Gagie & sister

Today I asked young friends what they thought of the practice that the Jewish cultural website Jewcy has of titling many of their articles, Not Your Bubbe/Zayde’s something-or-other – brunch, seder, costume. I find it rather sad. I miss my grandparents and treasure the small things I have from them – old photos, recipes, a pocket watch. My friends & acquaintances overwhelmingly said they loved their grandparents and didn’t feel a need to belittle their “old timer” characteristics.

A friend who recently turned 30 said, “There is no one I ever called “bubbe.” I’m one generation too young for that in my family… and given waves of Jewish immigration to the US, that’s probably true for most Ashkenazi Jews around my age. So to even use the term bubbe is actually to introduce an idea that is not our own – to add Yiddishy content to an otherwise non Jewish subject, like brunch. Interestingly enough, people in my generation and younger are WAY into reclaiming bygone eras, the hipster thing is totally about riffing on things we associate with our grandparents. You know that Macklemore song Thrift Shop? Incredibly popular song with the lyrics “Ima steal your Grandpa’s style, Ima steal your Grandpa’s style”? And since it’s hard to imagine a lot of people younger than I am in the US who had the type of “bubbe” they’re referring to (an immigrant grandmother from a particular era), my guess is that it’s fake teen angst written by someone older, someone who had a bubbe, and for some reason rejected that culture. I doubt that messaging really plays any better with real “young folk.”

I’ll add that for modern adults in interfaith families it is very unlikely that anyone is being called bubbe or zayde. If they are, I suspect it is with love.

What about grandparents? First, grandparents are surprisingly powerful and important. Grandparents can be laid back about rules that parents need to enforce. “Ice cream for dinner? Well, it is hot; we’ll have a healthy breakfast, honey.” I can’t tell you how many young people have told me warm, loving stories of grandparent support and acceptance. This is true of Jewish and non-Jewish grandparents. All grandparents carry the information of past generations, the secrets to where our parents came from and a mystical past that fascinates us more and more as we get older. Grandparents can sooth both the grandchild and their parent. They can intercede, be a voice of wisdom and calm. Who wouldn’t want that? As for their food, I know I was willing to try out food my grandmother made just because she was eating it. Sliced cucumbers in yogurt turned out to be a delicious snack that I would never have tried for my mother.

But if love and memories aren’t enough, there’s the scientific evidence that we are reliant on the knowledge that our elders carry. Check out this fascinating story of animal elders.
Where ever you fall in the family tree – child, parent, grandparent, or all three – I hope you are valuing those around you and being valued by them in return. As for your grandmother’s recipe or your grandfather’s favorite jig, I hope you keep them close.

Posted by admin under A meaningful life, Grandparents, Jewish Culture
No Comments

grandparents and child

Join me for The Magic Power of Grandparents
Grandparents may not realize the special place they hold in the eyes and hearts of their grandchildren. Jewish grandparents are in a unique position to share their Jewishness with their grandchildren and to stimulate love and identity in the next generation. Join us for Shabbat services and a talk about The Magic Power of Grandparents. I’ll be speaking in place of a sermon so come for services! Sit with me if you like (just email me to look for you).

You are welcome to ask me any questions you like at the oneg after services.

Date: Friday, October 10
Time: Services begin at 8:00pm
Place: Temple Isaiah, 945 Risa Road, Lafayette
Free

Posted by admin under Grandparents, Intercultural, Parenting, Past Programs, Programs archive
No Comments

three_generation

How do you tell your parents about the different choices you’ve made? It can be hard to say, we’re raising the kids Jewish. We will/won’t have a Christmas tree. The baby will/won’t be baptized, receive a bris, have a bar mitzvah. What can we tell the non-Jewish grandparents about what is appropriate and how they can be supportive? What do we do with negative Jewish grandparents who rail against raising kids Jewish for a range of reasons?
Join us for a compassionate and practical discussion of parenting and being parented in a multi-generational interfaith family.

Date: Sunday, December 7
Time: 9:30 – 11:00 am
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
Free, please RSVP here.

