Time for Jewish Couples Hall of Fame

"When the moon hits your eye like a knish in the sky, that's Tu B'Av."

By EDMON J. RODMAN / JTA
August 3, 2009 12:11
4 minute read.
88.298

love marriage wedding. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

 
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When the moon hits your eye like a knish in the sky, that's Tu B'Av. A big, round August moon will be hanging in the sky the night before Aug. 5, as Jews begin to celebrate the little-known and ancient Jewish holiday of love. Under this shining moon of love and dedication, I propose - a new museum. Tu B'Av - the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Av, six days after the fast of Tisha B'Av - dates back to the Temple times when Jewish maidens would put on white garments and go out into the fields in search of husbands. It was kind of an ancient Jewish Sadie Hawkins Day. These days it's a modern holiday observed by both those looking for or already in love. But it should also be a day when the community collectively wakes up the morning after, steps in front of the bedroom mirror, gazes critically and asks: How are Jewish couples doing? Dr. Ruth stands ready to advise Jewish couples on foreplay and orgasms. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach counsels them with the possibilities of "Kosher Sex" and the "Kosher Sutra." With many Jewish households struggling economically to stay in the top 10 percent, is there now time or energy for all that? Already in place for Jewish couples is a communal support structure of rabbis (if they are synagogue members), lectures at their local Jewish center, several sources of Jewish couples counseling and fellow travelers in coupledom. Is that enough to keep the ketubah class together? Our newly awakened Jewish couple, contemplating a new duo household and lifestyle, might also be in the market for a new role model. For starters, Jewish couples have their parents. But what if that's a non-starter? Generationally, many baby boomers sought other role models, the continuity in Jewish parenting having been strained or broken. Newer generations of Jewish couples are seeking role models, too, struggling with issues of parenting and identity, asking how do we make this work? How do we put Jewish values in our work and family lives? Though there are Web sites galore on keeping Jewish homes, and parenting Jewish values, where are the sites and books about Jewish couples? The Web is gushing with sites dedicated to lists and bios of famous Jewish actors, ballplayers, artists, engineers - even Jewish criminals - yet there is an absence of sites for famous Jewish couples. Some couples must have been successful in juggling family and work; filling the world with ma'asim tovim, good deeds. Who are they? When we say the Amidah, we honor the patriarchs, and in many synagogues the matriarchs as well. Where is the kavod, or honor, for couples and the Jewish synergy they create? I propose on this Tu B'Av the creation of my own personal museum -- a Jewish Couples Hall of Fame. With the building fund letters yet to go out, you will need to settle for a list. My inductees for the inaugural year include: * Richard and Rhoda Goldman: When I asked my cousin, Seymour Fromer, who with his wife, Rebecca, founded the Judah L. Magnus Museum in Berkeley, Calif., who might make a good couple to nominate, he suggested the Goldmans. "They helped finance and design the Jerusalem Promenade," he said. Richard also was honored recently by the San Francisco Jewish Community Foundation. He met Rhoda, a great-grandniece and heir to Levi Strauss, during World War II. Together, in 1990, they established the influential Goldman Environmental Prize. She died in 1996. * Blu and Irving "Yitz" Greenberg: The Greenbergs, great supporters of each other's work, were married in 1957. Blu is a writer and activist focused on Modern Orthodox life and a woman's role in it. Yitz is an Orthodox rabbi and communal leader, former pulpit rabbi, and in 1974 one of the founders of CLAL, an influential center that "helps individuals imagine new Jewish possibilities." In her 1981 book "Women in Judaism," Blu suggested Jewish institutions create more flexible hours for women employees - a change that when it came greatly helped my own marriage to a Jewish social worker. * Harriet and Fred Rochlin: A couple forged in the West - Harriet a writer and lecturer from the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, and Fred, an architect from Nogales, Ariz., were married for 55 years before his death in 2002. With Harriet being the writer and Fred doing the photo research, together they created the landmark social history "Pioneer Jews: A New Life in the Far West." When I spoke recently to Harriet, she told me that working together brought them both a "great deal of pleasure," as they shared "the same hunger for their work." * Annette and Alex Kogan: Annette, a singer, songwriter and frenetic accordionist for the klezmer group Golem, and Sasha, who came to the United States from Ukraine, met at one of the band's raucous concerts where magic seems to happens. "Lullaby," a song on the band's newest CD, "Citizen Boris," offers a clue to their relationship. One lyric goes: "Tell them how your father would look at me with burning eyes full of light, all the days and every night." Feel free to nominate your own couples. Better yet, create your own hall of fame. Mine is going to have a bookstore featuring the work of Dr. Ron Wolfson, author of "The Art of Jewish Living" series," the first books I read that highlighted real Jewish couples - singles, too - struggling, adapting and rejoicing with Jewish life. Edmon J. Rodman a writer and designer in Los Angeles, has been married for 28 years to Brenda, a mental health center director. They have three children.

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