When I reflect upon my experience with the Relationship Series, the first word that comes to mind is “equipped” – because that’s precisely how I feel after participating. The classes touched on three broad concepts, but also imparted many small and practical strategies, that left me feeling equipped for the future, equipped to make my relationship a success story, and equipped to ensure it stays rooted in Jewish values.
My big takeaway from the first session was the notion that relationships are either about give or take. We discussed how the goal of a relationship is to be a giver, and the degree to which I am willing to give determines the strength of my relationship. Our “Housework” for the week charged us to really focus on pushing ourselves to give beyond our normal comfort level. I felt a difference that week – and still do.
The second class was the most enlightening for me, as Rabbi Rafi shared with us the beautiful Jewish concept of “Ezer Kenegdoh”. On a very personal level, I had always been a bit scared of the fact that despite sharing the same values as my boyfriend – we are incredibly different people. The idea that Judaism recognizes the importance of being opposite as a way to help one’s partner reach their full potential flipped my insecurities right-side up. People had always told me that “opposites attract”, but this new concept gave me the validity and credibility I needed to move past that fear. In fact it deepened the concept to more than a reality, but part of the actual purpose of relationship. My boyfriend and I left the session talking about our strengths and weaknesses, and how we communicate them to each other, and more importantly support each others growth. We find ourselves still referring back to that class.
Our third and last session, which focused on life goals, also struck a personal chord. Rabbi Rafi shared the thought that marriage is not the end goal, but it’s about finding the right partner to help you get to where you want to go and bring out your potential. I truly had never thought about marriage that way, and it pieced together what already makes so much sense in my relationship. In retrospect, these ideas seem so simple, yet I would not have thought deeply about them let alone embedded them into my relationship without this series of classes.
I was pleasantly surprised by the diverse group of couples in the room – all were at different stages in their relationships and practiced different levels of Judaism. But everyone participated seriously. Our discussions were very interesting, reflective, and respectful. The experience illuminated for me the power of Jewish wisdom when it is taught in a relevant way. Rabbi Rafi’s teachings are important for any relationship, but the idea that those teachings are rooted in Judaism is what brings people closer to its wisdom. So to me, The House Relationship Series is incredibly valuable for two reasons: First, the content enriches relationships and empowers us to make them successful; and second, it is an opportunity to bring Jewish learning to young adults who might not otherwise feel connected to our religion and community. After leaving the series, all the couples were talking about how refreshingly relevant they found Jewish wisdom to be and how we are already looking forward to the follow up classes that The House offers for “graduates” of the relationship series!