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Mental Health Awareness Month

May is national Mental Health Awareness Month and Judea Reform's Inclusion Committee is offering some programming and resources for coping with COVID-19 social distancing.

There is no such thing as a stress-free life; everyone feels anxious or depressed from time to time. With so much uncertainty, and so many changes to our lives, these feelings may be more problematic than usual. And people living with mental illness face additional challenges in these unsettled times.

Jewish tradition is concerned with the health and well-being of the mind. In the traditional Mi Shebeirach (prayer for healing), we pray for a r’fuah shleimah, a complete recovery, which includes both r’fuat hanefesh ur’fuat haguf, a healing of the soul and the body. Indeed, Judaism acknowledges a distinction between mental and physical health, but our tradition treats them on an equal plane, recognizing that both a healthy body and a healthy mind are necessary for human beings to be complete.


Jewish Institute of Religion College Commons Podcast: Mental Health in the Jewish Community 
Join with panelists on this podcast to hear about the work experts are doing in the mental health field, how their work connects to the Jewish community, and how they support their clients. Recorded at the URJ Biennial December 2019.

(POSTPONED) In Our Own Voice: Presentation (Zoom)
Congregant Carolyn Jull and a colleague will be sharing their experiences living with mental illness.  

Talk by NAMI Representative Suzanne Mayer & Pam Swan
Wednesday, May 27 at 7:00pm 

Suzanne Mayer and Pam Swan, representatives from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), will give a presentation that will focus on mental health programs/resources available in this area. Co-sponsored by the Inclusion and Adult Education Committees.

Please join us at this Zoom link (or to access by phone if no video option, by dialing 646-558-8656). If prompted, enter the following meeting ID and/or password: 

  • Meeting ID: 891 1927 4371
  • Password: 452084


Jewish Family Services (JFS) is providing case management by phone at no charge, sharing ideas and pointing people to community resources. JFS is also providing therapy services to their current clients through a video platform, and are exploring the possibility of taking on new therapy clients in the near future. Finally, JFS volunteers provide “friendly visits” by phone to individuals who request them. Contact Shira Baron at for more information. 

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has developed a NAMI COVID-19 Resource and Information Guide. While written for people affected by mental illness, many of the suggestions would be helpful to a much broader audience. For example, the guide recommends setting limits on accessing news, and making sure to stay physically active.

The Hope4NC Helpline (1-855-587-3463) connects North Carolinians to mental health and resilience supports that help them cope and build resilience during times of crisis. It is available 24/7 for people who need mental health help during the pandemic.

Inclusion at Judea Reform

Judea Reform has always strived to provide a welcoming and supportive environment for all congregants. The recent emphasis on inclusion at JRC has helped to carry this tradition further by striving to give voice to congregants who may have felt marginalized.

The goal of inclusion is for people of all ages and ethnicities, all abilities and special needs, interfaith families, older adults, people of color, LGBTQ individuals and families, and congregants who belong to traditionally under-represented communities within our synagogue, to more fully engage in our religious, educational, cultural, social, and recreational life.

The Inclusion Committee seeks to expand the opportunities for full participation and support through listening to congregants’ needs and advocating for changes to improve accessibility and enhance participation.   The Board of Trustees, clergy, and staff support inclusion as a core value of JRC's mission to welcome all, and synagogue leaders plan, budget, and make decisions with inclusion needs in mind.  To help ensure that inclusion permeates the congregation, there is now a liaison between the Inclusion Committee and each of the other JRC Committees.  Working together, we are continuing to make Judea a more inclusive synagogue.

For more information, please contact Iris Weiss, Inclusion Committee Chair,


Selected Accomplishments

  • Revised the JRC Membership Application and Religious School Registration Forms to enable congregants to describe their inclusion-related needs.
  • Provided the religious school faculty with opportunities for professional development on accommodating individual differences.
  • Assigned teaching assistants (madrichim) to children with special needs in the religious school.
  • Provided more detailed descriptions of forthcoming events to help families make decisions about whether activities are appropriate for their children.
  • Renovated the former babysitting room to provide a calm, safe, and welcoming “Family Room” for those who need it during worship services.
  • Improved the quality of sound in the sanctuary.
  • Purchased additional assistive listening devices, large-print and extra-large-print prayer books.
  • Provided an Easy Access Entrance for High Holy Day services, enabling people with limited mobility to enter the synagogue directly into the Levin Social Hall.
  • The JRC membership approved a constitutional amendment to allow non-Jewish members of interfaith families to serve in leadership roles.
  • Programs on holiday “basics” are available to help those who did not learn about Jewish holidays in their youth, or who would like a refresher.
  • Volunteers provide rides to JRC High Holy Day worship services to older adults who would otherwise be unable to attend.
  • Worship services are now streamed so they can be viewed remotely.
Fri, May 29 2020 6 Sivan 5780