suffering because people aren’t willing to pay for them, even though they are so valuable. Can you imagine our world without them? So, please try to support a wide range of media. You will learn a lot every day just by doing that. Ask yourself: How much is that worth?

For many, the start of the school year is just a month away. This is always a time of anticipation and renewal for students, parents and teachers – all excited to learn new things. But whether you are involved in formal education or not, it’s always time to think about learning and renewal for yourself.

There are plenty of learning opportunities in our community. We are fortunate to have synagogues with active adult education programs. Check Jewish Rhode Island’s community calendar for some of their offerings. And our local universities have continuing education programs that are open to all. In addition, museums, zoos, aquariums, bookstores, arboretums, theaters and more are out there waiting for you.

And don’t forget the robust programming at the Alliance’s Dwares Jewish Community Center, in Providence. Throughout the year there are films, classes and programs for all ages; a program guide will be online later in August, and the activities are also listed in our community calendar.

But there are also a thousand little ways to learn, and those moments are sometimes the most basic – watching a child play, listening to a senior (or even a teenager), watching a wild animal or a bird in a tree.

Take a few moments today to put yourself – or catch yourself – in a moment of learning. It’s a wonderful part of life!

editor, education