The Agudas Achim and Ezrath Jewish congregations combined in 2003 to form Congregation Agudas Achim - Ezrath Israel. Temple Agudas Achim-Ezrath Israel also offers programs for men and women and holds Shabbat geared towards children and families.
Bubbie, Zayde, Nanna, Poppa, Grandma, Grandpa, Oma, Opa, Saba, Savta, Whatever we call them – grandparents are play a vital role in a child's life, and grandchildren are cast in the leading role in the live of grandparents as well. I know many a grandparent who will stop complete strangers on the street to show off photos of a grandchild! (You know who you are!) As the school year draws to a close, many parents will turn to grandparents to spend more time with children who are out of school. This is a perfect opportunity for grandparents to serve their most essential role – not only of babysitter par excellence, but also of transmitter of values, family lore, love, and spoiling to the max.
I know that my grandparents played a big role in my life. My maternal grandparents, Arnold and Phyllis Rosenberg lived near us, and as my mother was an only child, my three brothers and I were the only grandchildren. My grandfather taught me many things – funny stories and jokes and songs, a love of baseball, patience, the importance of arithmetic in daily life, the importance of caring for possessions, such as his beloved Ford Mustang, of working hard at whatever job one held – he was a salesman after he closed his five and ten cent store. He had a disability – he had little use of his right arm, yet he never let that hold him back from participating fully in life. My grandmother taught me many things – a love of baking, of fine calligraphy, of acceptance of life's problems, the importance of order in one's life, a love of pithy Yiddish expressions.
I am sure that each of us can point to lessons our grandparents taught us, either intentionally, or by example. For most of us these lessons are essential parts of who we have become. I would invite each of us, who fill the role of grandparent, great-grandparent, or who play a significant role in the life of a child, to think consciously of the lessons and values that we would like to teach. Perhaps we should make a list of the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective Grandparents” that will guide us in our interactions, based on proverbs and quotes from a few wise souls.
Here are a few pieces of advice for grandparents:
Feel free to add to this list. I will be happy to compile any responses I receive over the summer and share them with the Temple community.
While grandparents, and elders in general are essential to grandchildren, we must not forget that grandparents get a great deal out of the bargain too. “Shepin naches fun the kinder” is to draw pleasure, pride, and joy from one's children and grandchildren can be one of the most wonderful experiences of a person's life.
The Talmud tell the story of an old man who was planting a fig tree when the Roman general Hadrian passed by. He was astounded to the see old man planting a tree that would take many years to bear fruit. He asked the man why he was planting – and the man answered that he was planting for his children and grandchildren, as his father and grandfather had planted for him. (Epilogue – He did live to see his tree bear fruit!) But enjoying the fruit himself was not his goal – it was to plant the seeds of a future of blessing and abundance. This summer may we all plant the seeds of love and kindness, setting the example of commitment and constancy with those we love. And may you all – grandparents and grandchildren, parents and significant people in the lives of children, enjoy an ample harvest of much naches – ice cream, ball games, movies, a few shabbosim – a few noshes now and then, some laughs and songs. And may you tend a garden that will bear fruit for many years to come.
Rabbi David Kudan
Holiday services will be conducted by Rabbi David Kudan, accompanied by Sexton Wayne Freedman and Cantorial Soloist Phyllis Werlin, as well as lay leaders of the Congregation. Click Services for further information on our regular services and our special holiday services.
Agudas Achim - Ezrath Israel 245 Bryant Street Malden, MA 02148