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tv   Mosaic  CBS  May 15, 2016 5:00am-5:31am PDT

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good morning and welcome to mosaic. i'm honored to be your host this morning. this morning, we want to invite you into an important conversation about mental illness. in particular about mental illness in the jewish community. one in five american families has a loved one who has been diagnosed with mental illness. because of that statistic, of course, it means that nearly every single one of us across the country has a loved one who has a diagnosed mental illness. there are many, many ways in which this issue has responded to, in particular in the faith community, the national association for mental illness and the california association
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of mental illness have faith based initiatives. there are other synagogues and other churches and other faith based groups who deal with this issue in their own particular way. this morning, we would like to invite you into this serious and important conversation with members of congregation. in particular, its senior rabbi and joann foreman who is the mental health initiative program coordinator of congregation. thank you so much, rabbi and joann for being here. >> thank you for having us. >> why don't we jump in and ask you, why do you think this issue is so important to your synagogue and the jewish community at large? >> thank you for asking. when this program began or when we decided that it was a real need, i had been at the congregation road for 20 years and increasingly in the months proceeding that, more and more people had come to me to talk to me about their mental
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illness. about their mental health crisis with them personally or family members. it just happened more and more. that was in the spring and then that summer was the summer that robin williams took his life. and suddenly, and really for the first time that i had seen that our country had seen the issue of suicide and mental illness was the top issue in the news. news programs were talking about it. the newspaper, television. people were having this conversation. and at that moment, i said it's time to discuss this publicly we need to reduce the stigma and for me as a rabbi of the congregation, i wanted to create a community wherein people could bring their mental illness for them or their families in addition to their physical illnesses and we could do what we could to destigmatize it. that was really the motivation and just a month or two after that, it was our high holidays, i spoke about this issue. and so that's really how it all
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began. >> wonderful. and so since that particular sermon, can you talk about the transition from essentially the privacy of your office to the pulpit, to the public form or the congregation. >> at the sermon, i mean, at the sermon i spoke publicly about my own family's experience with mental illness. we have a close family member who had recently committed suicide and took his life. and then since then, others have come and shared their story and with the help and support of the bay area jewish healing center and you and other wonderful members, rabbis of your staff, we decided to put together a program and have a meeting. at that meeting, there was a person from our community who was truly inspired and wanted to help support a program. and so we were able to hire joann foreman, who is incredible and we'll talk more about that. we opened up a meeting after
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the sermon and we had 75, 80 people who attended and we realize we were on to something and that there was an incredible need. so people in our congregation started talking. they started talking about it and sharing their own stories in various ways. >> so important for that element of having a zone of safety for people to be relational on the topic in a way that goes beyond a sense of internal stigma or privacy about it. joann, we're going to take a break in just a moment. let's jump in and ask you to outline if you can, what the program is. >> sure. so, rabbi stacey mentioned, i came in to run our mental health initiative and so i'm working with our congregation. we have created three different teams. we have working and have put together a speaker series focused on mental health and mental illness. so we are really working in many different ways to reduce
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the isolation and stigma of mental illness in our jewish community and our broader community and doing that in lots of different new and exciting ways. >> we'll take a quick break and continue this conversation with rab buy rabbi freeman and joann here on mosaic.
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good morning and welcome back to mosaic, i'm honoredded to be your host. we're in the middle of a wonderful conversation about mental illness in the jewish community. we thank you for joining us with this important conversation. joann, we were talking a little bit about the program structure. so, i wonder if you can talk a little bit more about the detail of how the program works, the activities that you do, and even maybe the kind of response that you're getting so
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far. >> sure. well rabbi friedman mentioned, at that initial town hall meeting, people came together to think about and brainstorm what they would like out of a mental health initiative and three teams focused on three different things were formed at that time. those teams are lay led. i'm a part of those teams. we are focusing on youth. a team focusing on education. so educating both our community and the outside community. and also a team that is focused on connections. so helping congregation connecting with others who may have other challenges. >> were these three teams result of listening to what the community wanted so those represent themes of conversation from town hall meetings? >> they do. and those teams have grown. the youth team is now focused on making changes in our religious school, our k through 6th children now do a check in
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at the beginning of sunday school every sunday, which is fantastic. our education team put together a wonderful four part speaker series that just wrapped up recently. and our connections team is working on creating, what we're calling, a buddy system to connect people who may have walked through a challenge who might be starting down that path, for example, having an adult child diagnosed with a mental illness. they might be able to connect with another who has had that experience and willing to talk with them and share and the connections team is working on creating a lay led support group as well. >> that's so wonderful. so i know for folks who are out there and concerned about this issue and want to do something, one of the things that typically comes up for people as they are thinking about what to do is the notion of infrastructure and management. so rabbi friedman. can you talk about how in your leadership structure, youth are
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thought about how does whatever we do get managed in the long- term? >> part of it is always going back to the mission of our congregation and our mission is igniting the passion to connect to god, to others, and to our world. and that connection comes in various forms. sometimes that connection is reaching out beyond the synagogue and sometimes it's enabling people within the synagogue to really open up and be their true selfs. so what we do is we always go back to our mission. i'm involved with that, our board of directors is, and mostly we have wonderful coordinator in joann and other people in the congregation who keep reaching out and expanding the program so that we are reaching as many people as we can in our community. >> you know, it occurs to me that part of the way in which it seems that in your culture you have broken the stigma. is that when you say everybody, is capable of being ignited for a deeper relationship with god,
