Five former and current Bnei Akiva leaders from the UK have offered to lend an ear to students following the tragic death of a South African teen.
Adam Seef, who had grown up within the youth movement, was on a two-week programme with another organisation when he took his own life, describing in a note left on his phone his struggles with adulthood, his identity and sexuality.
“He felt the pain was too deep to live with,” the boy’s family wrote on Facebook. “We are devastated and heartbroken by the untimely death of our son Adam while on a trip on Israel.
“If only Adam had shared his internal struggles, we would have accepted him for who he was. In his mind he felt that society would never accept him,” the family added. “Adam was so loved and so excepted by all who had the privilege to know him. He has left an indelible footprint forever in our hearts.”
Following his death, five former and current educators and graduates of Bnei Akiva now living in Israel offered their support to students and peers urging anyone requiring help to confide in them.
“Many people in the Orthodox world feel that there is no-one to talk to about their sexuality,” the letter read. “It is not simple to be LGBT+ and Orthodox. We may not have all the answers, but we are happy to talk about it or direct you to others who could help you.
“Consider this an invitation to talk. However long it’s been, we are saying to you, loudly and clearly, don’t hesitate or feel uncomfortable to send a message or pick up the phone.
“We also know that many people struggle with their mental health, and do not feel comfortable talking about it openly. Whilst we are not experts, we can point you in the right direction, or simply be someone you can talk to.
“All too often we have been saddened by young people who felt that they had no course of action but to take their own lives. We believe that each and every one of us is valued and has a place within the Jewish world. We are here for you, for anything you’d like to talk about.”
Signatories of the letter were Michael Rainsbury, Raoul Wootliff, Zak Jeffay, Aryeh Grossman and Jonny Lipczer.
- If you need to speak to someone, call the Samaritans for free 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 116 123.
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.