JOIN-Empowerment and Family

JOINing to stabilize a family

Strife-ridden families can deteriorate to the point of becoming toxic. JOIN Israel's career-training, coping and self-development courses; marriage and family education and counseling; and psychological counseling and support groups diffuse hundreds of explosive situations and reset respect, stability and caring.

JOIN Israel leads a loose consortium of nonprofits and lay-leaders, and professionals (most of whom we trained) to offer an array of programs, dissemination of information and skills development and support to help those who can be enlisted to help themselves.

What We're Up Against

Now a decade after initiation, JOIN Israel's trailblazing marriage and family enhancement programs have restored the stability of many Russian-immigrant families in Israel and provided a firm foundation to build on. Here's why we can't ignore the problems, and why we are implementing solutions that work:

  1. Russia and Ukraine share the dubious honor of leading the world in broken homes. The massive influx of immigrants from these countries transplanted the problems straight to Israel, where the stresses of immigration and economic hardship further chip away at family stability. Cultural gaps between parents and children, and the prevalent situation of youth being more integrated and better at managing and communicating, topples parental authority and rips the family unit asunder. But rather than seeking help, cultural abhorrence and distrust of psychology – and the inclination to hide problems – denies these families the intervention they so desperately need.

Between 1981 and 2001, marriage rates in Russia dropped by a third, and divorce rates rose by a third, according to Russian government estimates. As Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute pointed out recently in one of the last issues of The Public Interest, Russia now has three divorces for every four marriages, an astounding rate of family breakups. ("Mourning Mother Russia," by David Brooks, op-ed columnist, The New York Times, April 28, 2005)

  1. The impact of improving marriages goes way beyond the feel-good of the couple; it profoundly affects personal productivity, health, children and the society.

* Children of divorce are often stunted economically and can't seem to work their way into higher-income levels, says a 2010 study from Pew Charitable Trusts.

* Children of divorce have shorter life spans by an average of five years compared to children whose parents didn't divorce, according to a new study by Howard Friedman and Leslie Martin.

That longevity data is "the most devastating analysis that we've seen ... of the impact of divorce on children. They don't 'get over it,'" said Chris Gersten, a former Department of Health and Human Services official.

Healthy marriages provide many benefits, including:
  • A longer life and fewer physical health problems;
  • Fewer symptoms of depression;
  • Lowered levels of domestic and sexual violence against women and girls;
  • Less likelihood of children becoming involved in crime, substance abuse, and/or teen pregnancy.
  1. Well-conceived marriage education has statistically demonstrated an ability to offer long-term improvements in marriage stability (lower divorce rates), functioning (lower aggression rates), and satisfaction and bonding.

"Marriage and Welfare Reform: The Overwhelming Evidence that Marriage Education Works," by Patrick F. Fagan, Robert W. Patterson, and Robert E. Rector, presents the findings of several meta-analyses, outcomes research, and a wealth of studies too numerous to document here, providing solid evidence that even for couples in very troubled circumstances, marriage-centered programs are effective. Whether they offer marital skills training, counseling, or intervention for distressed marriages, such efforts have been found to improve communication skills, reduce conflict, and greatly increase the chances of marital satisfaction.

  1. Notwithstanding the tremendous need for Russian-immigrant marriage education, there are very few resources and no proactive efforts in the Russian community in Israel meaning that there is a unique need for JOIN Israel's expertise.
  1. JOIN Israel has the long-time familiarity with the Russian community to make our marriage and family enhancement programs work. Our achievements in this area include:
    • JOIN Israel's 7-year Marriage Counseling Training Course and accreditation of qualified, Russian-speaking marriage counselors to interact with this community
    • Our subsidization of marriage counseling and therapy for indigent couples
    • Our training of pre-wedding educators and creation of instructional seminars and videos
    • Our initiation of dozens of relationship and communication workshops for high-school students, dating couples, married couples and parents
    • Our development of seminars teaching coping, time management, and empowerment skills for men and women
    • Our production of hundreds of print and online articles, a monthly e-newsletter, and books and educational videos to teach effective communication techniques
    • Our annual 3-day retreat for stressed mothers, camps and camp subsidies during school vacations for stressed families with many children, and stress-management workshops

The bottom line? Marriage education is a vital and fundamental need for Russian-immigrant couples and families in Israel. Join JOIN Israel as we continue to make great inroads into strengthening the immigrant family.


Story of Success

It’s a girl! Lacey stretchies, pink bedding – how long can this excitement last? Precisely a month: One day I woke up and realized that having three children under the age of five is actually a burden. With my husband away all day, I wished I could move in with my mother like my other friends do. But my mother is far away in Moscow. I felt so alone.

Two months later, I was sleep-deprived, nervous and totally incapable of running my home. That’s when I got the invitation to JOIN Israel’s retreat for hyper-stressed mothers. My husband agreed to take care of our little ones so I could get away for three days, and off I went with the baby.

The minute I stepped into the hotel, I felt myself relax. There were antique tiles on the floors, thick stone walls with little windows, new, shiny bathrooms, and a stunning view of the Old City of Jerusalem. We were a ten-minute walk from the Western Wall and a fifteen-minute walk from the Mamilla mall. Three days passed by in an atmosphere of good company, delicious food, inspiring talks and fun activities, and time to stroll and shop.* I met old friends and made new ones as we swapped ideas for mothering large families and taking care of ourselves, too.

I am so grateful to the organizers and the speakers, not to mention the babysitters. As I headed home, I felt totally rejuvenated. Who said that three little kids are a burden? Now, I’m ready for ten!

*JOIN Israel paid $36 pp/night for the hotel and breakfast; total cost for nearly 100 women, including staff, speakers, babysitters, activities and meals, was $9000!

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