An investigation of physical and mental functioning in the aging process of people in poverty, people with physical disability, bereaved parents, and homosexual men


Based on a study funded by Israel Ministry of Science

On July 3, 2017, The Herczeg Institute hosted a conference about the quest for positive quality of life under the adversities of old age. This conference was based on an ongoing study at Herczeg Institute, funded by Israeli Ministry of Science. The conference included lectures about four groups of older people in Israel, which represent four disadvantaged populations in current Israeli society:

the poor, the handicapped, bereaved parents (resulting from a disease or accident - as opposed to military or terror deaths, which have been widely studied in Israel), and homosexual men. The aim of the study was to understand the links between resilience and vulnerability in each disadvantaged group, and to give the target groups a voice and raise awareness of their circumstances and needs, so as to improve their lives and the way people relate to them. The study applied Shmtokin's model of the pursuit of happiness in a hostile world as a unifying conceptual framework. Accordingly, the basic assumption of the study was that happiness-promoting systems (notably subjective well-being and meaning in life) regulate, or reconstruct, the hostile-world scenario, indicating one’s image of potential negative occurrences.

Participating scholars and topics (in order of appearance):

Professor Dov Shmotkin, (principal investigator): The pursuit of happiness in a hostile world along adulthood and old age

Dr. Kfir Ifrah (the research director and a co-investigator) and Mr. Noam Markovitz, (co-investigator): findings from the older bereaved parents and older gay men's samples

Dr. Rinat Lifshitz (a member in the research team): Coping with trauma as the time from its onset goes by: findings from samples of older bereaved parents and older adults with physical disabilities

Dr. Kfir Ifrah: Coping with challenging life circumstances: compensation versus depletion

Dr. Irit Bluvstein (a member in the research team): The backstage of the hostile-world scenario research: human, ethical and methodological issues

The concluding part of the conference was an expert panel, with the participation of five renowned experts specializing in trauma and adversities of old-age. The participants were (in alphabetical order): Professor Ehud Bodner (Bar-Ilan University); Professor Karni Ginsburg (Tel Aviv University); Dr. Ruth Malkinson (Tel Aviv University); Professor Yuval Palgi (University of Haifa); Dr. Geva Shenkman Lachberg (The Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya) and Professor Amit Shrira (Bar-Ilan University).

For an article on the conference, please click here

For the lecture summaries, please click here 



Pannel of experts

       7B AC 

Dr. Rinat Lifshitz


Prof. Dov Shmotkin


Dr. Kfir Ifrah


Mr. Noam Markovitz


Dr. Irit Bluvstein