Women attend Tzohar conference on sex education
Women attend Tzohar conference on sex educationTzohar Rabbinical Organization

The religious-Zionist Tzohar Rabbinical Organization hosted a special all-women session this week focused on educating its community on issues of sexuality and femininity. 

Close to 150 women participated in the panel session - one of the first public forums from the community on this topic. 

“We know that these issues are typically closed off and kept behind closed doors, but today we’ve decided to openly talk about it and how important these ideals are to our lives,” Tzofia Hirshfeld, Communications Director at Tzohar and the moderator for the evening, said.

“Sexuality is something that touches every person at some point in their lives and needs to be addressed.”  

Rabbanit Rama Ganzel, a family and couples therapist as well as a sex educator, began the session. 

After asking the women in the audience to try and remember the first time they heard about the topic of sexuality, Ganzel noted, “Sexuality impacts positively on our thoughts, emotions and interactions with the world around us."

“Recognizing this and how it can influence every aspect of our overall wellbeing, we need to prioritize sexuality as a basic human right.”

The panel focused strongly on how people personally identify their relationship with sexuality and how that identification or image is passed down to the next generation. Topics ranged from sexuality to gender identity. 

Participants emphasized the importance of the religious community "reclaiming the narrative" on such topics, warning that simply ignoring them would negatively impact the next generation.

“If we as Torah-observant women aren’t publicly dealing with these issues and educating ourselves and our children, we know that they will only go to other, possibly less appropriate sources, to become informed,” said Tami Samet, a psychologist and director of the Be’er Emunah Institute.

“Sessions like these are actually critical for preserving the holiness and sanctity of our families and children and must be addressed in a safe and open forum.”

Yaffa Zuckerman, an educator focused on healthy body image, agreed, noting that “everyday experiences as a parent can help normalize the learning process of our bodies for our children. But in order to properly educate our children, we have to be open to educating ourselves.”

After the panel discussion, dancers from Postal Delivery To God, all of whom come from a religious school background, performed a piece focused on the internal struggle of girls maturing in the religious world, and answered audience questions. 

“Human sexuality is an issue which is a central part of who we are as religious Jews and therefore needs to be addressed in a respectful and informative manner,” Rabbi David Stav, the Chairman and Founder of Tzohar, stated of the event. 

“While this needs to be done in a way that protects sanctity and intimacy, as rabbis and educators we need to be sure that it is not being ignored or else we risk losing our children to the influence of potentially destructive forces." 

"But if this topic is spoken about with intelligence and respect, I am wholly confident that it will be to the great benefit of our community and the Jewish community at large.”