By Lead Waxler
Borehamwood and Elstree Synagogue launches a new Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health strategy for its 4,000 plus members this month.
‘BES Cares’ addresses the rise in mental health challenges facing a growing number of people.
The first Emotional Wellbeing Shabbat takes place on January 26 with activities for all age groups, including a mindfulness session for adults.
BES member and qualified Mindfulness teacher and Counselling Psychologist, Talya Hilburn will facilitate the gathering.
BES’s children’s and youth services will also start a new agenda on the same day.
A group of professionals within the community working on concepts of emotional wellbeing and resilience through the weekly parasha will bring stories to life in age-appropriate ways for groups.
Dr Judith Friedman, a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and BES member, heads the initiative, supported by Community Support Coordinator and qualified social worker Karen Moss, the rabbinic team and other mental health professionals who are BES members.
The strategy aims to develop the community’s ability to practise and talk about emotional wellbeing without fear of prejudice.
It will be underpinned by educational events on Shabbat mornings and midweek to raise awareness and understanding of mental health issues.
“As a community, we are affected by mental health problems as much as anyone else,” said Dr Friedman.
“At BES, we know that caring for others is vitally important. This strategy aims to support those with mental health needs, just as we support those with financial needs or physical illness.”
She added, “This is a long-term programme which will lead to us being a community that can weave in emotional wellbeing to our everyday talk, that can discuss mental health without fear of stigma and ultimately, that can look after our own emotional wellbeing whilst being there to support those in need. It is part and parcel of being a community.”
BES Community Rabbi, Rabbi Alex Chapper, added: “I’m proud that as a community we’re being proactive and taking the lead in addressing the issue of mental health in all its guises.
“This strategy is absolutely critical to our community and furthers our commitment to having a comprehensive wellbeing provision for all our members, whether they need physical, spiritual, financial or emotional support.”