A Note from Lee & David

The Covid19 crisis has impacted us and everybody we know.  For grandparents, this has meant unexpected isolation from our families and the heartache that goes with it.  Grandparents have told us that being kept apart from their grandchildren has created a visceral sense of pain.  They long for their touch, the weight of their body—even their smell.  Grandparents tell us of grandchildren born in recent months who they have yet to see.  We hear of a changing emotional dynamic between the generations – our children feel they need to protect us while we feel we cannot protect them in the ways we are inclined.  A friend speaks of “drive-by grandparenting” – waving at our grandchildren through the car windows.  Another saw her young grandchildren for the first time in months and their first impulse was to hang back and ask their mom whether it was okay to hug Safta.

But we also hear of the resilience and creativity of grandparents.  Lee is now holding “Gromzy Camp” for her local grandchildren; swimming, treasure hunts, crafts projects, and minding the flowers and vegetables.  Esther Netter, CEO of the Cayton Children’s Museum and member of the JGN National Advisory Committee drove non-stop from Los Angeles to San Francisco to care for grandchildren as her daughter prepares to give birth.

Organizationally, we are also adapting:

  • Jewish Grandparents Network Advisory Committee member, Ruth Nemzoff, created a list of “Fifty Ideas for Grandparents During the Covid-19 Crisis”.
  • We are partnering with organizations including Beit Hatfutzot (the Diaspora Museum), Shalom Learning, and Orot: The Center for New Jewish Learning to create new web-based opportunities for grandparents to be (virtually) with each other and with their grandchildren.
  • We are especially interested in finding ways to use video communications, e.g. Zoom and FaceTime, as a springboard for interactive activities to bring grandparents closer to their grandchildren – emotionally and spiritually, if not physically.

We encourage you to share your Covid19 family experiences, stories, and innovations with us at info@jewishgrandparentsnetwork.org and on our Facebook page. We look forward to hearing from you.

Be well and stay safe!

Lee M. Hendler
David Raphael
Co-Founders, Jewish Grandparents Network