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Parenting The Chain of Tradition: Linking Grandparents and Grandchildren

By Erica Streit-Kaplan
old and young hands touching

This teaching is adapted from Torah Today, by Pinchas Peli

The very last act Jacob performed was to meet his grandchildren…. Upon meeting them for the last time in his life, he declares (Genesis 48:5): “Your two sons who were born to you in Egypt before I came are mine.” To make sure that the dream of Israel is not buried in Egypt, Jacob turns to the younger generation…the blessing is directed to Joseph’s children, not to Joseph.

Furthermore, Jacob is not concerned about his own children, the first generation of immigrants, who still remember “the old country” and the traditional home of Jacob in which they grew up. To make sure that the chain of tradition continues, he tries to communicate with the third generation, his grandchildren. For that relationship to be meaningful, one has to be able to transmit to grandchildren the tradition one received from grandparents…Jacob realized that grandparents, no less than parents, carry the responsibility for the fate and faith of their grandchildren.

Questions to consider:

Why does Joseph bring his sons to his father’s bedside in the first place? What expectations does he have of his father?

What sort of responsibilities are carried by today’s grandparents?  How have expectations between the generations shifted?


This selection comes from Hebrew College’s Grandparenting Through a Jewish Lens, supported by CJP. To learn more or to find a class near you, visit here. Grandparenting Through a Jewish Lens is one of several Community Learning programs offered by Hebrew College. 



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