Religious figures as marriage counselors.

August 6, 2008

The marriage of religious authorities and… marriage. Does it work? Does it help? Does it hurt?

Assuming you are a religious person, and adhere/subscribe to one way of life, then yes, why shouldn’t religious authorities help guide you in something as large and important and delicate as marriage? Assuming, again, that they have the proper training.

Whispered along the walls of the Jewish community, I’ve heard the horror stories of abused women and children who can’t get out of their homes because they have no support. In Judaism, there is a concept called “shalom bayit” – a peaceful house. It’s a clause used often to try and realize the greater good of your home: work towards shalom bayit, it’s the most important thing.

That is true, of course, until it is no longer true. Recently I’ve had to listen to the horror story of an old friend who is finding herself taking all kinds of crap from rabbinical authorities who are asking her to just keep quiet for shalom bayit. She is in a situation where the marriage is way past shalom bayit, and it is time for everyone, including the rabbis, to face reality.

In what seems to be a new turn, a course is now being offered by the Emunah Religious Women’s Organization to train Orthodox rabbis on giving professional advice and guidance on sexual health and marital relations. This is under the notion that “rabbis are catalysts for family change.”

And how true. Young couples, who never received a sex education beyond learning the difference between a woman’s purity and impurity, can finally get some healthy, sound advice from a figure they trust. Believe it or not, but there are plenty of people who will go to their rabbis before their doctors.

Here is a full article about the initiative, which I definitely agree with, as long as the rabbis use it for good – especially in the cases of the abused.

Rabbis offer professional sexual, marital advice
New course offered by Emunah Religious Women’s Organization trains rabbis to provide professional counseling in marriage, sexuality. ‘Rabbis are catalysts for family change,’ says Emunah deputy head Rina Wasserman

Bedroom affairs and marital problems are now open for discussion in the Orthodox sector. A newly launched course trains rabbis to engage in family and marital counseling and give advice on sex-related matters in order to help the religious sector deal with these rather sensitive issues.

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

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Bridging with sports… as usual.

August 6, 2008

Just because I enjoy watching the efforts to bridge peoples with sports – especially children – here is yet another attempt, this time by the Peres Center for Peace and the NBA:

NBA’s only Jewish player in Israel for visit
As guest of Peres Center for Peace, Lakers guard Jordan Farmar runs basketball clinic for Jewish, Arab kids in south Israel

Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Farmar, the NBA’s only Jewish player, is in Israel to instruct Jewish and Arab kids.

Farmar was running a basketball clinic in southern Israel Tuesday.

Farmar, 21, is the guest of the Peres Center for Peace, founded by Nobel Peace laureate Shimon Peres to encourage cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians. One of the ways the center tries to improve relationships is through children playing sports together. (source)


The Valley of Peace initiative, in case you haven’t heard.

July 23, 2008

A friend of mine sent me this video detailing the architectural plans for the Valley of Peace initiative in the desert area between Jordan, Israel and the West Bank. It’s a plan that has captured the imagination and support of Israeli President Shimon Peres and is being pursued by Jordanians, Israelis and Palestinians. It is meant to build communities, businesses, amusement parks, shopping centers, and most of all – a greener and more productive desert, shared by different people with similar interests.

Seems quite grandiose and ambitious; especially from the looks of the video and the optimism in the narrator’s voice.

But you know what? Why the hell not dream. It looks good, it feels good. I could spend afford to spend some energy on making that happen.


Beauty in the eye of the be-hind.

July 21, 2008

On the lighter side of the law… I thought this article was pretty funny in its irony:

Can’t show underwear law

“Be careful if you have saggy pants in the south Chicago suburb of Lynwood.

Village leaders have passed an ordinance that would levy $US25 ($25.70) fines against anyone showing three inches (7.62 centimetres) or more of their underwear in public.

Young adults in the village, like 21-year-old Joe Klomes, say the new law infringes on their personal style. He says leaders should instead spend money on making the area look nicer.” (source)

Hehe. I guess the village leaders believe they are making area look nicer – by covering up the likes of Mr. Klomes’ butt.


Making love for peace.

May 20, 2008

Hmm. We can’t always pick and choose what works… We can’t always control how conflict resolution will happen… Which is why open-mindedness is so important.

I present this:

Make love not war: Israeli adult Web site promotes reconciliation in new way

Parpar1.com shows amateur pornography only featuring Israeli Arabs and Jews.

There is one place in the Middle East where Arabs and Jews seem to be getting along quite well. It’s the Israeli Web site Parpar1.com, where amateur pornography features Arabs and Jews at each other’s throats – but only for erotic purposes.

Founded by two Tel Aviv computer professionals, the Web site has been serving up such X-rated fare as “Kosher Lesbians,” “The Rabbi’s Daughter” and “Sex Party in Jerusalem” since 2001. Parpar1 has hundreds of hours of video porn featuring amateur performers. It is a pay service that can be accessed on the Web or via mobile phone. (haaretz)


Some things just can’t be mediated.

April 28, 2008

I consider myself a realist who dabbles often in optimism. I do like to think that more often than not, a family can be transformed if all participants are willing to submit to their own self determination.

However this is the most horrific, psychotic, terrifying family situation I have ever read… ever:

Father confesses to sex dungeon horrors

The story is still developing, but it goes something like this:

Mr.F. has confessed to holding his daughter hostage for 24 years and fathering seven children by her.

A 73-year-old man has confessed to holding his daughter captive in his home cellar for nearly 24 years and fathering seven children by her, Austrian police say.

Mr. F. has confessed to imprisoning his daughter for 24 years and having seven children with her.

Austrian police spokesman Franz Polzer told CNN, the man, known as Mr. F., admitted holding his daughter hostage in a windowless cell in the basement of his home for more than two decades. (CNN)

Not surprisingly, the daughter, who is now 42-years-old, is extremely traumatized and having a difficult time talking about her ordeal.

It’s all weird because I took a final today in Ethical Dilemmas in Mediation. Aside from the fact that I rocked it, I can’t help but read this story from the point of view of what i learned concerning family mediation and the sensitive ethics involved. Obviously, here, there’s not much to do but skin this man alive.

I will point out the weird twist of fate that world-renown psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud was born in Austria. If this incredibly fucked up father had done his homework, maybe he would have realized something about himself earlier…


Turning ‘child labor’ into productive fun.

April 22, 2008

Back in February, I wrote about PlayPumps International, a water pump built like a playground toy so that while kids play they are pumping fresh water for their villages.

Well, I just found two more kids’ toys engineered for productive (and fun) “child labor”:

Hippo Water Roller:

I love this. Usually, when people (often children) from a village have to go off to collect water, they carry heavy buckets on their heads, weighing them down. Over time they end up injuring their backs and necks from the physical stress. The Hippo Water Roller is a 90-liter drum meant to be rolled along in a healthier position, with the weight shifted to the wheel of the drum. One side includes a screw-on cap for storing the water.

See-saw power:

A young product design student, Daniel Sheridan, has invented a see-saw to generate electricity when kids play on it. After volunteering in Kenya last summer, Daniel came up with this idea and designed the playground old familiar toy – the see-saw – to be a bit more productive.