Neda Ebrahimi. Photo by Jamie Feldman
Neda Ebrahimi. Photo by Jamie Feldman

“Never underestimate the impact you have on those around you. We need you.”

The very fact that you are here, in this place, at this time and with these opportunities available to you, means that there is something to be done — something that only you can do, something of utmost importance to God.”

These words, credited to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, were shared during the presentation and printed in the program for UMatter’s fifth annual “One Thing I Wish You Knew” event.

Typically, when teens find themselves at other schools, it is to compete. This is quite the opposite goal of the UMatter resource fair and annual “One Thing I Wish You Knew” program.

Rabbi Yarden Blumstein
Rabbi Yarden Blumstein Jamie Feldman

Hundreds of students and family members gathered at Seaholm Auditorium on Sunday, March 5, to learn about community resources and support one another by listening to first-person narratives of mental health struggles and the winding road our lives take to the present moment. It’s by no means easy to live, but as UMatter Director Rabbi Yarden Blumstein reiterated again and again, “Never underestimate the impact you have on those around you. We need you.”

Neda Ebrahimi, lead counselor at Cranbrook Kingswood Upper School and one of the event speakers, spoke of living with anxiety and depression and surviving a suicide attempt. Reflecting on the attempt to take her own life, she emphasized, “This was a defining moment in my life, but not a moment that defined me.” Ebrahimi spoke of the promise of the coming moment — the difference in holding on for just a moment longer can change everything. Now, she again and again intentionally chooses to be brave over being perfect.

UMatter audience
UMatter audience Jamie Feldman

Jonas Annear used the metaphor of a fairy tale to share his personal story of survival of sexual abuse and navigating through post-traumatic stress disorder and self-blame. He remarked that in a fairy tale, we don’t learn what happens after the knight swoops in and rescues the princess. The fairy tale does not continue to unfold through all the struggle and challenge of memories and scars and rebuilding hope and faith. Annear encouraged those listening, “Instead of striving to fix ourselves, let’s strive to better ourselves.”

Rabbi Blumstein expressed how important it is to “work every day to show up for life.”

UMatter was sponsored by the Andrew Kukes Foundation for Social Anxiety, Hebrew Free Loan Detroit, Children’s Foundation, Impact 100 Oakland County, the Jewish Fund and We Need to Talk. If you or your organization is interested in partnering with UMatter, visit

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