Emet Outreach is committed to building Jewish families and ensuring the Jewish future. Each year, the organization guides over 50 couples to the chupah, and it is typical for Emet’s dedicated staff to have the z’chus to attend a wedding almost every week. Emet’s involvement continues after marriage, as the rabbis and m’karvos are actively supporting over 350 couples with halachah and taharas ha’mishpachah assistance. In recognition of the fact that an emotionally healthy couple is the foundation of every Jewish family, Emet has now introduced a new series of couples workshops.

Led by Rabbi Akiva Rutenberg, Emet’s co-founder and director, these monthly workshops are designed for newlyweds to those married under five years. Rabbi Rutenberg is not only well-known to many of the couples since their college days, but more importantly he is a licensed clinical social worker with a specialty in couples counseling.

“One of the most meaningful aspects of my role at Emet is the individual classes I give each couple before their wedding. These workshops are a practical extension of that introductory class. I’ve probably given over 200 one-on-one, pre-wedding classes, and I’m often told by our couples that these personalized sessions provided them with an invaluable perspective when starting their marriage,” Rabbi Rutenberg said. “We’re fortunate at Emet to meet our students when they begin their transformative college years, and we’re with them along their journey as they forge a deeper commitment to their Jewish heritage. This journey continues through marriage and building a family – which is a real beginning and sets the tone for their future.”

The first session, on Sunday, January 12, was attended by more than 30 couples at the Young Israel of Jamaica Estates. The evening began with a delicious dinner buffet. Rabbi Rutenberg started the class by relaying to the crowd that working on marriage is a life-long goal and that all marriages need work. He continued by explaining that the most successful relationships are those where both spouses are constantly working on themselves and are willing to be open and vulnerable with one another. He stressed that marriage is a “growing process,” and similar to working out in a gym, there will be some initial pain when uncovering feelings. He encouraged the couples to be introspective and work through feelings together to ultimately build strength in their marriages.

Rabbi Rutenberg captivated the couples with his practical and sensitive approach to delving into marriage. The workshop included a discussion as well as many helpful interactive exercises based on the work of noted author and psychologist Dr. John Gottman, such as creating a “couple’s growth plan.”

“During our first class, I felt so much enthusiasm from our couples and a willingness to sincerely participate and put in the effort,” Rabbi Rutenberg said. “The bottom line is that our couples and alumni are like our family. We’re constantly developing programs to meet their ever-changing needs throughout their individual religious journeys,” he said. “Emotional health is very important, and we hope to be with these amazing young families at every step.”

The workshop series is being coordinated by Elmira Ghavitian, and the next session is scheduled for Monday, February 3.

For further information on Emet programs and upcoming events, please visit www.emetoutreach.org.