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Rabbi Saul Haimoff, 34
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HEALTH AND SAFETY36 Under 36 2020

Rabbi Saul Haimoff, 34

Torah and Mental Health

What you do:

I am an advocate for mental health awareness, especially in the Jewish community, and have volunteered to give lectures and classes to help educate the general population on mental illness and effective therapies.

I serve as head rabbi at The Brandeis School in Lawrence, L.I., and serve as the associate rabbi and youth director at the Jewish Center of Atlantic Beach.

I also have a private practice where I provide psychotherapy to children, adolescents and adults with anxiety, depression and behavioral issues.

Unexpected fun fact:

I married my high school sweetheart.

Quote you live by:

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” — Viktor Frankl

Long-term goals:

I’d like to combine the skills and passions I have acquired over the years to create a holistic center that provides a multitude of services to the general community. A program that provides a high level of psychotherapy, but also connects the body and soul through a wide range of activities, while simultaneously diminishing the stigma associated with mental health services.

What do you consider unique or innovative about what you do?

Having rabbinic ordination and a doctorate in clinical psychology, I have a unique ability to speak about both spirituality and mental health in an educated and authentic manner. I incorporate Torah sources and Jewish themes when speaking about psychology and thereby make it more accessible, relatable and credible to audiences with strong religious affiliations. Similarly, when I teach Judaic studies to students across the developmental lifespan, I connect the sacred texts to psychological concepts and provide practical techniques for maintaining proper mental health.

What Jewish source, person, book, etc., has inspired your work?

My 12th grade teacher for Talmud was Rabbi Mordechai Brownstein. Besides his mastery of Talmudic texts and commentaries, he also frequently quoted Shakespeare’s works, used metaphors from molecular biology, physics and astrology and was qualified to teach AP courses in various subjects. I asked him why he was teaching Torah if he could be teaching so many other topics. He looked at me and gave me an answer that I will never forget. “My dear Saul, I don’t teach Torah — I teach life. God’s Torah is not a religious manual; it is a guidebook for a happy and a healthy life.”

Follow me: rabbidrsaulhaimoff.com, @torahandmentalhealth (IG), @rabbidrsaul (Twitter), Rabbi Saul Haimoff, PsyD (Facebook)

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