fbpx

Resource Library

Resource Categories

Resource Type

Imagine for a moment you live with depression. It is not a family member or loved one who has depression — you are the patient. You are suffering. You are in so much pain and your brain is so ill, you have thoughts of suicide. Next, consider the liturgy of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur: We are commanded to “choose life.” Teshuva, Tefilla and Tzedakah, repentance, prayer and charity, are your ticket to the Book of Life for another year.
Imagine how the Jewish people may have felt following their departure from Egypt. Exhausted but hopeful, carrying the heavy burden of generations of physical and emotional pain, having experienced unbelievable miracles, it is likely that they were in some state of shock. The transition from the agony of slavery and oppression to a state of freedom and possibility was almost certainly too hard to process immediately. Instead, as they journeyed through the desert, the fledgling Jewish nation may have struggled with the overpowering feelings and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 
On Rosh Hashanah it is written, and on the fast of Yom Kippur, it is sealed. . . This piyyut (liturgical poetry), the Un’taneh Tokef, is perhaps the most famous of all the liturgy of the Yamim Nora’im/Days of Awe. It tells of how our fates for the coming year will be written in the Book of Life. That book, we are told, is opened during the High Holy Days, and we read it together with G-d. What is written? Our lives. We look back at pages we have embossed with our deeds and misdeeds, active and passive. And we ask G-d to help us write a better page next year. For G-d to help us cope with all the hardships and blessings that come our way: flood, famine, plague, restlessness. To write us for life, for a good life.
On Rosh Hashanah, it is a tradition to eat simanim, foods that are symbolic of blessings you would like in your life in the new year. Over time, different communities have added different foods to this list and given each one of them specific symbolism. Infuse your year with mental wellness with our mental health simanim!
During the High Holidays, as we consider the decisions we want to make for our future, we may be bogged down by the notion of committing to them. We may even feel paralyzed by the fear of making a wrong decision. But we need to accept that while we have the potential to make a wrong decision, we also have the power to make ones that lead us in the right direction.
On Yom Kippur we must recognize the Jewish approach to reflecting on wrongdoings and not despair. We try to hold onto hope and persevere, recognizing the only way forward is to keep moving. In life we dip or sway and even move backward at times, but as long as we are moving somewhere, we are on a path toward growth.