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Does it Match?

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D E S I GN I SSU E Secure Your Own Mask First

how beit t’shuvah is helping fa milies to be t ter themselves

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50,0 0 0 Steps To Vic tory the g o od, the bad, and the spiritual of running to savE A soul p g20


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Beit T'Shuvah MAGAZINE

MARCH 2012

F E AT U R E S C h a i r ’s & P r e s i d e n t ’s N o t e

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Dr. Bill Resnick and Annette Shapiro commence their terms as Chairman and President of the Board with perspectives and hopes of Beit T’Shuvah’s future.


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Five inspiring takes on what Design means to those guiding Beit T’Shuvah on its path to the future.

Israeli Consul General

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An afternoon with the Israeli Consul General.

Secure your own mask first

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How Beit T’Shuvah’s new family program is helping families to better themselves.

5 0 , 0 0 0 S t e p s t o Vi c t o r y

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A brief glimpse of what the runners’ bodies and souls experience in preparation for the L.A. Marathon.

A n U n l i k e ly S u rv i vo r

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Speeches from the rededication of the remarkable Czech Memorial Torah Scroll. A Torah that survived the Holocaust and lives on to rescue souls at Beit T’Shuvah.

Th e E m o t i o n a l To r r e n t

{ INSIDE } High Holidays p g22 Circle of M ajest y p g28 Cant or ’s Cor ner p g43 G olf Tour nament p g4 4 2 | B E I T T ’ S H U V A H | w w w. b e i t t s h u v a h . o r g

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Bending the bars at California Institute for Women with Freedom Song.

D o e s t h i s M atc h ?

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How a few passionate souls turned a treatment center into a home, community and a beautiful place to start anew.

New Breed Ad Men

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Award winning Creative Director and Copywriter, Gary Wexler asks; does Mad Men hold anything over BTS Communications? D E C E M B E R 2 012

Chair’s Note When I was told that the theme of this issue of the Beit T’Shuvah magazine was design, I was initially at a loss as to what to reflect on. So I looked up design in the dictionary and came up with this definition: “purpose, planning, or intention that exists behind an action.” Suddenly it made a kind of sense.  Although the magazine’s theme of design is inspired by the very inspirational Designed from the Heart project that scores of volunteers poured their creative energies into, the concept of design extends to how we live our lives, what our purpose and intentions are, how we plan our actions.   What a fitting query for the Beit T’Shuvah community to reflect on:  How do we design our lives?  Perhaps more apt is to ask, do we take time to design our lives?  Are we setting clear intentions about how we live with purpose?  Are our actions part of a plan for living that includes a G-d of our understanding?  Or are we just running on automatic pilot, perhaps driven by a perceived need to satisfy our immediate desires?   I am guilty of often forgetting to live according to my values, my sense of purpose and hence not designing my actions in a way that resonates with my greater intentions.  For me, that includes being a positive force for good–in the Beit T’Shuvah community, with my family and friends, and beyond.  In writing this, I am making t’shuvah by realizing where I have strayed and committing to being clearer in living according to my intentions–that is, I plan to design my life for spiritual connection. Dr. BILL RESNICK, BOARD CHAIR


I am proud to be President of an organization that continues to help so many addicted individuals and families heal themselves and come together through faith and community. Beit T’Shuvah’s unique approach to recovery has been recognized locally by the Sheriff’s Department, Senator Diane Feinstein, Judges, Prosecutors and Defense Attorneys and nationally by the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. The culture of BTS supports innovation, individualized treatment and creative expression. The doors are open to all who seek recovery, regardless of ability to pay for treatment. The length of stay is determined by need. My husband Leonard and I are regulars at Friday night and holiday services and I never tire of witnessing the miracles of transformation as residents experience the love and acceptance of the Beit T’Shuvah community. I am always moved when I hear family members share their gratitude for “returning our spouse/friend/son/daughter to our family” and the gratitude of the residents for their sobriety, their friends, their new job, their return to their family and their new vision of themselves. As I’ve heard several residents say, “Hope replaces dope.” I am extremely proud of our leadership—Harriet Rossetto and Rabbi Mark Borovitz – for sustaining the vision; for their dedicated staff and volunteers and for our active, hands-on Board of Directors, many of whom serve as mentors to our residents. All of our programs have grown over the years—Family Education, Prevention, BTS Communications and our Clinical Volunteer and Intern Training Program—and we have outgrown our current space. Thanks to Joyce Brandman and all of our generous contributors, we have purchased the building next door and are soon to begin remodeling the space to house our expanded Elaine Breslow Family Program—Family Education, Prevention, spiritual learning and services. Beit T’Shuvah will continue to respond to growing and changing community needs for education, prevention and treatment of addiction and its impact on the family.


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Beit T'Shuvah


Dr. Bill Resnick Chairman of the Board Annette Shapiro President of the Board Harriet Rossetto Chief Executive Officer Rabbi Mark Borovitz Chief Operating Officer Nancy Mishkin Warren Breslow Chairs Emeriti BOARD MEMBERS Lynn Bider Joyce Brandman Emily Corleto Samuel Delug David Elston Jon Esformes John Fishel Mel Gagerman Jeffrey Glassman Robert Gluckstein Carolyn Gold Beverly Gruber Salli Harris Roberta Holland Russell Kern Dr. Susan Krevoy Diane Licht Virginia Maas Bradley H. Mindlin Donald S. Passman Joan Praver Ed Praver Heidi Praw Avi Reichental David Ruderman Richard Schulman Rena Slomovic Ronnie Stabler Lisi Teller Brad Wiseman Hal Wiseman* Robert Wiviott Jill Black Zalben HONORARY BOARD MEMBERS Sheldon Appel Donald J. Berghoff Robert Felixson* Herb Gelfand Brindell Gottlieb Blair Belcher Kohan Shelley Kozek Chuck Maltz Cheri Morgan Mike Nissenson Jan Rosen Craig Taubman Greg Vilkin Dr. Howard Wallach



CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Chris Alvarez Hope Takes Flight, GIVING TOGETHER GROWING TOGETHER | Heidi Bendetson Design | Rabbi Mark Borovitz Design | Martine Chavez Culver Cool | Jessica Fishel The Emotional Torrent | Eliana Katz An Unlikely

Survivor | Russell Kern Design | Jerry Klinger An Unlikely Survivor |

Zak Kraus House of the Rising Sun, The Grace that Saves, The Battlefield of Love | Cantor Rachel Neubauer Cantor’s Corner | Avi Reichental Design Bill Resnick Chair’s Note | Harriet RoSsetto Design | Ephraim Sales An

Unlikely Survivor | Annette Shapiro President’s Note | Josh Silver An Offer I Couldn’t Refuse, Secure Your Own Mask First, PAR FOR THE COURSE, Does



*Deceased D E C E M B E R 2 012

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I S E D r; o f n ig s e d c i e t s h i t t r e a at n e r a c n ; i te u c V ER B e x er r e n o n a e t m d e cre a l l i k s y l h o r hi g

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N G I harriet rosSetto CEO and Founder, Beit T’Shuvah

What Design Means to Me To design is to create with intention, to bring order to chaos. It is a partnership between God and Man. It is living life on purpose, not by accident and being open and mindful to the unanticipated results of our actions through the Cosmic Design we can’t foresee. I had no idea when Heidi Bendetson and Rhonda Snyder proposed the Charity Design Project to Nina Haller the incredible changes that would happen for the residents, the staff, the community and me personally. Initially, it seemed like one of those ideas that would require great effort for questionable reward. I found myself thinking, People are dying of this disease; the waiting list is long; the overhead is high…isn’t redecorating the rooms a luxury we can’t afford? Most of our people don’t pay; their rooms are usually a mess; what’s the point? Then I witnessed the transformation of the rooms, the residents who lived in them and the designers who embraced them and the mission of BTS—but I still never thought it could happen to me! I am writing this sitting at my new glass, round-top writing table in D E C E M B E R 2 012

my redesigned office. Bach is playing in the background, I am at peace with myself and in love with my surroundings. Andie Miller and Julie Soter have created an environment that is a reflection of my whole (holy) self. It is orderly, elegant and comfortable. Everywhere I look I see things that are meaningful to me–books, art, honors and awards, pictures, my favorite mugs and Judaica, CDs and lucky bamboo plants. My favorite pads and pens are organized and accessible, files are neat and labeled. I can find everything. There are no cluttered corners or surfaces! The redesign of my exterior space has redesigned my interior in a way I never thought possible. I am renewed here, recovering from inertia and sloth. As I write this, I have 5 days clean and uncluttered! One day at a time, I am attending to the details of Sacred Housekeeping –putting things away as I use them, taking care of the paperwork immediately, discarding as I go, resisting the temptation to “do it tomorrow,” bothering to select the CD that fits my mood and returning it to its case when it finishes. Building new muscles, re-wiring brain circuitry and changing old behaviors requires mindful awareness. The challenge is exhilarating! w w w. b e i t t s h u v a h . o r g | B E I T T ’ S H U V A H | 7

