Talking About Intimacy and Sexuality: A Guide for Orthodox Jewish Parents
By Dr. Yocheved Debow
OU Press, KTAV Publishing House
The publication of Dr. Yocheved Debow’s book is a cause for celebration in the Orthodox Jewish community. For parents and educators, whose job is about to become much easier, it will be worth its weight in gold.
The topic of sexuality is a complex, delicate, bewildering one, and the responsible parent wishing to address the topic properly must marshal an enormous amount of Torah knowledge—both halachic and hashkafic, accurate scientific information, profound psychological insight, familiarity with the unprecedented challenges and dangers confronting our children in this social media-driven generation and sensitivity and compassion. Dr. Debow, who holds advanced degrees in education and child psychology and teaches at Midreshet Moriah in Jerusalem, has presented us with a book which contains all that, and much more.
Education about the facts of human reproduction has been the responsibility of parents since the beginning of time. Many Orthodox Jewish parents today find it very difficult to impart this necessary information to their children and leave this vital aspect of their children’s education to others. Sometimes these “others” are teachers and textbooks, but more typically children learn about sexuality from friends on the playground or worse, from the cultural heroes of contemporary Western civilization whose attitudes and values are hardly wholesome and are inconsistent with Orthodox Jewish values.
Talking About Intimacy and Sexuality will equip parents to discharge this primary parental duty in a constructive and Torah-true manner. Dr. Debow knows the language of children at every stage of the developmental spectrum and provides practical suggestions as to the terminology and imagery which can be absorbed even by the very young. She presents scientific information and is especially adept at the presentation and clarification of Jewish values and halachic principles. She defines the Jewish sexual ethic, teaches tzeniut (modesty) and convinces the reader of the important role of teshuvah and the possibility of self-discipline as a means to kedushah. Her instructions and recommendations are never abstract and theoretical, but practical and down to earth.
A comprehensive treatment of the subject, Talking About Intimacy and Sexuality also includes important discussions about eating disorders, the Internet and sexual harassment and abuse. It is an invaluable resource for every Jewish parent.