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themselves, and the community, that includes everybody no matter their status in life, no matter their physical state. no matter their mental state. i think that sometimes part of the stigma on mental illness is that we don't recognize, yet yearns for a deeper connection to themselves, yet yearns for deeper connection to community. what you're doing is saying really, it's all of us. >> it's all of us. and we had one of our earlier meetings with our steering community. there was one person talking with a son with a critical mental illness. it never occurred me to call the synagogue. if i had a physical ailment, i would have called the synagogue. if i had a death in my family, i would have called the synagogue. here we were in crisis with our son. we didn't feel like we could talk about it with anybody and it never occurred to me to call the clergy, to call my synagogue and we want to change that. people experiencing at home, they themselves or their family
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members a critical mental illness or an issue with diagnosis, that they don't have to be isolated. they can call the synagogue and this is okay. this is something we accept and acknowledge, it's very common, just like physical illnesses. >> joann, it's always so important to sort of understand for people in a very comforting way why they feel welcomed. why they want to come back. can you give a couple examples from your experience so far with program of change in somebody or impact on the community. something that you see happens really because of somebody's interaction with what you're doing. >> sure. well speaking about, as rabbi friedman was talking about, the woman that said i was faced with this issue, the synagogue was the last place that i thought of coming, and that person is now working to help create the system. so that other people when they first are facedded with that kind of a challenge have other
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people, not just the rabbi, but other people within the congregation that they can talk to. so that is really beautiful. there are probably 50 different people on our three teams who are working to do different things. and a lot of the people who are on our youth team have children who have gone through the religious school, who maybe didn't have the best experience in religious school who didn't feel as connected as their parents would have hoped, who are working on making that a better place for the children who are now going through religious school. >> wow. what beautiful examples of really a kind of naiveness, maybe a sense of self- alienation to inclusion to helping to build. really extraordinary. we're going to come back to mosaic in one moment to continue this important conversation about mental illness. please join us here on mosaic in just a moment.
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welcome back to mosaic. i'm honoredded to be your host. we're in the middle of a wonderful conversation about mental illness in the jewish community. the congregation's mental health program coordinator. welcome back joann and rabbi. there are so many people that, perhaps this is part of the cultural stigma that think that mental illness only belongs to the domain of the psychiatrist and in a private matter. people won't talk about being hospitalized for psychiatric episode or illness experience, or think that the issues of mental illness belong in the political realm for advocating for public policy. so, why the synagogue? >> it's a great question. one of the things that the synagogue uniquely offers is
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that this is the place where the whole family resides spiritually. and resides and spends their lives there throughout the life cycle. so that we see families cradle to grave and beyond. we see them for multigenerations. we see people at their lowest times and we see people at their most joyous times. and the fact that those people live their lives as part of the congregation means they can bring their full self, that is so important to us. somebody goes to a psychiatrist or psychologist, we're not replicating any of those services that they can get elsewhere, but to acknowledge we are there to support them in other ways. so for example, we're there to support their entire family. often, or we know that mental illness affects the entire family or community beyond the individual. and so we're there to support the family and also to be with them not only around crisis or issues around the mental
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illness, but also a full life. so somebody who is experiencing a mental illness and goes to their therapist on friday, sunday they will come with their child to sunday school and wednesday they are going to come to our homeless shelter and make food for people. so we can really be there to support the whole family and the whole person. >> so, you remind me of really subtle, but potent thread to all of this. that i think we need to talk about, but we don't necessarily talk about. religion, whatever the religion is, at its very base talks about a relationship to god. and every sacred text, whether it's the bible or different sacred narrative talks about hearing god's voice. and in traditions that have a very strong thread to them, those narratives are filled with conversations with god and hearing god's voice. and yet i think in the modern culture, the notion of listening to god gets relegated
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to somebody with a mental illness. and therefore, is put into a different category, but not a religious category. and i'm just wondering, sort of, just in your thinking about that, what occurs to you about that? >> it's interesting. what i find is many people who are experiencing darkness and pain, psychological, emotional darkness and pain, feel alienated from god. so i view part of my role as helping them to hear god's voice again. or help from getting angry with god. being in a relationship with god, whatever that looks like to them, to be able to support that for them. >> i think maybe that's a thread we need to develop to break down the stigma even further in the issue. joann, i know that the program initiatives that you work with deal with all the con congregation, can you talk about the senior members as well as teen members of the
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congregation? >> so our youth team has just really started thinking about how we want to bring initiative programming to our teens, which is trickier than the k through 6. we really thought about it as a youth team and then we implemented what we thought would make the most sense for them. with teens, we are being more careful. we are bringing our teens to our meetings and asking them what they want. what they need. what their lives are like. how they would like to receive information about mental health and mental illness. what are they not getting from other areas of their lives from school or from their parents and what makes, why are they still coming to synagogue? many of them had -- what can we give them that will help them feel as safe as possible. is it education, a safe place to talk? we are listening to them and hear wag they ing what they
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have to say and working on what they need that will make the most sense for them. that's something we are working on. and we're planning on doing the same with seniors. we're going to look at our senior community in a way and ask them potentially what do they need and what can we give them that would be helpful and useful to them at this time in their lives. >> that's wonderful. i think people don't necessarily understand is that mental illness can be both a lifelong experience, but also be episodic, it can start in the teen years with one episode and go away or continue and the same thing for seniors on the other end of the spectrum. sounds like a wonderful way to serve. embrace everybody. we're going to take a quick break and come back to mosaic in just a moment.
