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'My parents adored each other, and I adored them both," says Susan Barth, who cites unwavering support and respect as two of the mainstays of their loving relationship. When her mother died in 2007, Barth wanted to honor her in a way that would reflect her life and her spirit. "My mother had a beautiful marriage. She was very kind, and her personality was full of simha [joy]. The Simcha Gemach is a reflection of who she was, a natural expression for a person who always wanted to see others have joy."
To that end she established the Simcha Gemach in memory of Feigel Bat Tuvia Nisan under the umbrella of the Givat Sharett Chesed Committee, an all-voluntary organization founded in 1992, which provides aid and services to the needy of Beit Shemesh. The Simcha Gemach helps to alleviate the stress of wedding preparations by providing an array of resources and is a "one-stop shop" for brides and grooms across the country.
A professional project manager, Barth operates the entire endeavor out of her home in Beit Shemesh. She is married and has one daughter, who recently walked down the aisle.
To help couples plan their special day, the Simcha Gemach's 60-page English guidebook, written and published by Barth, contains a wealth of information about every stage of a traditional Jewish wedding, from a a list of vendors for each item to tips on how to pick a hall or caterer and an explanation of the rituals that transpire under the huppa. Also in the book is a section on prenuptial agreements, emphasizing why the prenuptial agreement is so important.
While the vendors listed in the guidebook are all located in Israel, the tips and information are universal and can apply to all streams and communities. The guidebook sells for NIS 75 and can be mailed anywhere in the world.
In addition, couples can rent or purchase items that Barth keeps in stock, such as laminated and large-print Sheva Brachot cards. All proceeds are channeled back to the committee to help the poor of Beit Shemesh.
In her desire to promote happy marriages, Barth has organized a conference called "Entering Marriage Lovingly and Wisely," which takes place at the Israel Center on November 16 from 5 to 9 p.m. "There are so many divorces and agunot," she laments. "No one wants to talk about what happens after the wedding day," she says. "Singles are very anxious to get married, but they are so unprepared."
Barth's objective through the conference, the guidebook and the help she offers couples to plan their weddings is to make people aware that such tools are available and the important role they play in starting off on the right foot.
The product of loving and supportive parents, Barth is bent on sharing that knowledge and that feeling with others in the name and spirit of her mother. "It's as if she were attending every simha," she smiles.
Name: Susan Barth
Organization: The Givat Sharett Chesed Committee Simcha Gemach in memory of Feigel Bat Tuvia Nisan
Position: Founder/project manager, Simcha Gemach Info: 054-729-4964; email@example.com
Mission: To provide information and resources to help organize weddings