Monsey Hanukkah Stabbing: Statement from Stephanie Madison, President & CEO of MHA of Rockland

This past weekend we were stunned and saddened to see a terrible act of violence committed against our friends and neighbors in the Rockland Jewish Community. This attack was one of many attacks against Jews in the past several weeks, not only in our area, but across the world. These events leave many of us at a loss for words, and with a lack of clarity as to what to do now. Indeed, these are times that are inspiring fear, despair, and for some, hopelessness, as we live in a world seemingly filled with chaos and hatred. While there is no one answer, we do know what will help: Standing in solidarity with our Jewish neighbors, and all neighbors facing discrimination, oppression, and hatred; rising to face the powers that spread negativity and inspire fear; talking with one another about who we are, our differences and that which unites us; inspiring and spreading messages of hope and understanding; creating a community that focuses on love and compassion. The Mental Health Association of Rockland stands with all of our community members in the creation of that community.

It has been reported that this most recent attack was committed by an individual with a history of mental illness. I’m quite certain we will hear more about that as details unfold. What I am also certain of, is the fact that one in four Americans will experience a mental illness throughout the course of their lives, and it will not make them more prone to violence. Mental illness actually makes people more vulnerable to being the victim of violence, not the perpetrator. And yet, each time we experience a tragedy, we see the same finger pointing, blame and perpetuation of disinformation that takes us all backward in our understanding of mental illness. These events intensify the stigma that we have battled throughout time; the stigma that too often stops us, our families, our children and our neighbors from getting the help they need. Let us not rush to judgment, and let us not equate hate and violence with mental illness. We must respect each other’s humanity and support those in need, while bringing justice for those affected by violence. What we need most now is light to dispel the darkness, and light can be found in truth.

Mindfulness in the Age of Anxiety

By Lynda Guzman, Director of ACT


Mindfulness and Anxiety are two ever-present buzz words in today’s media (both social and formal) which mirrors professional discussions concerning the harmful effects of anxiety and stress on the body and mind. Webster’s Dictionary defines anxiety as “an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it” Clearly this describes many of the issues that have caused angst for people today.  The best remedy available (without prescriptions) is the practice of mindfulness.


Mindfulness has been defined as “an act of consciously focusing the mind in the present moment without judgement and without attachment to the moment.” (Linehan 2015) It seems so simple but is excruciatingly difficult in this age of heightened stress.  Many people are struggling with how to control their anxiety and how to live their best possible life.  The answer can be found in creating a meaningful mindfulness practice that honors the best of today while honing the skills that one might need for tomorrow.

Meditation is a form of mindfulness where the practitioner focuses on one thing (Beit their breath, a focal point outside of themselves, or some type of counting exercise) for a specific time period which allows the person to connect with that moment.  This type of activity is considered a grounding exercise and can be used in times of high stress as well as part of a daily ritual.  Meditation can also be used to focus one’s energy in the sense of an internal monologue about an aspect of one’s life such as “I will think through all the options before making a decision about my next vacation.”


Mindfulness can also be the totality of one’s senses in any given moment.  An example of this can be found in weight loss programs where the program will encourage the participant to use all their senses while eating. “I see a lush red strawberry with small seeds dotting the outside.  The strawberry feels bumpy as I hold it in my hand.  There is a slightly sweet earthy aroma. I hear the gentle smack of my lips as I bite into the strawberry.  I taste the sweetness which fills my mouth.”  This is the total berry experience.  Obviously, this can be done at any moment and in any set of circumstances.  Occasionally, when someone has difficulty with panic or high levels of anxiety, a mental health professional will suggest a naming exercise where the person will name all of the blue things in their environment or all the things that begin with the letter T.



The SOS (Survivors of Suicide) Group meets the first and third Wednesdays of each month at MHA (The Mental Health Association of Rockland County) at 140 Route 303, Valley Cottage, NY 10989 from 7 to 8:30 pm in Room 132.

The group provides support to individuals who have lost a loved one to suicide.

The death of a loved one through any cause is painful, but losing someone we love to suicide adds another layer of pain and emotions to the experience of loss.

Please call 845-267-2172 x324 for questions or attend the meeting. No registration required.


American Foundation of Suicide Prevention    Toll-Free: 1-888-333-AFSP (2377)


To download a flyer for the SOS Group, please click here.