Rabbi Mark COO and Head Rabbi, Beit T’Shuvah

Thinking about this theme has brought me to realize again, the wonder, beauty and awe of our Creator. God had/has a Design for the world and how we live our lives and has given us the plan. This plan is called Torah. In our tradition we are taught that there are 70 ways to understand, learn and interpret Torah. Just as each of the designers of our Charity Design Project put themselves, the residents and their own unique touch to make their rooms unique and wonderful, so too we are to put ourselves, others and our own unique gifts to make Torah and life unique, wonderful and awesome.

our part of the Garden that this world is. Here at Beit T’Shuvah, we need the same. We need all of you to add to Harriet’s design of a place where everyone belongs. A place of strength, a place of nurturing, a place of learning and a place of Spirit. Beit T’Shuvah is not competing with anyone else. While we are in need of the same dollars as other organizations, we are not competing with them. We believe our design for a place of wellbeing and living well will attract the donors, like yourselves and your friends to ensure our future. We want your partnership in the GRAND DESIGN OF BEIT T’SHUVAH. We want you to belong, participate, and help us grow to be everything we can be. In this way, you are adding your uniqueness to ours to enhance God’s Grand Design for all of us.

This too is the story of Beit T’Shuvah. We are a hub for everything Jewish and life affirming. We have designed a program of living that incorporates Spirit, Uniqueness, Love, Dignity and T’Shuvah. We, I mean all of us including you, have created a place where everyone who chooses BELONGS! This is the same for God. God has created Board Member, Beit T’Shuvah a world where we all belong. All Mentor, BTS Communications of us have something unique to Founder, The Kern Organizatio n contribute and add to the world. To me, design is an unspok Too many of us are competing for en communication language. “the place,” “number 1,” etc. This is not part of God’s Design! Design, be it architectural design , interior design, graphic design, clothing des Since we are all unique, we can’t ign, automotive design, or technology design really compete with anyone , conveys feelings, attitudes and beliefs in our fell else. We don’t have the skills to ow man. Design to me is the combination compete with another because of dimension, color, style, and texture our skills are complementary not to communicate pur pose, desire and intent. competitive. God’s Design is for us to cooperate and take care of Great design makes you feel… something. To me design is an inspiration. It awa kens all my senses. I look for and appreciate great design.

Russe l l K e r n

D E S IG N NOUN; st yle; the way in which something has been made or put together

I love design for its power to persuade and convey a message silently. Jus t close your eyes and think of the color red. Imagine you were trying to describe the color red to someone who had always been blind. How many feelings and stories does red convey? Lov e, passion, heat, danger, stop, strong. Design moves me. When I wal ked through the great temples’ ruins of Egypt or the palaces of

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France, I could immediately feel the enormity of power these structures rep resent. I knew by design, by the size of the bui ldings, by the size of the columns, by the propor tion of the spaces, the ornateness of the space, the greatness that was being conveyed. Now contrast the grandeur of palaces to the beautiful designs of our residen ts’ new rooms. By the genius of the design team s, they were able to convey an entire feeling and sense of home for our residents. These smart, cre ative, imaginative room designs now convey how important each resident is to Beit T’Shuvah. The designs convey a critical belief our Rabbi tells every resident—YOU MATTER! Our new room designs share the critical feelings and sense of purpose from our organization to another human being withou t speaking a single word. Steve Jobs knew the power of design. He built Apple on the principal of des ign. He knew a consumer would be moved to buy his good designs because of their positiv e attractions. Design is all around us, fro m our iPads and automobiles all the way to our kitchen tools. To me, I’m blessed to be able to be a part of great graphic design each day.

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VERB; to plan and fashion ar tistically or skillfully.

AVI REICHENTAL Board Member, Beit T’Shuvah CEO, 3D Systems Corporation

Design directs my actions and interprets my intentions into meaningful creations and long lasting experiences. I believe that fundamentally everyone is creative and everybody can create! That’s a gift we are given at birth. As a creative and innovative person, I have an awesome responsibility to practice this gift in useful ways like designing new products and experiences and sharing them with others. As a businessman, I harness design to create new business models and evolve organizations. As a traveler through the universe on this life’s journey, I value and appreciate the exquisite beauty of all things designed by nature. On this journey I learned that design transcends beyond physical creations into spiritual practices… a design for life that for me comes to life through the book of life—our Torah. Over time I learned that the quality of my physical designs tends to mirror the integrity of my spiritual practices. On days that I successfully embrace and harness the Book of Life as my design guide, I am capable of creating impactful designs. Armed with clarity, I am able to insightfully rearrange what I know into new creations. And when I can design and create, I get to celebrate my purpose and feel God’s pleasure as a participant in making our universe a little better everyday.

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DE TSON B EtheN H Eder,IDeDsigIned fro Heart m Foun

ort, beauty and design combines comf od Go r. de or dis of r out imagine what Design is making orde dget. The ability to bu ble na so rea a n thi hed wi to “Design from function, all accomplis eye, and the passion c eti sth ae en ke a sanctuaries for at is, could be out of wh g rooms into embracing itin inv un , ab dr rm fo n trans the Heart” is what ca healing. more important S. There were clearly BT at d ke oo erl ov s overy process. oms wa The décor of the ro ability to aid in the rec the s ha n sig de or eri t int how special they issues to deal with. Bu nts, and they’ve told me ide res the of es fac the m. A fresh, newly I’ve seen the smiles on inviting space for the an ate cre to e tim es the rriet, and some of feel when someone tak . Even the Rabbi, Ha ier pp ha e on ery ev s make their workspaces designed environment have requested to have d an er fev ng eli od the rem the staff have caught redone. ts come to Beit ol and chaotic. Addic ntr co of t ou ten of oms at BTS, so dict is The world of an ad When I first saw the ro ce. en ist ex ir the to r de ing or to escape. I knew T’Shuvah to try to br se people were trying the t tha es liv the r rro to mi a resident’s living many of them seemed re and harmony to tu uc str t gh ou br I and rd healing. that if the designers his or her path towa on cle sta ob s les e on space, there would be ner wishes to hear… the words every desig are ” ve lea to nt wa r neve and again I’ve heard “I love this room and of Beit T’Shuvah. Time nts ide res the m fro s thi tiful surroundings. except if you’re hearing der to stay in their beau or in se ap rel to ve ha ght y continue to evolve some joke that they mi mfort and beauty, the co of r we po the by ed their own. Instead, I hope, inspir n a beautiful space of sig de n ca y the y da e on t and grow enough so tha

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T he Tr ansfo r mative T hree:

{ Bei t T’Shuvah to H o n or Men tors at Gal a } by Jaro n Z anerhaf t

Avi Reichental

Heidi Bendetson


ith their signature style of gratitude, Beit T’Shuvah plans to recognize three architects and upholders of the Beit T’Shuvah philosophy at this year’s Gala: our mentors Russell Kern, Avi Reichental, and Heidi Bendetson. They all have planted their roots of influence deep in Beit T’Shuvah’s fertile soil to grow some of the most positive change Beit T’Shuvah has ever seen. They are the hidden heroes, the wizards behind the curtain, and it’s about time for them to be revealed. Taking charge of the Beit T’Shuvah Charity Design Project this year, Heidi Bendetson has overseen the complete recreation of 43 of Beit T’Shuvah’s residential rooms. She has been mentor to over 80 designers, some professional and some first timers to interior decoration. More importantly perhaps, she has been a mentor to the people at Beit T’Shuvah, allowing them to aspire to a higher, healthier, more beautiful standard of living. She herself expressed pleasant surprise that transforming the physical beauty of Beit T’Shuvah often translated to internal beauty as well. When Designed from the Heart, a charitable organization founded by Heidi, took up the mountainous cause of Beit T’Shuvah’s rooms, Heidi showed that her own heart was designed to inspire and share passion with all those around her. Russell Kern started The Kern Organization in 1991. With a passionate character and close ties to Beit T’Shuvah, Russell sparked a mentorship with John Sullivan, Creative Director of BTS Communications, and has since been somewhat of a Godfather to the company. He meets regularly with John and the business faction of BTS Communications to impart his advice, wisdom, and input on a variety of projects and client handlings. His name 1 0 | B E I T T ’ S H U V A H | w w w. b e i t t s h u v a h . o r g

