Susan Barth
Marriage Education, Enrichment / Enhancement & Advocacy

Renewal and Mission of Hope

Two prominent dates at this time of year — the Hebrew date of 15th of Shevat and the secular date of February 1 symbolize Renewal and Hope especially in these challenging times.

Tu BiShvat– the 15th of Shevat

Ask just about any Jewish child in Israel what holiday starts tonight and you will learn that it is the holiday of Tu BiShvat – the New Year for Trees.  Growing up in the States, my personal association was the “break your teeth” Carob imported fruit, but in Eretz Yisrael, it has become customary to conduct a Seder with up to 15 different selections. But at its essence it is the symbol of the Tree emerging from their winter sleep and begin a new fruit-bearing cycle.

New Year of Marriage

What every child may not be aware of is that Tu BiShvat is also an auspicious date to start a “New Year of Marriage.”  In this year of volatility when we get the daily count of the victims of Corona and the latest upcoming election polls, it is a tantalizing thought to switch gears to contemplating “A New Year of Marriage.” The real question is what would that Marriage look like – what would the seeds that could be planted akin to the trees consist of?

The Seeds for the Future

In a report of a fascinating study conducted by Shlomo A. Sharlin surveying Long Term marriages in Israel, as part of an international study, he identified what were considered the most important ingredients chosen by the couples sampled:

The top characteristics cited were:

  • Mutual Trust
  • Loyalty and fidelity
  • Love
  • Mutual support
  • Mutual appreciation
  • Mutual respect
  • Making major decisions together
  • Reliability

These seeds if planted and nurtured properly could provide the best foundation for A New Year of Marriage and certainly worth the investment of time and money to see actualized!

Mission of Hope – February 1

One of the most poignant documentaries that I have seen is entitled Space Shuttle Columbia: Mission of Hope. It is the story of the late Colonel Ilan Ramon z”l and the personal events of his life which fueled his journey leading up to the fatal crashing of the Columbia and the death of all of the crew on that fateful February 1, 2003. Ironically for me the crash occurred on my last Shabbat before making Aliyah, and I juxtapose each year the emotions of my journey continuing in Eretz Yisrael and his being terminated in such a horrific manner.

The documentary provides incredible insights into our own history as a people who emerged from the ashes of the Holocaust to the birth of our nation, and yet it is the personal pictures that you see into the life of Colonel Ramon and his late wife Rona that stands out so much to me.

From the description of the first time she visited his home and saw a piano and Ilan Ramon holding a broom to clean up for her to his sending his expressions of public love to Rona and his children from the Shuttle in Hebrew in front of the world – you  witness clearly a couple whose love and respect was exemplary.

They clearly symbolized to me a couple who would send messages of hope and encouragement to couples today to dream big and start and nurture A New Year of Marriage!

Here is a tribute to Ilan and Rona Ramon z”l

Launching  A New Year of Marriage

How can we as Jews take these defining events which are symbols of our perseverance and hope and inject a New Year of Marriage with optimism? For starters you can join the conversation that we are starting this coming Shevat 27 which is Tuesday February 9.

Conversation on Marriage Education and Pre-nuptial Agreements

The event will feature “A Conversation on Marriage Education and particularly Pre -Marriage and Newlywed Education and Pre-nuptial Agreements”. Both are essential tools for ensuing the success of a New Year of Marriage.

In the case of marriage education, there is considerable research which I conducted in conjunction with the Knesset Seminar for Pre Marriage Education that it works in improving communication skills; improving the ability to handle and resolve conflict, and reducing the risk of divorce.

The event which is the launch of our amuta Together in Happiness/B’Yachad B’Osher’s Project Chayei Sarah is being co- hosted by the Givat Sharett Chesed Committee Simcha Gemach (of Beit Shemesh) in memory of Feigel bat Tuvia Nisan z”l and in partnership with IYIM International Young Israel Movement & the Jewish Agency and Rabbinical Council of America – Israel.

The Free event will take place on Zoom Tuesday February 9/27 Shevat from 8PM – 9PM

The link for registration is:

Your Participation Matters

The Event  is a wonderful opportunity to talk about how A New Year of Marriage could be enhanced with exposure to knowledge of what will give the best basis for the qualities mentioned in the long term study to be internalized into every couple’ marriage.

We need to take the occasion of Tu BiShvat and the love story of Colonel Ilan and Rona Ramon and pledge ourselves to our own stories of renewal and hope and that will ensure that The New Year of Marriage truly becomes a Year of Shalom Bayit for generations to come.

About the Author
Susan (Sarah) Barth is founder and director of Israeli non profit Together in Happiness/B'Yachad B'Osher, promoting stronger, healthier marriages impacting Israeli and English speaking countries' societies. 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 a historic Knesset seminar promoting government support for pre-marriage education