New data provides an in-depth picture of Jewish grandparents in an age of complexity and change.
The first-ever national study of Jewish grandparents – commissioned by the Jewish Grandparents Network (JGN), in partnership with 17 national organizations and Jewish Federations – provides detailed information about the demographics, attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, and needs of this crucial family sector.
Nearly 8,000 individuals (approximately 1,000 of them from a nationally representative sample) participated in the study.
Key findings include the fact that most grandparents are committed to transmitting Jewish values; nearly half of the grandparents in the national representative sample have a child married to a non-Jewish partner; and most frequently, interactions between grandparents and their grandchildren take place in their homes and their grandchildren’s homes, around birthdays and national holidays.
According to David Raphael, co-founder and CEO of JGN, “the challenge for the Jewish community is to pivot towards the wonderful opportunity to engage grandparents in ways that ultimately bring the entire family together in meaningful Jewish experiences. Grandparents really can be partners in the Jewish engagement work that so many communities look to do.”
The study identified five segments or groupings of Jewish grandparents, based on shared attitudes and beliefs:
- Joyful Transmitters (20 percent): love being grandparents, and feel that it’s important to transmit Jewish values and beliefs.
- Faithful Transmitters (16 percent): want their grandchildren to have a strong connection to Judaism and to marry Jews.
- Engaged Secularists (23 percent): engaged grandparents, but don’t model Jewish involvement for their grandchildren.
- Wistful Outsiders (20 percent): want to be more involved with their grandchildren, but family dynamics get in the way.
- Non-Transmitters (20 percent): not Jewishly engaged nor interested in passing on Jewish practices to their grandchildren.
In the months ahead, the Jewish Grandparents Network will collaborate with educators, professionals, community leaders, and academia to further examine the study’s extensive data, as well as understand how it can inform communal and organizational priorities and practices.