The crisis in teen mental health is, if anything, getting worse. The tragic suicide of Mia Janin, amid accusations of cyber bullying, reminds us that to be a teenager today is to face all sorts of peer pressures, made far worse by the destructive impact of social media and other issues that can seem overwhelming.
Add to that the effect of the pandemic on children and it is no wonder that so many teenagers are suffering as part of what is an epidemic in mental health problems.
In that context, Pesach — and especially the Seder meal — is far more than a religious festival. It provides the opportunity for a reset, and a vivid demonstration of the strength of community.
Ritual is a key part of Jewish observance but the Seder rituals have a meaning all of their own. Nothing confirmed the unique power of the Seder more than their absence during the pandemic, when we were forced to resort to sterile “virtual” Seders.
Coming together around the Seder table is a perfect antidote to the isolation and loneliness that so many feel in the modern world. It is, of course, entirely possible to be surrounded by other people and yet still be devastated by loneliness; but the Seder is an instrument of togetherness and bonding.
It is bigger than any of us — and puts in perspective the pettiness of issues that can seem overwhelming.
The JC wishes all of our readers a chag sameach.