One person can be the light for someone in a dark place, says rabbi

Dec 16, 2021, 1:51 PM | Updated: Dec 23, 2021, 7:12 am
FILE -- Rabbi Benny Zippel of Chabad Lubavitch of Utah conducts the ceremony as the lighting of a m...
FILE -- Rabbi Benny Zippel of Chabad Lubavitch of Utah conducts the ceremony as the lighting of a menorah in the state Capitol rotunda marks the first night of Hanukkah in Salt Lake City Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019. Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Editorial note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly confused Rabbi Avremi Zippel with his father, Benny. This article has been updated to correct that error. 

SALT LAKE CITY —  A Utah rabbi is launching a mental health initiative based on the concept that one person can be the difference — the light — for someone in the community who is suffering from a mental health problem.

“Sometimes our light goes out, but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light.

— Albert Schweitzer

On KSL NewsRadio’s Inside Sources program, Utah Rabbi Avremi Zippel of Chabad Lubavitch of Utah said he launched Flame, a mental health initiative for 2022, during Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights.


 The concept behind the Jewish festival is that one small candle can light an unlimited number of wicks around it.

“When thinking about dealing with mental health on a communal level, I think what a lot of people fail to understand is how important of a role a single individual can play,” Zippel said.

One person can light the darkness

The focus of the Flame program is straightforward. Rabbi Zippel wants to train those in the young Jewish professional community to become certified in what he called mental health first aid.

To be there for another individual when . . .  somebody is in some sort of emotional distress,” he said. “[A person] who they can confide in, who can assist them, who can be that shoulder to cry on and to help them out of that potentially dangerous situation.”

Zippel said mental health issues are almost always an issue of loneliness. Therefore, the goal of Flame is to combat that loneliness by letting those who may be suffering know there are people out there trained to help.

“The entire purpose of their being in this community is to be that safe someone that you can feel comfortable opening up to about topics that ordinarily you wouldn’t feel comfortable opening up to,” Zippel said.  

Related: Doc talks about what to look out for with seasonal depression

He said there will soon be a dedicated area for Flame on the Young Jewish Professionals Utah webpage. 

“This was something which was announced at a relatively small Hanukkah party over the holiday and word got out pretty quick,” Zippel said.

And Flame is something that he would like to open to the wider community.

Help is here for you

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, there is help! Please call the suicide prevention lifeline 1-800-273-TALK and speak to a licensed clinician. Or click on the following hyperlink to quickly visit this web page:

Also, the SafeUT Crisis Chat and Tip Line are available to help. It’s a statewide service that provides real-time crisis intervention to youth. They can access help through live chat and a confidential tip program right from their smartphone. Find out more by clicking the hyperlink here.

Mental Health First Aid

Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson can be heard weekdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app. 

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