Susan Barth
Advocate for Marriage Education in Israel

Senseless Love — The Antidote to the Chabad of Poway Shootings

“A person of unconditional love” was the emotional description by Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein of Lori Gilbert-Kaye, the shooting victim of the Chabad of Poway terror attack. Others described her as a “true eshet chayil – a woman of valor,” who left behind “a devastated husband and a 22-year-old daughter.” Indeed it was her physician husband who fainted after discovering that the person to whom he was administering CPR after the shooting was his wife.

The shocking scene was all too reminiscent of the Pittsburgh shooting exactly six months ago and the horrific Mumbai massacre of Chabad Shluchim (emissaries of the Lubavitch Rebbe) Rabbi Gabi and Rivky Holtzberg HY”D.

There is, however, a cord that binds these three attacks together in a positive sense and that is the unequivocal response to galvanize all forces to combat evil and demonstrate Only “Senseless Love”.

The question of how to achieve this “Senseless Love” is one that will take many iterations, but at the core there must be an acknowledgement that the effort will require emotional, physical, spiritual and material investment of energy and resources.

One such approach to memorialize and pay tribute to the victims is to follow the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe z”l, whose emphasis on the significance of Ahavat Yisrael (love of all fellow Jews) and the centrality of shalom bayit were legendary. Regarding the preciousness and sanctity of real sharing between husband and wife, the Rebbe once told Dr. Ira Weiss: “The time I spend with my wife each day is as important to me as putting on tefillin, the fulfillment of a Divine command.”

Likewise, the Rebbe inspired the initiative of the Knesset which on November 8, 2017 convened a seminar co-hosted by MK Yehudah Glick and the non-profit Together in Happiness/B’Yachad B’Osher discussing Pre-Marriage Education as a potentially legal component of Israeli marriage.

The teachings of the Rebbe also are a major impetus for the imminent publication of a major monograph by the non-profit which will offer a model for expanding the national impact of Marriage Education in Israel. Developed by Together in Happiness/B’Yachad B’Osher, the model includes:

  • A national clearinghouse for promotion, advocacy, and programming of Marriage Education initiatives;
  • Raising awareness about the importance of Marriage Education as an important intervention for couples and means for strengthening families and the well-being of communities;
  • Advocating for governmental funding for Marriage Education

Initiatives such as these are intended to make “Senseless Love” a major weapon to mobilize an international movement to foster Ahavat Yisrael and Unity across the globe and to make the actualization of a Peace Corp for Marriage Education a national imperative.

It must be noted that the attack of Chabad of Poway comes at a time which also focuses on the idea propagated by the legendary Rabbi Akiva of “Love your fellow as yourself—this is a fundamental principle in Torah.”

The love story of Rabbi Akiva and his “eshet chayil” Rachel is a model of “Senseless Love” as it was due to her display of “unconditional love” and sacrifice which enabled the transformation of the shepherd Akiva to the great Rabbi Akiva. The mutual respect and dedication each had for the other truly personifies the principles advocated in marriage education and is a generational reminder of what may be achieved through dedication and commitment to Torah values and Love for your Fellow which in this case was for the Fellow spouse and family member.

May we dedicate ourselves to creating the pathways for “Senseless Love” to eradicate the “Senseless Hatred” such as occurred at Chabad of Poway.

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