Russell Kern

alone brings legitimacy to our mission and our services. A keystone from the inception, Russell has maintained his tremendous level of involvement, mentorship, and collaboration throughout each of BTS Communications’ growth spurts over the last few years. But that was not enough. Russell has taken it one step further by joining our Board this year and becoming a generous donor to our organization. Heading the HR committee on Beit T’Shuvah’s board, Avi Reichental was the spur that kicked the formation of Beit T’Shuvah’s HR department into gear earlier this year. Currently, Avi is CEO of 3D Systems Corporation. Since he joined the board at Beit T’Shuvah seven years ago, Harriet Rossetto, CEO and Founder of Beit T’Shuvah has professed Avi as her personal mentor in growing Beit T’Shuvah as a dynamic organization. Avi has been instrumental in keeping Beit T’Shuvah afloat, both with his brilliance in the business realm and many generous contributions. Shabbat services at Beit T’Shuvah have reconnected Avi to his Jewish roots and even helped nurture his once-estranged family relationships. Avi is the best kind of mentor—invested and engaged, persuasive and deferent. Now holding celebrity status on Beit T’Shuvah’s grounds, these three have designed transformations that are taking Beit T’Shuvah into a more expansive and influential future. With sincere gratitude, Beit T’Shuvah invites you to be among them and hundreds of other mentors, friends, and families at the annual Steps to Recovery Gala this year. We will be honoring the principles and personalities of Heidi, Russell, and Avi, who have fearlessly blazed the trail. D E C E M B E R 2 012

PRO GR A M ne ws

T he Gr ace that S aves

{ THE SONDRA & MARVIN SMALLEY music in recovery PROGRAM } By Z Ac kr aus s

Recovery is like a puzzle. The 12 steps and spirituality are the corners and the flat edged pieces of the big picture. You get a sponsor, go through the steps, attend meetings, and hopefully at the end of about a year you have some solid framework of what your recovery will look like. The rest of the puzzle is made up of the pieces you find on your own, the time and space that make up our entire lives. A vital internal piece of that puzzle is a program at Beit T’Shuvah that touches the lives of the entire Beit T’Shuvah community, from residents to board members, from strangers to family members: The Sondra and Marvin Smalley Music in Recovery Program (SMRP). It starts with the music of Shabbat Services. The sense of community that is derived from engaging in the prayers and songs that take place on a Friday night service is so overwhelming, that if you’re not moved by the crowd favorite Oseh Shalom, you might want to check your pulse. All this is topped off by the shining gem that is the Saturday morning service. Morning services have a tendency to turn into an all out prayer fest, with an energy that rivals an early punk rock band performing in their parents’ basement for the first time, playing not because they want to, but because they D E C E M B E R 2 012

have to. Some indescribable force pushes them to connect with something greater than themselves, striving to find that palace in time. James Fuchs, an alum who would become the first Artistic Director at Beit T’Shuvah, went to Harriet Rossetto and asked if the Shuv would help produce a play he had written some time ago. She said yes, and through the powers that be ranging from Rabbi Mark to Joel Shapiro, Fuchs’ play Figaro’s Divorce was performed at the Electric Lodge Theater in 2005, and opened the floodgates to what would become Beit T’Shuvah’s Music and Arts Program. Fuchs’ play included performances from Shuvite residents, and truly opened a new avenue for residents to find expression in recovery. The music program has since propelled of its own kinetic energy. The formation of the Choir Program under the experienced, professional tutelage of Laura Bagish, was the next huge step for the music department. At that point, a choir and a full band began to brighten up services, and one could truly feel the energy being created by these residents and alumni working to sustain a program that would change lives. Arguably the greatest accomplishment of the Beit T’Shuvah SMRP to date is Freedom Song. What was to be a one-time performance of a seemingly experimental

play—a story of duality personified by an A.A. meeting and a Passover Seder— became a nationally traveling performance that would spread the message of recovery and freedom far beyond the walls of Beit T’Shuvah. Freedom Song is an opportunity for residents to find their voices and tell their stories of recovery. Those who have seen it are amazed by the open vulnerability and authenticity of cast members that helps them stay sober and live well. Currently Laura Bagish has taken over as Musical Director, Cantor Rachel Neubauer acts as both cantor and spiritual advisor to residents, and James Fuchs has taken a role as Artistic Director at Beit T’Shuvah. These characters are really just the tip of the iceberg. The SMRP now encompasses so many facets that even if a resident is not musically inclined, he has the opportunity to learn. Individual music lessons in piano, guitar, or voice, a fully equipped recording studio, and live sound engineering programs are all avenues residents can explore. The Beit T’Shuvah SMRP is an illustration of what it looks like when people make their recovery their own—filling in the missing pieces of life with their passion, giving back to the community which gives to them, and helping people new to recovery find their way in what might be their most uncomfortable experience yet: Living.

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From left to right: Annette Shapiro, Avi Reichental, Harriet Rossetto, Israeli Consul General, David Siegel, and Rabbi Mark Borovitz.

An Afternoon with The Isr aeli consul general BY J OSH SI L V ER

In our 25-year history, Beit T’Shuvah has been host to some memorable guests but maybe none so prominent as our recent visitor, the Israeli Consul General, David Siegel. Mr. Siegel serves as Consul General in Los Angeles and is the senior representative between the State of Israel and the Southwestern United States. August 25, 2012 was the first time any Israeli Consul General had toured a treatment facility in the U.S. but as Mr. Siegel eloquently stated, “Wherever there is Jewish activity, there is Israel.” It was clear from the start that Mr. Siegel was very curious about Beit T’Shuvah but it soon became evident that he had some ideas of his own. He was looking to Beit T’Shuvah for some inspiration on how to turn these concepts into actions. “I want to put together a community of parents of children who serve in the Israeli Army,” said Mr. Siegel, “and it’s clear that Israel could learn a few things from Beit T’Shuvah.” Not only were all of the Consul General’s questions answered but they were delivered in token Beit T’Shuvah style. When one of the interviewers doing a story on Mr. Siegel asked Rabbi Mark what branch of Judaism Beit T’Shuvah teaches—Reformed, Conservative, or Orthodox—Rabbi Mark passionately cut in and said, “Relevant. We teach Judaism that is relevant to life.” 1 2 | B E I T T ’ S H U V A H | w w w. b e i t t s h u v a h . o r g

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A man of great stature with thoughtful, intelligent eyes, Mr. Siegel happily shook hands with residents as he was escorted through rooms that hundreds of addicts and alcoholics have called home. Led by Rabbi Mark, Harriet Rossetto, and Annette Shapiro, the touring party then moved into an impromptu discussion in the boardroom. The purpose of the meeting was a sort of melding of minds. The hope that was Beit T’Shuvah would come away with a greater understanding of how to serve the Jewish community and, with any luck, many of the programs at Beit T’Shuvah can one day be initiated in Israel to help addicts abroad. “We want to bring addiction out of the closet for Israel,” said Rabbi Mark, “and there is a solution in the programs of Beit T’Shuvah.” On this matter, Mr. Siegel and Rabbi Mark seemed to be on the same page. The first order of business was to give Mr. Siegel an idea of the work that Beit T’Shuvah does through first hand accounts by people that have worked closely with Beit T’Shuvah. Annette Shapiro, President of the Board, and Avi Reichental both shared their perspective on how Beit T’Shuvah has not only helped save countless lives but how it has shaped the course of their own faith D E C E M B E R 2 012

as members of both the Board of Directors and the Synagogue. Avi offered a unique perspective as an Israeli immigrant to the United States, seeing as Mr. Siegel was very curious to know how many Israelis we had in the community. Next, the Consul General heard from John Sullivan and Ari Schuler, both former residents who, by their own admission, would not be living their currently fulfilling, productive lives had it not been for Beit T’Shuvah. The meeting concluded with a few resounding words from Harriet. “The main thing about Beit T’Shuvah is that people who come for help are helped,” she said. “We have a sort of ‘village philosophy’ where a lasting community can be formed.” The meet and greet was such a success that it appears to have sparked a new and productive relationship between Beit T’Shuvah and the office of the Israeli Consul General. In fact, Mr. Siegel is scheduled to speak at Beit T’Shuvah’s annual Gala this upcoming January. Everybody at Beit T’Shuvah is extremely grateful for the chance to have met with Mr. David Siegel and we hope that our little “village” can continue to serve as an example for our brethren in Israel and around the world.

