Ending a stigma
The very fact of Mental Health Shabbat’s existence is itself a sign of how far we have travelled in recent years to lift the stigma that has long surrounded mental health issues. The stigma, and consequent silence, did not just prevent sufferers from seeking treatment; it made a bad situation worse. Now, thanks to the work of people like Rabbi Daniel Epstein, whose initial idea led to a dedicated Shabbat to raise awareness of the subject, the stigma is greatly diminished, even if it still remains in some quarters. Initiatives like Jami’s Head Room café have normalised mental health to the extent that it can now be, quite literally, discussed over coffee in the high street. There remains a long way to go, but awareness of the widespread incidence of mental illness is one area at least in which our society has, without doubt, changed for the better.
Chelsea and Jews
It is self-evidently a good thing that Chelsea are committing a great deal of time, effort and money to educating players, staff and fans about antisemitism. Their plan is thought through and serious. In many ways, it is a model that other clubs should copy. But, for all that, it will ultimately be worthless unless action is taken by the club in one specific instance. How will the club deal with those Chelsea fans who start hissing at Spurs fans, in supposed imitation of the gas chambers? To date, Chelsea has done nothing effective. Deal with this and the good intentions will have been transformed into serious action. Fail to do so, and they will simply be hot air.