Mantalk at the Worcester JCC needs a few good men


Nancy Greenberg, Worcester JCC senior adult/cultural arts director, with some of the Mantalk participants



By Jane Keller Gordon, Contributing Writer

Worcester – Every Tuesday morning from 7:30-9 a.m. at the Worcester Jewish Community Center (JCC), a group of senior men meet for breakfast, to catch up on the current events, and maybe solve a trivia puzzle. Then at 9 a.m. sharp, it’s time for Mantalk, facilitated by Nancy Greenberg, the JCC’s senior adult/cultural arts director.

Greenberg, who has led Mantalk for the past 16 years, said, “When I walk in at 9 a.m., the off-color jokes end, but the camaraderie continues. We always start with announcements, and then the guys let me know if someone is away on a cruise or if their grandchild is getting married.”

Two or three times a month, 52 weeks a year unless there’s a holiday or inclement weather, Greenberg arranges for a speaker at Mantalk. The rest of the time, she leads a more in-depth spirited discussion about current events.

“We attempt to solve the problems of the world,” she said.

Many of the speakers are politicians or political hopefuls, and health professionals. Recent speakers have included: Timothy Murray, the former lieutenant governor who is now president and CEO of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce,  State Sen. Harriette Chandler, D-Worcester, and Kevin O’Sullivan, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Biotechnical Initiatives.

Most weeks there are from 15 to 20 in attendance, although now and then there is a crowd of 30. A handful of men, in their 70s, are referred to as the “kindergartners.” Many among those in their 80s and 90s are veterans for the Korean Conflict and WWII.

Among the group, there are several retired pharmacists, salesmen including one who worked for Fuller Brush, teachers, a lawyer, an owner of a travel agency, and a print shop owner. Most live independently, either at home or at The Willows at Worcester, a local senior living community.

Mantalk member Allie Hersh, 84, said, “It’s the highlight of my week.” Howie Fish, also 84, added, “I really look forward to Tuesdays.”

Greenberg recalled, with fondness, two 100th birthday parties that the group held a few years ago. One was for Abe Kravitz, who had been the executive director of Congregation Beth Israel in Worcester. He and his wife Lillian were married for 80 years, and both lived past 100.

“Abe and Lil were a lovely couple,” Greenberg said. “They both grew up on farms in Westborough, and were from the only Jewish families in town.”

The other party was for George Gershman. He was a beekeeper and inventor of a health drink that’s still on the market.

Mantalk was launched about 35 years ago at the Jewish Service Center for Older Adults. For a long time, the fee was $1 to cover bagels and coffee; it’s now $2, which is collected in a basket circulated among the men.

Most of the attendees are Jewish, but not all, and the center is open to everyone. There is no need to be a JCC member to participate.

Greenberg said that the group has regenerated even as some of the men have aged out. She does have concerns about the group’s future, given that, “People are working longer, and men don’t tend to do social things as much as woman.”

“This is a really fun, low key place for senior men to connect,” she said. “We are looking for a few good men, and I promise each of them, they will love Mantalk.”

For more information contact Greenberg at 508-756-7109 x232 or