Marriage Tradition in Jewish Culture

The theme of the CRCS-ICRS Wednesday Forum held on March 24, 2010 was “Sanctification or Subordination? Traditional Jewish Marriage and Alternatives within Rabbinic Literature”? presented by Melanie Landau from the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation at Monash University. Dr. Siti Syamsiyatun acted as moderator. The forum cum videoconference was conducted at the Conference Room at the Faculty of Law, UGM.

Ms. Landau discussed the traditional elements of Jewish marriage, two legal authorities or modification to Jewish marriage and the new interpretation to traditional marriage; she also included the aspect of the acquisition of the woman by the man, as elaborated in ancient and medieval rabbinic texts.

With regard to the new interpretation to traditional marriage, she mentioned that on the one hand, there is an attribution form at home and on the other hand, someone should be remade in order to make them feel like home. In doing so, it allows them to remake their home in a deeper more meaningful and in a much sustained term.

According to her, a Jewish woman is acquired in three ways and acquires herself in two ways. She is acquired with money or with legal document or through sex relation; she acquires herself through the bill of divorce or through the death of her husband. When the husband dies and they are childless, the woman is obliged to marry the brother of her husband.

During the open forum, there were interesting and realistic questions asked by the audience to her which she answered fluently. Three questions came from Nene, an ICRS student, who inquired about the issue on arranged marriage in the Jewish community, the duty of woman in the household in a Jewish community and the values of the Jewish children in the family, is there a difference between the values of the daughter and the son. Another question came from Maufur, an ICRS staff, who asked how far the new interpretation of the Biblical Text can affect Jewish marriage. And the last question came from a student who queried about the condition of a Jewish woman who marries a non-Jewish man.

The forum ended at exactly 2:30 in the afternoon as scheduled. Ms. Landau received a warm applause from the audience for her wonderful presentation. Truly, the topic gave the audience a brand new knowledge about the Jewish community.

Ms. Melanie Landau is a lecturer at Monash University who focuses her studies on Jewish Literature and Jewish Thinking, and practically about Gender Relation and Marriage. She was the former associate director of Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation at Monash.

(HAK)

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