Susan Barth
Advocate for Marriage Education in Israel

For The Maidens on Tu B’AV – NOW WHAT?

Image from the cover of "In Holy Matrimony" (courtesy)
Image from the cover of "In Holy Matrimony" (courtesy)

Picture the maidens dancing in Jerusalem in search of their partner on Tu B’Av, and then imagine the DAY AFTER when the maidens successfully find their intended and ask the question “NOW WHAT?” The answer has been tried and found successful and yet requires a communal response to find its full expression.

The Rabbinical and lay leader “Peace Corp” for Marriage Education

One response to the question of “What ‘s Next” which has been successful in communities outside of Israel is to establish a “Peace Corp” supported by  the rabbinical and lay leadership community in the form of advocating the conducting of marriage education workshops in the synagogue. Such a framework has the potential of:

  • Attracting a widespread acceptance for marriage education
  • Breaking down the taboo and stigma which is now a big deterrent in couples receiving the marriage education
  • Offering a proactive skill based complement to the signing of the pre-nuptial agreements

Recruiting Rabbinic couples and Lay mentor couples

The idea of having Rabbi and Rebbetzin couples engaged in offering marriage education courses has gained traction in communities outside of Eretz Yisrael.

Five Star Bride and Groom Marriage Course

For example, the Chabad Lubavitch of Markham co-directors, Rabbi and Rebbitzen Plotkin (the Rebbetzin who delivered the Torah Perspective Keynote address at the November  8 Knesset meeting on Premarital Education co hosted by nonprofit Together in Happiness) offer and conduct a popular Five Star Bride and Groom Marriage Course.

Community Based Premarital Prevention

Likewise, clergy and lay leaders in the marriage education field in the United States have been trained in the marriage curriculum of PREP (Prevention Relationship Education Program) to offer workshops to engaged and newly married couples.  A study conducted by Professors Scott Stanley and Howard Markman on Community Based Premarital Prevention showed that clergy and lay leaders  were just as effective if not more than university staff in facilitating the workshops.

Mini centers of Shalom Bayit

A concept of marriage mentoring has also become popular in the States, The idea is to train an experienced couple in a premarital curriculum and pair them with a younger couple.

By training the couples, mini centers of shalom bayit have just been created. And a powerful message has been sent to the communities that marriage matters and the children are the ultimate beneficiaries.

I personally have facilitated workshops in several synagogues and can attest that they are fertile territory as a venue for promoting marriage education mentoring.

Rabbinical support for the model

Rabbinical support for the model could come in the various forms depending on your level of interest and time:

  • Participation in a Rabbinic advisory capacity
  • Working to develop the actual model with fleshing out its details
  • Active recruitment of rabbinic couples and mentor couples
  • Becoming trained facilitators for conducting marriage education workshops

It Takes a Village

In the states the Rabbinical and lay communities have been the trendsetters in advocating for premarital education – whether in the form of requiring a couple to take a premarital course as a requirement in order to officiate at the wedding, or actually directly involving themselves in becoming the facilitators for marriage education courses.

The Case for Marriage Education   details the extensive surveys and research which has proven that premarital education is not only cost effective, but also works to reduce divorces and enhance marriages with skill and empirically researched curriculum

The “Peace Corp” model creates the It Takes a Village Approach to the promulgation of premarital education and will serve as a catalyst for removing the stigma and replacing it with a collective advocacy movement in Eretz Yisrael. We owe that to the next generation and we will truly answer the What’s Next question for the maidens whose dance will be enduring. Let this Tu B’Av hold the hope that Love ALWAYS WINS if it is giving the proper soil to flourish. Premarital education provides the foundation for the couple to establish a bayit ne’eman in Eretz Yisrael – give it a try.

For further information or thoughts please write me at marriageconf@gmail.com

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
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