OU Marriage Enrichment Retreat A Priceless Gift for Happy Jewish Couples

04 Aug 2011


“Our bond of marriage has been renewed, reinforced, and reinvigorated – a priceless gift.”
— Participant on this year’s OU Marriage Enrichment Retreat

At the Sixth Annual OU Marriage Enrichment Retreat, 84 happily married couples of all ages came together from across America (22 of whom were returning from previous years) to suburban New Jersey, to reinforce and strengthen their marital skills and tools; emphasizing that even the most successful and worthwhile marriages require effort.

Organized by the OU Department of Community Services | Jewish Community Programs under the direction of Frank Buchweitz, OU National Director of Community Services and Special Projects, the marriage enrichment retreat, built around an entire weekend, including a memorable Shabbat, featured workshops from leading Orthodox mental health professionals offering relevant and practical ideas for already positive marriages. Among the experts were OU Executive Vice President Rabbi Steven Weil, and his wife, Yael, who collaborated during a seudat shlishit presentation of “Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus: The Jewish Version.”

Rabbi Weil noted, “Yael and I had the privilege of participating in a truly remarkable and memorable experience, as we joined a variety of outstanding workshops throughout a weekend geared towards further strengthening healthy marriages. An additional 45 couples were sorely disappointed that they never made it off of the waiting list of this sold-out event.”

Reflected a participant from this year’s weekend, “The OU Marriage Retreat was relaxing, educational, enjoyable, and most of all, enriching. Our bond of marriage has been renewed, reinforced, and reinvigorated — a priceless gift.”

According to Frank Buchweitz, “The marriage retreat provided an enormous resource of enrichment ideas to participants which they were eager to accept. The couples were deeply committed to the program, open to suggestions and guidelines, and enthusiastically embraced the program concept.”

Marriages of the 168 participants in attendance totaled 1,663 years of combined experience, ranging from seven months to 55 years. Of the couples in attendance, 29 percent were married 0-10 years; 19 percent were married 11-20 years; 28 percent were married 21-30 years; 17 percent were married 31-40 and 6 percent were married 40+ years.

Participant responses included, “Meeting a mix of people, understanding that marital ‘issues’ are far from being something to overlook, are indeed something that not only can be fixed, but are normal and can strengthen the marriage;” and “The speakers were very informative and on the mark, giving a Torah perspective on marriage-related issues, and interactions between husband and wife. These are life-changing sessions.”

As the retreat has established a word of mouth reputation as an outstanding opportunity to make good marriages even better, and have a fun weekend, participants came from not only the metropolitan New York/New Jersey area, but as far west as Michigan and far south as Maryland. Expressed a couple from Pittsburgh, “It was nice to get together and meet so many people from different communities – it was a beautiful show of achdut.”

The workshops and seminars at this year’s retreat refreshed, reenergized, and openly addressed challenging issues within marriage such as listening skills, intimacy, finances, re-marriages and blended families. A participant remarked, “It was so interesting to see so much focus on intimacy in such a kosher, tznua (modest) way.”

Another couple noted, “The atmosphere created was very important, as from the minute we arrived, there was an ease and comfort with which everyone seemed to communicate, from the guests to the speakers.”

“The classes were great and created an open environment for the couples,” explained a Baltimore couple. “This retreat is really crucial for the next generation to ensure Jewish continuity. Our kids need healthy and stable homes. We learned a great deal and look forward to implementing the many constructive approaches that were provided.”

Couples not only got to know one another, but made friends in the process – particularly during Shabbat. One wife noted, “Seeing that everyone has to work on marriage, regardless of age and years married, was something I really internalized much greater. I was inspired by some of the personal stories of the presenters who served as an example of how to succeed in marriage.”

As one couple clearly observed, reflecting the thoughts of many participants, “Thanks to the OU for thinking of all the so many little details that make all the difference — the signs, handouts, etc. — the organization was outstanding. The down to earth and friendliness of the staff was fabulous, and set the tone from beginning to end.”

For further information about the OU Marriage Enrichment Weekend Retreats, or to bring a program to your synagogue or community, contact Frank Buchweitz, at {encode=”mailto:community@ou.org” title=”community@ou.org”}.

OU | World’s Largest Jewish Resource