Susan Barth
Advocate for Marriage Education in Israel

Masada Shall Rise Again – with Love and National Commitment

Any reflection on the 9 Days of Mourning may include Masada among the tragedies which punctuate the significant events of this time period. This year, I became captivated with the human drama which unfolded during those 4 years of seize by the Romans against the fortress held by 900 men and women and children against the thousands of Roman legionaries and their recruits. Masada indeed has become our national symbol of heroism and defiance as exemplified by the IDF swearing- in its “Masada Shall Never Fall Again” ceremony.

What actually happened is subject to debate by the historian Josephus, but what is generally understood is that each family chose to die rather than submit themselves to Roman slavery.

The emphasis here is on the “family” as it is the heart of what made the decision so agonizing for the beleaguered Jews who had escaped to Masada from Jerusalem and other parts of the country.

At the end of the day, our history is replete with “life and death” decisions tied to our Jewish families and our survival as a people. Which brings us to the necessity of preserving the “family unit” as the foundation of our nation. If ever there is a message to take away during the Nine Days it is how the “senseless hatred” which was the purported cause for the destruction of the 2nd Temple needs to be transformed to “senseless love” starting with our families.

To make such a transformation possible, education is required. Such education needs to take place at the level of the core constituents of the family – the couple and it needs to start prior to the couple becoming a “family”.

Pre- marriage education has proven to be a methodology for providing the skills and resources essential for ensuring that a couple starts off their marriage with the best foundation possible. Scientifically proven curriculum have demonstrated that couples can learn how to relate to each other without fighting and gain the communication and problem solving skills that will serve as an effective prevention against  the pain and anguish caused by divorce.

The nonprofit Together in Happiness/B’Yachad B’Osher has advocated the importance and necessity for pre- marriage and relationship education for Israelis for the last ten years.  The subject received a historic boost from within the corridors of the Knesset when the non- profit co-hosted a Knesset session with MK Yehudah Glick, which was attended by a number of Knesset members and the public as described in a previous blog.

What is needed now is a national movement to promote pre- marriage education and raise the banner on the importance of preserving the family unit. We as a nation cannot afford to be split by inter family alienation and divorce which in many cases has generational implications.

We have pledged on the hills of Masada “Never Again” – we need to rally around the family and commit ourselves to initiatives such as pre- marriage education that have proven to be solutions for unifying and preventing family fragmentation. A national movement demanding pre- marriage and relationship education will be a giant step in reversing the family dissolution and cementing couple unity for generations to come.

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