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Secure Your Own Mask First How Beit T’Shuvah is Helping Families to Better Themselves By Josh Silver

Imagine for a moment that you are a parent. You and your child have decided to take a flight from LA to New York. About an hour after you’ve reached cruising altitude the plane begins to experience some heavy turbulence. Bags are falling from the overhead compartments, babies are crying, and suddenly the oxygen masks fall from above. In your immediate panic you forget the one piece of information that is drilled into every passenger on an airplane. You forget to secure your own mask before helping others. Why do you suppose they make a point of saying that? Doesn’t it go against every parent’s instincts to let their child suffer while they save themselves first? The reason is that if you are in distress and gasping for air then you are in no state to help someone else. And so, while struggling to fit the oversized mask on your child, you lose consciousness, and now both of you are without oxygen. Now I want you to imagine that you are the parent of an addict (perhaps not a far stretch for some of you). Your child has struggled for years to get their act together and you can feel the emotional toll that it is taking on you. This scenario is all too common with parents of addicts. Family members become so obsessed with the health and welfare of their addict that they emotionally and psychologically suffocate themselves. Hearing your child sneak out but not back in, missing opportunities and events because of your child’s constant state of emergency, hoping that that phone call is from the police instead of the hospital—you’re not the only one. Adam Mindel, the Family Program Director at Beit T’Shuvah, has been working with these families for eight years. “I don’t know if you could say that there’s a common problem but I think for most parents and children there’s a common wish,” says Adam, “a wish to be loved, to be understood. In most families, it’s a silent whisper. They want something else, D E C E M B E R 2 012

something more. They have this hope of something else from their families, from themselves. Sometimes it’s quite profound.” For over 17 years, the Elaine Breslow Family Program (EBFP) has been making those wishes heard by healing and supporting the families of addicts. Adam simplifies this process by saying, “First we put the addict in treatment and then we flip that and put the family in treatment.” The first phase of this family therapy is a six-week multifamily process group where the parents and family members come once a week to discuss everything from enabling to remembering to focus on themselves. The addict then joins the rest of their family in the process group and families can be reunited in a safe, healing environment. One-on-one therapies and single family therapies are also available to anyone seeking additional counseling. The most common misconception is that the addict is the only one that is sick, and if they would just get sober, there wouldn’t be any more problems. Recovery is a family process and for many families, the addict is simply the glaring symptom of a family-shared sickness. This was exactly the case for Janice and Ben Reznik, whose son now works for Beit T’Shuvah. “My husband and I went to the family group for almost a year before [our son] even got sober,” says Janice. She and Ben talk about how comforting it was when they finally entered the family process group for the first time. For many families in their situation, simply knowing that other families out there are going through the same thing means the world. “The family group was a great starting point,” says Ben. “Our relationship [with our son] is evolving and starting a conversation is the most important part.” They whole-heartedly attribute their successful relationship with their son to the powerful and emotional dynamic that Adam w w w. b e i t t s h u v a h . o r g | B E I T T ’ S H U V A H | 1 5

and the rest of the staff build up within the groups at Beit T’Shuvah. So far, the Family Program has helped hundreds of families just like the Rezniks. By facilitating interventions, over 400 sessions a week that range from individual therapy to family process, and another 20-30 family sessions on top of that, Beit T’Shuvah’s Family Program is already well on its way to being one of the leading family addiction therapy institutes in LA. But in accordance with Beit T’Shuvah’s core philosophy, there is always more work to be done. The EBFP will be more than a program; it’s a philosophy, a movement, a belief that every family suffers from troubled dynamics, however overt or subtle—and it’s a promise to offer the same life-changing services to any and all families that wish to be a part of the program. The program, which will continue to grow into Beit T’Shuvah’s new building next door, will be an expansion of all the

prepared the intervention that would save her daughter. Invited on the pretense of a Super Bowl party, “I took one look inside the room and said, ‘This is a fucking intervention,’” says Ashlee. “That’s when my son, Mac, said, ‘Yes it is mom, sit down.’” Before they had even read all the letters that Adam had helped each family member prepare, Ashlee agreed to go to Beit T’Shuvah with what she says could only be described as relief. Her time there has been invaluable. Ashlee was able to get well in a safe place and with the help of Family Program counseling, Jodi could now “take the time to heal herself.” Now the two of them add that they are both “grateful to have our family back together.” Still, there are more families out there to be helped; families who share many of the same issues, though ‘addiction’ to them is a foreign word. Many parents seem to have forgotten that they themselves are people and not just mere extensions of their children. “We see patterns all the time that go from

Beit T’Shuvah’s first ever Out of Town Family Weekend, July 2012.

community-wide offerings we have at Beit T’Shuvah, starting with the Family Program and including Partners in Prevention and Teen Services, Neurotherapy, Eating Disorder Therapy, Professional Education, Family Education, and Spiritual Counseling. Adam Mindel hopes that this big, integrative picture will teach more families how to live healthy and whole lives. “We have 50 active families right now,” Adam shares, “and the goal is to add another 200 individuals to that and another 50 family sessions a week.” Ashlee Petersen, another saved soul and lifelong drug addict, was introduced to Beit T’Shuvah through an intervention. In the last several months of her addictive life, Ashlee had been hospitalized and could no longer turn to her exasperated family for help or support. “We were all distraught and we couldn’t take it anymore,” says Jodi, Ashlee’s mother. That was when Jodi, who shares her daughter’s kind eyes and striking complexion, called Adam Mindel and together they 1 6 | B E I T T ’ S H U V A H | w w w. b e i t t s h u v a h . o r g

generation to generation,” says Kathy Marks, the Clinical Director at Beit T’Shuvah. “One of our goals is to help the parents to grow as individuals.” Beit T’Shuvah aims to break these patterns through personal growth. It may sound cliché but parents often don’t know any better and are just doing what they learned from their parents. “Usually the person you need to treat is the parent. If you do that, [the child] automatically begins to change.” Adam and Kathy have seen this change happen time and time again. Through their efforts and through the EBFP’s expansion into the Elaine Breslow Institute for the Whole Family, Beit T’Shuvah has become a training ground for young MFTs (Marriage and Family Therapists) in the greater Los Angeles area to spread the importance of healing families and the individuals within. In fact, The Family Program recently took a step toward branching out. From July 26th–July 29th, Beit T’Shuvah hosted its

