Jewish learning “Giving with a Warm Hand”
“In our relationships with our grandchildren, we have a role as storyteller. And it is in this storytelling that we transmit our values to our grandchildren. We are not the parents; we’ve already raised our children. Now our role is to let our children parent.” With these guiding words, Leann Shamash gently and respectfully engaged us throughout the course, Grandparenting Through a Jewish Lens.
We were a class of grandparents from across the experience spectrum (I was an expectant grandparent at the beginning of the semester our granddaughter was born the day before the last class). We were a self-selected group: interested in engaging as grandparents in a mindful way.
Over the course of our discussions, common themes of the American immigrant experience, Jewish values, and interfaith marriage rapidly emerged. What was especially amazing, however, was how we came together as a virtual group. Leann encouraged us all to write a story for our grandchildren and to share the story for the last class. I am sure that I was not the only participant interested in what my fellow classmates would share. And the stories were truly wonderful – vivid representations of personalities and perspectives told with love and humor.
I appreciate that I am in the rare and wonderful position of beginning the adventure of grandparenting while my own mother is here to celebrate her role as great-grandmother (“Call me GG,” she says). With a keen eye on preserving the past for the future, my mother and I are chronicling her stories, ideas, and beliefs with a wonderful online resource, StoryWorth. The website prompts us with questions about her past and present or allows us to write our own chapters. These stories have provided me with a venue to digitize and share the wonderful photographs my father took over the years to chronicle our childhood and growth into adulthood.
My mother is currently gifting her favorite jewelry to her grandchildren; she calls this “giving with a warm hand.” With the experience of Grandparenting Through a Jewish Lens I see that my mother’s storytelling is also, and perhaps more profoundly, giving with a warm hand. Through her stories, she is communicating the importance of family, education, goal setting and achievement, of love and commitment. I am grateful to have recognized through this course the importance of storytelling to keep memories of loved ones alive for generations. I look forward to being a storyteller to my granddaughter, Claire and hope that she too, will continue this tradition long into the future.
Michele Adelman, the proud new grandmother of Claire Stockley Adelman, lives in Lexington, MA with her husband Edward. The Adelmans are long time members of Congregation Beth Elohim in Acton, MA. Michele connected with Hebrew College thorough CBE where Leann Shamash spent many years as their beloved religious school principal and “Purim Shpiel” director.
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