Susan Barth
Advocate for Marriage Education in Israel

A Historic First in the Knesset!

“Today we made history!” was my excited refrain at the conclusion of a Knesset meeting on pre-marriage education that I cohosted with Member of Knesset Yehudah Glick last week. And to reinforce my declarative statement, I continued: “Today, the Israeli Parliament hosted a historic session where for the first time in the nation’s history, the concept of integrating marriage education as a formal and potentially legal component of Israeli marriage was discussed at the highest levels.”

For me personally, this event was the culmination of a 10-year journey to take the model of a “made in heaven” marriage of my parents that spanned 52 years, including the years when my mother suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, and find a vehicle to share it with the world. So, when I discovered the little-known subject of marriage education — it seemed like a perfect match for addressing the rising divorce rate in Israel with a remedy that might cross political and partisan lines and make a real contribution to keeping the Israeli and Jewish family intact.

And I must admit my instincts were correct, as borne out by the response to last Wednesday’s Knesset Meeting.

As an olah from the US, I sat back with pride to hear Knesset members from across the political spectrum discussed the importance of marriage and agree that the time has come to address the plague of divorce in our Jewish state and for the benefit of our families’ welfare. What struck me the most however was the congenial atmosphere which allowed each Member of Knesset, including Deputy Speaker Hilik Bar to speak on a personal level referencing their own marriages and children and concurring on the home as the foundation of our culture. This event was Israel at its finest — where there was recognition that society needs to address the future of our children’s welfare as well as the divorce implications on the next generations.

My goal in initiating the meeting, and that of our organization, Together in Happiness, was to promote pre-marriage education and demonstrate conclusively its cost and social benefits for Israeli society. Professor Howard Markman, considered the “Father of Marriage Education” used data from his scientifically researched and world acclaimed pre-marriage education curriculum PREP (Prevention Relationship Education Program) to convince the attendees of the power of pre-marriage education. Other local experts contributed their respective perspectives on how pre-marriage education can impact the economy, the family courts, and complement taharat mishpacha instruction.

The most poignant message that was delivered by Rebbetzin Goldie Plotkin, co-director of the Chabad of Markham, Thornhill, Ontario, was the reminder that marriage is a holy union and its preservation is of critical importance for our survival. This message only reinforced the continuous inspiration I received from the Lubavitch Rebbe to pursue the pivotal social need of cementing family units and to heal intra-family wounds.

Whatever the future holds in terms of actual legislative action to ensure pre-marriage education becomes a national agenda, there is no question that for those two hours the halls of the Knesset were elevated as a tribute to the Jewish home and to the values that make our Jewish people so special

Together in Happiness has the exclusive partnership to conduct workshops for engaged and newly married couples using the PREP curriculum and its adaptation known as I-PREP.

For further information contact

About the Author
Susan Barth is founder and director of Israeli non profit Together in Happiness/B'Yachad B'Osher, promoting stronger, healthier marriages impacting Israeli society. A Project Management Professional (PMP) and businesswoman from the US, Susan sponsored and chaired the First International Conference on Marriage Education in Israel (attended by over 360 professionals) in Jerusalem in memory of her parents and launched I-PREP, an innovative marriage education curriculum. On November 8, 2017, Together in Happiness co-hosted with MK Yehudah Glick a historic Knesset seminar promoting government support for pre-marriage education