first intensive Out of Town Family Weekend. Many clients at Beit T’Shuvah have family who live outside of the greater Los Angeles area. These families have been unable to take advantage of the dynamic services that Beit T’Shuvah offers. And so, for four whole days, family members from around the country flew in and got a taste of what their loved ones experience in their time at Beit T’Shuvah. Among the many topics that were covered, families discussed enabling, the psychology of addiction, family ethics, denial, boundaries, and powerlessness. With the success of this event, Adam Mindel anticipates that it will be the first of many such weekends. Our next is scheduled for 2/7/13-2/9/13 and all families will be invited, not just those from out of town. Harriet Rossetto, CEO and Founder of Beit T’Shuvah, also has some insight into family dynamics. “If you look at the Torah through the eyes of family dysfunction there are some themes that we repeat from generation to generation. We pass on wisdom and we pass on traditions but we also pass on patterns of dysfunction,” says Harriet. Breaking these patterns of dysfunction in any and every family (not just those facing addiction) is one of the goals that Beit T’Shuvah strives to meet. “Parents forget that before there was a kid, there was you,” she quips. The old adage “What will the neighbors think?” often tends to rule the parental unconscious. “And children swim in the unconscious of their parents,” adds Harriet, quoting Gabor Mate, world-renowned author and expert on addiction. According to her, there is an ongoing tendency to try and raise the “perfect child” which is essentially flawed. The “perfect child” goes on to live a life of secrets and shame, not knowing how to fall and get back up again. “We need to disconnect the umbilicus,” says Harriet in her signature matterof-fact tone. Basically, being imperfect— and embracing imperfection—is the crux of a healthy family. Every one of us has fallen down before and if you have a child, chances are they’re going to slip at some point too. But if you never let your child get back up on their own, then how are they ever going to learn? It is clear that families today face many issues that are not exclusive to this generation, nor this disease. The only way to fix the pattern is to talk about it and that is exactly what Beit T’Shuvah’s EBFP does and plans to continue doing. When a plane is going down and the chaos of turbulence takes hold, it may be a parent’s first instinct to secure their child’s mask but that doesn’t mean it is the right action to take. That is just another pattern that needs to be broken. We need to learn to secure our own first. Who knows—there may come a time when you reach over to help your child with their mask only to find that they have put it on themselves. D E C E M B E R 2 012

pro gr am ne ws

Ho use o f the Rising Sun

{ Beit T’Shuvah sheds new light on a hidden disorder }



or some people it’s hard to recognize gambling as a serious problem, and through that ignorance many don’t even take the idea seriously—even inside an addiction treatment center. The truth is however, that some cultural norms we take for granted have the power to rehash a gambler’s addictive behavior. Phrases like “want to make a bet?” “not a chance,” or even just “Crap!” can trigger a jones, and something as simple as watching ESPN can wreak havoc on a problem gambler’s recovery. Imagine for a minute you’re a pathological gambler. You step inside a convenience store and see that big white box with little scratcher tickets inside, iridescent with promise and chance. Out of nowhere, you are hit with a decision that will affect the rest of your life. Next to Alcoholics Anonymous, the second longest standing fellowship is Gamblers Anonymous, started in 1957 in our very own Los Angeles. Some 50 plus years later, Beit T’Shuvah and UCLA teamed up to progress the recovery of one of the most neglected addictions. In 2009, Beit T’Shuvah’s Right Action Problem Gambling Program began as one of the first clinical attempts to address gambling addiction. It soon became a pioneer of residential recovery programs for gamblers. Started by Kathy Marks and now headed by Adan Fugfugosh, a graduate of the gambling program, Beit T’Shuvah uses its modality of recovery to manage the problem gambler’s treatment and understand why people in general use gambling as a source of escape. “Watching the culture change here at Beit T’Shuvah was one of the most interesting parts of the new program,” says Kathy. Unbeknownst to most, pathological gambling is destructive to both the family and the gambler. By playing only a few hands, or in just a couple rolls of the dice, an entire life can be turned upside down. When gamblers are down on their luck, they will do whatever it takes to get the finances to fund their next wager. Often resorting to a plethora of white-collar crimes, gamblers find themselves having to turn to illegal activities like embezzlement and check fraud to keep their habit alive. Gambling is an impulse control disorder that works on the brain in a way similar to cocaine and alcohol. Dopamine is released when gamblers engage in their chosen game or wager, and addiction-like impulses occur when gamblers can no longer produce enough of these chemicals on their own. The dopamine depletion leads them to use gambling to stabilize chemical reaction and

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By Z ak Kr aus

emotion. Gamblers use different games the way substance abusers would use different drugs. Games like slots and video machines act like a downer, letting the gambler zone out, and high action games like craps or roulette act like a stimulant, engaging the gambler’s senses to a point in which they are consumed by the action. Starting out as a small program, utilizing just one process group for gamblers to talk about their disorder, the Right Action Gambling Program has taken on a winning streak of its own. Currently, with anywhere between 20 and 30 gamblers engaging in the program at any given time (nearly half of which are residential inpatients), the gambling program has become a safe-harbor and open community for problem gamblers. In typical Beit T’Shuvah fashion, the program looks beyond its own walls, educating the public about problem gambling. Working with the state of California, Beit T’Shuvah has spurred legislature plans for a Gambling Court, which are now in the works. This program would function much like the Prop 36 program; those convicted of gambling related offenses would be deferred to enter gambling treatment programs rather than serve time in the California Correctional System. Also utilizing its Partners in Prevention program, Beit T’Shuvah talks directly to school and temple audiences to enlighten both parents and children on all aspects of addiction, including gambling, which has an accelerating prevalence among California’s youth. It is important that the general public understands that addiction and impulse disorders reach further into the human psyche, beyond the abuse of substances. The disease has no prejudice, it doesn’t care what it’s fed or by whom and it doesn’t care if we live to tell about it. Behavioral addictions like surfing the internet and sex, and impulse control disorders like gambling are becoming prominent problems in society. Beit T’Shuvah’s attempt at understanding compulsive gambling will hopefully pave the road for a better understanding of addiction as a whole. It’s a myth that substance abuse is the most debilitating of addictions; in reality anything that takes you over and negates your ability to be present and engaged in life will eventually debilitate you. The success of the Right Action Gambling Program is a beacon of light in the recovery community—one that all people afflicted by their demons can look to in hope of a new horizon. w w w. b e i t t s h u v a h . o r g | B E I T T ’ S H U V A H | 1 7

Will Beit T’Shuvah Exist for Future Generations? It will if you will it...

T’SHUVAH LEGACY SOCIETY t’shuvah Legacy Societ y A Gift Through Your Will The T’Shuvah Legacy Society was or Living Trust

created to acknowledge and honor those friends and members of Beit T’Shuvah who include the synagogue in their estate plans. The Society owes its name to the strong belief we have in people’s ability to do T’Shuvah. It is being established in the year 2012, which is in honor of Beit T’Shuvah’s 25th anniversary. The commitment made by these friends and members helps to ensure that future generations will be able to continue their Jewish life cycle within the vision that has been created at Beit T’Shuvah.

Legacy Founders Circle

The donors who commit to the T’Shuvah Legacy Society at a level of $50,000 or more will become members of the Legacy Founders Circle. There will be special acknowledgement on our Legacy Wall and other recognition.

Legacy Wall

Every donor will be honored on the Legacy Wall which will be prominently displayed in the main hallway directly across from our Endowment Wall. Of course, requests for anonymity will be honored. You are encouraged to become a member by providing now for the future of Beit T’Shuvah.

In order to secure the broadest possible participation by Beit T’Shuvah congregants to honor the 25th anniversary of Beit T’Shuvah, you may make a simple bequest. This need not be complicated—it can often be accomplished by a brief addition to your will or living trust that specifies your gift to Beit T’Shuvah. If your professional advisor needs further information, we can provide it.

Other Possible Estate Pl anning Techniques

Beit T’Shuvah is prepared to assist all congregants who would like to explore any of a variety of other techniques (e.g. charitable trust, annuity, or insurance plans). Members of our Planned Giving Committee can work with your estate planning professional.


Beit T’Shuvah will receive only the minimum necessary information about your private estate planning. The amount of your participation will not be made public without your consent. Please join the T’Shuvah Legacy Societ y to enable Beit T’Shuvah to continue to flourish, innovate and meet the great challenges of future generations, just as it has in the past. We can all hope for no greater legacy.

Please contact Nina J. Haller, Director of Development for further information at (310) 204-5200 ext. 218 or email at




his past year, Beit T’Shuvah once again sent a faction of sharply trained foot soldiers to the front lines of the LA Marathon. 46 members of the Beit T’Shuvah community, many of whom are residents, underwent training to run the 26.2 miles from Dodger Stadium to the Santa Monica Pier last March. For some, it was their first monumental change. For others, it was essential physical and spiritual maintenance.

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The term “marathon” comes from the story of Pheidippides who ran from the city of Marathon to Athens to announce the Athenians’ victory over the Persians. Marathon runners today experience their own internal victories, as extreme running causes extreme muscle growth, and the heart is the most significant muscle this affects. Getting farther along in training, a runner’s heart strengthens enough to overcome the barrage of hormones, free radicals, and emergency signals that such over-exertion normally causes. This leaves the runner in prime shape to overcome the punishment of the pavement on race day.

