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Ten Attitudes of Highly Effective Jewish Grandparents

Item Number  61015


Author: Joel Lurie Grishaver
Grades: Adult
Format:


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Grandparents aren’t so old any more—they drive convertibles, go to aerobics classes and can even program a VCR! Joel shares ways that grandparents, whether they live locally or farther away, can be an important Jewish influence in their grandchildrens’ lives

My nana Grishaver’s secret is concentrated grape juice. She didn’t know it, but that was her big secret, that and an old pedal-driven sewing machine that I never saw her use, but was one of my favorite toys. On the occasions when I spent Friday night at her house, it was the alchemy of mixing the grape juice for Shabbat Kiddush which was the magic act. More than anything else, it was that which fascinated me. In my world, at that time, concentrated grape juice only existed in her house. That mundane act was her sacred secret, it had no other existence in my known world. The special moment of “sleeping over at Atherton Road’ Nana’s house, was watching the mixing of the sacred Shabbat juice. There is a famous story about a Talmudic rabbi who introduces a Roman emperor to Shabbat. The emperor is impressed and tries to duplicate the Sabbath experience the following Wednesday. ‘Shabbat Spice” is the punchline of the story. After all the cooks and decorators and party planners fail to replicate (let alone improve on) the experience, the Rabbi reveals the secret to the Emperor: “Shabbat Spice—the spice of that sacred time called Shabbat?’ Every time I tell that story or others like it, I taste my Nana’s concentrated Shabbat juice. That was her biggest Jewish gift to me. While Shabbat was a normative home experience for me, while my parents, and then later, I with them, went to synagogue every Friday night, a piece of the the magic of Shabbat was discovered and preserved only in Nana’s realm, the house on Atherton Road. Ultimately, everything I know about being a grandparent I learned from her.

1. First the Right Qustion: The world of Jewish marketing likes to scare us. It uses statistics and stories to convince us that the future of the Jewish people is at risk, to convince us that our own families are the last line of defense. While that may be true on some level, I think I know that the panic and the sense of emergency such warnings evoke often push us and our children and their children in the wrong direction. Lots of programs and slogans will ask you—echoing a famous marketing campaign done by the UAHC in the mid 1960s—”Do you want you grandchildren to be Jewish?” That’s the wrong question for a lot of reasons. The right question is “What kind of Jews do you want …

  
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