It’s time to tell stories about our lives

Rabbi James Stone Goodman

By Rabbi James Stone Goodman

So you got fat [Deut.32:15]. God would have suckled you with honey from a rock and oil from a flinty stone, butter of cattle, milk of sheep, fat of lambs, but you became thick and kicked.

You got private. You suffered silently. Well, you can always come back, you can kick and drink the good wine, which is no wine at all, the grape or the unfermented blood of the grape is just as good and you won’t act crazy. 

We’ve all been too quiet, too silent about our abuses and misuses, so it’s time to tell stories. We will make safe places for talk, talk and more talk. Confidentiality does not mean secrecy; secrecy is part of the problem.

Give up your non-gods, non-people become real. We’re a generation of reversals [Deut. 32:20]. We can get better. We can ask for help when we need to. Our spiritual and our social institutions are like gated communities behind which stories are kept to ourselves. We could work better together to serve our communities with more intelligent strategies. It’s a matter of saving lives. The first step: Tell the stories. 

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Whose paths are just, what is the climbing vine, the fructifying rain, remember the days of old. 

You can always come home. 

Return [Hosea 14:2], I will heal you, I will love you freely [Hosea 14:5].

We are working toward solutions, good strategies for promoting mental health. Our next community forum is called No Shanda No Shame. We will meet Sunday, Nov. 18, at 2 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center, Staenberg Family Complex.

Give ear O heavens and I will speak and let the earth hear the words of my mouth may my teachings drop like the rain my words flow like the dew like storm winds upon vegetation and like raindrops upon blades of grass [Deut.32:2].

Members of our team living with a variety of mental health challenges will join us in a community forum on mental health. My wife, Rabbi Susan Talve, and I will convene the session.

We will include mental illness, addiction, incarceration and building our network to grow a community strategy. We can do better.

Blessing dwells and awakens the life force, the teachings drop like rain bringing forth fruit.

Moses spoke the words of this poem into the ears of the people [Deut. 32:44].

Then God spoke to Moses on that day, saying, apply your hearts to all these words, for it is not an empty thing. It is your life [Deut. 32:47].

Rabbi James Stone Goodman serves Central Reform Congregation and leads the Shalvah recovery group and No Shanda, a mental health support group. The next No Shanda, No Shame Forum will be held Sunday, Nov. 18, at 2 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center’s Staenberg Family Complex Goodman  is a former president of the St. Louis Rabbinical Association, which coordinates the d’var Torah for the Jewish Light.

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