When we talk about increasing tolerance in Jerusalem, we’re not just talking about tolerance for different cultures, ethnicities, and religions. We’re talking about everyone in society, including those who are coping with mental health issues.
Over the past year and a half, as part of our Grassroots Campaign for Tolerance, our Michal Shilor has accompanied – Nefashot (souls in Hebrew) – a group seeking to break down stigma about mental health issues by creating spaces for awareness and dialogue in Jerusalem´s public sphere. For the past two years Nefashot has held events on Jerusalemite Day of Diversity. This year, in celebration of World Mental Health Day on October 10, Nefashot, with the support of the JICC, produced Ossim Nefashot – the Making Souls Festival. The festival featured 19 events, beginning Sunday, October 7, and running through Friday, October 12.
The events included: talks, discussions, lectures, exhibits, performances, and more. About how mental health issues affected motherhood, their people’s personal journeys and experiences, their art, their stories, and even a baking workshop.
All were organized by organizations, places and especially people who have joined forces together to achieve one goal: to raise public awareness about mental health in our city while reducing stigma against people coping with mental difficulties. The events include lectures, shows, movies, information booths, learning days and more.
Many thanks to the organizers. Here’s what some of them had to say:
Ronni Diler, one of the organizers, noted, “This might sound over the top, but I feel like my life has completely changed since I’ve become involved with [the JICC’s tolerance efforts]. I’m a purebred Jerusalemite and I always felt connected, but over the last year I’ve come to know more and more people and initiatives that are doing amazing things, with lots of good will and cooperation. There’s no doubt that without our guide (we are only 1 1/2 years old), Michal Shilor we wouldn’t have gotten to this place.”
Yaniv Rosenfeld Cohen, another organizer, said, “A year and a half ago Nefashot was born. I didn’t know how it would turn out, and if I’d have the strength to develop it. But I hoped that I would have enough courage to try something completely out of the mainstream. Nefashot was born with a goal to fight stigmas associated with mental health, and was an attempt to create a human and authentic encounter. Since then those who know me know that I am very passionate about this initiative and it’s one of the most significant things that I’ve been involved with. I’ve had the fortune and honor to have a number of extraordinary people helping me. They are the people working day and night to try and create a better and more tolerant city in Jerusalem. The missing part of the puzzle is Michal Shilor [and the JICC], who decided to accompany us despite her crazy schedule. Without her un-ending optimism and energies I have no doubt that the picture would have looked entirely different. The 19 special events that [took place] this week would not have been possible without the people who decided to make this city better. I take my hat off to every one of them.
Sivan Regev said, “So excited that this week is here! So many partners, [including the JICC]. And to all those who came with initiatives, those that we’re implementing now and those that we’ll continue to develop, and to those to ask me, and spread the word, and ask me to send them a flyer so they can tell others. A sea of wonderful people. Thank you everyone!”
Here’s a little summary video with the highlights of all the events (in Hebrew):
Click here for the entire list of events (Hebrew).