For Lloyd Levin and Sheri Miller Levin, a new program at the Milwaukee Jewish Federation has been a family bonding opportunity.
The Levins participated in the first local cohort of G2, formally known as the Global Intergenerational Initiative. The program is part of Partnership2Gether by the Jewish Agency for Israel. Using a curriculum by director Jay Weinstein, the program allows grandparents and their fifth- or sixth-grade grandchildren to participate in intergenerational communication and learning.
The program began in a pilot phase last year then expanded internationally this year, said Rabbi Hannah Wallick, the vice president of outreach, Israel and overseas for the Federation.
For more information about G2, contact Rabbi Hannah Wallick at HannahW@ MilwaukeeJewish.org or 414-390-5764.
The Levins told the Federation that G2 has allowed them to share their values and to learn their grandson’s.
“What we found when we talked about Jewish values for the three of us, the highest priority was tikkun olam, repairing the world,” Sheri Miller Levin said. “We learned something about each other.”
Wallick said the program uses Weinstein’s curriculum as the basis for its classes, which take place on Sunday afternoons. During the one-and-a-half-hour long sessions, participants discuss different Jewish concepts and values like tzedakah and family stories, Wallick said. The grandparents also passed on a family heirloom to their grandchildren.
Most of the classes took place at Congregation Shalom in Fox Point.
After 10 sessions, Wallick said the program culminates in a trip to Israel. The trip is focused on experiential opportunities that would appeal to both the grandparents and the grandchildren, Wallick said. Activities include a ropes course in Jerusalem and a visit to an Ethiopian aliyah absorption center.
The Federation has a partnership region in northern Israel called Sovev Kinneret. During the trip, Wallick said the families from Milwaukee would meet families from the partnership region, who have been participating in a parallel program. While in Sovev Kinneret, the Milwaukee families will stay with the Israeli families.
“There’s a real people-to-people connection element to this program,” Wallick said. “It’s unlike any other family trip to Israel you can take.”
The first cohort began with 11 families and ended with seven, Wallick said. She expects the second cohort, which will begin classes in January, to be about the same size. Families are welcome to participate if either the grandparent or grandchild lives in Milwaukee.
The trip to Israel is not mandatory.
Wallick said the class sessions are free, but the families must pay for the trip. She said the Federation is open to different family arrangements for the trip, as a grandparent-grandchild trip to Israel is not right for all families.
“I think the key to success is just being open to all family needs and configurations, because any part of this program that people participate in is meaningful and valuable,” Wallick said.
Lloyd Levin told the Federation he has had a “terrific” experience allotting time to participate in the activities as a family. Sheri Miller Levin said the G2 program would have a lasting impact.
“This will be a lifetime experience, one we will never forget, and certainly one (our grandson) will never forget,” she said.