Jewish Action for Mental Health kicked off its new series of talks discussing how prominent members of the community have dealt with difficult circumstances.
JAMH (Jewish Action for Mental Health) has recently started the first in its new series of “In Conversation with…” talks. The series will be featuring members of the community who have experienced extremely challenging events and who can inspire us by showing how they have managed to cope, move forward, and grow.
In May, Dr Sandi Mann talked to Rabbi Benjy Rickman about coping after the tragic loss of his beloved 15-year-old son, Naftoli Meir in 2019.
There was pin-drop silence as over 50 people listened to Rabbi Rickman, teacher at King David High School and Assistant Rabbi at Holy Law shul, as he spoke with courage, strength, humour, and wisdom that left the audience thinking over his comments for days after.
He was not afraid to weep when describing his beloved Naftoli, and yet he showed how it is possible to be happy despite the deep sadness that is never far away.
Dr Sandi Mann said: “As a psychologist, I regularly talk to people under the saddest of circumstances. But none has affected me as profoundly as my conversation with Rabbi Benjy. It was a strangely intimate conversation – we were talking to each other, almost oblivious to the audience.”
When asked why he was open to talking at this event about such a personal subject, Rabbi Rickman said: “People are genuinely scared of difficult conversations; we are scared of putting ourselves or other people in a situation which is unpleasant. I want to help make it okay for people to have a complicated conversation.”
Kate Lurie, Project Manager of JAMH said: “This is by far the most powerful talk I have ever listened to. We are honoured to have Rabbi Benjy Rickman as a trustee of JAMH. As a Rabbi, and a teacher, people find him extremely approachable, be it a parent, pupil, or someone who may just need spiritual guidance. Rabbi Rickman is always full of positive energy, usually accompanied with a smile – living a life full of happiness and honouring Naftoli’s memory.”
The next in the series of “In Conversation with…” will be with Dame Louise Ellman DBE, former Labour Party MP. She will talk about: “My fight against antisemitism in the Labour Party – and why I had to leave.” The event will take place on 24th July at Prestwich Hebrew Congregation.