TBDJ Community Mental Health Shabbat set for May 6-9

The third annual   Community Mental Health Awareness Shabbat, spearheaded by Congregation Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem Congregation in Côte Saint-Luc, will take place May 6 to 9. It will be fully virtual, with a Mental Health Symposium on Thursday evening, a Friday workshop for high school students and a Sunday morning Mental Health workshop. This has spread to cities across North America.

This program coincides  with Canadian Mental Health Week. Dr. Rachel Goodman and Yair Meyers are the program co-chairs.  “Our goal is for as many synagogues as possible across the entire Jewish community here, across Canada and the United States to dedicate that Shabbat as part of the Community-Wide Mental Health Awareness Shabbat,” said  Dr. Goodman, a psychologist in private practice.

Dr. Rona Novick

Dr. Rona Novick, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist and the Dean of the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration of Yeshiva University, will be the keynote speaker throughout the weekend. She holds the Raine and Stanley Silverstein Chair in Professional Ethics and Values. In addition, she serves as the Co-Educational Director of the Hidden Sparks program, which provides professional development to Jewish day schools and Yeshivas. She is internationally recognized for her expertise in human growth and development, social-emotional learning, spirituality, positive psychology, trauma, cognitive behavioral interventions, diverse learners, and family dynamics. She has published a children’s book on Resilience, Mommy, Can You Stop the Rain, available on Amazon.

Dr. Rachel Goodman

On Thursday evening, May 6  (7:30  pm to 9  pm) there will be  a Community-wide Mental Health Symposium featuring   a panel of speakers, including  Dr. Novick,   Rabbi Yechezkel Freundlich from TBDJ, Ometz Chief Clinical Officer Barbara Victor and AMI Quebec Family  Caregiver Perla Muyel.    Dr. Goodman will serve as the moderator. The theme will be  Getting Back to Normal when Life Isn’t Normal.  “Other synagogues will each be dedicating that Shabbat in their own way, whether it be a speaker, the Rabbi’s sermon  or an email to their community,” added  Meyers.


Yair Meyers

On  Friday, May 7 (10 am) Dr. Novick will address high school students.  The theme for this talk will be  Check-up From The Neck Up: Thinking About What We’ve Been Through And Moving Forward.

Finally, on Sunday, May 9 (10 am),  Dr. Novick will speak on UnMASKing COVID: Strategies & Tools for Staying Strong & Well in the Days Ahead. This will be followed by  Educational Consultant and Mental Health Advocate Marc Fein (11 am), whose topic is Beyond the Diagnosis: Life as a Jewish Depressed Mental Health Advocate. He has lived the experience of depression and has over a decade of experience creating interactive workshops that have empowered thousands of individuals and organizations with practical tools to manage stress, provide emotional support, and break the stigma around Mental Illness. He is certified in Youth Mental Health First Aid and is pursuing a Masters in Non-Profit Management and Leadership at Hebrew University. He  also leads a summer program for NCSY to Poland and Israel.

Marc Fein

Registration for these events (high school is limited to students) is free and you must log on to www.mentalhealth.tbdj.org. For more details you can email  tbdjmentalhealth@gmail.com

B’nai Brith condemns desecration of Torah scrolls and religious items

B’nai Brith Canada is shocked and appalled by the violation of a local synagogue,  Congregation  Sépharade  Kol Yehouda  on Baily Road in Côte Saint-Luc, one of the worst such incidents to take place in Canada in years.

On Wednesday, a congregant visited a small  synagogue on Baily Road in Côte St-Luc, Que. with his son to retrieve ritual items for use at home over the Shavuot holiday, which begins Thursday night. He was horrified to find Torah scrolls dumped on the floor, and other religious items stuffed into toilets. Torah scrolls are considered extremely sacred in Judaism, to the extent that damaged scrolls are typically buried in a cemetery, rather than being disposed of in any other manner.

A look at some of the desecration.

Since the synagogue has been closed for months on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is unclear precisely when the break-in and desecration occurred.

B’nai Brith Canada swiftly reported the damage to Montreal Police, and requested that other local synagogues be checked as well, in case they have also been vandalized while congregants have been absent.à

“This disgusting act of antisemitism comes on the eve of our holiday of Shavuot, a celebration of the Jews receiving the Torah, especially the Ten Commandments,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada.

“B’nai Brith has been in contact with the clergy of the synagogue to offer our assistance and we are in contact with the Montreal Police & Hate Crimes Unit. This brazen and shameful incident comes on the heels of the release of our 2019 Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, in which over 2,000 incidents were reported across Canada for the fourth straight year.”