Israel – Organization to Start Training Rabbis on Marriage Counseling

6 08 2008

Israel – A newly launched course trains rabbis to engage in family and marital counseling and give advice on marital problems in order to help the religious sector deal with these rather sensitive issues.

The course focuses on psychological aspects and family relationships, said Rina Wasserman, Vice Chairperson of Emunah (Religious Women’s Organization) Israel, which has initiated the course.

Many people have no authority to give answers on those issues, yet they do, and this may harm the person seeking the advice. Sometimes they (the advice givers) themselves aren’t familiar with the subject. We must extend the limits of Halacha and those fluent in it to intimate matters too. The goal is to provide an immediate response to the religious community’s problems.”

The first course in training rabbis to become marriage counselors has recently ended, equipping 25 Orthodox rabbis with professional tools to offer couples’ therapy and counseling. During the course, the rabbis took a couples’ workshop with their wives, acquiring techniques related to counseling and learning how to handle questions in this field.

Wasserman, who handles Emunah’s family services and is in charge of running the course, explained that many religious couples rely on their rabbis to answer their intimacy problems, and therefore their advice must be extensive: “We would like to have the rabbis acknowledge the professional, counseling and academic systems so that they can refer people to get professional help when the problem requires a more profound intervention.”

“We are no longer living in an era where problems are kept at home,” Wasserman concludes. “The communities’ rabbis are catalysts for change within the family, and one should praise rabbis who are willing to take up such sensitive matters.”

[Editors Note: Without naming any individuals, there are unfortunately those within the Passaic Jewish community who give advice and counseling on marital issues without any training or real understanding of how to deal with such issues — often with disastrous results.

We recommend that those individuals stop giving such counseling, and leave it to those who are trained and competent.]




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