Hearing Patrick Kennedy April 12: Mental Health, Addiction and Compassion in Our Community

common_struggle_cover     In former congressperson Patrick Kennedy’s Memoir, A Common Struggle: A Personal Journey through the Past and Future of Mental Illness and Addiction, he describes a scene that took place just after he revealed his struggles to the New York Times.  There he was at a family occasion, surrounded bu relatives who were not happy about his public truth-telling.  Yet, there were some exceptions.  His cousin, Maria (Shriver) showed compassion to Patrick and said she thought was he was doing was fantastic.
     Maria showed support, she chose to bear witness rather than look the other way, and she offered her presence.  I have come to believe that this is what the Misheberach, our blessing for healing, is about.  More than it is a plea to God for healing power, perhaps the Misheberach is a plea to each other for the healing power we can provide others when we show support, choose to bear witness, and offer presence.

     Relationship through community can share the same definition; it is our effort to show support, to bear witness and to offer presence.  On April 12, Congregation Rodeph Shalom invites the broader community to hear Patrick Kennedy speak.  We hope that this is an evening of learning, understanding and support around issues of mental illness and issues of addiction, which are so often although not always, overlapping in people’s lives.  Whether you struggle, a loved one struggles, or you are just interested in learning something new, please join us.
     If you are someone whose struggles make it overwhelmingly difficult to attend, please know this: you are not invisible.
     Whether or not you attend, we are interested in your ideas.  Please consider the following questions to help us learn more about the needs of our community:
1) Would you be interested in attending a Mental Health First Aid training?
2) Would you be interested in a support group such as AA or NA (currently RS offers a support group for parents of addicts and alcoholics, in partnership with Caron Treatment Center)?
     Please reach out to me rabbimaderer@rodephshalom.org with your responses.
     May we be present with compassion for one another.