Nafshenu Alenu (Spirits United) is a community-wide initiative to promote mental wellbeing and empower communities to address the ever-growing and increasingly more complicated and critical mental health needs.

The program is a new and innovative initiative being designed as an initiative to educate about mental well-being in the Orthodox Jewish Community. The goal is to empower and to make the community aware of their responsibility towards the mental well-being of the community as a whole and overcome stigmas that surround mental health. The initiative is being piloted as a test project on Long Island (NY) this coming fall, with the support and spiritual backing of many of the leading rabbis with scalable plans to bring the program nationally in a year.

The program will operate through donations, which offset the costs of the educators and speakers. The physical locations will be in various synagogues in the area as well as the Gural Jewish Community. There will also be a modest registration fee ($36 per week or $180 for the series of 14 weeks), which will offset speakers and materials fees

Rabbi Dr. Yehuda Septimus


Rabbi Septimus is the Senior Rabbi of the Young Israel of North Woodmere. He has two decades of experience running innovative communal programming, first as Assistant Rabbi of the Riverdale Jewish Center and then as Senior Rabbi of the Young Israel of North Woodmere. During that time, he developed the expertise of sitting with individuals and families in crisis, helping them to emerge stronger than they were before the crisis hit.  He received his semicha as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature from Yeshiva University and received his PhD in classical Jewish history and literature from Yale University.

Rabbi Septimus has lectured at numerous synagogues and adult learning programs. He has also held positions as teaching fellow and instructor at Yale University, Gruss Scholar in Residence at the New York University School of Law, and Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies Postdoctoral Fellow at Columbia University.  More recently, Rabbi Septimus completed a Master of Arts degree at NYU Silver School of Social Work.  After completing post-graduate his training at the Trauma Studies Center of the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy in Columbus Circle, Rabbi Septimus became a board member and then an instructor at the Institute.  He also has intensive training in EMDR, Sensorimotor, and Emotionally Focused psychotherapies, and he has studied with world experts in the integration of these and other modalities to treat trauma and other complex life challenges. He uses these modalities and his considerable skills as a psychotherapist to help people, families, and communities achieve healing and transformation

Stuart Katz


Best known for getting the job done in a quiet manner, Stuart Katz is always leading by example – whether in the for-profit or not-for-profit sectors. Stuart was a two-time President of the Young Israel of North Woodmere. He’s been active and served on local,national and international boards of numerous organizations including the JCRC, Limmud, the Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaways, the 5 Towns Community Council and Bnei Akiva. He continues to be called upon by many of these organizations for advice and innovative leadership ideas. He served for six years as the President of the Glenwood synagogue in his hometown of Hashmonaim and serves on the Board of Visitors of McLean Hospital, affiliated with Harvard University Medical School. He serves as Chairman of the Board of OGEN – Advancement of Mental Health Awareness in Israel; chairman of Mental Health First Aid Israel and a partner in “Deconstructing Stigma” in Israel. He has counseled over 7,000 individuals and families in crisis in the United States, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Syria, South Africa and the United Kingdom,  and has volunteered over 1,000 hours on the Crisis Text Line. When not volunteering throughout Israel as well as the rest of the world including his current projects of working with Syrian refugees in Greece and assisting Jews from Uganda make their way to Israel, combatting stigma surrounding mental health issues and helping in natural disasters worldwide, Stuart serves as CEO of TAL Tours and Deluxe Kosher Tours. He was previously Managing Director of Israir Airlines in the United States as well as President of IsraMedica.