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Welcome (back) to REAL MHI! 

12/22/2022 11:06:42 AM


The REAL Mental Health Initiative at Congregation Rodef Sholom began in 2014, born from Rabbi Stacy’s Kol Nidre sermon about mental health. For five years, REAL worked to build a foundation of connection, support, and education to support our mission of reducing stigma and isolation around mental illness and addiction in our Jewish community and beyond. We hosted speakers, attended URJ biennials, received awards, launched support groups, supported our youth, and helped Rodef Sholom (and other synagogues) change the conversation around mental health.

And then… Pandemic.  Almost overnight, REAL shifted focus from program building, education, and stigma reduction to actively supporting and caring for our community in crisis.  We transitioned our programs online, reached out to vulnerable congregants, and provided a space for people to connect virtually with each other when it was most needed.

Nearly three years later, and as we enter Chanukah, this feels like the perfect time to be reaching out and welcoming our community back to the REAL Mental Health Initiative. Chanukah is a time where we celebrate miracles, resilience, and turning darkness into light. It's a time for coming together and connecting with others.  It's time to get REAL. 

Over the next six months REAL is offering many exciting ways to connect, get involved, and receive support.  We are so excited to be hosting two powerhouse speakers - Lisa Damour and Julie Lythcott-Haims as part of our annual REAL Conversations series.  Our REEL Movie night is back, as well as a four-part Education series to support our youth, focusing on topics including gender expansiveness and disordered eating. We’ve added new REAL Support groups, and an opportunity to join two fabulous congregants, Marci Dollinger and Julie Fingersh, for a book talk next month. 

For those of you who haven’t met me, I look forward to the opportunity to connect with you.  I’ve grown up in this community - from preschool to Brandeis to my B’nai Mitzvah to my wedding and now as a parent of 5th and 9th graders.  When I’m not building REAL MHI programs, I work as a Marriage & Family therapist, supporting teens, young adults and parents. 

REAL stands for REAL Life, REAL People, and REAL Connections.  It is with joy and hope, that I welcome you back to the REAL Mental Health Initiative.  

-JoAnne Forman, REAL Mental Health Coordinator

Click here for more information on REAL MHI's Winter-Spring 2023 season!

Thu, February 2 2023 11 Sh'vat 5783