On this week’s episode of the Seekers of Meaning TV Show and Podcast, Rabbi Address welcomes Lee Hendler and David Raphael, founders of the Jewish Grandparents Network.
As a nationally recognized community leader and educator, and a mother and grandmother, Lee M. Hendler had long been aware of the under-recognized roles grandparents play as essential members of today’s changing families and as vital links to Jewish traditions and values.
In 2017, Lee shared her thoughts with David Raphael, who was soon to become a first-time grandfather. The Jewish Grandparents Network (JGN) emerged from this conversation.
Through Hendler’s and Raphael’s research, focus groups, and one-on-one conversations they heard of the opportunity to engage grandparents in innovative experiences to help them pursue their complex and essential roles with confidence and joy.
They also heard stories from others that reflected a major gap in the Jewish community. The Jewish communal world had a clear focus on young families but had not yet expanded that focus to include grandparents in meaningful ways. In that gap they saw the need for the Jewish Grandparents Network.
In four years, the Jewish Grandparents Network has become the recognized authority on today’s Jewish grandparents.
JGN conducted the first National Study of Jewish Grandparents in 2019 in collaboration with 17 Jewish partner organizations. It has engaged grandparents, family members, professionals, and community leaders in a broad array of workshops, initiatives, seminars, and consultations. Hendler and Raphael see the impact of their efforts not only in the organization’s initiatives but also in the growing number of organizations in the Jewish community that now actively seek to include grandparents in their work.
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About the Guests
Beyond decades of involvement with her family’s charitable foundations and leadership roles in a number of Jewish and communal organizations, Lee is the creator of Freedom’s Feast, a civics initiative that helps to raise the next generation of citizens through the celebration of our national holidays. She is the past president of her congregation, Chizuk Amuno and author of The Year Mom Got Religion: One Woman’s Mid-life Journey into Judaism. Lee lives in Baltimore and is the proud “Gromzy” to six wonderful grandchildren. She loves the company of her adult children, their partners, and a very big, red dog named “Clifford.”
David Raphael is the co-founder and CEO of the Jewish Grandparents Network. A graduate of Albany University and the Columbia University School of Social Work, David 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 was also the founding Executive Director of the Floortime Foundation and the Executive Director of the Maryland Teen Initiative. David and his wife Jo live in Atlanta, have three grown children, two grandchildren, and Maddie the dog.