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Susan Barth
Advocate for Marriage Education in Israel

Ode to the Children – Our Marching Orders

What were your thoughts during the 2 minutes the sirens sounded for today’s commemoration of the Holocaust victims on Yom HaShoah?

Mine were focused primarily on the loss of the approximately 1.5 million Jewish children who were murdered during the Holocaust.[1] I was taken back to my haunting visit to the Children’s Memorial at Yad Vashem and my feelings of the enormity of the loss as the names of murdered children, their ages and countries of origin were heard in the background.

For anyone who has not visited the memorial, here is a preview from a video produced by Yad Vashem with the words of the architect Moshe Safdie.

https://youtu.be/BsJqKdN9B3A

The Loss of the Children is OUR LOSS

One thought dominated my consciousness during the siren and that was that these children would NEVER have the opportunity to grow, get married and have children of their own. The words and music of the song Only for the Children/Ariel’s Song by writer Joel Sussman of one of my favorite old time singing groups Safam express my thoughts with the lyrics:

Only for the children do we live,
Only through the children can we give,
Only for tomorrows that they bring
Can our lives mean anything, I pray,
The children are our future here today.[2]

One of the privileges of living in Eretz Yisrael is the pride one has in raising a family and watching that family grow in freedom and in our Jewish homeland. For those children who were murdered, their futures were severed and their hopes and dreams left unfulfilled.

And to reinforce the point, I watched with awe the ceremony last night and one thought kept reverberating as I watched and listened to the testimony of the Holocaust survivors selected for lighting the torches –  the expression of the survivors of the pride of creating a legacy with their own families in Eretz Yisrael. The fact that they were able to make Aliyah and marry and have not only children, but grandchildren and great grandchildren – was the greatest response to the loss of the children and those murdered in the Holocaust. The emphasis that they placed on the roots they established via the families they raised was the greatest statements of what families mean to them and its ripple influence for the survival of our people.

My “VOW”

And during those two minutes of the sirens during Yom HaShoah, I thanked Hashem for the privilege to live in Israel and prayed for the privilege of watching my own grandchildren grow up in Israel  and please Hashem to also contribute to the state and our people in meaningful ways. In addition, also I prayed and made my own Vow (bli neder) that I be granted the good health in all respects to dedicate myself to memorializing the children murdered in the Holocaust,  and helping support those marriages which they never will have the opportunity to experience themselves.

My “vow” was to continue the work of promoting marriage education and particularly pre marriage education for dating, engaged and newly married couples in Israel. And to encourage other Village members to join the movement which will be discussed in full in our soon to be published upcoming book on the topic of Marriage Education. The book will share the why and the how to become a participant in the marriage education movement currently under the banner Project Chayei Sarah.

 

Project Chayei Sarah

When Project Chayei Sarah was announced in a prior blog, Project Chayei Sarah – A Vote for Marriage Education, I envisioned a mobilization of resources dedicated to advancing healthy and happy marriages. And in outlining a six point plan, I wanted various sectors to pick up the gauntlet and find expression in the spheres of their respective influence.

In particular I wanted to offer a type of smorgasbord of possibilities which would include these goals:

Goals of the project – to Encourage the following activities:

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

And

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. Our amuta Together in Happiness recently conducted a comprehensive survey of the Hebrew and English resources for accessing marriage education courses. Our upcoming book will specify the findings; however, in the interim we are happy to share that information.

 

Our Response – Continue to Build our Nation – One Healthy Marriage at a Time

These days provide ample opportunity for reflection on what kind of future we want for our “children”.

It is truly a fascinating season of days for reflection starting with today’s Holocaust observance and continuing to next week’s observance of Yom HaZikaron and underlying it all is the observance of the Omer and the loss of the 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva. Along with loss must be the commitment for resurgence and revitalization and most of all what better way than pledging ourselves to create new unions of couples who in turn have children and who add to our people with their own households.

It takes a willingness to invest and that is where we as a society need to provide the proper support and resources such as identified in Project Chayei Sarah.

I invite you to join our mission

So please write to me and say:

Yes I want to join Project Chayei Sarah _____________________________

My name _________________________

My email address ___________________________________

And email me at marriageconf@gmail.com

We owe it to those who perished to build a nation that is strong and that requires investment in insuring our couples build their own homes full of hope and testimony that out of the darkness will emerge generations in Eretz Yisrael in safe and happy homes.

 

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

[2] http://www.safam.com/safam-lyrics.shtml#encoreonlyforthechildren

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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