The Newlywed Guide to Physical Intimacy (Hebrew Edition)

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9789652295835: The Newlywed Guide to Physical Intimacy (Hebrew Edition)

As a young couple about to embark on one of life s most important journeys, may you have only joy and success. An important part of this journey is developing physical intimacy the unique pleasure of the sexual experience. Your enjoyment as sexual partners is more than just physical; you can feel closeness with another person that no other experience can provide. Your sharing of physical intimacy creates an emotional bond that should include feelings of trust, acceptance, caring, and mutuality. Your intimate relationship is the glue that binds your marriage together. Yet advice about the sexual experience that was once passed from parent to child is no longer, and as a result many couples are left to face this critical area of their lives with little guidance or information. This instructive and easy-to-read guide can help you navigate this new and uncharted area of your lives. For chassan (groom) and kallah (bride), as well as for teachers, rabbis, and anyone with questions about sexuality coming from the Torah observant community. It is user-friendly, with clear and descriptive language, and the information and guidance found in this book is not available anywhere else in the religious world.

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About the Author:

Jennie Rosenfeld holds a PhD in English from the City University of New York Graduate Center, and has done groundbreaking research on contemporary Modern Orthodox sexual ethics. Previously, she served as the cofounder and director of Tzelem, a Special Project of Yeshiva University, whose goal was to bring more sexual education resources to different constituents within the Orthodox community. David S. Ribner earned his Smicha (Ordination) and MSW degree from Yeshiva University and his doctorate from Columbia University. He is the founder and director of the Sex Therapy Training Program, School of Social Work, Bar-Ilan University and is certified as a sex therapist in Israel and the United States. He is in private practice as a sex and marital therapist in Jerusalem and writes and lectures extensively on Judaism and sexuality.

Review:

Sex is a touchy subject - not least among Israel's highly conservative ultra-Orthodox Jews. But a therapist in Jerusalem has written a sex guide aimed specifically at this community. Ribner was born in the US. In New York, he received both rabbinic ordination and a doctorate in social work. Then he moved to Israel, where he has been counseling devout Jewish patients for the last 30 years. He also founded a sex therapy training programme at Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv. He says publication of a sex manual for Orthodox Jews was long overdue. Ultra-Orthodox boys and girls are educated separately, and have little interaction with the opposite sex until their marriage night, when they are expected to consummate their union. Physical touch with the opposite sex - even something like a handshake - is only permitted with one's spouse and close family members. Access to films and the internet is often restricted. "We wanted there to be a place where people could say, 'I know nothing and I want to know something,'" says Ribner. The Newlywed's Guide to Physical Intimacy, which Ribner co-wrote with Orthodox researcher Jennie Rosenfeld, starts with the very basics - explaining, for example, how the body shape of men and women differs. Ribner says Judaism regards sex as something positive, but it has become taboo to discuss it openly. "Sex is only appropriate within a marital context," he says. "Beyond that it's not talked about. Because of that, it's become very difficult for people to have any kind of dialogue about it." So this book enters uncharted territory. Flip through it, and you see no illustrations. But there is a sealed envelope on the back flap. It warns readers there are sexual diagrams inside. If you don't want to look at them, you can rip off the envelope and throw it away. Ribner opens it up to show me what's inside. There are three diagrams of basic sexual positions. The sketches are simple: outlined figures with no faces. "We wanted this to be acceptable to the widest possible population with the least risk of it being offensive," he says. "We did consult many other sex manuals, to see what kind of illustrations they use, and we felt they were just too graphic to be comfortable for people who had really had no contact with this aspect of their lives." Sex is a fundamental part of a marital relationship for Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jews - and having a lot of children is desirable. But most ultra-Orthodox children are educated at special religious schools, where they receive little or no sex education. This "silence" creates a "barrier of shame" over issues to do with sex, says Carmi - and those who seek to educate themselves on the subject can be seen as "subversive and rebellious". The book is direct in its language and touches on subjects that may be uncomfortable for some, including oral sex and masturbation. When the Hebrew edition is released in a few weeks' time, it could create quite a storm, says Menachem Friedman, a professor and sociologist who has written numerous books on Israel's ultra-Orthodox community. "I suspect it will meet tremendous negative reaction - at least within the most extreme elements of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community," he says. But he agrees that such a book is sorely needed, and foresees brisk behind-the-counter sales. For a newly-married couple, it can be very traumatic, he says, to go from a lifetime of near-separation from the opposite sex to a full sexual relationship in just one night. --Daniel Estrin, BBC Magazine

