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Susan Barth
Advocate for Marriage Education in Israel

Two Yahrzeits and Family Day – The Perfect Bond

Today, the 29th of the Hebrew month of Shevat, marks the yahrzeits of Colonel Ilan Ramon  and Rabbi Yehoshua Binyamin (Josh) Gordon , two extraordinary individuals whose lives were dedicated to unifying our Jewish people – each in their respective spheres of influence. Their lives also provide the greatest symbolism for our observance tomorrow of Family Day, (Yom HaMishpacha) the 30th of Shevat  in Israel – as each exemplified the best midot and character traits of our people – our commitment to unity and peace as epitomized in our sacred Torah.

Rabbi Yehoshua Gordon z”l

As I wrote in the blog, Celebrate Family Day – the Rabbi Gordon z”l Way,  Rabbi Gordon, during his 66 years of life, demonstrated by personal example the best ideals of family whether in the “tremendous sense of gratitude towards his wife” or the establishment of 25 Chabad centers in what radio talk-show host Dennis Prager described  as largely a Jewish desert, Southern California.

In an article written on his passing entitled “Rabbi Yehoshua B. Gordon, 66, Teacher to Thousands, Passes Away in California”, the author Rabbi Menachem Posner writes:

“Rabbi Gordon had a special kind of warmth and wisdom. He was a natural ‘people person’ who was uniquely positioned to help with interpersonal issues. Beyond his work for others, both locally and globally, he was extremely dedicated to his family, to whom his care was readily apparent,” continues Kotlarsky, who was his roommate in Montreal in 1968-70 and remained a lifelong friend. “And he had a tremendous sense of gratitude towards his wife.”

Colonel Ilan Ramon z”l

Colonel Ramon symbolizes the best portrait of the ultimate Israeli – born as a second generation of a Holocaust survivor and who served in exemplary capacities in the Israeli military including his daring leadership in the Iraqi nuclear reactor destruction, at heart he was dedicated to service and family.

As referenced in my blog Renewal and Mission of Hope, 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.

Love for the Family

In the book, Above Us Only Sky – The Diaries of Ilan and Asaf Ramon[1], numerous love letters are included of the exchanges between Colonel Ramon z”l and his wife Rona expressing his commitment to his wife and family. His appreciation to his wife for her support was evident along with his recorded video during the space mission translating for the world his expressions of love to Rona and his family.

A Legacy for Family Day – Peace

Ilan Ramon z”l selected as one of his songs for the space mission the song of Imagine performed by the Beatles which carried a strong message which Ilan referenced in one of the videos entitled Remembering Ilan Ramon as the link demonstrates:

“From our perspective in space we see a world without boundaries filled with peace and beauty.”

Rosh Chodesh Adar and Family Day – It is all about Joy

Peace as Ilan Ramon z”l showed by example starts in the Home. Family Day should be a day of rejoicing for us all. Also fittingly, this is also Rosh Chodesh Adar, the happiest, most joyous month of the Hebrew calendar.

Both Rosh Chodesh and Family Day are all about celebration of our heritage and that means the emphasis on the Jewish couple as the starting point for a strong foundational family.

In the book, Advice for Life Marriage, the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson z”l, defines the home as The Edifice and states:

At a Jewish Wedding, we bless the couple that their home be “an everlasting edifice.”

This is not just poetry. How does one build a lasting home?

First, a solid foundation is necessary, followed by layout and décor.

In marriage, a solid foundation based on eternal Jewish values is necessary in order to cope with issues that may surface.”

Campaign “Will You Listen to Me?”

In order to foster marriage communication, Together in Happiness (B’Yachad B’Osher), the organization I founded to bring marriage education to Israel, has launched a Family Day campaign called “Will You Listen to Me?”

On this day, married couples commit to one hour of listening to each other. Both husband and wife agree to speak for 30 minutes each, on a topic that is important to them, while their spouse listens carefully. Each couple commits to doing this once a week for the rest of the year.

During the week of Family Day, B’Yachad B’Osher / Together in Happiness invites engaged and newlywed and married couples to register, free of charge, for its marriage education workshops held throughout the year.

For workshop registration email: marriageconf@gmail.com

Visit our website:  https://together-in-happiness.com/

We owe it to our children to create a safe home environment, and to celebrate Family Day in unity and harmony. And to remember the lessons from the lives of my heroes memorialized today.

[1] Above Us Only Sky- The Diaries of Ilan and Asaf Ramon (Rona Ramon copyright  and Gefen Publishing Jerusalem 2021/5781) compiled by Merav Halperin

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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