Posted by admin under Grandparents, Non-Jewish family, Parenting, Relationships
No Comments

Distressed_woman

A Jewish woman marrying a non-Jewish man sent in this angst-ridden question to Boston’s Jewish Journal:

I am marrying into a lovely family that is not Jewish. My family is hosting a dinner to meet the future in-laws. My mother, who prides herself on being a superb cook, is planning to serve all her Jewish specialties. I feel this is literally putting our differences on the table.

You can read the equally angsty replies on their website.

Rather than get to the heart of the question, the ‘helpers’ jump in & answer their assumed questions.
I would have asked, what are your mother’s Jewish specialties? Brisket? Here’s some news, in the south that’s a common dish. Matzah ball soup? Brace your self, pretty much everyone has had it. Chocolate babka? Excuse me; everyone eats chocolate.
I would suggest the hostess find out about food preferences or restrictions. Do you guests eat wheat/gluten? Sugar? Any foods they don’t like – okra, squash, barley?
Why not tell your guests, “My mom is so excited you’re coming! She’d love to make a very special meal. Let me ask you about your dietary needs so she has a chance to shine and you have a good time.” Really, is there any more flattering message than that someone wants to pull out all the stops for you?

Don’t make trouble for yourself. Changes are that most non-Jewish relatives-to-be will be curious, friendly, interested and excited. I’ve had many soon to be in-laws say, “this will be our first Jewish wedding!”

So lighten up. Call me for a different perspective if you find yourself slipping down the worry shoot.

Here are some funny responses I got.

* Wait…the question is whether or not Jewish foods should be served because it will make them think about intermarriage too much? (Jen T)

* With apologies for the profanity, my reaction to this article was OMFG, only all spelled out. She’s gonna alienate the other family by serving unfamiliar food? News flash, Jewish food isn’t really that out there. There are Jewish delis – and even Jewish people! – every where in this country. The mother should cook what she loves to cook, taking into consideration dietary restrictions. And everybody should stop being so dumb as to worry about it.

* Now if the mom invited to dinner a mohel and starts asking the young man pointed questions… That might make everyone feel that religious differences were coming between them! (Tristan S)

* I agree with you and Tristan. Yes to asking about dietary restrictions. But also yes to letting her cook the way she usually cooks for company. It’s a way into talking about things that make for good conversation. Telling her mom the meal can’t be too Jewish strikes me as a fine way to make the religious difference the elephant in the room. The potential–unintended–result is a mother who feels like she’s supposed to make sure she doesn’t seem too Jewish to the in-laws (good luck figuring out what that means), and in-laws who pick up on the discomfort and assume they are the source of it. Yes, the families are from different backgrounds. Acknowledge it. Talk about it. What better way than food to open the door to conversations about family traditions? (Pam C)

* Ok. I’m baffled. Serving brisket, potato kugel and whatever else, could be offensive and culturally insensitive. Really? Does the other family know that this family is Jewish? They are probably either secretly or openly hoping for some good Jewish food!!! Maybe the incoming family is really tired of grammy Hall’s ham and will welcome something culturally specific to JEWS. Or maybe, must maybe, she could point out that everyone eats “Jewish” food. Bagels and lox. Those are not all Jews down at Noah’s. I see some non Jews buying challah. (Diane W)

Posted by admin under Grandparents, Non-Jewish family, Parenting, Relationships
No Comments

easter eggs

From the Mixed and Matched column in the J-weekly.

The question:
My son-in-law isn’t Jewish. My daughter and he took their 2- and 4-year-old sons to a huge Easter egg hunt this year. It’s the first time they’ve done that and it really upset me. I’m sure my daughter knows this bothered me. I haven’t said anything because they say they are raising the boys Jewish and I don’t want to jeopardize that. I’m so upset. What should I do? I want to remain close to my daughter but I feel like this is just the first step in a downhill process away from Judaism. — Distraught Grandmother

Dear Distraught: I’m sorry this has hit you so hard. Let’s see if we can cut this down to a manageable size. You are close to your daughter and you believe she knows you are upset. The best thing to do is to have an honest conversation with her that’s not colored by negativity that will put her off.

