I have been married for almost four years, and before getting married, it was very important for me to find a kallah teacher who was most suitable to me. Someone I would feel comfortable with, who I could be open with and share about myself, but also who was understanding and would teach me halacha to the fullest extent. It was very important to me that she would give  me the bottom line of what the halacha is, and what were the additional stringencies added to it.

I did in fact find that kallah teacher. I had a great experience that made me excited about keeping taharat hamishpacha. I felt that I had the knowledge and was empowered by that to own this mitzvah, that at times can be nerve wracking and push one to self-doubt. My kallah teacher instilled such a positive experience that I decided shortly after I got married that I wanted to be a kallah teacher myself, and felt prepared to learn to do so about a year ago.

I went through the in-depth and meaningful training of the Eden Center and got certified during this past year as well. I have already taught two kallot and am currently teaching a few married women who are interested in a refresher or taking this mitzvah upon themselves for the first time in their marriage.

It was only during the course, and as I was planning my own material that I realized that perhaps there was an additional, subconscious reason I wanted to become a kallah teacher. There were various things that rubbed me the wrong way or that I didn’t like when I was taught. I wanted to try and be better for my own kallot or students. I would like to explain some of these differences here, to share my own experience, and show how this affects me today as a kallah teacher.

First, through the course I learned that in various cases my kallah teacher did not in fact teach me the bottom line of the halacha, which I had requested, but in fact decided to teach me a stringency as if it was the halacha, or she did not give me the different opinions and options of practice. I personally find it very important to be honest, and trust the intelligence of my students to choose what works best and makes most sense for them and their community, while understanding the halachic requirements.

Second, until this day I very much remember my kallah teacher mentioning that she ‘hates teaching harchakot’ (behavior during niddah). I think it is really important to acknowledge that harchakot are difficult, and give some examples of what different people do to deal with them. (I always discuss the five love languages for example, and try to give different ways to connect during niddah.) Her telling me that she ‘hates’ teaching it was very frustrating for me. While teaching a kallah is a personal and intimate experience, there are various opinions that should be left out of the room to give the full picture of the mitzvah, in my opinion. I make sure to teach harchakot as they are, hear the response of my students and then discuss various ways to deal with and define the relationship during this time of separation. More often than not, my students express that the harchakot make sense. They might ask questions about particular ones, but not about the entire practice.

Third, my own kallah classes ended pretty abruptly. I learned with my kallah teacher on Zoom, which definitely has its advantages and disadvantages, but once the time was up, that was it. This was very evident in our last class, when I knew that she had other students and projects coming up. I felt that I needed to end the course because I was bothering her, and she had a lot going on. It was not a pleasant feeling to end our classes with, despite the fact that I did learn a lot and felt good about how the classes themselves were taught.

This also connects to my final point that my kallah teacher did not follow up with me before or after my wedding. I was dealing with a lot around my own wedding, and because of the way the classes had ended, I did not feel comfortable reaching out and asking questions myself. Looking back, having someone follow up with me to ask me if everything was ok, if I had questions, if I felt confident, and also to provide encouraging words, was something that would have been meaningful. It would also have ‘fixed’ the previous point and made me feel that I wasn’t just a client, but a student who has a personal connection, and that my kallah teacher was in fact available if I needed her.

This point is extremely important to me with my own students. I write down when their mikveh night and wedding is, as well as make a note in my calendar to reach out 1-2 months after they are married or after our classes. Following up, and showing that as a kallah teacher I care, is extremely important to me, even if they have no questions. Just expressing that I am available, that I am always here to help and that I care is an important message for me to bring across. It also shows that while I do charge for my time and my classes, the relationship is really important to me, and I want to be available and helpful to my students if they ever need that.

I hope that I am in fact providing a positive experience, and improving the way I was taught to my own students. My own kallah teacher definitely inspired me and left me with a lot of tools and skills that encouraged me to become a kallah teacher, but at the same time made me think about what I want to do better when I teach. I am thoughtful about how I teach and what comes across by a careful choice of words, as well as making sure my students know that I truly care and am present if they ever need guidance or assistance in the future.