How To Find the Right Kallah Teacher
Isn’t it wonderful how much time and effort Jewish women invest in their daughters’ wedding preparations – Everything is planned meticulously down to the smallest detail in order to make the evening a big success.
However one “small” but highly important matter is often not given the amount of attention and consideration it deserves. This is the choice of Kallah teacher who will assume the awesome responsibility of preparing the bride for marriage and intimacy. In many cases the Kallah herself finds someone with whom to learn, having adopted the suggestion of one of her newly married friends. While friends are a wonderful source of help and support, in this case they often lack the information and perspective needed to make an accurate recommendation.
The ramifications of poor or inadequate preparation are many and varied. Some young women have the good fortune to learn with an excellent teacher who is able to give them what they need. Others, however, are not given adequate preparation and these couples often end up at the offices of a marriage guidance counsellor or intimacy expert sooner or later. They may have been taught Halacha but not intimacy, or they may have been taught intimacy by a lady who felt uncomfortable and awkward discussing the matter. They may have been given little or no skills with which to tackle the everyday challenges of married life. Yet again they may have learned with someone whose approach to life and to Halacha is radically different from their own.
It is said in the name of Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach z”l that a prerequisite to teaching brides is to be happily married oneself. This may be because the formal teaching is accompanied by undercurrent attitudes which are transmitted from teacher to pupil. Thus I recommend that every mother actively make enquiries regarding the teacher and the course and if possible meet up with the teacher in person in order to assess whether she would be an appropriate teacher and role model for her daughter. If this level of involvement is inappropriate within the context of your relationship with your daughter, then at least share with her your concerns and give her parameters to help her make an informed decision. As her mother, not only do you have her best interest at heart but you also have the life experience and perspective that your daughter has not yet acquired.
I have compiled a list of questions which you and/or your daughter might find helpful when making your choice. I hope this helps you in your search.
How long has she been married?
Does her own marriage look like one that you would want your daughter to emulate?
What is her general haskafa on marriage?
Is she connected to a particular posek?
Is she available for consultation after the wedding?
What and how extensive is her training?
Does her resume include experience in related fields such as social work or counseling?
Is she able to spot potentially problematic issues?
How long has she been teaching brides?
Does the teacher feel confortable discussing intimate matters?
Does she do so in a sensitive yet explicit manner?
Does she encourage the bride to ask questions?
Do you have references for the teacher? Or which aspects of the course?
Have you met the Kallah teacher?
Is your daughter likely to bond with her?
Will your daughter feel free to voice any concerns she may have?
How long is the course? How many meetings? How long is each session?
What topics were covered?
What percentage of the course is Halacha?
Is a distinction made between Halachot and Chumrot?
What sources are used?
Are the Halachot presented in a clear, interesting and non-threatening manner?
What terminology is used?
Even after you have selected a teacher for your daughter, please stay involved. Discuss the material with your daughter and be in contact with the teacher if necessary.
REMEMBER: Although the fees that Kallah teachers take may vary, this should not be a major consideration. Remember how much you pay for makeup, flowers, food and the band for just one evening. Choosing a Kallah teacher is an investment for life!
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