Let’s begin by taking a look at your fears. Read more.

Posted by admin under Grandparents, Holidays, In the News, Mixed & Matched, Non-Jewish family
No Comments

Chester clapping

An ethical will is not a legal document and does not distribute material goods. It is a means by which you can share your values, blessings, hopes and dreams for the future of your loved ones.
Ethical wills are not new. References to this tradition are found in Torah (Genesis 18:19) and in other cultures. Ethical wills are written by people of all ages who want to know that their most important thoughts and feelings will be known to their loved ones and succeeding generations. They are usually shared with family while the writer is still alive.
This class is an opportunity to organize your thoughts on topics that mean most to you, such as honesty, kindness, forgiveness, and the life lessons you have learned.

Our teacher is Rabbi Steve Chester, a parent and grandparent himself.

Dates: 3 Thursdays, February 20 – March 6
Time: 7:30 – 9:00 pm
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
Cost: $30/person
Sign up here.

Posted by admin under A meaningful life, Grandparents, Intercultural, Parenting, Past Programs, Programs archive
No Comments

Grandmother-with-family-300x183

Your child has married someone not Jewish. You love their new spouse, but you worry. Will my grandchildren be Jewish? Will I say the wrong thing if I express my concerns and feelings? Should we invite the non- Jewish in-laws to Jewish celebrations at our home? Can we do Jewish activities with the grandchildren without over stepping our children’s boundaries? Which holidays will they celebrate and how? Join other parents and grandparents to explore how to be terrific grandparents to your intermarried child and their family.

Tuesday, October 29
7:00 – 8:30 pm
Osher Marin JCC, 200 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael
cost: $15/person or $25/couple
Register here.

Posted by admin under Children, Grandparents, Past Programs, Programs archive
No Comments

How Can We Dealing Graciously with our children’s Grandparents?

How do you tell your parents about the different choices you’ve made? It can be hard to say, we’re raising the kids Jewish. We will/won’t have a Christmas tree. The baby will/won’t be baptized, receive a bris, have a bar mitzvah.
What can we tell the non-Jewish grandparents about what is appropriate and how they can be supportive?
What do we do with negative Jewish grandparents who rail against raising kids Jewish for a range of reasons?

Join us for a compassionate and practical discussion of parenting and being parented in a multi-generational interfaith family.

Thursday, Oct. 3
7:30 to 9pm
Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
Free, bring your curious friends.
Let us know you’re coming so we get enough cookies! RSVP to dawn@buildingjewishbridges.org

Posted by admin under Children, Grandparents, Parenting, Past Programs
No Comments

Jews Talk About their Multiracial Families

Parents, siblings, aunts and cousins may be white but when their family includes racially diverse members they too are impacted by racial assumptions in the Jewish community. What do white family members have to share with us about how we can be more tuned in to their family? Join us for a dynamic and exciting panel; the this year’s opening program for What Color Are Jews?

Date: Sunday, Nov. 11
Time: 10am to 11:45am
Place: Temple Beth Abraham, 327 MacArthur Boulevard, Oakland
Free to Temple Beth Abraham members; $5 to non-members

Posted by admin under Children, Grandparents, Jews of Color, Parenting, Past Programs
No Comments

Don’t let anyone tell you that being in a family is always easy! But when you add more than one religion or culture there can be confusion and upsets that you couldn’t anticipate. Family gatherings, holidays, lifecycle events all take on a new color. How can you navigate your role as child, spouse, parent or grandparent in a loving and respectful way? How can you be yourself and create warm family circle? Join Dawn Kepler to discuss the challenges and the solutions in an intercultural (yes, Judaism IS a culture as well as a religion) family.

Date: April 24
Time: 7 to 8:30pm
Place: Temple Beth Torah, 42000 Paseo Padre Parkway Fremont
Cost: $12
For information contact Andrea Fleekop, Director of Education, tbteducation@sbcglobal.net or (510) 656-7141

Posted by admin under Children, Couples, Grandparents, Parenting, Past Programs, Relationships
No Comments

Next Page »