Runner Ryan Blivas

The three most successful fundraisers, in order, were Lindsay Recht, Noah Bohrer, and Jen Sarnoff. Jen Sarnoff, who never actually went through the house herself, has had a rocky history with running. She almost failed out of PE in high school because she wouldn’t run the mile, used to get hiccups because she didn’t know how to breath correctly, and now, she amazes herself at the distances she runs. She and her husband both pledged to run the marathon, though not addicts themselves, because of their immense gratitude for the spiritual healing Beit T’Shuvah provided friends and a family member of theirs. Most who do go through Beit T’Shuvah however have not only stunted their spiritual development, but also have neglected their physical needs along the path that ends at rehab, and training for the LA Marathon impacted each runner physically and spiritually. To give you a glimpse of what the runner body experiences and risks in preparation for the marathon, you have to start at the beginning. The Beit T’Shuvah team begins preparation in September, as it has again this year, nearly six months before the race day. Their challenging training regimen consists of a collection of short runs throughout the week and one longer run every Sunday morning. These long runs grow longer as race day grows nearer. At the start, they run two miles on Sundays, but by the end of training, it is a full 26-mile drag.

While the runner’s physiology is both improved and tested during marathon training, the runner’s level of spiritual fitness soars. At first glance, 26.2 miles in one day looks like an overdose— addicts shifting from milligrams to miles just to get their fix. Yes, almost everyone who goes through Beit T’Shuvah has dragged his or her body to physical extremes and pushed the definition of regularity towards excess. So why would Beit T’Shuvah allow, let alone encourage, its residents—which include those with body dysmorphia, eating disorders, and exercise junkies—to take part in a training that, through exertion and affects, birthed the term “runner’s high?” Passion and hard work are not obsession and dependence, and learning the difference between them is one of the most important factors in recovery. In fact, many addicts find they naturally excel in these qualities when they remain mindful of moderation. Beginning with a strict schedule in primary care, residents learn to add moderation back into their lives, and knowing the appropriate way to act in excess is essential in learning balance—just as important as knowing when to abstain from an action entirely. Before the marathon, most runners taper their routines so they do not get worn out. Knowing when and how to rest is just as important as knowing when to kick it into gear. The balance required in marathon training is perhaps one of the most concrete, tangible ways to restore a psychological element of balance. It takes 30,000 to 50,000 steps to run a marathon. That’s quite a bit more than 12, but the same philosophy applies. The Beit T’Shuvah Run to Save a Soul Team teaches its runners that they will make it, one step at a time. This past year, a record-breaking 46 runners received that message loud and clear. For 2013, BTS already has nearly 60 participants running for the same message. Join the 2013 team, and you can help extend this amazing, soul saving vision to Beit T’Shuvah’s largest team yet! Please contact Stephanie Cullen for more information at: or 310.204.5200 ext.212

SOME SIX MONTH TRAINING routines have the runner cover nearly 1000 miles before the race, and these miles are where the bulk of the physical changes happens. To begin with, the body adapts to use oxygen most efficiently, and the more oxygen is needed, the more the body switches its fuel source from fat stores to carbohydrate calories. Expect some leg muscle soreness due to lactic acid buildup during the start of the training period. Despite these short-term maladies, informed training should improve the runner’s long-term health, providing increased energy and stamina, greater resilience, and a stronger immune system. Beit T’Shuvah believes in the age-old preparatory tradition of “carbloading,” holding a pre-race dinner for those involved, usually at an Italian restaurant that can provide a variety of high-carbohydrate entrées. The night before the race, Beit T’Shuvah runners sleep in a peaceful hotel, though it is not uncommon for nerves to keep a runner up the entire night. No food or drink is recommended from two hours before the race, because bathrooms will be sparse along the course. D E C E M B E R 2 012

Runner Zoe Warner w w w. b e i t t s h u v a h . o r g | B E I T T ’ S H U V A H | 2 1



Grow ing To gether, G iving To gether

{ T he S os sin-Bergm ans sh ow t hat wi t h grow t h comes opp ort uni t y to give } By Chris Alvare z

Andrea and Paul Sossin-Bergman recently celebrated 45 years of marriage with family and friends at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica. While many couples would have wanted all attention on them, the Sossin-Bergmans did something different. They chose to raise awareness and support for a cause near and dear to their hearts; In honor of their anniversary, they urged their guests to give not to them, but to Beit T’Shuvah. Andrea expressed her joy and gratitude for health, recovery and community, while Paul contributed to the celebration in a more humorous way; singing a musical parody and hilariously describing the couple’s non-existent wedding photos. Afterwards Paul’s brother Chuck sang a beautiful version of the song he sang at the couple’s wedding 45 years ago: Love is a Many Splendored Thing. In keeping with the theme of the night, Harriett Rossetto briefly spoke about her journey, which resulted in the founding of Beit T’Shuvah. While Rabbi Mark presided over a poignant yet delightful recommitment ceremony, which culminated with Andrea 2 4 | B E I T T ’ S H U V A H | w w w. b e i t t s h u v a h . o r g

and Paul’s children, Kevin and Hilary, (whose lives have both been changed by Beit T’Shuvah) bestowing the priestly blessing on their parents. “May G-d bless you and watch over you…” Then it was movie time, with a screening of the hilarious film My Cousin Vinny and boxed lunches provided by Contemporary Catering, owned and operated by Beit T’Shuvah alumni. Andrea and Paul expressed how grateful they were to their children, family, friends and the Beit T’Shuvah community for helping them celebrate not only their marriage, but also the power of the human spirit. In lieu of gifts, they requested that guests make a contribution to Beit T’Shuvah, so that countless more can benefit from the life changing services that have helped so many. Beit T’Shuvah could not be more grateful, and hopes that the Sossin-Bergmans have pioneered something of a trend; encouraging families who have been touched by Beit T’Shuvah to remember the organization and give back in times of celebration. D E C E M B E R 2 012

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I’ve where e of life I don’t know why, but,get for the feeling that it’s the kind of place eligious group of people, as you walk down the twiallstiaround. ng, slopi ng streets you ranting and raving of the deep spiritual me, G-d has always lived in the quiet places. never had my story translated into another endors and a sortthey of Jewi sh versi n of were hippieAnd s, the y difference beinfrom g thei r dreadl ocks before and baj s had aced wit connection had and howothey language myaeyes butbeen I knowrepl that as onl I looked out at the view Tzfat, going movemost to Israel immediately. But of complete the experience of bridgingof cultures my d fee with lush, andtya between hat struck metothe was the noise…there was none. Thererolling washilltops a dispari the number peoplwith e I coul course, I knew that I was immune to such cloudless, robin’s egg blue sky, I knew that universal story will stay with me for a very eard. It trappings. was so quiMyetrelationship and remote d hear the That sounds ofthis lifelittle all around. withthat G-d you has coul time. know why, but, for me, G-d has a He must be near. is why city longI don’t always been somewhat benign and I didn’t on a hilltop will always have a special place ew fromthink Tzfat, complete with lush, rolling hil tops and a cloudless, robin’s egg blue All sky,inI all, knew Hetrip must near.forThat is w this that was the of abe lifetime there was anything out there that could in my heart.



