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our families, between traditions and breaking up

On October 11th 2015, the Coopération Féminine and ICJW France organised a symposium during the whole day at the Rachi center. The theme being the Family, the title was “Our Families, Between Traditions and Breaking Up”, as it seemed obvious to the organising team that the families  were not anymore the ideal picture of 50, 40, 30 years ago, whether in the Jewish families or in all the families.

The morning session had been dedicated to the social side of the changes with three specialists : Aldo Naouri, a very well known pediatrician, mixing the psychological side of the children and their parents, with the more “ordinary” problems of the children. He spoke about the so called recomposed families : the divorced parents, each of them having new partners, with or without children and how this “worked” on the whole family.
A totally different way of dealing with the problems occurring in the families was the “blog”, the internet correspondance, pointed out by a young writer and journalist Jessica Cyperman, whose blog “Serial mother” is followed by hundreds of young mothers, asking for advice, help and who, frequently are living alone with their child or children.
Jessica Allouche-Benayoun, a well known psycho-sociologist, spoke about the split families, the mothers living either with new partners or alone, in the Jewish world, not different from the non Jewish world, sometimes being inside one into another and how they manage to live in harmony, and with statistics showing the drastic changes in the Jewish world and families.
Evelyn Ascot, moderated this session, which had been opened by Evelyne Berdugo, President of the Coopération Féminine who had welcomed the assistance and given a short review of the activities of this organisation, the French affiliate of ICJW.
The big audience had lunch together, visited various stalls giving information about the activities of the Coopération Féminine and were able to discuss the morning session and the topic on itself.
The afternoon session started with the intervention of the Chief Rabbi of France, Haim Korsia, who gave a very lively speech about the families in the Bible, not always so perfect as one might think….. Abraham who was not always faithful to his wife Sara and had to put the mother of his first son Ismael into the desert, not to speak about Jacob who had to work 7 years in order to marry the woman he loved Rachel, but had married her sister, Leah before and had other children with “domestics”…..
The proper afternoon session started with Rabbi Delphine Horvilleur, woman rabbi of the Liberal community and the real “star” to-day in Jewish and non Jewish circles, due to her knowledge, intelligence and charisma. She spoke about the problem when “not everybody is a Jew in the family”, which is not unusual at all nowadays.
She pointed out that this was not the case only nowadays : Moses was married to a Moabite woman, the story of Boas and Ruth and Naomi is very well known, so the Liberal synagogue copes with this, converting, when the man or woman wish to do so and their common children too and making life easier than in the Orthodox communities.
The last person to speak was Isabelle Cohen, a Doctor in the history of religions and her topic was : Jewish reflexions on the links between gender and parentality, a very high level conference about the part of the mother and the one of the father and how sometimes their roles are inversed, which the very large audience followed with interest.
This afternoon part has been moderated by Laurence Goldmann, journalist and a member of the Coopération Féminine.

This symposium was concluded by Elisabeth Birene, the VP of ICJW France who explained the role of ICJW within the Cooperation Féminine and officially closed by Laurence Rossignol, State Secretary in charge of the Family in the French government, who gave the audience a very special intervention about the projects of the French government regarding the family and especially, the big problem of the monoparental mothers who have immense problems which have to be taken care of.

A very special day for both the Coopération Féminine and ICJW France.


BY ELISABETH BIRENE, VICE PRESIDENT ICJW FRANCE.