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good morning and welcome back to mosaic. thank you for staying with us with this important conversation about mental illness in the jewish community and at large. we're with ran rabbi stacey friedman. welcome back rabbi friedman and joann. we are going to end our conversation for this moment in just a little bit. i want to ask you, rabbi, what do you think with the -- what are some of the things that you think clergy might consider to initiate continue this conversation in their
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particular setting? >> right. i think the answer is twofold. many fold, but i'll start with two things. one is really for us, going back to our sacred text. that is the bible or the tora. and to remind people that our ancestors, our leaders were not perfect and they struggled with darkness. so i think it's important to be very explicit and show that. that none of us is immuned from it. that everyone has their darkness and their pain and our tradition, we say there's nothing as whole as a broken heart. to remind people of that. that they can come present with their broken heart. and secondly, i also believe it's important to be very explicit about the fact that mental illness is something not to be ashamed of, but something that we can share and that makes us human. so for example, we have a prayer for healing. in it we speak about renewal of body and renewal of spirit. and in our congregation, if
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there is someone in your life who is experiencing an illness or a mental illness, please mention their names and we'll pray for them. by doing so, we are hoping to break down that stigma and opening and accepting about it has really helped. >> one of the elements of breaking stigma is to what degree someone experienced mental illness is willing to be public and tell their story. you can serve in a short way talk about, have you done that? how does it work? how did you get over that hump? >> that's made a big difference for us. since two years ago when we were able to start this initiative, we've invited some people or some people volunteered to tell their stories. so, high holy days, we have people tell their stories of spiritual journeys and for the past couple of years since this, we have also included stories of mental illness. of journeys with mental
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illness. one woman tell her story with her struggle for addiction and her struggle to find healing. and it was transformational. there was not a dry eye in the congregation. and it was so vulnerable and so poignant and so powerful, especially because it is so scary and it's not done in most places. it's a lot easier to stand up and talk about healing from a surgery or some illness, but to speak about mental illness is not done in our community. so s this person was very, very brave and we're doing it more and more. >> believe it or not, we're coming toward the end of our time together. i do want to say just changing gears a little bit. in our jewish tradition, we have this notion that there is no learning without economic vitality and there isn't economic vitality and viability without learning. so in that context, i know really rely on so many different components to make it
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whole, among them, philanthropy. i'm just wondering if you can talk a little bit about what it is for this particular initiative is. i know different places do things different ways, but what is your economic vitality attached to this learning? >> right, so rabbi stacey mentioned after her sermon, we were approached by somebody who was touched very much and were offered a really generous grant to help our foundation. they are helping support the work that we're doing. and we have also partnered with california's mental health movement. they have offered us a small mini grant that has helped us run mental health awareness programming as well. so you're right, the financials are important as well. >> thank you so much. joann foreman, thank you so
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much for being with us this morning and thank you for joining us here on mosaic for this vital conversation about mental illness. we encourage you to please keep talking about this issue. thank you.
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o hear from you. welcome to bay sunday, i'm your host, kenny choi. we begin with our pitch. if you have a show idea, we would love to hear from you. comment to the page and we have arts galore today. first up, welcome from mountain play, the executive director, sarah pearson, good to have you. >> good to be here. >> tell us about mountain play. >> it's 103 years old. we have been doing it for 103 years. not all musical theater. we started musical theater in the late 70s with our executive director then, marilyn smith. but 103 years ago, 1200 people hiked up to the top of the mountain to see abraham and isaac. crazy. a

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