Chanukah is a time for making the world brighter. Each night of Chanukah we’ll be featuring stories from teens serving on the Jewish Teen Alliance of Chicago (JTAC) sharing how adding their Jewish experiences add light to our community. JTAC members are representatives of Chicago’s amazing teen programs. For the sixth night, we will hear from Toren about his experience with No Shame On U.
My name is Toren Strauss and this year I am representing No Shame On U on the Jewish Teen Alliance of Chicago (JTAC). Founded in November 2014, No Shame on U is a non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating the stigma associated with mental health conditions and raising awareness in the Jewish community and beyond. The goal is for the people who need help to seek it, for family members and friends to know how to provide proper support and to save lives.
As a teen I understand that struggling with your mental health is incredibly challenging, and to not be able to be open about it without fear of being isolated or cut out is even more challenging. It not only is an important cause to me because of my experiences, but mental health stigma has also affected my friends and highlights how many people the stigma affects. My favorite NSOU event that I have taken part of is the Virtual Yoga with a special focus on mental well-being and mindfulness every Tuesday led by Mary Zimmerman. I enjoy giving myself 30 minutes to relax and I can feel the physical, emotional, and therapeutic benefits directly after and throughout the rest of the week. Being in the present allows me to reflect on my week and recently myself for the upcoming challenges of the week. The yoga sessions have allowed me to even practice it on my own time. Before I play sports or do any work or homework, I always start with some mindfulness exercises to help me get started. I am an extremely busy person and the relaxation and stretching for just 30 minutes a day makes all the difference.
About the Author: Toren is a sophomore at North Shore Country Day School; prior to high school, he attended Chicago Jewish Day School for 10 years! In his free time, Toren is active and enjoys golf, basketball, baseball, and skiing with his friends and family. He also loves to read fantasy books. Toren is a member of Am Yisrael Conservative Congregation, and he enjoys eating Jewish foods - his favorite is matzo ball soup.