More than 200 organisations marked record Mental Health Awareness Shabbat

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

More than 200 organisations marked record Mental Health Awareness Shabbat

Schools, shuls and Jewish communal organisations took part in series of events last month with a focus on the impact of the pandemic on mental health

A record number of synagogues, schools, and Jewish communal organisations joined the mental health charity Jami late last month in marking the fifth Mental Health Awareness Shabbat (MHAS).

Organisers say its need was greater than ever this year, after the cumulative toll of several lockdowns was widely reported to have created new mental health issues and exacerbated existing problems.

The impact of the pandemic was a primary focus for many speakers discussing increasingly common issues such as loneliness, anxiety, and stress.

“For those already living with mental illness or caring for someone with mental health problems, these past months have been tougher than ever,” said coordinators.

This year’s MHAS was held on 22-23 January, coinciding with Shabbat ‘Bo’ during which the weekly Torah portion about the plague of Darkness is read. “The description of this plague has particular resonance with mental illness,” they said.

More than 200 organisations marked the occasion with events including United Synagogue’s MHAS-dedicated Kabbalat Shabbat on US.TV, a Board of Deputies’ panel event featuring Jami chief executive Laurie Rackind, and a panel event featuring mental health advocate Jonny Benjamin at Chabad’s Jewish Life Centre.

Northern Reform shuls came together for a virtual MHAS programme for adults, primary and secondary school children, while others such as Senior Masorti Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg opted to raise funds for Jami by running a half-marathon.

“I am so proud to be part of a community that raises awareness and promotes conversations around mental health,” said Rackind. “Challenging stigma and encouraging people to talk about mental health, without fear of discrimination, is a vital first step to making sure people get the help they need.”


If you need support, or are supporting someone who needs help, visit or contact 020 8458 2223

If you are struggling to cope or need immediate help, contact Shout’s 24/7 crisis text service. Text Jami to 85258 for free, confidential support.

For free, safe, and confidential online counselling and emotional wellbeing services for adults, contact Jami Qwell at or for students visit

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

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 News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

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.

read more: