Intergenerational Divergence

Judaism is a religious culture that places an intense emphasis on continuing the chain of tradition through the context of the family. Yet in an ever-changing contemporary world, families often disagreesometimes in fundamental waysabout how to live this life. Faced with this disagreement between generations, some choose to ignore these differences, focusing instead on the seemingly uninterrupted flow of history within families. However, reflecting on intergenerational divergence offers important insights on the fundamental nature of family, faith communities, and religion in the contemporary world.

Intergenerational Divergence: Our Central Questions

1. Family Narratives and Intergenerational Divergence: How does the way we tell our family’s story impact our family?

2. Dignity in Difference: Can intergenerational divergence be a road to fostering a greater intimacy and growth in a family?

3. Intergenerational Difference and the Jewish Tradition: How can families share a tradition while choosing to practice it differently?


In this episode of the 18Forty Podcast, we sit down with Rabbi Daniel Grama—rabbi of Westside Shul and Valley Torah High School—and his daughter Aliza—a former Bais Yaakov student and recovered addict—about navigating their religious and other differences.
In this episode of the 18Forty Podcast, we talk to Rabbi Robyn Frisch—a Reform rabbi who works with interfaith families—and her son Benji—who now identifies as Orthodox and learns in the Mir Yeshiva—about the rewards and challenges of religious diversity in the family.
In this episode of the 18Forty Podcast, we talk to Rabbi Menachem Penner—dean of RIETS at Yeshiva University—and his son Gedalia—a musician, cantor-in-training, and member of the LGBTQ community—about their experience in reconciling their family’s religious tradition with Gedalia’s sexual orientation.
In this episode of the 18Forty Podcast, we talk to Andrew Solomon - a Pulitzer Prize finalist - about intergenerational divergence, as well as his book, Far from the Tree, which was in some ways the very inspiration for this topic.




Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity

Andrew Solomon

An award-winning book from a writer famous for deeply human profundity, Far from the Tree is a powerful exploration of the question that every family faces in their own ways: how people who love each other work to accept each other for who they are, while helping them become their best selves. Solomon documents with exquisite compassion families with intergenerational divergence, considering families living with deafness, schizophrenia, or criminality, and others with children who are prodigies and those who differ in their gender or sexual identities from their familial culture. In each case, Solomon considers the great beauty and love that can emerge from these differences, and how ordinary families have grown to love each other.