Ruth Nemzoff

Isolation does not mean being isolated from one another. We are all finding new ways to reach out and communicate with each other. Just because we’re practicing physical distancing, doesn’t mean we can’t stay connected with our loved ones. 

I have compiled a list of resources to help Jewish grandparents through this difficult time. Many of these resources are intended to entertain, but also to be used as conversation starters. The end goal should be a sense of human connection! Many of these resources are Jewish, but not all. This list can be used as a series of fun activities, to deepen Jewish connection and knowledge, or to teach about another culture.

These are not all my original suggestions, but include the collective wisdom of others. 

NOTE: This is the most updated list as of March 19 at 11:15. Activities and resources are constantly changing or being created. Please add your ideas to the collection! 

Young Kids:

PJ Library has a list of resources.

Shalom Sesame is fun to watch together over Zoom screen sharing.

Distract the kids for a bit in any way you can — give their quarantined parents a bit of a break. To do this by computer or phone, create things like a puppet or music show, something the kids will focus on. Keep your expectations low in terms of how long their attention will remain. 

If you’re ordering groceries for other members of your family, have the kids walk you through their pantries, showing their favorite foods! 

Caribu.com is a video calling service which allows you to read digital storybooks to your family. You both see the pages turning, and your voice is broadcast — this can help keep kids’ attention better than a book they can only see through a webcam.

School age kids:

You can go museum hopping.

See if you can join their online classes or Zoom in for homework hour. Their parents might appreciate a tutor!

If your grandkids have a hobby or are learning a skill (music, for instance), you can help by talking about it with them, looking at their work or sitting with them while they practice. 

You can raise plants together! Buy the same type of seedling, and chart their growth.

Suggested by poet Wendy Mnookin: Hold classes for your grandkids — teach them poetry by Facetime, maybe, at a consistent time during the week. Some good resources: Wishes, Lies and Dreams; and Rose, Where Did You Get That Red? both by Kenneth Koch and available on Amazon.

Jewish Women’s Archive have a scavenger hunt.

Have the big cousins read to the little cousins virtually . This will keep both of them busy for a short while anyway!

Tweens, teens and older:

Kveller lists Jewish TV shows to watch.

You can listen to the Metropolitan Opera nightly.

There are virtual board games you can play: scrabble, chess, etc. 

You can play online games for learning Hebrew.

You can cook together — teach them a recipe as you Zoom into each others’ kitchens, and see how each of your creations turn out! You can always have the family taste-test.

You and your grandchild can create a playlist together.

The Rose Art Museum have a digital collection. You might use virtual museum tours by finding something which sparks interest in your grandchild and then conducting further research on the topic together, finding new resources all over the net. 

Listen and discuss these Feminist podcasts with your grandkid! 

Similarly, enjoy these activities from Hadassah.

Join the Forward’s book club!

JNF has a schedule of activities.

Jewish Women’s Archive are holding a book club.

*Note: While resources have been sorted into age categories, many of them can be enjoyable for multiple age groups, depending on your own and your grandchild’s interests. 

If you have any questions for Dr. Ruth Nemzoff, The American Israelite’s advice columnist, please send them to publisher@americanisraelite.com.

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