11/12 January 2019, 5/6 Adar 5779

Mental Health Shabbat was created by JAMI to raise consciousness of the spectrum we are all on when it comes to our mental health and the darkness we may feel at times. I joined their HEAD ON panel last night at JW3. Judaism has a long history of heroes with depression, darkness and anxiety. Think Jonah, Saul and Rebekah, all plagued by an internal existential angst. Even paranoia in the case of Jonah and Saul. Remember Rebekah’s cry “If this is it why do I exist?” I embroidered those words on the atarah of my first tallit. It was to be a reminder for those dark days that come when one is least expecting.

We have never favoured squeaky clean role models. Our job is to develop resilience alongside vulnerability.

Over the next two weeks please look out for our Mental Health Shabbat. Next week 19th January we will mark it alongside Tu B’Shevat (New Year for Trees) and the undeniable link between healthy souls and nature. When young people especially are suffering from a world that is too much, too many, too loud – never before have we needed Tu B’shvat more.

And at FPS, on the 1st-10th February, we are going to listen. About many things that bother us, in the world of concrete and in the world of trees, and one of them is the mental health of the people around us in the hope that we can make the change.

The joy, calm and comfort trees bring us. Our Seder with a difference will be 12pm next Shabbat at the end of the service. For now please be reminded of these words from Rebbe Nachman of Bratzlav…

Grant me the ability to be alone; may it be my custom to go outdoors each day among the trees and grass – among all growing things and there may I be alone, and enter into prayer, to talk with the One to whom I belong. May I express there everything in my heart, and may all the foliage of the field – all grasses, trees, and plants – awake at my coming, to send the powers of their life into the words of my prayer so that my prayer and speech are made whole through the life and spirit of all growing things, which are made as one by their transcendent Source…..

Shabbat Shalom to all,
Rabbi Rebecca