Resource Category: Jewish Holidays

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Much like we invite ushpezin into our sukkot, what qualities or practices would you like to invite into your life in the new year? Maybe you want to focus inwardly on forming new self-care and gratitude practices. Or, maybe you want to focus outwardly and commit to reaching out to friends and family more often? You can choose qualities or practices that feel big or small to you — even small steps can make a big impact on our mental wellbeing.
By Max Hollander | In the desert, there is only anxiety, but the holiday of Sukkot asks us to embrace that desert experience because without it we wouldn’t get anywhere. We don’t just read about it; we live it, residing in the sukkah for an entire week. And, in doing so, we learn to accept the reality that we are allowed to shake or stumble on our journeys and shouldn’t be ashamed of that.
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.
Judaism encourages us to question, to learn and to grow; it’s one of the unique and valued traditions of our religion. While we as Jews do this all year round, it is especially emphasized during the holidays at the beginning of a new year. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur offer us a chance to focus on self-reflection and improvement. Simchat Torah presents a different opportunity to celebrate and begin a fresh start to our Jewish growth and learning.
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 Tori Greene | The holiday of Sukkot is a time when we as Jews from all around the world take our indoor lives outdoors as we build temporary dwellings — called sukkot — to eat, hang out and even sleep in. After spending about a month and a half from Elul to Yom Kippur, delving inward and focusing on the self, Sukkot pulls us outward.​ It requires us to interact with community and nature in a way that can be rejuvenating for the soul and, potentially, for the mind.
Simchat Torah speaks to us in two ways. First, the completion and renewal of the Torah can show those of us stuck in or holding onto the past that we can begin again, and we aren’t alone in our need for a fresh start. Second, when all else fails, sometimes we just need to move our body. Simchat Torah provides a jumpstart of fun, excitement and dance we can use to pull ourselves out of our own heads and into our bodies, which can serve as a form of informal dance therapy.
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?
Mirror without a reflection with flowers covering the ground.
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.