Chief rabbi's marital solution: Stronger communal ties
Образование | Молодежь

Rabbi Yitzhak Yehoshua is a well–known figure; he is the chief rabbi of the Bukharian Jewish Congress of the USA and Canada. He is visible, not only at the Sabbath services at the Bukharian Jewish Commnity Center, but also in his daily work of maintaining the cohesion of the community.

Being Ashkenazi Jew, I\'ve never attended the services at the BJCC, and was not sure what to expect of the chief rabbi at the recent talk showstyle lecture on preserving love within marriage, organized by Youth Association «Achdut» and Emet College Outreach on Sunday, March 23.. The room rose in respect as the rabbi entered. At this point, I expected him to make a perfunctory blessing, a short speech, and then to leave. He is a chief rabbi, after all, and must have a busy schedule. How quickly my prejudice was shattered — not only did Rabbi Yehoshua stay for almost an hour, but his presentation touched on some of the most sensitive and controversial topics affecting the community.

Most countries in the world have strong Jewish communities, led by chief rabbis. The United States does not have such a position, and Jews are free to choose their membership within the community. «In Uzbekistan, the Muslims did not want to marry Jews, and we did not want to marry Muslims,» rabbi Yehoshua noted. To show contrast, he told the mostly college–age audience of an Italian woman who called his office because she wanted her daughter to marry a Jew. Though she did not profess any intent to convert, the woman's daughter listed the positive traits of a Jewish man to justify her marital aspirations. «Her sister married a Jew, and he is the pride of her family» This example was begging the question from the Jewish audience, «How much do we value each other?»

«In a community, you lose a certain degree of privacy,» he said. At the same time, Rabbi Yehoshua also listed its positive aspects, including the preservation of Jewish identity, an easier ability to solve marital conflicts, and discouraging divorce.

As an example, Rabbi Yehoshua told the story of one divorce who called him in distress after losing custody of his children. «When this couple came to America, they did not want anything to do with the Jewish community.» They moved to a state where there were few Jews. To avoid lashon hara (gossip), the state and the couple\'s names shall remain anonymous. After about 3 years, their marriage began to deteriorate.

Instead of working on their marriage, the wife fell in love with her Christian colleague, whose father is a pastor. The new husband expected his new step–children to attend Christian schools, and the mother did not object. It was at this point that the father rediscovered the Bukharian community and begged Rabbi Yehoshua to intercede on his behalf. «There was not much that could be done. The courts in that state were packed with members of the church. I wrote a letter for him, and he predictably lost the case,» he said. «Had this couple stayed within the community, this would not have happened.»

The chief rabbi\'s presentation included sprinklings of Russian and Bukharian slang, strengthening his connection with the audience. Rabbi Yehoshua did not shy away from current events, speaking about the murder of Dentist Daniel Malakov. «I tried to mediate between them,» he said, referring to Dr. Malakov and his estranged wife. «But it failed, and today one of them is in a grave and another is in jail.»

On a positive note, the chief rabbi also offered solutions to marital discord. «The three most important words in a marriage are not 'I love you,' but 'I am sorry.'» Mutual respect and acceptance of one's shortcomings are at the top of the list. Also worth recognizing is Jewish teaching that a wife completes the man, with traits that he does not possess; the union of the two spouses creating a single soul.

After the chief rabbi left the lecture, Rabbi Akiva Rutenberg, who is a director of Jewish outreach organization «Emet», continued on the theme with more controversyarguing that instead of «I love her» as the answer, it should really be «I'm trying to love her.»

Arguing that a lasting marriage is the result of efforts to overcome discord, Rabbi Rutenberg noted that there has never been a marriage that did not have problems to overcome. A lasting marriage is subject to stress that comes from in–laws, careers, and failure to apologize. A lasting marriage recognizes its problems, and both partners cooperate in overcoming them.

My preconception of a chief rabbi was of an extremely busy leader, but having met him in person, I can say that as a leader, he knows where the priority lies. Before an audience whose members are either newly married or approaching marriage, Rabbi Yehoshua provided extra attention, with memorable examples, valuable lessons, and a lasting impression.

Bravo to both speakers for sharing deep and insightful points on maintaining happy marriages in Bukharian Jewish community.

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