Grandparents Circle

We at JOI are thrilled to announce the launch of our newest direct service program, the Grandparents Circle, with the support of the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles/Valley Alliance and the generosity of Bettina Kurowski and Dennis Rose. The new program, which launched on January 8th in Los Angeles and will begin replication in Atlanta on January 29th, is designed to help Jewish grandparents present Judaism to their grandchildren in intermarried households. We were also excited to see the Grandparents Circle recognized in the JTA by Sue Fishkoff, in an article titled “Intermarriage: Helping Grandparents.”

As explained in the article, Grandparents Circle will consist of a five week course where the members can “share their concerns and learn specific skills for passing on Jewish history and tradition without forcing it on the children.” Our own Liz Marcovitz, the program’s national coordinator, gave further explanation:

They want to pass on their Jewish identity and background, they want to share their history and who they are with their grandchildren, but it has to be done in a way that’s interesting to the grandchildren.”

The course was inspired by the book “Twenty Things for Grandparents of Interfaith Grandchildren to Do,” by JOI’s Rabbi Kerry Olitzky and Paul Golin. The book offers many recommendations on how grandparents can nurture the Jewish identity of their grandchildren, first and foremost by being the best Jew you can be. According to Golin, “If the grandparents are just who they are and have contact with the grandkids, they’ll have that influence.”

To learn more about the program or find out how to start a program in your area, please contact Liz Marcovitz. We are confident that the Grandparents Circle will encourage and increase the participation of families in Jewish life, and we hope that as more grandparents join the Circle and pass along the Jewish traditions, they will find an even greater depth of meaning and connection to Judaism.


  1. I am a participant of a Mothers Circle group. I applaud the establishment of this new initiative to provide assistance and guidance for Jewish grandparents of children who are growing up in an interfaith environment. But what of non-Jewish grandparents - especially those whose grandchildren are being raised as Jews and may have similar needs to the mothers participating in Mothers’ Circle groups ? Will they be made welcome at a Grandparents’ Circle group as well?

    Comment by Janet Fuentes — January 16, 2008 @ 10:01 am

  2. Thank you for your participation and for your comment. Unfortunately, we have to take it one step at a time. we have an assortment of programs and projects in developmental stages, including programs for men. we would be happy to consider a program for non-jewish grandparents. But this particular circle is designed for Jewish grandparents.

    Comment by Kerry Olitzky — January 16, 2008 @ 12:15 pm

  3. Congratulations on starting this project! I know how very much Jewish grandparents want to be involved in providing friendly and supportive Jewish connections for their grandchildren–this program promises to be such a help in encouraging positive engagement in these steps. Good going, JOI :)

    Comment by Ruth Decalo — January 17, 2008 @ 8:10 am

  4. where is a program on the westside of la

    Comment by e. silon — January 31, 2008 @ 2:12 am

  5. The program is only in its pilot stage in the Valley (in Encino). We are now poised to roll it out throughout LA and in other communities. Stay tuned.

    Comment by Kerry Olitzky — February 4, 2008 @ 10:22 pm

  6. I just read about Grandparent’s Circle in, of all places, Are there any groups in Orange County? Could you please send me, offline, contact information about the LA group and the potential for starting one in central Orange County? Thanks.

    Comment by Beverly Jacobs — September 7, 2008 @ 11:52 am

  7. Dear JOI and Grandparents Circle,

    I came across an article by Rebecca Spence in HAARETZ which talked about Grandparents Circle. I thought you might be interested in a book I recently illustrated called A MOUSE IN THE RABBI’S STUDY by Nancy Larner, Song Sparrow Press. It is a children’s picture book with a CD of the story plus holiday songs. The story is about a mouse and a rabbi, Jewish holidays and some of the traditional foods associated with the holidays. The publisher’s website ( explains the story well.

    Pegi Ballenger

    Comment by Pegi BAllenger — September 11, 2008 @ 4:08 pm

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