Introducing Rabbi Barbara Aiello’s Book “Aging Jewishly”

Cover of the book Aging Jewishly

All text and Images used with permission from the author, Rabbi Barbara Aiello.

Aging Jewishly: What our traditions tell us about growing old

In 2009 I began a Jewish journey that led me to not only serve as rabbi to men and women in a Jewish retirement community but to live among the residents as well.  I viewed my apartment in the Independent Living wing of the Aviva Campus as a stroke of convenience – not having to drive to work or even cook dinner – as my job description included eating my evening meal alongside residents in the community dining room.

What I didn’t understand at first, but what I came to cherish as the greatest benefit of all, was the opportunity to live among the residents, to share in their daily joys, sorrows, ups and downs.

With my residents I rode the bus to local events, danced at the New Year’s Eve gathering and met their friends and families in our beautiful common area, “The Rotunda.”  As their rabbi, I adapted Jewish rituals, synagogue services, festivals and holidays to meet the needs of our most fragile. As their spiritual guide I visited them in the hospital and held their hands as they passed to “Olam HaBa” the world to come.

From all of these experiences – punctuated with sadness and joy, “tusris” and “simcha,” irony, sarcasm and great good humor, my new book, “Aging Jewishly” was born.

The selections were chosen from among my guest columns for the Sarasota/Manatee (Florida) Jewish News and although many offer a uniquely Jewish perspective, the selections are designed to appeal to readers of all faiths. “Aging Jewishly” offers a unique feature. For group discussions led by Activity and Program staff within retirement communities, “Aging Jewishly” offers audiences an opportunity to learn more about issues surrounding aging from the perspective of those who are living it.” –Rabbi Barbara Aiello

Order your copy from Amazon

Book Cover of Aging Jewishly book

Jewish Mosaic of Singapore with Irene Shaland

Irene Shaland and Rabbi inside Chesed-El Synagogue

Travel to Singapore, a small city-state and one of the unique destinations in Asia for Jewish history aficionados. Discover the little-known Jewish story composed of the amazing mosaic of cultures – Baghdadi, Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Armenian, and Persian.

Virtual lecture on Feb. 24, 2021
at 7:00 PM EST

Hosted by New City Library, New York.

Lecture is free but registration is required.

Register on library website:

Call (845) 634-4997 ext. 139 or email for additional information.

Singapore skyline
Singapore skyline as viewed from the Gardens by the Bay. Back in October of 2019, the city was hip and cool and a non-stop “happening” spectacle: truly a city renaissance of epic proportions.
Marina Bay Sands Hotel. This resort includes 2,561- room – three tower hotel; casino – the world largest with over 500 tables and 1,600 slot machines; convention center; seven celebrity-chef-run restaurants; theaters; and an ice-skating rink. It has a floating on the water and four-story high Crystal Pavilions with night clubs, designer shops, and much more.

Bustling, cosmopolitan, trendy, modern, clean, and orderly, Singapore plays an important part on the world financial and political stage that seems disproportionate to its size. A country of immigrants, Singapore is called a nation of cultures. Ethnically and religiously diverse, this city-state is also a microcosm of tolerance and inclusiveness. Chinese, Malays, Indians, and Europeans live peaceful prosperous lives. They could be Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Jewish, or atheists, all finding their rightful place in this amazing nation.

The Maghain Aboth Synagogue located at 24/26 Waterloo Street in the Central Area of Singapore, was built in 1878 by the early Jewish settlers, mostly merchants, who came to Singapore for business and ended up staying there. This is the oldest synagogue in Southeast Asia. 

All photos in this post are from our 2019 trip. 

About the presenter: Irene Shaland is the author of The Dao of Being Jewish and Other StoriesHer numerous magazine articles are regularly published in the US, Canada, UK, and Israel. Irene is a regular presenter at Jewish museums, educational institutions, societies, interest groups, and other venues around the country.

Learn more about Irene Shaland.

Check out our Event Schedule.

jewish diaspora, travel, jewish synagogue, international travel,

Introducing Rabbi Barbara and Her Book: The Cat That Ate the Cannoli

Book cover of Rabbi Barbara's book The Cat That Ate the Cannoli

All quoted text and Images used with permission from the author, Rabbi Barbara Aiello.