Two mental health professionals combine their experience and knowledge in a book for Orthodox brides and grooms. The material bridges the gap between the halachic (Torah law) instruction usually received before marriage and pertaining mostly to the laws of niddah (separation during menstruation), and books about sex available in the secular press. This book is for those with no sexual experience, and starts with the rudiments of male and female anatomy and the mechanics of sexual intercourse. It then discusses potential problems or impediments to a satisfying experience, and the importance of communication and solving these problems as a couple. The book also includes some common questions that have been asked of the doctors in their clinical practices. In all cases, there are several options for dealing with the issues discussed. Detailed and graphic illustrations meant to accompany the text come in a sealed envelope in the back of the book. The authors should be applauded for their efforts. This is obviously a sensitive topic, but one that is essential for a happy marriage. The book is meant for those with no sexual knowledge, which is probably a small percentage of newlyweds. It does not have a rabbinic approbation. It is highly recommended for all libraries with Orthodox patrons, and a good choice for resource or counseling centers. --Kathe Pinchuck, American Jewish Libraries Quarterly

I remember very vividly the day I learned about sex. I was eight years old, an early reader, and I found my mother s copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves on the shelf. Horrified and fascinated by what I learned, I ran to tell my classmates on the playground. Grownups do whaaat? was the response. As a liberal Jew with tolerant, book-loving parents, I was fortunate to learn about this central mystery of life early on. In the right-wing Orthodox world, however, many young men and women are not lucky enough to acquire these lessons in advance. The scholar Jennie Rosenfeld and sex therapist David S. Ribner have now published an important book for young marrieds: The Newlywed s Guide to Physical Intimacy (Et Le ehov) (Gefen, $15). This fascinating book gives a window into a world where sex education is verboten, where a couple might move from being strictly shomer negiah (no premarital physical contact) to having sex on their wedding night. Written in calming and encouraging tones, this short guidebook begins with the basics of male and female anatomy, moves through the mechanics of various sexual acts, and closes with several chapters of forthright questions and answers. Perhaps the most unusual aspect of the book is its sealed envelope of graphic illustrations, pasted into the back cover. Rather than include diagrams in the text of the book, the authors confine all images to this sealed envelope, marked with several disclaimers as to its explicit nature. While this discretion might seem alarmist to readers of mainstream sex manuals, it indicates the fine line that Rosenfeld and Ribner are attempting to walk in making this book available to traditionalist audiences. The book has three main messages: everyone deserves a sexually fulfilling marriage; sex requires practice; and if things aren t working, ask a therapist. While the first two messages are both beautiful and familiar, the third is something not often found in sex manuals. I wonder if this speaks to the role that professional expertise (in the form of rabbis) plays in Orthodox communities, as well as to the general culture of silence around these topics. The book s question-and-answer section is particularly poignant: the sections on Not Ready for Intercourse and Preparing Your Body for the First Sexual Experience opened my heart to these young couples. What s more, the authors have a terrific bibliography for further reading, including more manuals, websites for finding a therapist, and even recommendations of where to buy sex toys. While I am not in the book s target religious audience, I am a newlywed, and I did find many of Rosenfeld and Ribner s words to be calming and centering in my new stage of life. The Newlywed s Guide to Physical Intimacy is a model of how to speak about sex respectfully, openly and joyfully within a religious world view. I hope that it can reach the wide audience it deserves. --Sara N.S. Meirowitz, Lilith Magazine

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