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What do I need to know about specific faiths?


Anyone who saves a life, it is as if he saved an entire world.

I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day: I have put before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life, if you and your offspring would live.

Neither shall you stand by the blood of your neighbour

This quote from the Torah teaches Jewish people that the obligation to save a life is paramount in Judaism and includes everyone as we are all made in the image of G-d (Genesis 1:26-27). Preservation of human life is a priority in Judaism and trumps other rules and regulations. 

These pages were developed in conversation with representatives of different faith traditions in the UK. They are not reflective of all beliefs held by adherents of these faiths. Groupings and denominations within faith traditions are incredibly diverse and varied, and these pages do not comprehensively address the spectrum of views and positions held within each faith community.

These pages are focused on how adherents to different faiths may understand life challenges and access pastoral support structures. Their focus is therefore on public, rather than private, worship practices, and they do not give a comprehensive overview of beliefs or worship practices across different faith traditions.


The following content is intended to offer information on when, where and how Jews might access community-based support. It should not be treated as guidance on how to engage with the Jewish community.

How is life, suffering, and death understood within the Jewish faith?





The following content is intended to offer information on when, where and how Jews might access community-based support. It should not be treated as guidance on how to engage with the Jewish community.

When do Jews gather / connect?

Orthodox men visit the synagogue daily. In other parts of the community gatherings take place around Shabbat, including Friday night and Saturday morning, as well as for Jewish festivals.

Festivals such as Jewish New Year (Rosh HaShanah, September-October) Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur, September-October) and Passover (March-April) are particularly well observed by many. Sukkot (September-October) is also celebrated across the community, during which many people make a temporary dwelling – a sukkah – in their garden. Others visit the sukkah at their synagogue.

The community is also widely involved with marking Holocaust Memorial Day (27th January) and Israel Independence Day (April-May).

Where do Jews gather / connect?

Worship and gatherings may take place in the home (for example, around Shabbat), as well as at the synagogue. Social and cultural events are hosted by individual synagogue-based communities. Synagogues may be referred to as a ‘shul’ (school) in Orthodox communities.

Synagogues are often purpose-built structures but are also found in adapted or converted buildings. Some Jewish communities may rent premises for worship.

Orthodox Jewish communities are concentrated in certain, largely urban, geographic areas of the UK. Most Jews in the UK reside in London, but there are communities in most major cities in England.

The Jewish community has a highly organised infrastructure and Jewish people connect through networks of schools, youth organisations, including those running athletic events (Maccabi GB), Jewish social care and health organisations such as Jami (mental health services), Jewish Care (older adult social services), Chai Cancer Care, AJR (Association of Jewish Refugees), JWA (Jewish Women’s Aid), a domestic violence charity, and many others including housing societies.

If a Jew wanted to access faith-based wellbeing support, how and where might they do this?

Spiritual leadership is very important within Jewish communities, and many Jews would feel that their Rabbi is a person they would want to talk to if they, a relative or a friend needed support. Some Rabbis have received specific training in mental health, but this is not the case across the board.

There are a range of dedicated voluntary organisations supporting the Jewish community around mental health, and health and social care. Jewish Care is the lead social care organisation providing services for older adults and their families. Jami, a mental health service (part of Jewish Care), offers services for adults, young people and carers. Jami have a high-street community based at their Head Room Café in Golders Green.  

There are additional organisations operating in the orthodox community. They usually promote themselves within that social system.

Are there dedicated organisations offering faith-informed support?

Jami offers a mental health service for adults, young people, and carers.

The Interlink Foundation work closely with the orthodox Jewish community and can offer support and advice regarding referring to organisations serving this community.

Additional content

Things that may be helpful to know about Judaism in the context of suicide prevention


Jews in the UK are a diverse community with people following the faith in an ultra-orthodox (Charedi), orthodox, or progressive approach. However, the legacy of Jewish historic practices and ideas can impact many within the wider community and so it is helpful to understand the sensitivities around a death by suicide within a traditional Jewish context. People from the various communities differ in their religious/cultural practices.

Rituals and burial practices

Historically, there was tension around burial after suicide. People were not buried alongside other members of the community. However, in modern times, there is a lot more understanding that many suicides are caused by mental illness and severe distress and practices have evolved to reflect that understanding.

In Judaism, there is a great sensitivity around the sanctity of the body after death. A dead person is handled with care and prayers are said. Understanding the family’s desire to honour these rituals is important for the emergency services to alleviate further suffering or a later trauma response. A Rabbi may be called to lead the prayers at this point. Allowing the family time with the deceased to say prayers and honour the person who has died would be in keeping with many Jewish peoples wishes.

The coronial process would also be traumatic for many Jews. People are buried very quickly according to Jewish tradition. Delaying burial and having the deceased’s body examined needs to be handled with the greatest of sensitivities for the Jewish community.

Every Rabbi from the most orthodox to progressive would want to support families to be able to engage with Jewish rituals around the tragedy of a death by suicide, including burial, sitting shiva (house of mourning of the chief mourners i.e. spouse, child, sister, brother etc), and a stone setting, a memorial service held just under a year after the death, when the tombstone is set and the person is recalled.


Language is a very sensitive area as the word ‘suicide’ is a word that many people from the ultra-orthodox community would not necessarily use. If a person who died had a struggle with mental illness it may be regarded more as a death caused by illness rather than a purposeful choice to end life.

Preservation of life

It is important to consider the centrality of the commitment to preserve life in faith communities being a possible barrier to someone seeking support when dealing with thoughts of death by suicide, as well as a source of stigma for surviving relatives.

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