Jewish Men's Breakfast Group

Men’s breakfast supports bereaved fathers

They joined the JBP which at the time was predominantly a women's group. "Then about two years ago, the first men's breakfast took place," Hallenstein said.

Jewish Men's Breakfast Group.
Jewish Men's Breakfast Group.

Seven years ago, Hal Hallenstein and his wife Sue suffered the death of one of their children.

“It was the most difficult thing that either of us have ever had to face,” Hallenstein said.

Around the same time, Cynthia Pollack, founder and president of Jewish Bereaved Parents Support Group (JBP) published her book After the death of your child – a Jewish mother’s perspective.

The Hallensteins bought and read a copy of the book.

“It’s very unnatural and it’s very difficult for a parent to lose a child and Cynthia’s book was helpful,” he said.

They joined the JBP which at the time was predominantly a women’s group. “Then about two years ago, the first men’s breakfast took place,” Hallenstein said.

Nine men in the group turned up at a kosher restaurant in Carlisle Street.

“We had a really nice breakfast and all started talking about how we felt and how we cope with the loss,” he said.

“It was quite enlightening and a great relief.

“Just to be able to talk about how you felt, how devastating it was, and how you tried to cope and how one has flashbacks all the time as though it were yesterday. Although all our circumstances were different in the way that our child was lost, reactions and experiences were essentially all the same.”

Recent research by men’s health charity Movember revealed that six in 10 men have never shared their feelings with anyone. This is mainly due to embarrassment, unsure of who would listen to them and not being able to find the right words.

None of the nine men had spoken openly about how they felt about the loss of their child before they started meeting for breakfast.

“We’ve all become friends and we’re all on the same page. We all get on very well. We do still talk about some of the things that brought us together but it’s not the intense talk from the beginning.”

Hallenstein said another major factor to the camaraderie of the Men’s Breakfast Group is that everyone is Jewish. Some are very religious, and some are not religious at all but in his opinion, they all share a certain outlook.

“I would say for myself anyway, if there were another crisis in my life, I’d have no hesitation in speaking to any of those blokes.”

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