Judaism teaches us that what we do with our lives is precious. Adding meaning to all of our actions is a holy act- whether we are praying, eating, washing our hands, or partaking in normal, everyday activities, doing them with intention lifts the seemingly mundane to the level of holiness. Simply put, Judaism asks of us to act not mindlessly but with intention. Hanukkah, or חנוכה means ‘Dedication’. As we light the Hanukkah candles, let our intent be meaningful with each night.
We dedicate the 6th Candle to those who struggle with mental illness. With nearly 20% of our country diagnosed with some form of mental illness, there are nearly 5% who struggle with severe mental illness. In other words, nearly 50 million Americans struggle, and their families struggle as well. Mental illness also contributes to drug addiction and suicide.
Tonight, let us offer a Mishebeirach prayer on behalf of those who suffer and struggle with mental illness:
May the One who blessed our ancestors — Who named us Israel (Yisrael), those who “struggle,” Bless and heal those among us who struggle with mental well-being. May they acknowledge their own strength and resilience in persevering, May they treat themselves with forgiveness and patience, May they find others who share their experiences, so they know they are not alone, May they find help, compassion and resources when they are able to reach out for them, May they find others willing to reach out first when they cannot, And may they find inclusive and welcoming communities that will uplift and celebrate them. May the Holy One grant us the strength and resilience to support our loved ones, May we find the patience and forgiveness we need for ourselves and others, May we find solidarity and support from other caregivers, May we find the capacity to listen without judgment and with the intention to help when asked, May we find the ability to notice when others are struggling and reach out to them first, And may we create communities that accept, uplift and celebrate those among us who are struggling.