Course for Certification as a Nishmat Kallah Teacher
Geared especially for OU/RCA Rebbetzins
Yoetzet Halacha Shoshana Samuels
This 18-session course is taught primarily by Yoetzet Halacha Shoshana Samuels.
There will be several guest speakers throughout the course:
Dr. Bat-Sheva Maslow
will complement our halachic learning about anatomy and physiology with four presentations interspersed at strategic times in our course
Yoetzet Halacha Dr. Deena Zimmerman
will teach us about halachic infertility as it relates to our study and our teaching
Pyschotherpist Rachel Hercman
a psychotherapist who focuses on relationships, body image, and sexuality, will broaden our understanding of these topics and our role in conveying these elements to Kallot as Kallah teachers
Financial planner Effie Markovitz will give us the 101 on setting up couples for financial success from their very first financial choices, likely to be made while the Kallot are our students
Rebbetzin Rifki Freundlich
whose rich experience teaching Taharat HaMishpacha to kallot who are not observant will help us be prepared to teach this sensitive subject in these special circumstances
Psychotherapist Yocheved Schacter
whom you may already be familiar with from her shaping of and years of contributing to the annual YU Yarchei Kallah Rebbetzins Conference, will present on healthy relationships in marriage (and beyond)
Avital Levin, LMSW, Director of Education, Shalom Task Force,
will speak about the importance of healthy relationships, red flags, and action strategies to implement if you become aware of problems
Keshet Starr Esq, Executive Director, (ORA) Organization for the Resolution of Agunot
will speak to us about get-refusal as a form of abuse, the tremendous importance of “our couples” signing the halachic prenup in thwarting that possibility and how you can best help them to do so
Rabbi Kenneth Auman, Dean of Nishmat's Miriam Glaubach Center’s U.S. Yoatzot Halacha Fellows Program
will provide insights and a Q&A session
The entirety of this project is under the direct supervision of:
Yoetzet Halacha Atara Eis, Director of Nishmat’s Miriam Glaubach Center
Certification as a Nishmat Kallah Teacher is dependent upon satisfactory completion of both written formative assignments as well as a summative oral assessment. Nishmat’s Miriam Glaubach Center is the final arbiter of certification.
To ensure Nishmat-certified kallah teachers the ability to serve all kallot, this course material will include, in each session:
- Halachic information, including carefully selected excerpts from our classic Torah sources which can guide kallah teaching.
- Integral teaching strategies, guiding questions, and invaluable women’s health and halacha resources.
- Any practical differences between Ashkenazic and Sephardic psak. Within each community, a range of positions commonly followed will be presented, and through the course, kallah teachers will be instructed where they should consult with their husband and when necessary, posek, as to how to instruct their kallot. A comprehensive document will be provided as well.
- What information should be conveyed to different types of kallot and how it should be conveyed
- How to teach this area of law to a woman who is suffering from obsessive compulsive tendencies or other symptoms of anxiety
- Which pieces are included specifically for the kallah teachers’ edification (not necessary for kallot themselves)
- Tips for conversing about the kallah & chattan’s relationship and שלום בית naturally through specific touch-points in each of the classes
- Situations and experiences about which a kallah should ask a question
- How to encourage the kallah and chattan to see classes as the beginning of a process
- Promote relationships with mentors and halachic authorities who can support their marriage over the long run
- How to teach the kallah about common challenges that may arise in keeping טהרת המשפחה, as well as “best practices” gleaned from literature and lectures by doctors, mental health professionals, rabbis, and Yoatzot Halacha
*Students will be asked to prepare small selections of texts and/or online content, halachic or otherwise, before or after the session, to ensure an interactive, dynamic experience.
January 27th, 2019
Building a Relationship & Partnership in Kallah Teaching
- Introductions, tips, and strategies for connecting with the kallah.
