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REAL Mental Health Initiative


The REAL Mental Health Initiative is made possible by a grant from the Laszlo N. Tauber Family Foundation.

Parenting Gen Z Series

REAL Conversations (Virtual) Speaker Series

REAL Support Groups

Learn More

Maintaining Well-Being and Connections

Community Resources

Practices to Help Mental Health

Series: Parenting Generation Z: Navigating the teen years in a pandemic

Adolescence can be an especially challenging and confusing time, both for teens and their parents. Add in a global pandemic, and parenting has never been more challenging. In an effort to support our parent community, Rodef Sholom is hosting an eight-week series for parents of teens, including four speakers and four drop-in connection sessions. Join us for one, some, or all events. 

Tuesday, January 19
REAL Discussion with Ronit Matabuena-Lev, MA

Tuesday, February 2
7pm Chaos2… Raising Sexually Healthy Teens in an Unhealthy Time with Ronit Matabuena-Lev, MA

Adolescence is a chaotic time, as are pandemics … today’s teens are trying to ride out both at the same time! Chaos2 will explore what healthy teen sexual development means under normal circumstances, what unique challenges this generation of teens may be facing, and how families can try to make sure that their teens are able to get the extra support they need.
Click HERE to register and receive the ZOOM link. 

Tuesday, February 23
Self-Care and Taking in the Good to Combat Stressors during Covid-19/Remote Learning  with Gina M. Biegel, LMFT

It has been almost a year now since we first learned about Covid-19, and ever since we have been navigating the waters of how to stay safe, protect our loved ones, maintain financial security, balance mental health and so much more.  Some days feel like a whirlwind and others feel like they tick by so painfully slow.  On top of it all, as a parent, it is in our nature to worry about our teens and try to help them navigate these uncharted waters as well.  How do we make sure they are safe and also maintain social interaction which is critical for mental health? How do we make sure their academic needs are being met and set expectations around this without being too overbearing? 

In this virtual 90 min interactive seminar, Gina Biegel, LMFT,  a psychotherapist, researcher, speaker and author in the San Francisco Bay Area who specializes in mindfulness-based work with adolescents and founder of Stressed Teens (, will guide us through some practical advice and practice to help us find grace and breathing room as we help our teens do the same.

Click HERE to register and receive the ZOOM link.

Tuesday, March 2
7pm Drop-in discussion: continuing the conversation about using mindfulness tools to reduce stress

Facilitated by JoAnne Forman, LMFT, REAL Program Coordinator
Click HERE to register and receive the ZOOM link.

Tuesday, March 9
7pm Parenting (Wearily) in a Pandemic: Freeing Your Child from Worry and Disappointment Even Though You Are Exhausted with Tamar E. Chansky, Ph.D

Click HERE to register and receive the ZOOM link. 

Tuesday, March 16
7pm Drop-in discussion: continuing the conversation about fear management and resiliency

Facilitated by JoAnne Forman, LMFT, REAL Program Coordinator
Click HERE to register and receive the ZOOM link.

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Speaker Series 

Wednesday, March 17
7pm, Brian Copeland

Actor and author Brian Copeland will perform excerpts from his solo stage play THE WAITING PERIOD, an unrelenting look at a 10-day period in Copeland's life—the mandatory 10-day waiting period before he could lay his hands on the newly purchased gun with which he planned to take his own life.

Brian Copeland is an award-winning actor, comedian, author, playwright, television and radio talk show host based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

This event is free, virtual, and open to the public.  Please register with Eventbrite to receive the zoom link.

Wednesday, April 21
 Dr. Kay Jamison in conversation with Rabbi Elana Rosen-Brown
Dr. Jamison is a bestselling author, distinguished professor of psychiatry at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and the recipient of numerous national and international scientific awards. She is also the bestselling author of several books, including An Unquiet Mind, which chronicles her own experience with manic–depressive (bipolar) illness. She has also written Touched with FireNight Falls Fast, Exuberance, Nothing Was the Same, and Robert Lowell: Setting the River on Fire.

Dr. Jamison is one of the foremost authorities on bipolar disorder, and her research and writings continue to raise awareness of the stigma from such afflictions as major depression and bipolar illness. 

This event is free, virtual, and open to the public.  Click here to register with Eventbrite to receive the zoom link.

Tuesday, May 18 
7pm, Lori Gottlieb in conversation with Rabbi Stacy Friedman

Through her massively popular book Maybe You Should Talk to Someone—now being adapted for television by Eva Longoria—and her viral new TED talk, Gottlieb shows us that vulnerability isn’t a weakness, and that our external circumstances don’t have to dictate our lives... we can consciously create meaning anywhere—at work, at home, and in relationships.

Join us to hear Lori talk about how connection, making changes, being kind to ourselves and others, and how revising our stories can drastically improve our lives.

Lori Gottlieb is a psychotherapist and author of the New York Times bestseller Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, which is being adapted as a television series. In addition to her clinical practice, she writes The Atlantic’s weekly “Dear Therapist” advice column and contributes regularly to The New York Times and many other publications. Her recent TED Talk is one of the top 10 most watched of the year. She is a sought-after expert in media such as The Today Show, Good Morning America, The CBS This Morning, CNN, and NPR’s “Fresh Air.” She is also the co-host of the new podcast, “Dear Therapists,” produced by Katie Couric.

