In the hope that our synagogues will continue to shine a light on substance abuse and mental health issues in our community, The Blue Dove Foundation has created the Jewish High Holidays Initiative. A thoughtfully composed resource, the Toolkit is a practical reference guide that can be downloaded by area rabbis and congregation leadership for ideas, talking points and discussion during this contemplative time. It contains background, tools, references, inspirational applications and liturgical parallels that are particularly poignant this time of year.
The Initiative contains sample excerpts, such as a portion of a Kol Nidre sermon on mental health regarding healing and making safe places for those struggling to emerge and seek the help they need, by Rabbi Stacy Friedman of Congregation Rodef Sholom in San Rafael, Calif. It also includes provocative liturgical selections by Temple Sinai’s Rabbi Brad Levenberg, such as one on Mi Chamocha and the connection of going from slavery to freedom as related to addiction and “the journey of recovery.” Another speaks of the blast of the shofar to awaken us to “offer renewed attention to those struggling in our midst” and rouse us to action, or to answer the call with “Hineni,” here I am. There is also a “Mi Shebarach for Those in Recovery” by Rabbi Levenberg. The full text of all excerpts can be downloaded from the Blue Dove Foundation website as well, at www.thebluedovefoundation.org/resources/. There both Atlanta and national versions of the Toolkit may be found.
The Initiative also includes ideas for text and prayers that can be connected to the topics of mental health and addiction, thoughts on “framing the issue,” and even a PDF of a flyer that can be included in high holiday communications. Area and national resources are listed, and ways each of us in the community can be of support to anyone afflicted. Finally, mental illness and substance abuse statistics are provided, as well as a section on the consequences of lack of treatment.
Thanks to a generous donor, the Blue Dove Foundation has produced and circulated white linen kippot bearing the Blue Dove logo. The foundation is asking Atlanta area rabbis, lay leaders and key staff members to wear them throughout the holidays to spark conversation and show unity with and support for the foundation.
The Jewish High Holidays offer many opportunities for our rabbis and synagogue leadership to speak about matters of importance to us, our families, and our community. The Blue Dove Foundation’s High Holidays Initiative provides a springboard for topics of thought and discussion that resonate with us all.
For more kippot for your synagogue or in a show of personal support, they may be purchased for $5 each at the Blue Dove website, www.thebluedovefoundation.org.