The Jewish Grandparents Network began in August 2017 when co-founders Lee M. Hendler and David Raphael realized the under-recognized role of grandparents and the complex dynamics of today’s “new Jewish family.” Lee serves as president and David as CEO.
Lee worked for decades on her family’s charitable foundations and in leadership roles in many Jewish and communal organizations. She author of The Year Mom Got Religion: One Woman’s Mid-Life Journey into Judaism and is “Gromzy” to six grandchildren.
David has spent virtually all his professional career in Jewish communal service. A graduate of the Columbia University School of Social Work, he spent 30 years in Hillel, including roles as Assistant International Director, Executive Director of Hillel of Greater Baltimore and Senior Campus Liaison for Hillel International. David has one granddaughter.
The JGN website shares stories and essays by grandparents, family members and professionals along with educational and informational resources and videos on grandparenting today.
Since the onset of the pandemic, JGN has gathered anecdotal data about grandparents’ challenges, fears and frustrations, as well as the shifting roles they are playing in their families. They felt they needed quantitative data to assess current trends, so they developed a short grandparents’ survey, distributed on social media and by email, and received 291 responses. While the survey lacks the high level of external validity of the 2019 National Study of Jewish Grandparents conducted by Karen Radkowsky of Impact:NPO, the results provide important insights into how the pandemic has impacted grandparents’ roles in their families.
In many families, grandparents have stepped up and stepped in to help exhausted parents with remote learning, everyday chores and basic childcare. There is, of course, another side of the COVID experience for grandparents. Some grandparents have not seen their grandchildren since the start of the pandemic and others have yet to meet grandchildren born in the last nine months.Read the results of their findings here: https://jewishgrandparentsnetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Grandparents-and-Covid-For-WEB.pdf
There is no doubt that grandparents and their families face challenges during the pandemic and also, more broadly, in the context of today’s new and changing Jewish family. Grandparents are the ones to often guide us, but they also need the wisdom and collective support of our Jewish community.
There is no membership fee to participate in the Jewish Grandparent Network. For more information, visit jewishgrandparentsnetwork.org.