“Discovering Rabbi Barbara and her book … turned a light on so many parts of my own family’s traditions, and opened my eyes to the anusim stories in my own grandparents from Calabria. I read it with tears the first time, and reread it with more tears, finding more details that I missed the first time. Thank you Rabbi Barbara! – Corbin”

“A tabby cat, an Italian confection, and a young girl on the threshold of adulthood… A family gathers atop a mountain in Calabria, Italy where hidden Jews have practiced in secret for 500 years. As a rabbi unrolls a Torah scroll, inscribed in Hebrew in 1783, the ancient words illuminate the restored sanctuary, once a hidden prayer room, now brought to life in worship and song. The Italian-American rabbi is determined to uncover the Jewish roots buried in these hills, lost through centuries of persecution and obscured by decades of misunderstanding. Faced with more questions than answers, the tenacious rabbi overcomes the obstacles thrown her way by traditional colleagues to uncover the Jewish heritage that many believe had been lost forever.” – Amazon book page.

This wonderful book “The Cat That Ate the Cannoli: Tales of the Hidden Jews of Southern Italy” is available at Amazon.

Meeting the Jewish Community of Mumbai India

Irene Shaland and guides inside the Mumbai Mogen David Synagogue

Excerpt from Irene Shaland’s book “The Dao of Being Jewish and Other Stories.”

Jews settled in Mumbai (Bombay) in the 18th century. First, the Baghdadi arrived in the 1730s. Then, the Bene Israel began migrating from the countryside into the city in the 1740s. Today, Mumbai has the largest Jewish community in India: 3,500 to 4,000 people, most of whom are the Bene Israel. We visited two of the city’s eight synagogues: Kenesseth Eliyahoo and Magen David. Both were built by the Sassons, the wealthiest family of the Baghdadi Jews. The elegant blue structure of the Magen David Synagogue was erected by David Sasson in 1861. Hanna and Eliyahoo were waiting for us inside.

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Join us for a Free Virtual Lecture: Jews and Aborigines

Australian aboriginal man

Jews and Aborigines: Little-Known Stories from Australia

Tuesday, January 26th , 2021, 1:00 PM

Presenter: Irene Shaland

This program is hosted by The Women of Fairmount Temple.    The event is FREE but a Registration is required.  To register: email Janice Hirshon at

Follow Irene Shaland on an exciting virtual trip to Australia to explore this country’s history, its land, and its people. Meet an Aboriginal man, William Cooper, a hero of his people’s human rights struggle and a brave defender of the Jews during World War II.

William Cooper
William Cooper

What inspired Cooper to stand up for the Jews from faraway Europe, while in his own country he and his people had no legal rights, and until 1967 were officially classified as an equivalent of flora and fauna”?  

During Cooper’s life, Australia maintained the “White Australia“policies and considered Jews, though not classified as colored,” to be others” who should not be issued entrance visas. How did Australia become the country that opened its doors to numerous refugees from Europe, second only to Israel by the ratio of the Holocaust survivors to its population?

Irene Shaland in Sydney Jewish Museum
Irene Shaland in Sydney Jewish Museum.
Sydney Jewish Museum, Australia
Sydney Jewish Museum

Was it a coincidence that the Australian Jews stepped into the forefront of the struggle for Aboriginal rights in defense of the indigenous Australians?

Our presenter, Irene Shaland is the author of “The Dao of Being Jewish and Other Stories” and a multitude of magazine articles published in the US, Canada, the UK, and Israel. She regularly presents at conferences, museums, universities, special-interest group events, and other venues throughout the country.

Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House

Meet Irene Shaland.

Celebrating Chanukah in Story and Song

Rabbi Barbara Aiello

“Thank you so much for the wonderful, beautiful, meaningful, uplifting, intimate commemoration (service) event. Everything you do is filled with deep meaning and addressed to all of us – our dedicated friends and …to the world at large.” A. and I. S., USA

CHANUKAH IN SICILY with Rabbi Barbara
Monday, December 14, 2020 – 6:00 pm Italy time
A ZOOM Event – Sponsored by Chavurah Ner Tamid Palermo, Sicily’s Pluralistic Jewish Congregation Porta “Chanukiyot”, candele e fiammiferi per accendere cinque le candele! Bring your Chanukah menorah, candles and matches! to light the FIFTH CANDLE

Continue reading “Celebrating Chanukah in Story and Song”