Susan Barth
Marriage Education, Enrichment / Enhancement & Advocacy

A True Tu B’Av Love Story – I Will Support YOU!

The emphasis on Love on Tu B’Av provides a perfect backdrop for focusing on those “messages” exchanged by couples “in love” which resonate the most, and in my case it is the phrase “I will support YOU whatever you decide to do” that personifies the heart and soul of Tu B’Av. That phrase constitutes  the  words uttered by my mother( Feigel bat Tuvia Nisan z”l ) to my father (Esir ben Avraham Benyamin z’l), and it encapsulates the fifty two year  “made in heaven”  marriage of my parents. Not only do these words represent one of the top qualities which epitomize a happy marriage, but in my parents’ case, they represented the culmination of a journey which in the spirit of Tu B’Av resulted from a shidduch.

 The Shidduch

In brief, the match of my parents was thanks to the Uncle who along with his wonderful wife adopted my mother after she became orphaned by the age of four from the loss of her father when she was two and her mother when she was four. Whether the uncle thought that as an aspiring young lawyer, my father would monetarily provide for a secure financial future or because of the fact that my father was one of ten children of a solid family is unknown, but he could not have selected a couple more suitably matched to one another in terms of midot and mutual affection. The mutual respect and esteem in which they held each other was apparent to anyone.


All of these qualities, however, were put to the test when my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease which unfortunately consumed 18 years of her life, seven of which were during the lifetime of my father. From an independent couple, in short order the complications of the disease reared its ugly head to transforming my father into the primary caregiver with all its pain and travails (especially poignant since he was suffering himself from macular degeneration of the eyes rendering him nearly blind). It was my father who bore the brunt of the physical and mental deterioration of his beloved wife.  And for anyone who has had the misfortune of watching the disease progress, it renders the person from a functioning person to one completely dependent and in many ways with a personality transformation which is often hostile and belligerent. This change was the saddest to witness since my mother z”l was such an angel in her personality and mannerisms.

The Love That Cannot be Denied

It is during this period of seven years of darkness, which I am addressing as the true demonstration of LOVE and Character that even a disease as horrendous as Alzheimer’s cannot eradicate.

My mother at the time of this episode was suffering from the throes of the disease and could not speak except some undistinguished sounds and it was unclear if she could recognize even family members.

However, I will never forget this scene which I was witness to and represents the heart of the Tu B’Av message I want to convey. As background, my father was very active in his synagogue having inherited the leadership responsibility from his father. At the time of this scene, my father was debating whether he should continue in the capacity of gabbi for the synagogue since he was already serving for 25 years – (in addition to many years as President also). I was in the company of both my parents, and I inquired what my father’s thoughts were – and my mother who had not been able to articulate a cogent sentence, spoke out in the most heartwarming direct and clear manner by saying these words:


To say that we were stunned by the clarity and the articulated manner which my mother expressed her thoughts is an understatement. But it also showed the depth of their marriage and the legacy they had left which even a disease could be eradicate.

The Essence of Marriage

And since Tu B’Av is all about love, it is my parent’s marriage that sets the bar for what marriage should aspire to represent. After the death of my mother, and in trying to come up with a project that would symbolize what she and my father stood for, it was clear that spreading awareness of what their marriage represented was of critical importance to share.

The question of finding the right vehicle for sharing their marriage was also a non brainer as the  creation of the non profit Together in Happiness/B’Yachad B’Osher in my parents’ memory has been a platform for advocacy  for the cause of what healthy and happy marriages can contribute to society – and especially in the arena of marriage education/enrichment. And for the last ten years, our non profit has faithfully advocated for marriage education/enrichment to be a standard for conveying the character and values of a healthy and happy marriage – one which resembles the marriage which  I merited to observe first hand from growing up in my parents’ home.

And I am certain that on this Tu B’Av, in particular – my parents would encourage everyone to put marriage on the top of their “bucket list” and to imbue it with harmony, mutual respect, growth and most of all to discover ways to SUPPORT ONE ANOTHER with lavish portions of love and mutual concern for each other’s mental and physical and emotional and spiritual health.

Have a Happy Tu B’Av

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