May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and there is no better time to bring mental health to the forefront than Shabbat, a time to come together as a community to celebrate the day of rest and to connect with and support one another. According to the National Association of Mental Illness, 1 in 5 adults in the United States experiences a mental health condition over a given year. That’s 46.6 million people annually.

Temple Israel chose this Shabbat to be our Mental Wellness Shabbat, joining with others in the Jewish community spearheaded by BeWell Miami in our community to focus one Shabbat during May on Mental Health Wellness.  We strive to be welcoming to everyone who comes to Shabbat Services at Temple Israel.  There are times when people may be struggling openly or internally.  I hope our Shabbat Services offer space for everyone to engage from wherever they come for that time together.

How does Shabbat connect to mental health? Shabbat is a thousands-year-old Jewish practice, a weekly respite of rest after six days of work. Some experience Shabbat as a time for religious practice and gathering with others, while others see it as a time for personal reflection. Shabbat is a valuable opportunity to renew and recharge, a worthwhile time to talk about and focus on mental health.

Moments for self-care, mindfulness, and mental health are embedded in Jewish tradition. We have regular opportunities within Jewish liturgy to say a Mi Sheberach for healing and well-being, a prayer that seeks complete healing for ourselves and others. This sense of completeness includes both the soul and the body. Judaism acknowledges a distinction between mental and physical health while treating them equally, recognizing that a healthy body and mind are necessary for human beings to be complete.

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The Blue Dove Foundation suggests 6 Jewish Mental Health Values Middot/Measures:  B’tzelem Elohim – All are created in God’s image, Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh La Zeh -All Jews are responsible for one another,  Refuah Shleimah – Healing and Wholeness, Chesed u’Gevurah – Balancing Loving Kindness and Discernment, Pikuach Nefesh – Saving a Life,  Nosei B’ol Im Chaveiro - Sharing A Burden with One’s Friend,  Lifnei Iver- Before the Blind (Inclusivity) and Tikkun Olam – Repairing the World. We explored these middot in our Thursday Torah Discussion Group. Please take some time to consider these Jewish values as they can relate to mental health and wellness. It takes a community to foster and strive for and support mental wellness.

The Blue Dove Foundation offers many resources to help us consider Jewish frameworks for supporting one another and engaging in self-care.  www.thebluedovefoundation.org