A Lesson in Ritual from My Five-Year-Old Grandson by Joy Miller

My journey into Judaism started 40 years ago through marriage to my husband, Fred. I had no idea when I decided to convert how much the religion would impact my life… from lighting the Sabbath candles to celebrating the holidays with my family, these rituals have given my life meaning and purpose.

When I was least expecting it, an energetic, curious five-year-old grandson entered my life. My daughter lives a distance from the Temple and has an infant, so it’s challenging for her to attend regular Shabbat services. Therefore, I saw her challenge as my opportunity to help shape my grandson’s Jewish identity.

I drive 45 minutes to bring my grandson to family Shabbat services. During summer months, I transport him to Camp Mindy every Wednesday and Thursday to expose him to children who share his faith. This commitment to my grandson has helped mold his Jewish identity and has reaffirmed my passion for Judaism.

I am honored and proud to see my grandson’s eyes light up when he sees the candles ablaze at Shabbat services. When he asks me to say Hamotzi, when he sings the prayers, or when he practices tzedakah, I feel fulfilled because I have solidified my covenant to God through my commitment to my grandson’s Jewish education.


Joy Miller spent 40 years enjoying a rewarding career as a nurse. Since retirement, she loves cooking, reading, exercising, and spending time with friends and her two rambunctious grandsons. She and her husband Fred have been members of Temple Beth El since 1992. Joy is also the co-chair of the TriBE initiative.