me. I saw places that were not just old but My next moment is the one where I looked ancient. I visited the birthplace of my own around and realized that Israel is not just religion. I viewed with my own eyes the land another country on the map; it’s the home of of David. And I did all of it while staying I could talk about the sweltering heat, the my people. Once again, it happened in the sober. Prior to my trip, Israel was a place I smell and feel of bricks that were shaped most random of places. We were just sitting had only read about and that I knew I had before America was even discovered, or the on a beach somewhere and I was taking in the vague connection to as a Jew. Now, for the way a sand dune can perfectly capture the beauty of the Mediterranean when I realized first time in my life, I am able to appreciate word “majestic,” but I simply don’t have the that this place was the home of my ancestors. all of the wonder and beauty that Israel has words to describe it all. And so I offer you, My view of Israel had always been that it was to offer. I can’t tell you when but I know instead, a simple list of my three biggest a really big desert and if the Jews had any in my heart that I will be going back there moments from the trip: one spiritual, one sense they would have picked a better piece again someday. It is my hope that all Jews get cultural, and one related to recovery. of land to be the holiest place in the world. to visit Israel and have their own experience. of gratitude to Yetbi ingthat I was ableat to the fall inWestern love I owe ve always heard that most people have that spimoment, ritual moment Walal. continuous As one of debt the most important sites I’ve always heard that most people have that with the land the way the original Israelites Beit T’Shuvah, JACS, and Birthright for heer scope and himoment story of it alWestern l creates of they worshi so inthere. fectioThe us that you can’t help but up to it, oflay your big spiritual at the As atmosphere recognizing the vitality andgo importance must have when firstpcame of the mostatop important Judaism, allowing is I Thi don’t eveneknow what that tythis oweverone happened a hilsites , in ainsmal l city funny calledthing Tzfat. s anci nt communi is aexperience, holy city and to Jews andmeana ibetter mportant p I have to admit that it was breathtaking. beach was called, but what I do know is that window into my own Jewish soul. eligious group ofscope peopl e, history as youof wal down the twistion ng,myslorocky pingoutcrop streetsintoyou The sheer and it allk creates as I stood the get sea I the feeling that it’s the kind of place where e change that. I wanted to observe the history of this land and go on a vacation. It turns out that I got more than I bargained for.


endors and a sort of Jewish version of hippies, the only difference being their dreadlocks and bajas had been replaced wit D E C E M B E R 2 012 w w w. b e i t t s h u v a h . o r g | B E I T T ’ S H U V A H | 2 5 hat struck me the most was the noise…there was none. There was a disparity between the number of people I could fee

An Unlikely Survivor Beit T’Shuvah rededicates the Torah that survived the Holocaust and lives on to rescue souls.


n a bright Sunday morning in May, friends and family gathered in the Beit T’Shuvah sanctuary. Among them were representatives of the Czech Republic and Israeli governments and the Executive Director of the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust. On this day, Beit T’Shuvah rededicated its Czech Memorial Torah Scroll—a miraculous artifact of the Czech community devastated in the Holocaust. Ephraim Sales, the man who brought this relic to our community and Jerry Klinger, President of The Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation, share their experiences…

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I was born in 1929, in Berlin, Germany. My father and mother owned a Jewish bookstore in Berlin. I attended a private Jewish school until one day in September, 1938. I left home that morning to go to school. After walking a block or so, I saw more and more stores with windows broken, merchandise on the sidewalk. That afternoon, my father and I walked to his bookstore. Nearly 40 men were standing around the store in civilian clothing. They broke into my father’s store, smashing the window. They removed all the books and Judaic art, placed them in the middle of the street, and lit a fire. It was the largest fire I have ever seen—frightening, malicious, and awesome. I remember hiding behind my father’s jacket. Policemen nearby, who saw all of this, did nothing. The raiders were actually Nazi Storm Troopers in civilian clothing. The Germans were addicted to Hitler. In November 1938 my family fled for the United States, arriving in early 1939. Moving forward to 1992, my wife Joan and I traveled to Bangkok for a vacation. At the time, I was a CPA, and the voluntary treasurer of The Friends of Beit T’Shuvah, the first group created to assist this worthy cause, a position I held for six years. It was a pleasure being in Bangkok until one day, in a large market area, there was a gathering of several thousand people to protest certain government actions. This was a peaceful demonstration, but the government got very agitated and sent out their army to disperse the group… I immediately phoned the US Embassy for guidance. They advised me to leave Thailand ASAP and stay in the Hotel until we did… [so] we rearranged our flight tickets and waited in the lobby of the hotel. There we found other Americans in the same predicament. We chatted with two gentlemen from New Jersey–one another Holocaust survivor like me–from a Jewish congregation that had obtained a Sefer Torah from Czechoslovakia from an institution in England. Apparently the Nazis damaged these Sifrei Torah, so technically, they were ‘not kosher,’ but they had survived. To me, these Sifrei Torah are just as kosher as, if not more than, a new Torah. They gave me the name and address of the institution in England before we returned to the US. One evening at a Friends of Beit T’Shuvah board meeting, we decided that I would contact the British institution and make an effort to obtain one such Survivor, a Sefer Torah for Beit T’Shuvah. A few weeks later my wife drove [to the airport] and met with an employee who produced a very large package. Driving the Sefer Torah to our house, she felt as if another person was in the car with her. She spoke to it and told it all about the city and where it was going. We kept the Sefer Torah in an empty bedroom on a double bed, covered in my father’s Tallit until a dedication several weeks later at Beit T’Shuvah.


My parents were Holocaust survivors. My mother was from Lodz and my father, Vienna. My mother was liberated from Bergen-Belsen in April, 1945. She taught me about survival when faced with absolute evil and death. She said those who tried to make it through the death camps without a friend usually died. With a friend, if you fell, they picked you up. Of the 1,000 men on the final leg of a death march from Auschwitz to Buchenwald, only a few hundred survived. Along the way my father collapsed from exhaustion. A Nazi soldier bayoneted him and left him for dead. Somebody picked my father up. I don’t know who it was, but he carried my father into Buchenwald and back into life. Jews have a dark secret they prefer not to speak about. Jews too can fall down because of drugs, addictions, and terrible personal choices. Until six weeks ago, I did not know of Beit T’Shuvah. I did not know they return victims of drugs and addictions from death to life. Leaving a fallen person alone, Jewish or not, is not an option for them. All new members of the community slowly climb the ladder of privileges and responsibility until they are dependence-free and free to be independent. Six weeks ago, I came to Beit T’Shuvah to photo-document a Czech Holocaust Torah—a part of Beit T’Shuvah’s life for twenty years. During World War II, the Prague Jewish community wanted to preserve their Holy Torahs for the communities where they were from. After the War, the returning Jews were supposed to reclaim their property and rebuild their lives. But the communities never returned. The Torahs languished alone and moldered until a London based Jewish art merchant discovered them outside of Prague. The Communist Czech government agreed to release 1,564 Torahs to London. The Torahs arrived in London’s Westminster Synagogue to tears, heartache, and joy. The Czech Memorial Scroll Trust numbered the Torahs and placed them in Jewish communities. A little gold colored plaque at the base of the right handle on one reads: #773. Torah #773 was written around 1850, probably for the Kralovske Vinohrady Synagogue community in Prague. The words read from its parchments gave life to the people. During the war, the Torah was first stored in a collection center at Strasnice-Praha. Archivists removed them in 1942. The synagogue was destroyed in an air raid in 1945. For 90 years, the Kraslovske Torah brought light to its community of origin. Then the darkness of evil and death came. The Torah survived the Holocaust. The people did not. In 1992, Torah #773 traveled to Beit T’Shuvah on permanent loan and once again radiated light to people who, like the Torah, encountered an evil that sought their death. Now the Torah lives with people who also return to the living. From life to life to life together. – Jerry Klinger

This is my journey to America and the Sefer Torah’s journey to America—two survivors, to the country of freedom, peace, democracy, and opportunity. – Ephraim Sales. D E C E M B E R 2 012

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he Circle of Majesty, a woman’s group supporting the family and prevention work of Beit T’shuvah, held its 5th annual luncheon at the beautiful Beverly Hills home of Cheryn and Sam Delug. Over 85 members enjoyed the Delug’s fabulous home as well as a fashion show highlighting The Alley on Melrose, jewelry by Gloria Ross, delicious food from Food by Lene and great camaraderie. CEO Harriet Rossetto spoke about the dangerous image/myth of “perfection” that so many families usually strive for and how Beit T’shuvah works with its clients and families to push past this harmful perfectionism. Doug Rosen, Director of BTS’ Partners in Prevention Program, spoke about the struggle that more and more young teens are facing and how Beit T’shuvah can help. Co-Chairs Dina Leeds, Lois Bloom, Nancy Mishkin, Harriet Rossetto, Annette Shapiro, and Ronnie Stabler joined forces in 2008 to begin a program for a select group of woman who exemplify the quality of “majesty”. Members receive a specially designed piece of jewelry and an attachment for renewing. Besides the annual luncheon, members meet throughout the year at different events and continue their commitment to the important family work of Beit T’shuvah. For more information on the Circle of Majesty, please call Barbara Friedman at 310-204-5200.


