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Susan Barth
Advocate for Marriage Education in Israel

Destruction and Renewal – Response to WHY?

Tonight the tenth of Tevet starts the fast day commemorating the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylonia among other reasons.

However in recent times, 10 Tevet also became the day to say kaddish for the victims of the Holocaust, many of whose day of martyrdom is unknown.

I reflected on the reasons for the fast while listening to a track of songs which were composed by the singing group Safam in its album A Brighter Day and which were dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust who perished and ended with a simple question – WHY?

In my blog “Ode to The Children – Our Marching Orders”, I reflected on the loss of the approximately 1.5 million Jewish children who were murdered during the Holocaust.[1]

I likewise lamented that that these children would NEVER have the opportunity to grow, get married and have children of their own.

A CHILD WHO WILL HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY

On a personal level, the tenth of Tevet is a day for another type of remembrance and that is the celebration of the birthday of my grandson, Tuvyeh Meir ben Leah Ayalet (my daughter). Tuyveh who will turn 8 tonight has not had an easy life in that his birth was traumatic and he was in fact resuscitated by a team of three angel physicians at Hadassah Ein Kerem and he is categorized as a special needs child and attends a special needs school. However, he is B”H alive and every day he is a joy to behold.

To me, it is poignant that he was born on the tenth of Tevet in Eretz Yisrael as a symbol of resurgence and hope for the future.  And his birth and the opportunity to grow up in Eretz Yisrael  is a response to the loss of so many children whose deaths are commemorated on the Tenth.

Why MUST we Respond?

The question of WHY posed by Safam in many respects is rhetorical and soul searching. However, it should serve as a catalyst for survivors especially during this ominous times offering hope and trepidation.

One of the historical footnotes that must be recognized is this weeks’ Torah portion Vayechi in which our patriarch Jacob gathers the twelve tribes to give his blessings. However, the irony is that the venue where he gives the blessings is foreign soil – in Egypt and the events which unfold in Egypt lead to our enslavement as a nation not our immediate return back to Eretz Yisrael.

Those of us privileged to live in Eretz Yisrael have a responsibility to do all that we can to safeguard our security – on an external and internal basis. With hope and prayers, our new government will put measures in place to protect our external security.

However, it is up to each of us to put measures in place for internal security.

And to me that translates to the subject of shalom in the home – and what we can do to ensure that our children grow up in homes where safety is our first concern. What I am referring to is the necessity for making our homes to be bastions of safety in our communications between spouses and parental and children dialogue.

The year of Hakel

Towards that end, in this year of Hakel we as a nation should promote initiatives that promote harmony and unity. My dream is to establish a Jewish GLOBAL marriage education “movement” which would be inclusive of all sectors of groups which have a potential role to play in promoting peace in the home – which would include educators, rabbis and rebbetzins and parents and grandparents and governmental and legislative officials and couples – and all others for whom the Jewish values of peace are important to sustain.

In my “movement” membership is open to all Jews who see the establishment and maintenance of Jewish homes as critical to our survival.

I previously suggested six avenues which pertain specifically to engaged and newly married couples. I will list again below

Suggested avenues for participation:

Every rabbi officiating in a wedding should adopt the policy to encourage any couple getting married to receive pre marriage education

Every synagogue in Eretz Yisrael with a congregational rabbi should encourage/authorize its rabbi to participate in an Alliance for Marriage Education and should select two or the congregation’s members to represent the synagogue. The Alliance will advise and consult on the development of programs and policies for the advancement of marriage education in Eretz Yisrael.

Chatan and Kallah instructors should incorporate marriage education components should their respective classes

 Government officials and policy makers should consider legislation and administrative funding for subsidizing pre marriage education instruction as a means of reducing the divorce rate

Engaged and Newly married Couples should invest in a marriage education course

In my plan, the couples themselves are motivated and encouraged to overcome any stigmas and participate in a marriage education course. The amuta Together in Happiness recently conducted a comprehensive survey of the Hebrew and English resources for accessing marriage education courses. The information is available by writing marriageconf@gmail.com

NEW AVENUES SOLICITED FOR ENSURING OUR PEACEFUL HOMES

In addition to the above, new avenues are solicited for inclusion in the list of items which will guarantee our Jewish homes as the key to our survival- and that means married couples of all stages.

The most important step is to start the dialogue to preserve our internal security for the sake of those Jewish children whose lives are precious and represent our future.

There are no real answers to the question of WHY the holocaust occurred, but we do have the responsibility to participate in giving our children the gift of peaceful homes and by joining my dream of a global Jewish movement for marriage education – that will be a vocal means of expressing that WE ARE COMMITTED to our future and our destiny as a treasured nation.

I would welcome hearing that you share my dream and may we turn the Tenth of Tevet from a fast day to one of celebration in the days ahead.

[1] https://www.yadvashem.org/remembrance/commemorative-sites/children-memorial.html

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