Page 39 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 41

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FISCH / JEWISH FAMILY CRISIS
33
stability o f society, and it is possible and even desirable to search
fo r alternatives, since they view the traditional family as no th ing
more than a left-over o f capitalism and the bourgeoisie, destined
to disintegrate and disappear from the face o f the ea r th (See
David Cooper,
The Death of the Family,
London 1972). T h e re are
o thers among psychologists and sociologists who consider the
family as a framework for which there is no substitute. It is this
framework alone which makes possible the satisfaction o f biolog­
ical needs as well as the raising and educating o f children. We
re fe r to the “nuclear” family, comprising the mo ther and fa the r
who have a sexual relationship, and the ir children whose person ­
ality is formed, to a grea t extent, within the family (See T heodo r
Lidz, “T he Family as the Developmental Setting,” in
The Child in
the Family,
ed. J. Anthony and C. Koupernik, vol. I, N.Y. 1974).
At this point, it must be stated unequivocably that for Jews the
idea o f a substitute fo r the “nuclear” family is unthinkable. I f tha t
institution has been underm ined , then it must be rehabilitated. It
is the family unit which makes continuity possible, not only bio­
logically speaking but also in terms o f the transmission o f symbols
and spiritual contents from one generation to the next. T he very
existence o f the Jewish People is dependen t upon this process o f
transmission. The primary events o f ou r religious life, such as the
Sabbath meal and the Passover Seder, at which the fa ther conveys
to his son the significance o f the coming into being o f the Jewish
People (“And thou shalt tell thy son on tha t day, saying . . .,” Ex.
13:8), take place within the family. Jewish paren ts cannot be free
o f the obligation for the direct education o f the ir children (“And
thou shalt teach them diligently to thy children and shalt talk o f
them . . .,” Deut. 6:7).
Moreover, it is not the biological link as such which forms the
basis o f the Jewish family, bu t ra the r bonds o f love and mutual
respect. Were the Jewish family no more than a solution to an
economic, sociological o r sexual problem , we might consider
alternatives which would ensure, in some o th e r way, the solution
to these problems. It is possible to arrive at an alternative solution
to the question o f the educaton o f the children , or the livelihood
o f women. It is also quite possible tha t today, with the liberation o f
the woman, the question o f a woman ea rn ing a living — previ­
ously the responsibility o f the husband — no longer requires tra ­
ditional solutions within the framework o f the “nuclear” family.
However, all this presupposes that the family un it was created in