- The kallah teacher will be familiar with different resources available: books, articles and helpful websites-to use and to recommend to
- The kallah teacher will understand the importance of coordinating opinions with a chattan
- The kallah teacher will understand different models of arranging a curriculum for kallah
- The kallah teacher will learn how to conduct kallah classes as an ongoing conversation
- Course introduction and website tour to further clarify class expectations & enable optimal learning experience
The Unique Jewish View of Marital Relations
- The kallah teacher will learn how to teach the Torah perspective on the mitzvot of physical intimacy including the halachic and hashkafic elements the mitzvot of onah--the sanctity of pleasure, the beauty of a physical relationship, and the importance of investing in enjoying physical intimacy–and פרו ורבו, including the basics of fertility and discussion around how an observant couple navigates family planning.
- The kallah teacher will understand how to help the kallah ease into a sexual relationship, and will discuss how to do this for a couple already engaged in a physical relationship, as well as people with prior sexual experience.
- The kallah teacher will know to whom to refer, and how to refer, if further intervention in sexual health is needed. The kallah teacher will learn where to incorporate this information in kallah classes in a non-threatening, non-stressful way.
- The kallah teacher will learn an overview of relevant anatomy and physiology from guest speaker, Dr. Bat-Sheva Maslow.
The Laws of Uterine Bleeding in Biblical and Rabbinic Law
- The kallah teacher will learn the evolution from the דין דאורייתא to דין דרבנן.
- The kallah teacher will receive guidance on how to educate a couple that is not observant or that is less observant, including what information should be conveyed and how.
- The kallah teacher will learn about the problem of halachic infertility from Yoetzet Halacha Dr. Deena Zimmerman.
- Specific terms to be included: נדה, זבה, “וספרה לה שבעת ימים”, זבה קטנה, אחד עשר יום שבין נדה לנדה, ימי נדה, ימי זיבה, תקנת רבי בשדות, חומרא דרבי זירא, halachic infertility.
Preparing the Kallah for the Wedding and Sheva Berachot
- The kallah teacher will know how to instruct a kallah about her current cycles, how and when to become tehorah before her wedding, and schedule an appointment for the mikveh.
- The kallah teacher will understand anatomy of the hymen at a sufficient level to provide practical, halachic and emotional counseling regarding dam betulim and initiation of marital relations.
- The kallah teacher will be able to give basic counseling regarding first time marital relations (e.g. going slowly, lubricants) and know to whom to refer, and how to refer, if further intervention is needed.
- The kallah teacher will know how to instruct a couple about separation after consummation, and address the different emotions the couple might experience.
- The kallah teacher will be able to point out how important it is that the kallah is taking the time to invest in the next step: the Jewish marriage!
- The kallah teacher will learn an overview of hormonal methods for manipulating a woman’s cycle to avoid חופת נדה so she can support the kallah’s doctor’s instructions when relevant, from guest-speaker Dr. Bat-Sheva Maslow.
- Specific terms to be included:על איסור יחוד, סופה לטהר, הבדל בין חופת נדה וחופת טהורה, דם בתולים, סידור וסת, בועל בעילת מצוה ופורש, מצות עונה/פרו ורבו, דם חימוד and the טהרה
The Do’s and Don’ts of Creating a Hashkafic Framework for Taharat HaMishpachah
- The kallah teacher will receive suggestions for hashkafic approaches and insights to share with kallot as they adjust to this new area of
- The kallah teacher will learn hashkafic approaches to avoid
- The kallah teacher will receive further insight into the hashkafic framework and arrangement of this course’s curriculum.
- Specific terms to be included: טומאה וטהרה /אסורים ומותרים, התחדשות, קדושה, הקדשת החומר, התחייבות
- Yocheved Schacter, renowned rebbetzin, speaker, and psychotherapist will deliver this presentation.
- The kallah teacher will learn how to destigmatize going for counseling.
- The kallah teacher will learn to teach the kallah to know when to go for counseling.
- The kallah teacher will learn where and how to weave lessons on healthy שלום בית and communication into the general curriculum.
- The kallah teacher will learn to how teach the kallah about warning signs for unhealthy and/or abusive relationships.
