Parenting Podcast: Sustaining Life through Food and Family
My parents lived in a warmer climate then where I went to college and graduate school, so when I came home for Passover each year, I really felt like I was welcoming spring. Forsythia bloomed, and I used to take the opportunity to turn over the tiny plot of land set aside for the vegetable garden. Since my husband and I have had children, we have celebrated the Passover holiday at my parents’.
Springtime really is miraculous. I learned from my professor Reuven Kimelman that the prayer for healing and the prayer for an abundant harvest are next to each other in the weekday Amidah because they are both evidence of the same thing: that God can reverse our fortune, heal the sick and bring back crops that have been dormant for the winter. And so it seems appropriate that grandparents, having seen the wonder of rebirth in many springs and again in the miracle of their grandchildren, can help us to celebrate this miraculous time.
Listening to the parenting podcast this week with founder of Grandparents for Social Action, Sharon Morton, I thought about how grandparents could celebrate spring and the renewal of life with grandchildren in preparation of this holiday. Here are a few ideas:
1. Plant something together. If it doesn’t work to plant something outside, start seeds inside together. Then choose a person to honor and plant a tree in Israel together through JNF. Ask the grandparent to share memories of growing or harvesting food as a child. Talk about the person you honor with a tree and about the tradition of planting trees in Israel. If you live far apart, grandparents can select seed packets to mail to their grandchildren. Share digital pictures as the plants begin to grow and produce food or flowers.
2. Share. In the biblical tradition of leaving the corners of your field (pe’ah), plan to donate some vegetables from your garden to a local food bank. Or, prepare some food with fresh ingredients and deliver it to a soup kitchen or other food service. Find a food pantry in your state here. Before your vegetables grow, you can donate your chametz in preparation for Passover to coincide with your planting. By Shavuot, you should be able to donate some homegrown vegetables.
3. Eat more vegetables. Eating vegetarian is good for you and for the planet, and it’s in line with Jewish values. Grandparents and grandchildren can talk about food choices that benefit their own health as well as the planet’s, resolving to eat at least one vegetarian dinner each week. If you can’t cook together, sharing recipes is a great way to connect; discuss values; talk about memories of family members and celebrations; and give children an essential tool for growing into healthy, independent adults.
Happy Passover, and Happy Spring!
Wendy Grinberg, RJE is a URJ Parenting Specialist.