Orthodox plan to teach brides halachah of sex
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The art of "Kallah" teachers - the women tasked with preparing Orthodox brides for marital life - is being given a radical new focus.
Kallah teachers normally give lessons on the laws of Niddah, which proscribe physical contact between husband and wife during her menstrual period, and the preparations for immersion in a mikveh, after which normal marital relations may resume.
But according to three American modern Orthodox organisations, the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah and Yeshivat Maharat, the important element of female sexuality is rarely part of the syllabus.
In response, the three groups ran a four-day workshop in New York last week entitled "Demystifying sex and teaching halachah". Their aim was to provide Kallah teachers with a good understanding of the halachah of sexual ethics and the confidence to lead an open discussion on sexuality and sexual health.
The workshop took as its starting point the fact that most Kallah teachers either assume that the women they teach will instinctively know what to expect sexually or they are just not comfortable discussing it in detail.
Issues discussed included the importance of sexual pleasure from a religious point of view and the profound impact that Kallah teachers can have both on a couple's first sexual experience and the way the couple experience sex throughout their marriage.
Participants included two dental hygienists, campus educators, a mikveh 'lady', a midwife in training and a fertility nurse.