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Ellie Epstein, 24

Ellie Epstein, 24

Connecting the Generations

An intergenerational program centered around electronic devices grew out of one intergenerational conversation during which only one electronic device was discussed.

Epstein, who works and lives in Brookline, Mass., spending weekends on the Upper East Side, was sharing a meal here with her grandmother last year.

Epstein’s grandmother, in her 80s, mentioned problems she was having with her iPhone. Epstein offered some high-tech advice, and a thought occurred to her — there are probably other seniors encountering similar problems with their iPhones, smartphones, etc; why can’t members of her millennial generation tutor their elders? And, why can’t her peers learn from their elders?

Wire the Wise was born.

Epstein, who runs Shabbat programs for the Moishe House on the Upper East Side, approached the 92nd Street Y, proposing a Sunday morning get-together, over bagels, of members of the two generations.

About 20 seniors and young professionals came to the first meeting.

Her project — the “wise” is a recognition of the seniors’ knowledge and life experience — has subsequently attracted more than 300 people to the Y and three other venues.

The post-65 crowd has learned, in 90-minute sessions, about the fine points of the ubiquitous devices. And their partners, in their 20s and 30s, have learned that the older generation’s desire to keep challenging itself has not waned.

“These seniors are unstoppable,” Epstein says — and her peers are “very patient” with people who grew up in pre-wired times.

Some outside friendships have developed, with the intergenerational partners meeting for a cup of coffee or a Shabbat meal.

And Epstein’s grandmother?

She takes the train from Westchester for some of her granddaughter’s programs. She’s become more proficient with her iPhone, Epstein says. “She’s very Facebook-active now.”

Basketball coach: Epstein, who played basketball through her years at the Maimonides School, coached the girls team that represented Greater Boston at the 2012 Maccabi Games in Rockland County. “We did pretty well,” she says. “We got bronze.”

Mets photographer: Following the New York Mets’ appearance in the World Series last year, Epstein spent two days taking pictures of “Mrs. Met” on the team mascot’s hospitality appearances around New York City. “It was a fun job,” she says — but not fulfilling. “I didn’t feel I was making a difference” in people’s lives.


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