As part of a series of guest lecturers, the Mayanot Women’s Program hosted Mrs. Phylis Jesselson last week for a class on the role of women in Jewish marriage.
Jesselson lives in Jerusalem with her family, where she works as a marriage counselor for local families. She also has experience teaching girls, from less observant backgrounds, who are about to marry about the Jewish laws of marriage and family purity.
Jesselson opened her class with a statement that the respect demanded for the woman in Jewish marriage is something unheard of in any other religion. “Unlike other faiths, Judaism makes a man promise to give his wife three things: shelter, food, and love.”
Along similar lines, much of the class was devoted to debunking myths and legends about the role of women in observant Jewish marriages. She handled issues ranging from stereotypes perpetuated by modern society to ancient concepts of physicality with grace and ease.
In addition to traditional relationship questions and concerns, Jesselson was able to connect with girls from less traditional backgrounds.
“Girls who do teshuvah have their own set of questions to worry about,” she remarked, adding that when it comes to relationships everyone is on an equal playing field. “Whether always religious or newly observant, everyone is nervous… you have nothing to worry about.”
She ended the class with an open invitation to all of the Mayanot women, “You’re all welcome over for Shabbos any time you’d like.”
And once the women of Mayanot leave the single status? “If you ever have any problems with your husband, please call me! I’ll set him straight,” she promised with a smile.
Photos by Rucheli Manville – rucheli.com