Resource Category: High Holy Days


With last year in the rearview mirror, and (we hope) a brighter new year on the horizon, we can see the impact of mental health on our lives more and more. As the new year begins, let us reaffirm our commitment to mental health and wellness for both ourselves and our communities.

A conversation on mental health can bring forth powerful connections with the potential to save someone’s life. To help start people talking, we created these resources for individuals to reflect upon and improve their own mental health as well as to contribute to the mental wellness of the entire Jewish community as we look forward to a sweet new year.

Rosh Hashanah is a powerful and transformative holiday, from the inspirational and poetic prayers we recite to the powerful and incisive blast of the shofar. This experience, however, cannot be fully embraced in a safe and healthy way without preparation, and for that, we have the month of Elul preceding the High Holidays. We encourage you to take this month to fully embrace and engage with your past with courage. It is only by building better selves that we can build a better world.

Yom Kippurthe day of atonement, can be a challenging subject for a lot of people. For some, it is a chance to make resolutions, accept the past, and commit to a better future. But for those struggling with mental illness, this process of self-criticism and introspection can be devastating to their mental health. Therefore, we all must do our best to cultivate self-acceptance and, above all, self-forgiveness, in a healthy and collected manner.


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September is both National Suicide Prevention Month and the Jewish High Holiday season, a time where we are thinking about how to improve and nurture our own lives and the lives of the people around us. Hear the moving stories of a rabbi, a Jewish educator, and a mental health professional whose families have experienced suicide and suicidal ideation. Featuring: Rabbi David Kirshner, Mel Berwin, Ruby Falk.
By Ze’ev Korn, LCSW, MSW, EdM | On Rosh Hashanah, Jews around the world will read the same section of the Torah. It is the story of the birth of Isaac, or Yitzhak in Hebrew, whose name means laughter. What a way to begin the new year, with the gift of laughter and humor being brought into the world. While everyone has experienced the pleasure of laughing, I (and I imagine others) have also known the experience of losing one’s sense of humor.
By Ruby Falk | Anyone who has lost a loved one in an “unsavory” way — generally, suicide and/or an overdose — knows all too well the physical reaction you have when someone asks how your person died. It’s information we’re not so ready to give away until we know we can truly trust the person to hold this for us. This same level of recoiling doesn’t exist when we’ve lost someone to cancer or another illness. We’re much quicker to share the positive, happy, warm memories of that person. We remember the rich life they lived leading up to their passing, even if it was an untimely death. How is it still this hard for us (myself included) to accept that mental illness is as critical and life-threatening as any physical condition?
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Listen to our guided meditation to elevate your Tashlich experience, and bring a sense of acceptance of change into the High Holiday season. The Tashlich ritual is an expression of repentance, acceptance and forgiveness for how we mistreated others. But we must also forgive ourselves for the ways we mistreated ourselves, releasing those misdeeds and letting them flow down the river.
During the High Holidays, we reflect on ourselves and the year we've had and recite prayers like "Vidui" where we list out our sins. But we need to be mindful of the complexity of human life and its ups and downs, and that we are far more than any one label, misdeed or illness. Just as the Vidui serves as a catch-all for misdeeds we might have done that we might not even have been aware of, we should recognize there are plenty of good deeds we performed as well without realizing it. We are not our sins, we are not our mistakes, we are not our diagnosis. We are human and created in the Image of God.
תשליך/Tashlich is an expression of repentance, acceptance, and forgiveness for how we mistreated others. But we must also forgive ourselves for the ways we mistreated ourselves. Check out our blessing card, perfect for your Tashlich experience.
Daniel Greyber is rabbi at Beth El Synagogue in Durham, NC, author of Faith Unravels: A Rabbi’s Struggle with Grief and God and recently served as Team USA Rabbi at the 19th World Maccabiah Games in Israel. Formerly a Jerusalem Fellow at the Mandel Leadership Institute, faculty member at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles and the Executive Director of Camp Ramah in California, he currently serves on the editorial board of Conservative Judaism.
White male presenting in front of an audience
By Rabbi Sandra Cohen | I believe patience will win out. Hope will win. But…if I, for example, light Shabbat candles four times a year, and God “shows up,” as it were, four times a year… then the odds of us meeting each other are low. But if I invoke God regularly, doing mitzvot, praying, blessing, celebrating and mourning, if I actively remember God, I am more likely to experience God remembering me.
Co-authored with JFS Jewish Disabilities Advocates Collaborative | As the new year begins, we are thinking about social connection. Social connection has an incredible impact on our overall health, both as individuals and as a community. Having stable and supportive connections as an individual leads to better physical and mental health outcomes such as longer life, better health and increased ability to cope with stress, anxiety and depression.