At JOI, we do our best to measure the success of our various programs, which have been implemented in over 100 communities in the US and Canada. It’s easy to track the hard data to show our growth. Over 1,000 women have graduated the 8-month Mothers Circle course since the programs inception, we’ve trained thousands of Jewish communal professionals on outreach best practices, and our Big Tent Judaism Coalition has grown to include over 450 institutions worldwide.
But our work isn’t just about numbers – it’s also about the people we serve.
Barbara Pash, associate editor of the Baltimore Jewish Times, wrote a wonderful piece for Interfaithfamily.com that shows how participants in our Grandparents Circle program (for Jewish grandparents whose adult children have intermarried) in Baltimore, have been able to use the tools they learned to help nurture – and in some cases establish – the Jewish identity of their grandchildren.
Pash spoke with numerous participants, all of whom expressed appreciation for the tools they learned while enrolled in the Grandparents Circle course. They learned how to share their Jewish heritage without “offending the adult child and his or her spouse,” and how to use holidays as a way to introduce Judaism and Jewish customs into the lives of their grandchildren. One grandparent said the course helped “open her eyes” and “made her sensitive to how her son’s wife must feel among his Jewish relatives.” This helped the grandparent think of ways to make the spouse feel more comfortable and included. Another now understands that grandparents “have to bend” if they want to ensure a positive and lasting relationship with their adult child and grandchildren.
The article notes that although there is not a course currently underway, the participants are still active in the Grandparents Circle online discussion board, which has over 800 participants. Sharon Seigel, director of parenting services and outreach at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore, said she continues to get inquiries about the program, saying she has the names of “several people who would love to have it offered again.”
Articles like this show us that while numbers are important in determining the success of a particular program, ultimately it’s about what the people take away and use in their own lives. As we read here, sometimes the greatest success stories are simply those moments when a grandparent shares a meaningful Jewish connection with their interfaith grandchild.
No comments yet.