Living Life to the Fullest

Sylvia Silverberg is a role model for how to stay vital as you age. At age 83, she regularly presents humor programs for clubs near her home in Florida. She also plays the leading role in making decisions about her finances.

Initially, her humor programs focused primarily on Yiddish humor — but as this language of Eastern European Jews has gradually disappeared, Sylvia has broadened her routines to include themes like “Discovering Humor Hidden in the Golden Years,” “Jewish Food with Love and Laughter” and “A Journey Through the Land of Nostalgia.”

Sylvia learned Yiddish growing up as a first-generation American in an Orthodox Jewish household. “My parents were wonderful people,” she says. “Even though they didn’t have much, they always had something left for those less fortunate.”

From her father she learned the concept of tzedakah, a Hebrew word literally translated as justice or righteousness, but commonly used to signify charity. This commitment to helping others was reinforced and expanded when Sylvia married. “My husband and I were married for 53 years. I consider myself the luckiest woman in the world. He was a wonderful man,” she says.

Sylvia was introduced to City of Hope through neighbors in Florida who were involved in the chapter there. “Many of my friends and neighbors supported City of Hope,” she says. “One day they invited me along. I was so impressed that I’ve been involved ever since.

“Because I lost my husband, a nonsmoker, to pulmonary fibrosis and my father, a garment worker and smoker, to lung cancer, supporting City of Hope’s work is extremely important to me,” she says. “I believe that giving to City of Hope to fund research into cures and treatments will help wipe out these diseases eventually.”

Sylvia has established a charitable gift annuity with City of Hope. She believes so strongly in gift annuities as a means of contributing to the causes she champions that she has four altogether. As she puts it, “You’re giving to an organization that’s doing something constructive and you’re getting income plus great tax benefits.” And while Sylvia decided to make gift annuities on her own, her accountant endorsed the move.

“It’s the best charity to which you can donate,” she says proudly. “Each of us has been touched by some disease. City of Hope is doing something constructive. What can be better than that?”