Grandparents, who are they and what do they mean to us?

Isn’t it funny how we portray grandmothers and grandfathers? On one hand, I see headlines that say, Not Your Grandfather’s Shul or Not Your Grandmother’s Challah – always with the implication that the things of your grandparents are outdated, lousy, good to discard. Then, on the other hand, I see articles titled, How to Cook like an Iraqi Jewish Grandmother, and My Grandfather Fooled the Nazis, implying that grandparents are strong, smart, capable role models for us.

So which is it? Are grandparents annoying relics? Or are they treasures of history, love and knowhow? While I admit that grandparents can be flawed I see most grandchildren giving them a pass on their shortcomings.  “My grandmother went through a lot to raise her family; she didn’t have the opportunity to get an education so I can’t judge her for some of her lack of knowledge.”  Or, “My grandfather was the only person who saw ME, not my disability. We did things together because he believed I could. Maybe he doesn’t understand some modern attitudes, but he understands me.”

If you’re feeling short tempered with your own parents consider how you felt/feel about your grandparents. Do you have a bit more distance and acceptance of them? I’m not going to suggest that you can give that same gift to your parents, rather I’m going to suggest that you make the very most of the grandchild – grandparent relationship. Sit with your own grandparents, hold hands, kiss them. Talk about your childhood and theirs. Savor the golden moments of love and connection. They are the root from which you sprang. Delight in that.

Now, even if your own parents are hard on you, nurture their relationship with your child(ren).  Set aside time for your kids to be with your parents, time to talk, to take a walk, to put on lipstick or build a birdhouse.

If your children share their grandparents’ religious tradition, make sure that they create memories of doing religion together.  A friend of mine told me that, growing up, her mother’s father was Orthodox and she used to sit near him as he put on his tiffilin and said his morning prayers. The memory is a sacred joy forever for her.

If they don’t share a religious tradition be sure to create other shared traditions. Perhaps you’ll decide to never see a Disney film until you can see it with those grandparents. Maybe you always take hikes or go to the zoo with them or have special books to be read with them. Give your children the gift of grandparent memories that they will treasure all their lives.

If you need ideas, email me. If you want to share your own ideas, please email me! I’ll share them with everyone else.

How Should Children’s books deal with the Holocaust?
A dad on this list sent me this article. I know that as a parent I too struggled with teaching my young children about the Holocaust. Here’s a very useful reflection on how to impart this grim information. I’d love to hear YOUR thoughts about this approach.

What is Tisha B’Av?
The website, My Jewish Learning, has a good basic description of Tisha B’Av. If you want to know more just search their site for addition articles.

Watch Services Live from Home
A number of synagogues have begun offering the option of streaming their services. I’ll let you know which ones I hear about – feel free to tell me of any you know of.  Peninsula Temple Beth El in San Mateo has sent out this link to be used to stream their services.




Welcome Shabbat Outdoors (Los Altos)
Jewish Heritage Night at the Pacifics (San Rafael)
Tot Shabbat Evening (Lafayette)
Shabbat Mishpachah in the Park (San Francisco)
Shabbat Under the Stars (San Rafael)



Welcome Shabbat Outdoors
Summer worship outdoors is a tradition at Beth Am, giving congregants an opportunity to appreciate the natural beauty of our campus. If you wish, feel free to bring friends and a picnic dinner to enjoy before or after the service. Below is a listing of summer outdoor services as well as our featured congregant speakers beginning in July:

Fridays, now through September 7
Time:   6:15pm
Place:   Outdoor Chapel at Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Rd., Los Altos Hills
Details here


Jewish Heritage Night at the Pacifics
Join the Osher Marin JCC for “A Fun Night Out” with the San Rafael Pacifics Baseball Club as the JCC hosts Jewish Heritage Night at Albert Park in downtown San Rafael.
The first 150 fans will receive a sports bag courtesy of the Osher Marin JCC. There will be Jewish themed food and a performance by campers from the Osher Marin JCC’s Camp Kehillah!
Special appearance by Bay Area Radio Personality Rich Walcoff
Bubby Jane’s Latkes & Pastrami Sandwiches sponsored by The Osher Marin Jewish Community Center

Date:   Thurs, July 26
Time:   7:05pm
Place:   Albert Park, San Rafael
Sponsored by the Osher Marin JCC
To purchase tickets, click here – enter promo code JCC and all fans will receive $5 off any general admission ticket! All kids wearing a JCC camp t-shirt will get in for free that evening!
To learn more about the event or the Pacifics, visit


Tot Shabbat Evening
Geared toward families with children 0 to 5 years old, Tot Shabbat is an interactive and friendly Shabbat experience followed by catered dinner. Enjoy food, activities and prayer with other young families.

Date:   Friday, July 27
Time:   5:30pm
Place:   Temple Isaiah, 945 Risa Rd., Lafayette
Dinner cost: $30 per family (max. 2 adults, 3 kids) or $10 per person payable at the door. Please click here to RSVP, so we have enough food.


Shabbat Mishpachah in the Park
Once a month throughout the summer, families with children up to five celebrate Shabbat outdoors with Cantor David Frommer and Rabbi Jessica Graf. Enjoy a creative, fun, and musical service. Grandparents and friends welcome! Snacks provided.

Date:   Saturday, July 28
Time:   10:30 am–Noon
Place:   Lafayette Park, San Francisco
Hosted by Sherith Israel of San Francisco
Free, please register here


Shabbat Under the Stars
Summer means it’s time to celebrate Shabbat in the open air of the Rodef Sholom courtyard! Be sure to bring a picnic dinner for your family, as well as a blanket if you want to spread out on the grass (we’ll also have chairs). For the little ones, we begin the evening at 5:00 with music, fun and candle lighting with the clergy! After services, stay for s’mores and singing around the fire pit.

Dates:  August 3: 5:00 pm Jr Jews |5:45 pm Pre-oneg |6:15 pm Service
August 31: 5:45 pm Pre-oneg |6:15 pm Service
Place:   Rodef Sholom, 170 North San Pedro Road, San Rafael