Talking About Intimacy and Sexuality: A Review

February 23, 2014

by Kathe PinchuckCoverIntimacy

It is challenging to discuss intimacy and sexuality with our children, even more so to frame them in the Jewish contexts of respect and holiness. Several issues are repeated through the text: balancing the need to be proactive with giving kids more information than they are ready to process; the pervasive effects of the media (television, internet, cell phones) on everyone’s perceptions of body image and sexuality; and the biblical mandate to be holy. Each chapter begins with a quote and ends with a summary and the footnotes. Topics include Child Development, Tzniut (Modesty), Relationships between the Sexes, Masturbation, Homosexuality, Media and Its Challenges, and Sexual Harassment and Abuse. Within the chapters, there are numerous “model conversations” to have with children on different topics, and a list of these is included in the back matter. Appendix I includes separate student guides for both boys and girls, and Appendix II is a recommended reading list. The book includes a glossary and an index.

Dr. Debow has done extensive research about intimacy and sexuality with children and teenagers in the Orthodox community, and has published sexuality curriculum for Jewish schools. Because the book is meant for more Modern Orthodox Jewish parents, who often have greater access to secular books and the internet than less Modern Orthodox Jews would, most of the secular and basic physiological information could be found in other places. The chapter on “Relationships between the Sexes” is particularly important for parents of teenagers who are interacting with opposite-sex peers, and unfortunately, the “Sexual Harassment and Abuse” information is critical. The book is poorly indexed, which detracts from its usefulness when parents need references on a specific topic. Given that the target audience and the libraries that serve the group are relatively small in number, it is suggested that librarians keep the title on their resource lists. It is recommended for personal and professional purchase.

This review originally appeared in AJL Reviews


Utilizing Halacha To Address Difficult Social And Medical Issues

December 31, 2012

CoverIntimacy

by Rivkah Blau

A writer of non-fiction for the general community has to know the topic well; a writer for the observant Jewish community has an additional requirement – to understand that Jewish law, halacha, informs our decisions and actions.

To write about such a sensitive topic as talking about intimacy with one’s children, we need a psychologist who has experience teaching children. For Jewish perspectives on genetic diseases we require a doctor who is up on the latest research in genetics. For both topics, the authors should know thehalacha, present primary Torah sources, and consult rabbis on difficult questions. Fortunately, Bernard Scharfstein at Ktav Publishing House found the appropriate authors at the moment we really need books on these two subjects.

Dr. Yocheved Debow is the perfect author for the first book, Talking About Intimacy and Sexuality: A Guide for Orthodox Jewish Parents. She has a BA in psychology and education and an MA in child clinical and school psychology from Hebrew University, and a Ph.D. from Bar Ilan, where her research was on sexuality and intimacy education in the Modern Orthodox community. Read the rest of this entry »