For Grandparents of Interfaith Grandchildren

The first time I remember seeing Shabbat candles being lit I was three and at my grandparents house. I was confused that my grandparents—who my father told me were not religious—were doing something that we didn’t do. My family started lighting Shabbat candles occasionally after that, partially because of the influence of my grandparents. Kerry Olitzky and Paul Golin of JOI are actually writing a book, to be published by Torah Aura entitled Twenty Things for Grandparents of Interfaith Grandchildren To Do (And Not Do) To Nurture Jewish Identity in Their Grandchildren, which discusses ways that grandparents can be a positive Jewish influence on grandchildren whose parents are intermarried. Although my parents are not intermarried, I can see how the observance of my grandparents affected their practice and my own.

There is also a new book for young children that deals with the similarities shared by a Jewish and non-Jewish grandmother, both of whom love their grandchildren “very, very, very, very, very much.” Two Grandmothers to Love, by Harriet Goldner, discusses what the grandmothers share—love for their grandchildren and a desire to share their traditions. The book provides a simple way to explain to children that although different sides of their family may have different traditions, the children are loved by both sides of their family. The two grandmothers in Goldner’s book have different hobbies, live in different places, and celebrate different holidays. But both of them unconditionally love their grandchildren and wish to share their celebrations with them. We think acceptance and support is always a positive thing, and encourages an open door to future Jewish involvement.


  1. Thanks so much for mentioning these 2 very interesting and important books!

    I don’t have any kids yet–but any that I do have will be raised with 2 Jewish parents, in a Jewish household…and with only one Jewish grandparent. I was very pleased to see the sample pages from Two Grandmothers to Love: I had a Granny and a Grandma (and am lucky to still have the latter, now 95 [biz hundert-un-tsvantsik — may she live to 120!]), and was never confused or disturbed by being a Nice Jewish Girl who might go, in the course of a few weeks in December, both to Granny’s in Kentucky, with a tree and stockings and presents and family, and to Grandma’s in Florida, with a menorah and dreidels and presents and family.

    Yasher koach to all the authors–Kerry Olitzky, Paul Golin, and Harriet Goldner–and to Amanda Milstein for this blog post!

    Comment by Becca — October 27, 2006 @ 8:22 am

  2. Thanks so much for your kind words!

    Comment by Paul Golin — October 27, 2006 @ 11:47 am

  3. grandparents of any religion often have the most difficult time adjusting to intermarriage. to them, it signifies the loss of an envisioned future. the feeling of uncertainty about the next generation’s future is a trait that all families share regardless of what faith they belong to. but even though intermarriage occurs, it does not mean that future is necessarily lost. nor does it mean that religious differences should stand in the way of maintaining good relationships with extended family and grandkids.
    one of my friends comes from a “conversionary” family. his father is a Jew-By-Birth and his mother is a Jew-By-Choice. his maternal grandparents are Catholic. in his 29 years on this earth, my friend has never questioned his relationship with his grandparents. they may not be the same religion, but he loves them all the same and the feeling is mutual on their end.
    if i ever have any kids, there is the possibility they may have a set of non-Jewish grandparents. if that is the case, i will certainly purchase both of these books.

    Comment by heather — October 27, 2006 @ 1:53 pm

  4. I bought “Two Grandmothers to Love” for my grandchildren. They love it and so do I…and the other grandmother. It’s such a simple, but effective, way to explain differences while emphasizing similarities. I highly recommend it.

    Comment by Abby D. — November 5, 2006 @ 8:58 pm

  5. I bought “Two Grandmothers to Love” for my grandchildren. They loved it and so did I…and the other grandmother. It’s such a simple, but effective, way to explain differences while emphasizing similarities.

    Comment by Abby D. — November 7, 2006 @ 11:21 am

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