Susan Barth
Advocate for Marriage Education in Israel

There is what to celebrate on Family Day

“The tough news is we are losing the Jewish family.” These words comprised my opening speech at the Knesset Seminar on Pre Marriage Education co-hosted by our non profit Together in Happiness on November 8, 2017. They were echoed again Tuesday night February 9 at Together in Happiness’ Project Chayei Sarah’s kickoff event entitled “Let’s Start the conversation about ..Marriage Education and Prenuptial Agreements.”

NUMBERS TELL THE STORY

The stark contrast in numbers of divorces to what would be the ultimate Family picture was presented at the event.

For example:

  • There has been a whopping 435% increase in divorces of Jews from the total of 2,256 in 1970 to the most recent figures of 12,071 in 2018.[1]
  • In the year 2018, 1,168 of the 12,071 divorces were couples under the age of 30, and 538 of whom were married less than one year and another 769 married less than 2 years.[2]
  • In recent years there has been a corresponding 28% jump in unmarried cohabitating couples from 69,000 to 88,000.[3]

These numbers were presented at the Event along with other health implications of divorce and government expenditures. The reference for the findings is The Case for Marriage Education which Together in Happiness published along with five White papers.

NOW FOR THE GOOD NEWS

The Zoom event was an outstanding success attracting over a hundred and thirty registered “Village” of stakeholders who have any kind of involvement with engaged and newly married couples. This included a guest list of rabbis, rabbaniot, kallah and chatan teachers, parents and grandparents and parents of marriageable-age children, chatanim and kallot, newly & nearly married couples.

The aim was to present the tools of marriage education and prenuptial agreements for the benefit of the engaged and newly married couples.

The co-hosts for the event included:  The Givat Sharett Chesed Committee Simcha Gemach in memory of Feigel bat Tuvia Nisan z”l (Beit Shemesh) in partnership with IYIM International Young Israel Movement & the Jewish Agency and Rabbinical Council of America – Israel.

OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE OF EFFECTIVENESS

I presented the overwhelming evidence for the effectiveness of Pre-marriage Education and the impact of the world acclaimed scientifically researched curriculum I-PREP (Israel – Prevention Relationship Education Program).

Dr. Rachel Levmore of the International Young Israel Movement (IYIM) discussed the rationale for prenuptial agreements.

Rabbi Reuven Tradburks of the Rabbincal Council of America – Israel Region provided an endorsement on behalf of his Rabbinical Council for requiring pre-marriage education for each Jewish couple getting married in Israel.

How to Make Family Day a Real Celebration – the Project Chayei Sarah Way

One way to ensure that Family Day stays a celebration is to create a grassroots movement for reducing divorce and helping the couple to start marriage on the best foundation possible.

This is where Project Chayei Sarah becomes an innovative approach for implementation.

At the launch on Tuesday night, I presented the group with the six Project Chayei Sarah options for involvement with the mission of creating a momentum for helping our couples achieve the best marriages possible.

Project Chayei Sarah 6 Options for “Village” Commitments

  1. Contact 5 Rabbis/mesader kedusim to encourage couples to take a pre marriage education course before they get married or immediately afterwards
  2. Join the Alliance for Marriage Education to promote marriage education initiatives in every synagogue
  3. Promote integration of pre- marriage education into the chatan and kallah taharat hamispacha courses prior to wedding
  4. Support efforts to introduce pre-marriage subsidy legislation into the Knesset or government agency financing of pre – marriage initiatives
  5. Encourage 4 nearly and newlywed couples to take marriage education courses
  6. Brainstorm new ideas for pre marriage education

Family Day – it starts with the couple

One of the best indicators of the success of Family Day is to look at those couples whose commitment to each other carries over to the family.  A survey[4] taken of 3000 couples in four states in the United States found that participation in premarital education is associated with:

  • higher levels of marital satisfaction,
  • lower levels of destructive conflicts, and
  • higher levels of interpersonal commitment to spouses.
  • 31% decrease in the odds of divorce

These findings can transform any Family Day to one where a two parent family can truly send the message to their children that the parents are committed to each other.

And as each family commits itself at the couple level, then we as a society change the pattern from one of divorce to marriages built on love and mutual respect – all the values we can pass onto our families for today and the future.

A PICTURE WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS

For those who are interested in viewing the Event, here is the Facebook link:

https://fb.watch/3zmG5EZs7G/

THE MORE THE MERRIER

 Participation in the options of Project Chayei Sarah is open for anyone who would constitute the Village.

And for those individuals interested in participating in one of the six options, please contact info@together-in-happiness.com

[1] https://www.cbs.gov.il/he/publications/doclib/2020/nisuim2017/t12.pdf

[2] https://www.cbs.gov.il/he/publications/doclib/2020/nisuim2017/t16-18.pdf

[3] https://forward.com/news/israel/348803/why-far-more-unmarried-israeli-couples-are-living-together/

[4] Stanley, S., Amato, P., Johnson, C., & Markman, H. (2006).

Premarital education, marital quality, and marital stability: Findings from a large, random household survey. Journal of Family Psychology, 20, 117–126;

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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