Progressive Jewish communities from across the country are to share a special Shabbat this week to raise awareness of mental health.
A total of 15 Reform shuls, including 13 from the north of England, as well as Coventry Reform Jewish Community and Southend Reform Synagogue, will mark the occasion on 23 January.
“Everyone’s mental health has been impacted negatively over the past year as we struggle with the impacts of isolation, financial worries and the stress of home-schooling,” said Reform Judaism’s Sarita Robinson.
“The benefit of being able to pray together as one large community is an opportunity to bring joy and strength from being together.”
Representatives from each shul will have a role in leading the ground-breaking collaboration, the online service exploring themes of mental health through readings and new prayers written for the occasion. There will also be two children’s services, with RSY-Netzer running one for teens.
“It’s an opportunity to dismantle taboos and increase the number of potentially lifesaving conversations,” said RSY-Netzer movement worker Gabriel Lester.
“Talking about things like stress, anxiety and other factors which influence the mental health of teenagers is crucial. We are proud to be participating.”
A service for younger children, called ‘Butterflies in my Belly’, will use stories and games to discuss anxiety and low mood, led by Alison Branitsky of Manchester Reform Synagogue and Rum Samuel of Sheffield Reform Jewish Congregation.
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