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February 23, 1979 - Image 48

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1979-02-23

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

48 Friday, February 23, 1979

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

SPACE Opens Whole New World
for Newly Single Jewish Parents

By HEIDI PRESS

SPACE is no longer an
unfathomable void.
Instead, it is an acronym
for the Single Parent
`Awareness Caring Ex-
change, a community serv-
ice of the Greater Detroit
Section, National Council of
Jewish Women, whose focus
's to provide guidance for
separated, divorced and
widowed parents and inch-
viduals.
According to Nadine Bell,
executive director and the
only non-volunteer ad-
ministrator-of the program,
SPACE seeks to utilize the
problems caused by the dis-
integration of a marriage to
work toward positive ends.
"The program is not
only problem oriented,"
she said. "We emphasize
strength and growth."
She added that no one is
led by the hand. The pro-
gram offers a, guideline
and "you get -out of it
what you put into it," she
said.
How that can be achieved
is seen in the resources of-
fered by SPACE. Among
them are forums, a bi-
monthly newsletter, sup-
_ port groups, retreats, dis-
cussion groups and lectures.
A certified social worker,
Mrs. Bell explained that the
forums include workshops
conducted by professionals,
usually persons in the be-
havioral sciences and attor-
neys, to offer information or
provide guidance in a

variety of areas, including
how to cope with loneliness,
depression and grief; cus-
tody and visiting rights and
how to get into the job mar7
ket.
Such a forum will take
place 12:16-p.m. Sunday at
the Maple-Drake Jewish
Community Center. The
keynote speaker who will
appear prior to the work-
shop sessions is Nickie
McWhirter, Detroit Free
Press columnist and herself
a divorcee.
Although it is not a
socially-oriented pro-
gram, SPACE provides a
dignified setting for
newly single parents and
individuals, men and
women, to compare ex-
periences. According to
Mrs. Bell, "Individuals
have the opportunity to
get in. touch with their
own strengths in the sup-
port groups. They get
support from their peers
and also help someone
else" in a similar situa-
tion.
"People come together
here and build relation-
ships," she said. She told of
one woman who came to a
SPACE gathering, met a
woman in a similar circum-
twig became
stance, and the two
friends, planning many ac-
tivities together.
Men are involved in the
program too, but their
numbers are smaller in
comparison to women.
"Traditionally men don't
turn out, but that is chang-

ing," she said.
Yet, the program is not
only for adults. Children
also are considered. In
the children's program,
entitled "Stretch and
Grow," children partici-
pate in professionally-led
rap sessions at different
age levels. There are rec-
reational activities
geared for the various
age groups, but the major
aim of both the discus-
sion sessions and activi-
ties is to heighten the
child's self-awareness
and guide him so that he
can cope with the new
experiences to be
encountered by the sep-
aration, divorce or death
of a parent.
Mrs. Bell emphasized
that the children's groups
provide a model of what
they will have to face in the
"real world."
How did the program get
its start and what is its suc-
cess to date?
SPACE became a reality
in spring 1978, after a
single parent who could not
find the resources in the
community to help him,
came to the NCJW with the
idea of starting a program
for the separated, divorced
and widowed. -
An NCJW committee
was formed to study the
need for such a project. A
program was adopted
and budget drawn up.
The March board meet-
ing of the Greater Detroit
Section approved the

MDA Mobile ICU Aids Jerusalem Infants

- JERUSALEM — Prema-
ture and ill infants now
have a better chance of sur-
vival because of an innova-
tive program initiated by
Magen David Adorn (MDA),
Israel's emergency health
service, in cooperation with
Hadassah Hospital.
Infants encountering se-
vere problems at birth are
rushed in_ specially equip-
ped intensive care MDA
ambulances with trained
MDA technicians con-
stantly monitoring the
child's vital signs, to the
Hadassah Hospital infant
intensive care unit. The
-struggle to maintain the
baby's life can now begin in
the MDA ambulance on the
way to the hospital, because
the ambulance acts as an
extension of the hospital's
intensive care unit.
The Jerusalem program
is a first in Israel and MDA
expects to expand it into
hospitals throughout the
country as technicians are
trained by the new MDA
paramedic program.

'An infant is shown receiving treatment in one of
Magen David Adom's new mobile intensive care units
in Jerusalem.

