bound by the religious commandments. This is the central meaning of this stage and of the ritual marking it. Although the same ritual also is celebrated by nonreligious Jewish communities it has, for the latter, different meanings and functions. For nonreligious Israelis, for instance, it marks the passage from childhood to adolescence and the transition from elementary to high school.
The family's values and beliefs concerning marriage and family life must be taken into account in culturally competent diagnosis and treatment. Bugs in the family's cultural information-processing system are often produced by the incompatibility of the family's values and beliefs concerning marriage and family life with unfamiliar information the family is exposed to. Consider, for instance, Case 15. The tragic death of Haleema Bishari and her brother Hameed was the ultimate result of the incompatibility of their traditional family values and those of modern Israeli society. In their family, honor of the family and of its male head was a primary value. These values are not shared by mainstream Israeli culture. In Haleema's family, inequality between men and women was a norm. Violence perpetrated by male members of the family toward female members was not considered a major offense. Outsiders were not supposed to know about or interfere with such acts of violence. In mainstream Israeli culture, men and women are considered equal. Violence within the family is illegal and is condemned by public opinion. Haleema, who had been influenced by Israeli culture, defied her own family's values and paid with her life. The murder and suicide in this case cannot be explained without evoking this incompatibility of cultural values.
Therapists are advised to be especially attentive to the parameters of the family as a collective or as an aggregate of individuals, personal autonomy versus mutual merging and attitudes toward expressions of emotions. These parameters stand for fundamental cross-cultural differences in the ways people experience their own selves and other people. It is not at all easy to set oneself free of one's own modes of experiencing in these domains and empathize with other people's radically different modes.
This chapter is devoted to the family's identity as a representative of culture. The family's identity consists of its distinctive, culture-bound structural properties, its basic tenets, its self-representation and its values and beliefs concerning what marriage and family are all about. Families vary considerably on these parameters. A family's cultural identity, as defined in this chapter, must be taken into account in culturally competent diagnosis and treatment. The family's problems, the possible solutions and the response to therapy will be decisively influenced by the distinctive features of the family's cultural identity.