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Community BlogPracticing the Art of Grandparenting: Connecting virtually over our shared role as grandparents

One of the many privileges of getting older is the opportunity to be blessed with grandchildren. Some of us never had the opportunity to know our own grandparents while others had the gift of relationships with loving grandparents. Regardless of our personal histories, or whether we are grandparents or soon-to-be grandparents, we were brought together to share stories, thoughts and ideas in this brilliantly led Grandparenting Through a Jewish Lens course.

Due to the pandemic the class, which was originally scheduled to take place in person at Congregation Or Atid in Wayland, shifted online. This provided me the opportunity to connect with my beloved Or Atid community, zooming in from Rockville, Maryland, where my husband and I moved 12 years ago.

Our instructor, Leeann Shamash, facilitated inclusive, lively, emotional and spiritual conversations that led to reflective and inspiring conversations in which we shared our wishes and dreams to enrich our experiences as grandparents. We shared experiences and tips regarding relationships with our adult children – our initial path to the grandparenting world.

A discussion around Jewish virtues compelled each of us to look deeply into our souls to evaluate which values are most important to us and in turn, what we want to pass on to our next generations. We learned about practicing patience, and how to tell a good story for our grandchildren to absorb. We learned about Tzimtzum (“contraction” in Hebrew), respecting the other grandparents in our children’s lives, and how to be mindful of our own role as grandparents.

Leeann left us with many words of wisdom with continuous reminders that “this is our race to run.” She also helped us realize that the gifts we each bring to our grandparenting role are truly unique.

I can’t say enough about how enjoyable and impactful this experience was. I am seriously hoping for a second semester.

Barbara Winer is a student in the Hebrew College Grandparenting Through a Jewish Lens program. She and her husband David are founding members of Congregation Or Atid in Wayland Massachusetts and remain connected to the community despite the distance. They have two grandchildren who reside in Wayland, ages (almost) 8 and 4 years old.