הלכות צניעות + Midway Reflections
- The kallah teacher will learn הלכות צניעות and how & where to instruct the Kallah
- Specific terms to be included: הפיכת השולחן, ביאה שלא כדרכה, דרך איברים
- The kallah teachers will review the assessments covered until this point in the course
- The kallah teachers will have an opportunity to share mid-way reflections as they reach the halfway mark of this Nishmat/OU/RCA course
- The kallah teachers will have a formal built-in chance to provide feedback which will be incorporated for the 2nd half of the course
- The kallah teachers will have prepared a tentative curriculum on the topics covered thusfar to use in their teaching which they can present to each other as well
וסתות: Anticipating the Arrival of Menstruation
- The kallah teacher will learn how to teach וסתות.
- The kallah teacher will learn how to teach the impact of hormonal contraception on וסתות.
- Specific terms to be included: וסת קבוע, וסת שאינו קבוע, עונה, עונת אור זרוע, וסת החודש, וסת ההפלגה, עונה בינונית, וסת המעשה, וסת הגוף, וסת לאכילת דברים חמים, זקנה, מעוברת, מניקה
- The kallah teacher will learn an overview of contraceptive technology from guest-speaker Dr. Bat-Sheva Maslow, as some kinds of birth control impact the laws of וסתות.
- The kallah teacher will learn the definition of hargashah, ketem, and the difference between a stain and a flow. She will learn how to help a kallah determine her status and avoid becoming niddah
- The kallah teacher will learn about the different forms of contraception, particularly about the physical and halachic ramifications of hormonal contraception.
- The kallah teacher will learn the basic parameters of the permissibility of family planning and how to discuss this effectively with a
- The kallah teacher will understand the relationship between the kallah teacher, Yoetzet Halacha and Rav regarding when questions require a more advanced authority.
- The kallah teacher will will learn an overview of gynecological procedures that might come up in the first few years of marriage from guest-speaker Dr. Bat-Sheva Maslow.
- Specific terms to be included: הרגשה, ספק הרגשה, גזירת כתמים, יולדת, ,כגריס ועוד, מראה, תליה במכה, מקבל טומאה, בגד צבעוני, פתיחת הקבר,מקור, נאמנות האשה, מפלת
Conduct While Niddah
- The kallah teacher will understand the different halachot of harchakot and learn best practices of how to convey these approaches to the
- The kallah teacher will learn how to teach basic שלום בית tips essential for navigating time apart including specific tools for about communication when touch is absent.
- The kallah teacher will learn how to teach a kallah whose level of observance differs from that of her
- The kallah teacher will consider different approaches toward harchakot including what they may offer a woman (and a man) in their relationship as they take this pause from physicality.
- The kallah teacher will learn tools and information about couples prioritizing emotional intimacy at this point in their relationship specifically and cultivating emotional engagement at all points more generally.
- Specific terms to be included: הרחקות, mode of conduct, 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, עת לרחוק, (no) איסור יחוד
Teaching non-observant Kallot & other Scenarios + Curriculum Building
- The kallah teacher will hear from Rebbetzin Rifki Freundlich whose rich experience teaching kallot who are not-otherwise-observant about the world of Taharat HaMishpacha will guide us in our teaching.
- The kallah teacher will learn fundamentals for teaching kallot who are not otherwise observant.
- The kallah teacher will learn specific phrases to use and to avoid when teaching kallot who are not otherwise observant.
- The kallah teachers will consider specific scenarios that can come up in kallah teaching and brainstorm possible reactions.
- The kallah teachers will have the opportunity to exchange atypical kallah teaching moments they experienced in kallah teaching and discuss possible course of action.
- The kallah teacher will learn the halachic concepts of פולטת שכבת זרע & the 4-5 day minimum.
- The kallah teacher will learn how to instruct the kallah how and when to perform a הפסק טהרה, מוך דחוק, and bedikot of שבעה נקיים.
- The kallah teacher will understand when a halachic authority must be consulted in extenuating circumstances where a kallah is facing different challenges with doing bedikot and getting through the שבעה נקיים in a reasonable amount of time.