proposal in toto. An in-
centive for the local
chapter to involve itself
in the project was a memo
from the - national office
calling for local groups to
pay attention to the
single parent phenom-
enon.
As with any NCJW proj-
ect, a chairman is picked
from among the board
members. Since NCJW is a
volunteer agency, none of
the administrators from the
ranks of the women's organ-
ization is paid. Mrs. Bell,
who serves as the profes-
sional administrator, re-
ceives a salary.
The chairman of the pro-
gram is Carol Krugel, a
married woman, who finds
her marital status a boon,
rather than a stumbling
block to the program.
"I have the time to give,
and the stability in my life
is beneficial to the pro-
gram," Mrs. Krugel said. "It
helps for the program to
have a person with a lot of
free time:"
Mrs. Krugel said her
role as the overall ad-
ministrator of the pro-
gram has "given me
much greater under-
standing of the prob-
lems" of persons whose
marriages have disinte-
grated.
Her co-chairmen, Rhoda
Baruch, a widow, -Ad Betsy
Newman, a di- orcee, work
closely wit-A. her. "We're
called the Triumvirate,"
Mrs. Krugel said. "We work
as a team."
The teamwork has paid
off. Since its establishment
last May, the response from
the community — both from
single parents and agencies
— has been favorable, Mrs.
Bell said.
"We've developed tre-
mendous credibility- in the
community," she said, em-
phasizing that psychiat-
rists, the Jewish Family
Service and other agencies
have been quick to recom-
mend the service.
Another result iS the
involvement of the par-
ticipants themselves.
Mrs. Bell cited the ex-
perience of Barbara
Gordon, a volunteer who
came to the program
seeking help, and who
has since given hours of
her time answering tele-
phone inquiries and per-
forming tasks on behalf
of SPACE.
Asked if the program is
open only to Jews, Mrs. Bell
said that the program is
"primarily Jewish," but
non-Jews are welcome. She
said that is generally the
rule for NJCW efforts.
What does she forecast for
SPACE?
"I want to get all the
agencies to work coopera-
tively in the SPACE pro-
gram. I'd like to see them all
involved."
Perhaps in SPACE, for
some, an unchartered void
will reveal a brand new
world.

Boris Smolar's

`Between You
. . . and Me'

Editor-in-Chief
Emeritus, JTA
(Copyright 1979, JTA, Inc.)

JEWISH DIVORCES: Much is being written on the
rise of inter-marriage among Jews and its effect on Jewish
family life. But nothing — almost nothing — is being noted
of the tremendous growth of Jewish divorces. Many may be
surprised to learn that one-third. of Jewish marriages in
this country end up now in divorce.
Jewish law makes it comparatively easy for one
obtain a divorce. Yet Jewish divorces in the "old count
were a rarity. To be divorced was no credit to the man, a
tragedy to the woman, and an embarrassment for the entire
family.
Although the Jewish law for granting a divorce was far
from being strict, there were many deterrents of public
opinion against divorce in the Jewish communities of East-
ern Europe and persistent pressure from the rabbi for re-
conciliation. Divorce was sought mostly by men when the
wife did not bear children. This was an acknowledged rea-
son by the rabbi since the Bible says distinctly that Jews
must have children and multiply. Other reasons were also
taken into consideration by the rabbi, but he first at-
tempted to effect reconciliation and he even set a cooling off
period for the couple "to think things OVer." Only when
these efforts failed, did the rabbi issue the "Get" — the Bill
of Divorce.
In this country, where state and religion are separate,
divorces are officially recognized when granted by a civi-
lian court. Orthodox Jews who are not content to have
merely a legal dissolution of their marriage, seek also a .
religious sanction by a Beth Din — a religious court. They
get in with little difficulty.
Until a generation ago, Jewish divorces were com-
paratively a rarity also in this country. In the early years of
this century, when Jewish mass-immigration from Eastern
Europe was high, there were-cases-of 'Jewish immigrants
who changed their minds about bringing over'their wives
from Europe and obtained rabbinical divorces which were
delivered to their wives by proxy. This 'cruel practice was
stopped.
But with an American-born generation of Jews grow-
ing up, the number of Jewish divorces began to grow from
year to year, until it reached its present proportion.
* * * -

CAUSE AND EFFECT: There are numerous reasons
for the constant growth of Jewish divorce during recent
years. One of them is the "easy" marriage which prevails
now among the American youth, Jewish and non-Jewish.
Many young Jewish people marry today without even con-
sulting their parents. Easy marriage usually spells easy
divorce, whether on the initiative of the husband or the
wife.
Another reason is the gradual evaporation of the sanc-
tity of marriage, even in young families where there are
children. The number of "single-parents" is thus now grow-
ing among Jews, becoming a serious problem for the Jewish
community in general. It is anticipated that about 70 per-
cent of the children in Jewish summer camps will this year
be from single-parent families.
A very important reason for the growth of divorces
among Jews is the fact that since the official recognition
given to the "Women's Lib" movement — prohibiting bias
against women in employment -- many young married
Jewish women have succeeded in securing high and well-
paid positions in various fields of American life. They are
ambitious to grow in their positions. If married life is in the
way, they prefer a divorce.
There are also other reasons for the' growing divorce
rate and family breakdowns among Jews. Just as mixed
marriages constitute a danger for Jewish continuity, so
the mounting number of Jewish divorces.

* * *

COMMUNITY CONCERN: The strength and future
of the Jewish family is a major concern of the Jewish com-
munity. The Council of Jewish Federations is now engaged
in studying the problem of Jewish divorces, Jewish single
parent families, and Jewish family life in general.
Leaders of the CJF recommend that community plan-
ning for the family should be undertaken on a more com-
prehensive basis in cities across the country; also that work
with the family should include not only federations and
their functional agencies, but synagogues and other Jewish,
institutions. It should be looked upon as a cooperative ven-
ture.
The increase in separation and divorce is no small prob-
lem for the communities. They, are now studying how to
serve best the affected individuals. As to single adults, it is
suggested that federations, and their constituent agencies,
reach out to them and strengthen their sense of Jewish
belonging in every possible way.

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