Updated: Oct 19, 2021
October 15th, 2021 | 9th of Cheshvan, 5782 | Lech-Lecha לֶךְ־לְךָ
Dear Beit Rabban Community,
We have had some wonderful "shinshinim" over the years, Israeli recent high school graduates who spend their year of service (Shnat Sherut) in American Jewish communities through a Jewish Agency program. Our first "shinshin" was a person named Ido Shefi. Ido's gigantic smile and ever present guitar made him magnetic. He brought boundless energy and joy to Beit Rabban as well as a number of other Jewish day schools on the Upper West Side, and he, along with his shinshinim partner Maya, were beloved by our children. His goodbye party was filled with new friends of all ages.
Last summer, our former JAFI shaliach reached out to share that Ido died by suicide while at his base during COVID lockdown. As Ido's family and friends processed this devastating loss, we were asked not to send a public announcement to our community, which we obviously respected. Yesterday Ynet published an interview with Ido's mother, Noa, about her experience and the organization she started in Ido's honor. The article is available in Hebrew here, and I encourage you to read it even if it necessitates an imperfect google translation. Speaking about suicide, specifically in the context of young Israelis who die by suicide during their army service, Noa's mother said:
"The social stigmas that advocate shame and concealment make it difficult to talk about this phenomenon, but the more they talk about it, the more it will be possible to deal with it and reduce it."
These words signaled to me that it is time to share the news of Ido's passing and to honor him and all those who love him by taking a moment to affirm as a community that we are committed to fighting the social stigmas and shame that prevent people from accessing the support they deserve after experiencing trauma- whether it be suicide, abuse, mental illness or a multitude of other traumas that are so easily internalized as shameful.
Thank you Noa for your courage in speaking publicly about your personal pain and the related societal issues. You are an inspiration as was your beautiful son Ido during the year we shared with him.
Baruch Dayan Ha'Emet.
Wishing all a restful and rejuvenating Shabbat,