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Mental Well-Being Is (Also) a Jewish Issue — A Community-Wide Program

Sunday, May 7, 2023 16 Iyar 5783

2:00 PM - 5:00 PMCongregation Beth Jacob, 1550 Alameda de las Pulgas, Redwood City

The focus of Mental Well-Being Is (Also) a Jewish Issue is to learn how to overcome the stigmas associated with mental illness. Our goal is to open the doors of sacred spaces in the Jewish community as places of welcome and support to those who navigate mental illness, alongside their loved ones. What does mental health mean to us as individuals and as members of the Jewish community? How can the Jewish community support these members, young people and those who are marginalized and suffering? How can we recognize when there is a need? What do we do about it?

To help us prepare, please register in advance for this event using the form below.

This program is cosponsored by Congregation Beth Am, Congregation Beth Jacob and Congregation Kol Emeth. For information, please contact

Dr. Carol Irwin
is the Executive Producer of the documentary film, Beit Rfuah: House of Healing. From family tragedy to mental health activist, Dr. Irwin’s life trajectory abruptly shifted from a practicing chiropractor to making mental health wellness part of the Jewish community experience. With others, Dr. Irwin developed and led a NAMI based support group model template for other congregations in our communities.

Heidi G. Lerner
is a retired Stanford University librarian. She currently works as a volunteer Crisis Counselor at the Santa Clara County Suicide and Crisis Prevention lifeline.

Rabbi Sarah Weissman
has been at Congregation Beth Am since 2008. In addition to her pastoral and pulpit duties, Rabbi Sarah oversees the adult education program and teaches a popular Talmud class. In 2008, Rabbi Sarah was ordained at the New York campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. As a student, she worked as a teaching and research assistant to Dr. Eugene Borowitz, one of the leading theologians of the Reform movement. Rabbi Sarah and her husband, Eric Weissman, are proud parents of a son, Maverick.

Jacob S. Ballon, M.D., M.P.H.
specializes in the treatment of people with psychotic disorders including schizophrenia. He is the Co-Director of the INSPIRE Clinic at Stanford which provides interdisciplinary care for people experiencing psychosis. He is also the co-Division Chief for General Adult Psychiatry and Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Ballon completed his residency at Stanford in 2009 and a Schizophrenia Research Fellowship at Columbia University in 2011.

Rabbi Booth is the spiritual leader of Congregation Kol Emeth. He loves teaching and engaging with people and believes firmly that Jewish wisdom and practice can help us appreciate in gratitude more fully our joy and offer us tools to feel supported and loved in our grief. He has been married to Carol for over 30 years and together they have three children, Josh, Naomi and Maytal.

Together with dedicated leaders and staff, Rabbi Nathaniel (Nat) Ezray is building an inspiring community full of joy and connection. Rabbi Ezray joined Congregation Beth Jacob (CBJ) in 1995 after serving as Associate Rabbi at Temple Emanuel in Newton, Massachusetts for four years. He is passionate about CBJ being a place of learning, different types of prayer experiences, social justice, inclusion and community. Rabbi Ezray treasures relationship and walking through every significant moment in life together with community.

Annie Goldstein is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT #90729). She has a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, a J.D. from Duke University School of Law, and a M.A. in Counseling Psychology from Santa Clara University. Annie spent six years working as a school-based therapist in local public schools. She now has a private practice in Los Altos where she treats children, teens and adults. She is also an adjunct lecturer at Santa Clara University in the School of Counseling Psychology, where she teaches Legal and Ethical Issues in Counseling. 

Olivia Heffernan was born and raised in the Bay Area and grew up going to Peninsula Temple Shalom. She is the coordinator for the youth presentation called Ending the Silence, which is a NAMI program in San Mateo County. Program participants visit middle and high school students to teach about mental health. Olivia is also working to start youth support groups which will provide more accessible care to teenagers. She hopes that by sharing her story, she can help other people to not feel alone and give them hope in finding a way through their mental health condition.

Laura Tannenwald, LMFT, is a Program Coordinator at the Scrivner Center for Mental Health & Addiction Services at El Camino Health and is the Senior Program Therapist of Addiction Services. She also has a private practice in Los Altos. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from The University of California, Santa Barbara in Psychology and Sociology and an MA in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of San Diego. Laura was licensed in 1996 and has worked in a variety of settings including private practice, social services, adult day treatment and hospital-based care. She has worked in PHP (partial hospital) and IOP (intensive outpatient) at El Camino Hospital for 10 years. In this role she has worked in all of the outpatient specialty programs including MOMS (maternal outreach mood services), Adult Mood and Dual Diagnosis. As a Senior Program Therapist, she works in both the Dual Diagnosis (mental health and co-occurring substance use) and Chemical Dependency programs. Laura has specialty training in DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy), group therapy and chemical dependency treatment.

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Wed, November 29 2023 16 Kislev 5784