- Specific terms to be included: פולטת שכבת זרע, הפסק טהרה, מוך דחוק, בין השמשות, חורין וסדקין, שבעה נקיים, בדיקות שבעה, לבישת לבנים, בודקת טהרה, halachic infertility
Timing of Immersion
- The kallah teacher will learn how to teach about the normal timing and procedure for immersion.
- The kallah teacher will learn how to prepare a kallah to ask questions about the timing and execution of immersion in extenuating circumstances.
- The kallah teacher will learn how to explain the role of the mikveh attendant.
- The kallah teacher will learn the importance of speaking about managing the many roles she has in her life, especially as a married Jewish woman, including the struggle and opportunity in fitting mikveh into a busy schedule.
- The kallah teacher will learn different meanings and symbolism of immersion experience.
- The kallah teacher will learn from Effie Markovitz which fundamental aspects of financial planning can be incorporated into kallah teaching to help the couple work toward financial security right from their engagement/marriage.
- Specific terms to be included: טבילה בזמנה מצוה/לאו מצוה, privacy
Preparation for Mikveh & Mikveh Immersion
- The kallah teacher will learn how to define a חציצה, how to properly prepare for mikveh and the timing of preparation.
- The kallah teacher will learn how to teach the kallah which beauty regimens are obligatory and which can be skipped.
- The kallah teacher will learn how to offer suggestions that can transform preparation from a halachic requirement into a well-deserved pampering session.
- The kallah teacher will learn about various cosmetic procedures and their impact on the mikveh preparation process.
- The kallah teacher will be aware of the basic signs of obsessive compulsive tendencies and other struggles with anxiety; she will learn what to do if she suspects a kallah might be suffering from these.
- The kallah teacher will learn how to explain the role of the mikveh attendant.
- Specific terms to be included: ברכת הטבילה, כל גופה, חציצה, חפיפה, רוב, מקפיד, עיון, checklist, mikveh attendants, post-mikveh showers
*At this point, students will schedule appointments with Nishmat’s Miriam Glaubach Center for their oral summative assessments.
Q & A with Rabbi Auman
- The kallah teacher will have an opportunity to ask any lingering questions about the laws of Jewish Family Life.
- The kallah teachers will have an opportunity to ask any lingering questions about the various hashkafic approaches and their personal teaching approach.
- The kallah teachers will have an opportunity to discuss the unique concerns and considerations they have and anticipate having as rebbetzins.
- Rachel Hercman, renowned psychotherapist and speaker, will speak to the kallah teachers about healthy relationships.
- The kallah teacher will learn how to teach the kallah the basics of healthy communication.
- The kallah teacher will become sensitive to the most common difficulties couples face in 21st century marriage .
- The kallah teacher will understand the significance of her role in framing and teaching טהרת המשפחה to a kallah.
- The kallah teacher will learn to guide a couple with mismatched sexual needs.
- The kallah teacher will learn the most common myths about sexuality that can be very damaging to a young couple’s starting out an intimate relationship.
*Students will be orally assessed by Nishmat’s Miriam Glaubach Center.
Shalom Task Force & Agunot, the Halachic Prenuptial Agreement & Domestic Abuse with ORA
- Avital Levin, LMSW, Director of Education, Shalom Task Force, will speak about the importance of healthy relationships, red flags, and action strategies to implement if you become aware of problems
- ORA will explain the difference between a healthy, unhealthy and abusive relationships
- ORA will explain get-refusal as a form of abuse.
- The kallah teacher will learn how to educate the kallah about signing a halachic prenup, a standard part of the wedding preparations and ceremony.
Coming Full Circle: Wrap Up Session
- The kallah teachers will review the assessments from Sessions 8 through 17.
- The kallah teachers will have finished preparing their kallah teaching curricula & will have an opportunity to share personal highlights of their freshly-minted individualized curricula.
- The kallah teachers will reflect on the course and its impact on their future teaching.
*Remaining students will be assessed by Nishmat’s Miriam Glaubach Center.