This event is free, virtual, and open to the public.  Please register with Eventbrite to receive the zoom link.

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Support Groups

REAL Serenity Study
Monthly Jewish recovery group at Kol Shofar, 215 Blackfield Drive, Tiburon
Fourth Thursdays of the month (ongoing), 7:00 - 9:00 pm

A facilitated study and discussion group integrating recovery, Judaism, and spiritual ideas and texts. The group facilitation involves reflective questioning, sharing, and text study. Led by Rabbi Paul Steinberg. RSVP to

REAL Parent Support 
Monthly support group at Congregation Rodef Sholom
First Tuesday of the month (ongoing), 7:00 - 9:00 pm

Are you the parent of a young adult who has mental health challenges, is struggling on the way to independent adulthood or is dealing with other challenges with which you would like support?

REAL Parent Support is a monthly group for parents of adult children who struggle. Join us to connect,  support each other and share strategies for self-care. 

Facilitated by parent and congregant Amy Barad in conjunction with Rabbi Stacy Friedman (who will attend most meetings). RSVP to JoAnne Forman, REAL Mental Health Initiative Coordinator, at

About Amy:
Amy and her family have been Rodef Sholom members for about 20 years. Married for 37 years, she and Seth have two sons in their 20s. She has participated in Rodef Sholom's Mental Health Initiative since its inception, working on the missions statement and various projects.

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Learn More

Striving to End the Stigma of Mental Illness in Our Jewish Community

The Mental Health Initiative has influenced the beginning of many changes in our congregation over the past year. People are coming forward and participating in activities, sharing their personal experiences, and meeting to address and improve our caring community. To assist us with this work, we have hired a Mental Health Initiative Program Coordinator, JoAnne Forman, to work with the clergy, staff and congregation to collaborate on ways to end the stigma and shame around the issue of mental illness.

Important Reading/Resources

Why Stigma Reduction Matters to All of Us
The mission of our REAL Mental Health Initiative is:  Striving to end the stigma and isolation of mental illness in our Jewish community.  Over the last year, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what stigma means and why it’s so important that we identify and work to end it.

Approximately 1 in 5 people experiences a mental illness in a given year. Stop and think about what that means: How many people are in your family, or your group of friends? Chances are you, or someone you care about, has faced a mental health challenge this year. In our congregation of nearly 2,000 adults, statistically almost 400 of our fellow community members are likely affected by a mental health issue.

What we know from research is that with treatment and support, 70-90% of people with mental health challenges report an improved quality of life. But stigma makes it difficult for people to reach out for that support; leading to an increased chance of school dropout, difficulty finding or keeping employment, or feelings of isolation and reluctance to engage fully with our religious and spiritual community.

When Rabbi Stacy Friedman gave her 2014 Kol Nidre sermon about mental health, she made a promise that Rodef Sholom would “work to create a safer place for more people to come out from behind the shadows and find the support and care they need to go on with their lives.” Rabbi Friedman also forged the way for Rodef Sholom to start having open and honest conversations about mental health and mental illness. These are the conversations that break down barriers, help family and friends learn how to support each other, and encourage community members to reach out to others.

Stigma reduction happens when we all come together to fight against it - whether we suffer from mental illness, love someone who does, or simply care about being an ally to the cause. By uniting together to reduce the stigma of mental illness we are creating change - strengthening our community, changing the system, and helping to make Rodef Sholom a safe place where everyone - no matter what - feels welcome and comfortable.

To get involved in the REAL Mental Health Initiative or for more information, please contact me at or 415.479.3441 x3011.

JoAnne Forman
REAL Mental Health Initiative Program Coordinator

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Maintaining Well-Being and Connection

Favorite Links

For Parents

  • Rainbows in Windows is a children's book about sheltering in place and the feelings that come along with that, and has an art activity that kids and families can do, it's been helpful for some of my families with younger ones:
  • Right now, I am fine - This book explains what you can do to keep your mind and body calm now and during any hard time.

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Community Resources

  • Emergency Numbers and Resources 
  • If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, call 911.
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at (800) 273-8255
  • Marin County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services offers prevention and early intervention, suicide prevention and crisis services to all residents of Marin County.
  • The Marin County Crisis Stabilization Unit can be reached at (415) 473-6666.
  • Marin County's Mental Health and Substance Use Access and Assessment can be reached at (888) 818-1115. 

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Proven Practices to Support Your Overall Health and Well-Being 

  • Maintain a daily schedule and routine.
  • Try your best to eat healthy.
  • Limit your consumption of alcohol and caffeine.
  • Make sure you are getting enough sleep.
  • While staying up to date on the news is important, give yourself a break from the constant flow of information.
  • Take time every day to turn the tv off and put your phone down.
  • If you can, take a walk or give yourself a few minutes to sit in your yard or patio.

Weekly Practices

Morning Meditation 
Mondays at 8:30am on Facebook.
Start your week with a quiet moment.

Morning Minyan
Wednesdays at 9:00am
A chance to share moments of gratitude, healing prayers and navigate grief through saying kaddish together.

Morning Mindfulness with Sylvia Boorstein 
Thursdays at 8:30 am
A guided meditation from a Jewish perspective.

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Sat, February 27 2021 15 Adar 5781