Parashat Bo
19-20 January 2024
10 Sh'vat 5784

Jami Mental Health Shabbat (JMHS) aims to raise the profile of mental health in the Jewish Community.

Jami Mental Health Shabbat coincides with Parashat Bo. On this Shabbat we read about the plague of darkness, which can be likened to the experiences of many living with mental illness and distress. The parasha also talks about how the Israelites, full of hope, could see through the darkness into the light. This special Shabbat is an opportunity for us to encourage conversations on mental health, raise awareness of mental illness and distress and share ideas on how to support ourselves and others within our community. 

How can I mark Jami Mental Health Shabbat?

There are many ways for you to get involved and each community or individual can mark the JMHS in their own way.

Host a meal for JMHS and ask your guests to donate instead of bringing a gift

Sign up for our free toolkit of resources
(services, activities for all ages and much more)

I am unable to host or attend a meal but would still like to donate

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Sign up for our free toolkit of resources
(services, activities for all ages and much more)

Host a meal for Jami Mental Health Shabbat

Hosting a meal for Jami Mental Health Shabbat is a great way to raise vital funds and awareness of Jami’s services while spending quality time connecting with your family and friends.  Asking your guests to make a donation to Jami instead of gifting flowers or wine can make a real impact in enabling us to support people in the Jewish community whose mental illness and distress makes everyday life a struggle.

We will provide you with some useful resources to support your event.

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You can learn more about how we handle your personal data and your rights by reviewing our privacy notice

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Sign up for our Jami Mental Health Shabbat toolkit

  • You can learn more about how we handle your personal data and your rights by reviewing our privacy notice

Jami welcome

Dear Friends,

As the 7th Jami Mental Health Awareness Shabbat approaches, I have reflected on how our community has taken huge strides in recent years to raise the profile of mental health. 

Community is the theme this year, and there is no doubt that by coming together to talk and learn about mental health, we gain more power as individuals and as groups to support all those around us. 

Feeling comfortable to openly talk about the problems we are having, in the same way we may talk about physical illness, brings us closer to creating a more accepting and inclusive community where no one has to feel alone in their struggles.

We are excited that synagogues throughout our community, schools, youth and university groups, organisations, individuals and families will be joining us to mark this special Shabbat.  And we hope that you will make full use of the available resources in our MHAS Toolkit and share your plans and stories with us.

Working to create a mentally healthy future for the community is something we should all feel proud of. 

Thank you for your support.

Best wishes,

Laurie Rackind
Chief Executive

“The MHAS is an incredibly important initiative, as it acts as an impetus to get conversations going, which is probably the most important first step anyone can take in gaining a better awareness of mental health.” – Judy Silkoff, Board of Deputies

“It was a privilege to take part in the Jami Mental Health Awareness Shabbat which has now become a well-deserved and important fixture in our calendar. ” Rabbi Wollenberg, Woodford US

“We used your extremely helpful resource pack to plan the day and had a number of people join who said their reason for coming to shul that day was precisely because of MHAS, we saw several who had never been before. ” – Kevin Darvill, Exeter Synagogue

Examples of past Jami Mental Health Awareness Shabbat projects:

Edgware United Synagogue held a talk entitled “Is there such a thing as Jewish Counselling?” with Sara Cooper, Head of Clinical Services at Raphael Jewish Counselling and a Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist with 30 years of experience working with clients as well as teaching and supervising counsellors and therapists.

Hampstead Synagogue Dennington Park United held a talk presented by one of their congregants who is a psychotherapist specialising in supporting people in distress.

A cross communal event was held at The Shrubberies in Manchester, in association with Stenecourt, Heaton Park Hebrew Congregation, The WHC and Holy Law South Broughton Congregation with Ivan Lewis MP, entitled “My Battle With Depression” followed by a panel discussion with Estelle Gillis, Mental Health Occupational Therapist at Neshomo, Dr Emma Santhouse, Chartered Clinicial Psychologist and Dr Jeff Schryer, GP and Chair of Bury NHS Clinical Commissioning Group.  Chaired by Dr Paul Abeles, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.

Kol Chai Reform Synagogue held a brunch with a panel discussion featuring representatives from the Harrow Samaritans and the OLLIE Foundation (One Life Lost is Enough) and from the Harrow Citizens Mental Health Action Team.  They discussed current issues affecting society’s mental health and what their organisations are doing, followed by a Q & A.

St Albans United Synagogue Screened the movie Screenagers which focuses on the subject of social media and tech time and the impact this has on kids development as well as holding a panel discussion with the heads of Yavneh and JFS as well as the CEO of Jewish Interactive and a family and child / adolescent psychotherapist.

Alyth North Western Reform’s Head of Community Care and Life Cycle gave a Mental Health Awareness Sermon.

Clore Tikva Primary School held a presentation at their assembly to introduce the Jami Mental Health Awareness Shabbat, created a special display in their hall and took part in  activities from the Jami Mental Health Awareness Shabbat Youth Pack.

Central Square Minyan Orthodox Synagogue’s community were addressed by Rabbi Rafi Zarum along with a programme of professional speakers discussing mental health issues across the lifecycle from infancy through childhood, adulthood and old age including Prof Gill Livingston Professor of Psychiatry of older people at University College London, Dr Michael Peters Head of British Medical Association Wellbeing Support Services, Angela Hodes Barrister specialising in the Court of Protection and Assistant Coroner of London Inner West, Ann Peters Health Visitor and Registered Nurse qualified in obstetrics, Emma Gershon Head of Pastoral Care for year 8 at St Mary and St Johns school in Hendon, Debby Lipkin consultant headteacher of JFS, Dr Irene Sclare Consultant Clinical Psychologist at South London and Maudesley NHS Foundation Trust and Helen Bender Consultant Psychotherapist.

1 Minute for Mental Health – Hollie Geey

A message from Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis

1 Minute for Mental Health – Ashley Lerner

Dr Ellie Cannon & Samantha Simmonds in conversation

Cake is my Super Power with Ilana Epstein

Zaki Cooper in conversation with Monty Panesar