Because “smartphone” grandparents are a smart way to engage the next generation.
For many Jewish families, the Passover Seder marks a highlight of the Jewish year. In fact, of all the Jewish practices, the Seder is one of the most highly practiced rituals. Intergenerational dialogue creates magic. Timeless and lifelong memories are formed when a grandchild listens and learns from the life experiences of a grandparent. When a grandparent and grandchild explore together the richness of our tradition, it is a special moment. But why wait for the holiday of Passover to create this experience? What if meaningful intergenerational dialogue could be more prevalent in our lives? Recent research suggests that this would have a profound impact on the next generation. A study of 1,150 Jewish college students, conducted in 2014 by Barry Kosmin and Ariella Keysar, focusing on the respondents’ middle-school years, found that those whose grandparents accompanied them to synagogue and other Jewish settings were the most likely to feel strong attachments to the Jewish people and Israel. In other words, a meaningful interaction between grandparents and grandchildren within the context of Jewish experience is a powerful force!
There’s good news for the Jewish community. Our grandparents are thirsting for this connection! Unlike earlier generations, most of today's Jewish grandparents were born and educated in the United States and their formative experiences, like schooling and summer camp, were more similar to their grandchildren’s. In addition, today's grandparents of school-age children tend to be healthier, more active and therefore increasingly involved in their grandchildren’s lives compared to previous generations. The current reality on the ground is that many grandparents are eager to play an active role in the lives of their grandchildren, as role models and guides in the art of Jewish living. All of this creates greater opportunity for valuable inter-generational communication and relationships. As such, grandparents are a pivotal untapped resource in transmitting to the younger generation the value of a commitment to Jewish life.
The Jewish Agency’s new initiative, G2: Global Intergenerational Initiative is designed to create a new conversation: grandparent to grandchild. It brings together zugot, pairs of grandparents with their grandchild, for a meaningful experience together. It creates a platform through value-based activities, for grandparents to pass down to their grandchildren the meaning of Jewish identity and commitment to Jewish community and the State of Israel. It is a tool that allows the grandparents to create a Jewish living will and legacy by passing down values and experiences to their grandchildren.
The “smartphone” grandparents” are waiting for us to tap into their full potential. Let’s embark as a community on this opportunity to inspire the next generation by fostering this experience through the grandparent-grandchild relationship. Together, we can bring the magic of the Pesach Seder to our everyday lives!