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Resource Category: Jewish Prayers and Healing

We believe Jewish prayers and rituals can help to strengthen our mental well-being, resilience and recovery in the same way middot, or Jewish values, can promote them. Faith is an important part of healing for many, and Jewish thinkers and leaders historically have brought the two together.

When someone is ill or recovering from illness or an accident, we often recite a mi sheberach to wish them a refuah sheleimah, or a “full recovery.” We have expanded this prayer for those who are struggling with mental health in different variations of mi sheberachs.

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.
Depending on the traditions of a person’s specific Jewish community, a death by suicide can include all of the same prayers and rituals as any other death.However, we should remember the particular sensitivities around death by suicide and the family and friends who survive. We offer some prayers and rituals, written by survivors, you might use or adapt.
Prayer is an essential aspect of religious experience. But while hundreds of thousands of people around the world practice daily prayer, they don’t always fully appreciate the ways prayer, at least Jewish prayer, can actually help to nurture our mental health and wellness with its proscribed routines and ways of thinking that can act as self-care.