Emet Outreach’s Couples Division recently hosted the second inspiring installment of their new workshop series. The fitting topic, “Creating the Marriage You Always Wanted,” attracted over 60 couples who selected one of two evenings to participate in the interactive program. Held at the Young Israel of Jamaica Estates, the workshops provided an impactful educational and social opportunity for Emet’s growing community of couples.
Shay Yonaiev, Emet’s Couples and HR Director, hosted the events and served as MC. At the start of the evenings, guests connected while enjoying wine-tasting and a delicious Carlos and Gabby’s buffet. Shay presented the variety of resources and learning opportunities Emet offers, and then introduced Rabbi Akiva Rutenberg, Emet Co-Founder and Director. As a licensed clinical social worker with a specialty in couples counseling, Rabbi Rutenberg has been instrumental in establishing these workshops to support Emet couples at every stage of marriage.
“The relationship between husband and wife is the foundation of the family, and setting a strong foundation takes work,” Rabbi Rutenberg said. “We’re here to provide our couples with the spiritual and emotional tools to help them build solid Jewish families.”
Rabbi Rutenberg opened the workshop with a d’var Torah. He said that couples often fall into a “Cold War” cycle, where they are stuck waiting for their partner to show they care first, so that they in turn can show that they care, as well. He used the ultimate metaphor to compare marriage to the relationship that klal Yisrael has with Hashem. He cited the example of the prayer that precedes the Sh’ma, where we focus on Hashem’s love for klal Yisrael before we talk about our relationship with Hashem. Rabbi Rutenberg suggested that when thinking about the spouse, each partner should concentrate on what the spouse has already done, rather than what they are waiting for, and that will inspire them to want to give back.
After getting the crowd motivated, Rabbi Rutenberg introduced the main moderator, Rabbi Doniel Frank, a marriage and family therapist, author and acclaimed lecturer. Rabbi Frank is the originator of the “M.A.P. Seminars” designed to help people set life goals. He elaborated on the importance of goal-setting and communication in marriage. Rabbi Frank literally had the couples take a hands-on approach by having them stand with their arms and feet extended. This demonstrated that we can always stretch a little further when setting goals. He guided the couples in the main exercise, which was creating a personalized “Relationship Vision.” Each couple received a worksheet where they listed and rated their relationship goals and standards. This served as a starting point for a deeper discussion, and each couple drafted “we” statements about what they want to accomplish in their marriage.
“The information provided in these workshops was incredible. Everyone participated and made the most of the exercise in goal-setting. This was actually “Part One” on the topic, and many eager couples joined the second half on Monday, October 25 to gain further insight,” Shay said. “We want these programs to be interactive experiences, where our couples can learn from experts and network with one another instead of just listening to a lecture. We look forward to hosting a different workshop each month.”
Feedback from participants has been enthusiastic and validating. “This workshop helped us discover our goals and aspirations for our future,” said Alex and Zarrina Isanov. “We attended the first workshop in September and these programs are helping us enhance our relationship. We’re excited for the next one!”
To learn more about Emet’s programs visit EmetOutreach.org, and to experience Emet’s comprehensive video library of Torah lectures visit www.EmetTorah.com.