The Jewish Grandparents Network (JGN), an organization providing resources for older generations of Jews, is expanding its operations with the launch of "The Family Room," a virtual space in which grandparents can participate in Jewish activities with their families.
According to a national study of Jewish grandparents published by the organization in 2019, some 71% of them felt it was important to transmit their Jewish values to their grandchildren and 70% felt it was important to teach their grandchildren about Jewish heritage.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has made it more difficult for grandparents to teach their grandchildren about Judaism, The Family Room aims to make this easier through virtual experiences.
The Family Room provides multiple virtual activities through which grandparents can participate in Jewish experiences with their grandchildren, including the Arts, Celebrations & Holidays, Cooking & Food, Family Stories, Gardening & the Earth, Health & Wellbeing, Play, and a Reading Room," according to the organization. In the "Arts" space, participants watch five-minute videos teaching dance; "Family Stories" includes templates to learn about family history via portraits, videos, photos and recordings.
“Grandparents can infuse nearly any activity that they love doing with their grand-kids with some form of Jewish learning,” said JGN's Director of Creative Partnerships Terry Kaye. “Gardening, yoga, cooking, dancing, Minecraft – all of these activities can be enriched with Jewish learning and values."
In order to provide quality content, the organization recruited experts including filmmaker and author Tiffany Shlain, cognitive fitness experts at BrainSavers, artist Hanoch Piven, professor and family stories expert Dr. Marshall Duke and the Association of Jewish Libraries. The network hopes the programs it formulated in conjunction with these professionals will be an excellent resource for grandparents. Duke will discuss the importance of family stories on November 16.
In addition to these activities and programs, JGN will host a podcast and various family retreats.
“Grandparents are a hidden treasure in plain sight. We are a living bridge from our past to our Jewish future," said JGN president and co-founder Lee M. Hendler, who is a grandmother herself.
"However we choose to connect with Judaism, we know that it can add joy and meaning to our families’ lives and deepen the special relationship we have with our grandchildren," she said. "Supporting and enriching these connections is what we do at the Jewish Grandparents Network.”