We asked a 104-year-old ‘super senior’ the secret to living a long life. Here’s what she said

Jewish senior citizen
Bella Bernstein, 104, attended a special birthday party on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023, held for a record number of centenarians at their residence, the Donald Berman Jewish Eldercare Centre in Montreal. (Harriet Segal photo)

September 10 was a milestone day at the Donald Berman Jewish Eldercare Centre in Montreal: the staff threw the long term care home’s annual group birthday party for a record number of residents over 100 years old. This year’s 22 “super seniors” include a Second World War veteran, David Kucer, who worked forging metal miniature weapons as collector’s items, and also Bella Bernstein, the oldest of the group. At 104, she is a renowned former soprano who performed opera and Jewish music across the community.

But it wasn’t all speeches and birthday cake. Originally, there were supposed to be 23 seniors to celebrate—until, sadly, one passed away just a few days earlier.

To learn the secret of living a long life, we turned to the experts. On today’s The CJN Daily, the 104-year-old Bernstein joins host Ellin Bessner, along with Bernstein’s daughter Harriet Segal and the home’s recreation coordinator, Josie di Benedetto.

What we talked about

  • Read how COVID-19 decimated the Jewish long-term care homes in Montreal in The CJN
  • Read about Cecile Klein, z”l, who was Canada’s oldest person at 114, until her death, in The CJN
  • Learn about Rabbi Erwin Schild, who marked his 103rd birthday recently in Toronto, in The CJN


The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer.Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To subscribe to this podcast, please watch this video. Donate to The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt by clicking here.