It’s no news to us that grandparents have an important role in nurturing Jewish identity in their grandchildren. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach confirms this notion in the Forward Jewish newspaper’s “Bintel Blog” column. Boteach instructs a Jewish grandmother distraught over her son’s decision not to circumcise his child to love and accept her child and grandchild regardless of their faith:
You should be showing your son that, whatever decisions he made in his life that you found personally disappointing or with which you disagree, you still love him totally and unconditionally. You would not love him more had he chosen to marry Jewish, and you do not love him less now that he has chosen not to….What I suggest, therefore, is that you make an effort to bring your son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren close to the Jewish tradition.
When Jewish grandparents actively share their Jewish identities with their grandchildren, they have the opportunity to influence their grandchildren’s Jewish identities and understanding. Boteach suggests to the grandmother that she read Jewish books to her grandson and share Shabbat and Jewish festival celebrations with her son, daughter-in-law and grandchild. At JOI, we agree with Boteach’s notion of acceptance and inclusion and have developed our own program for grandparents with interfaith grandchildren, the Grandparents Circle. If you are interested in learning more about this program, please email me at LMarcovitz@JOI.org.
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