In November, the Jewish Grandparents Network began the first national study of Jewish grandparents. Thanks to outreach from 17 national organizations and Jewish Federations, nearly 8,000 responded to the survey.
Here are some of the results, courtesy of eJewishPhilanthropy.com.
• Joyful Transmitters (20 percent) — love being grandparents and feel it’s important to transmit Jewish values and beliefs.
• Faithful Transmitters (16 percent) — want their grandchildren to have a strong connection to Judaism and to marry Jews.
• Engaged Secularists (23 percent) — engaged grandparents, but don’t model Jewish involvement for their grandchildren.
• Wistful Outsiders (20 percent) — want to be more involved with their grandchildren, but family dynamics get in the way.
• Non–Transmitters (20 percent) — not Jewishly-engaged nor interested in passing on Jewish practices to their grandchildren.
We will definitely be hearing more about this study, but I want to challenge us all to read the groupings above, and remove the words “grandparents” and “grandchildren.” What if we generalized these into how we approach our own Judaism and our own role in passing on our tradition? Does it matter if we are parents, teachers, students, workers? Where do I fit in my commitment to Judaism, and do I have a role in the continuation?
Perhaps we can use the terms to view how we live our Jewish lives — am I a joyful individual with a strong connection to Judaism? How does engagement look to myself and those around me? If I am a wistful outsider, how can I get inside? And, are the “non-transmitters” also not living Judaism – is the term “just Jewish?” What is my commitment today whether I am a grandparent, parent or “just a regular person” living my day-to-day life? Where does being Jewish fit into my definition of who I am?
This type of survey creates many questions that only each of us can answer for ourselves. Additionally, as we prepare for Passover in just a few weeks, these might also be good questions for discussion, to add to our favorite four.
Laura Seymour is director of camping services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.