d o no r sp ot l ight

{ Barbar a and Neil S ol ar z } By jaro n z anerhaf t

Neil and Barbara are, above all else, parents. They deeply care about their children. Minimizing their son’s damage to himself has been their primary concern for the better part of a decade. Barbara and Neil say they have always been aware of Beit T’Shuvah, like an ominous presence or scary story to keep children from sneaking out at night, but were very relieved once they learned the reality of BTS. Since Beit T’Shuvah interceded, their son has pulled together over a year of sobriety. This alone has been their philanthropic impetus. “They saved our son’s life,” Neil explains. “What other reason do we need?” Barbara herself is 20 years sober and understands the importance of a solid spiritual foundation. A native of Hawaii, Barbara went through the conversion process at Sinai Temple and has since become a regular Torah reader at their Saturday morning services. She is an English and Language Arts teacher at Palms Middle School. Though she sometimes sees the devastation of drug addiction in the halls and classrooms at her school, she is sadly bound by regulation from speaking with the children about it directly. “They know that if they come to me, I have to notify the police. It’s sad how few resources are available.” With this in mind, Barbara commends Beit T’Shuvah’s Prevention department. Both she and Neil were particularly impressed during the performance of Freedom Song at the most recent Passover Seder. Neil, primarily an attorney specializing in estate planning and trust and probate administration, is also a teacher—an adjunct professor at UCLA Extension. His Estate and Gift Taxation class holds a 4.5 out of 5 star rating in the school’s course catalog. Neil becomes particularly animated at the first mention of Beit T’Shuvah’s Friday Night Services, which he and Barbara regularly attend. As a guitar player himself, Neil especially enjoys Evan Shapiro’s fiery solos.

Barbara and Neil Solarz live in a charming, unpretentious home in Culver City, not too far from the treatment center that saved their son’s life. As I settled on a comfortable couch with their dog Beau, we began talking. Barbara and Neil, two very significant donors to Beit T’Shuvah’s capital campaign, recently celebrated 35 years together. They met in Berkeley when Neil was a first year law student at USF and Barbara was a student at Mills College, an all-girls school in Oakland. Today, they have three children, two dogs, and an overwhelming supply of gratitude.

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I asked them what their son was like before he came to Beit T’Shuvah, and they asked me, “Which time?” Like many Beit T’Shuvah alumni, he has spent more than one tenure at 8831 Venice Boulevard. His parents are thankful that Beit T’Shuvah believes in second chances. More than that, however, Rabbi Borovitz was able to help direct their son towards an internship at an architectural firm where he is currently helping to design a shopping center to be erected in Werl, Germany. The Solarz’s generous contribution will allow many other hopeless cases to turn themselves around and find passions in their corner of the world, just like their son.

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PRO GR A M ne ws

redefining disadvantage

{ wh o in fac t are to day’s vul ner able yo u t h? }

By jane t wertm an

ecently I found myself confused over the fact that a major local funder had declined a grant request from Beit T’Shuvah. We had applied because we knew that this funder had supported recovery programs as well as youth programs. This should have made them a perfect match for BTS’s Partners in Prevention, a program that has helped thousands of young people turn away from addictive and self-destructive behaviors by providing them spiritual tools to cope with daily stress and anxiety. So why did they decline? Their response was that they wanted to focus their funding on programs helping those who were “disadvantaged.” The problem is that they are using a limited definition of disadvantaged, simply using socio-economic criteria. Are you in poverty or homeless–and therefore in a situation where you cannot help yourself? However, in the case of Beit T’Shuvah, the definition is not as clear-cut.

districts doing the math have found that richer areas, more than poorer ones, see teen alcohol and drug use at higher levels. In a series of studies, Suniya Luthar, PhD of Columbia University’s Teachers College, places some of the blame on the higher pressure to succeed in affluent areas as well as on the increased separation from parents, who are busy with work and other activities, and overscheduling of the children themselves. Elliott Currie, in The Road to Whatever: Middle Class Culture and the Crisis of Adolescence,” describes a pervasive adolescent angst that results in a “whatever, dude” response to life. He states that the constant stress of living in a culture where the standard of success is “unusually high and unusually narrow,” where “an individual’s value is in their own eyes and those of others contingent upon meeting narrow standards of performance” results in many teens identifying themselves as “losers.” They cope with this sense of worthlessness by not caring or by anesthetizing the pain with substances, numbing activities such as internet gambling and pornography, excitement and dangerous activities, violence against self or others or the relentless pursuit of perfection.

Since Beit T’Shuvah started the Partners in Prevention program, it has helped more than 40,000 youth, aged 12-21, make informed choices in life, some 5,000 in the past year alone. Most of these youth came from middle class Jewish homes...they certainly don’t fit the typical portrait of “disadvantaged youth.” But that’s the point. Unlike many other issues, addiction cuts across all social and economic lines. Indeed, school

Not surprisingly, then, we are seeing an expanding epidemic of underage and binge drinking and related problems that has reached crisis proportions. Too many teenagers are engaging in risky behaviors that can ruin their lives or kill them (and in the case of driving under the influence can kill people around them as well). The magnitude is hard to peg because people tend to underreport these behaviors–but we can


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extrapolate from the fact that in 2008, approximately 6,400 youths under the age of 24 actually entered treatment for substance abuse in Los Angeles County–primarily due to marijuana/hashish, alcohol, methamphetamines, and heroin. How do we stop this disturbing trend? The answer is pretty obvious – the vast majority of experts agree that outreach and education are the keys that must be part of any good plan. The issue is who to target. While the answer may appear quite simple–focus on “vulnerable youth”–this leads right back to our original premise: that defining the term “disadvantaged” youth solely by reference to a poverty measure ignores the fact that these are are not the only vulnerable individuals. Indeed, the truth is that the term “disadvantaged” is not being used properly. It needs to be redefined. This ties in with the research of Economist and Nobel laureate James Heckman–a man who has devoted his efforts to identifying the proper measures of advantage and disadvantage. He came to this issue from the field of education and education reform–his purpose was to advocate for investments in interventions that truly help the most disadvantaged children. Heckman believes that disadvantage is properly measured not in terms of financial distress but rather by a lack of quality parenting. This disadvantage remains hidden until its consequences are revealed. Of course, connecting “disadvantage” to a lack of quality parenting can be deeply disturbing. As a parent, I constantly worry about the lessons I’m teaching my children– the deliberate ones as well as the incidental ones. As a community member, I am glad that Beit T’Shuvah is working on figuring this out, so that if I ever need their Family Program, if my kids ever need the Youth Services, it will be there. Isn’t that really all that really matters?

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by jessica fishel

b end i ng t h e b a rs at c a l i f o rn i a in st i t u t e f o r wo m en w i t h freed o m s o n g

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Each time I see Freedom Song I a m moved. However, seeing Freedom Song perfor med at the California Institute for Women m ay have moved me more than any other time.


rom the moment I had the idea to see Freedom Song performed for CIW, I was on a mission to make it happen. In my eyes, the women at CIW needed to see Freedom Song and hear the message of recovery and T’Shuvah.

and were all extremely grateful. Though these women—this whole audience—have been shunned from society, Freedom Song’s presence showed them that we are all equal in what we experience, that we all deal with the same feelings and similar issues.

Many women are involved in CIW’s Jewish program—some are Jewish by birth, others converted to Judaism while serving their sentences, and others in the program are not Jewish at all—just curious. Over the course of six months, Rabbi Moshe Halfon, CIW’s Jewish Chaplain and I worked together towards bringing Freedom Song to CIW in a planning process made more complicated by working with the state of California. Not only did the State Warden have to approve the program, but fifty Beit T’Shuvah alumni and residents had to be cleared to enter the prison—a tricky task, as prisons do not generally allow visitors with “backgrounds” behind the prison gates. But I was not deterred. I was on a mission.

Following the performance, the cast members put their nicotine cravings and appetites aside to mingle and converse with the inmates. Zach Steel, a cast member and alumnus of Beit T’Shuvah, described this experience as “powerfully moving.” All the inmates were already living out Beit T’Shuvah’s message; they were living well, living in gratitude, and giving back. Another cast member Jen Gendel described the day by saying, “Visiting CIW was by far the most emotional show I have had the honor of being a part of in my three years of doing the show. Each one of us connected with the women in our own way. We gave a powerful performance and our message was well received.” I spoke with a woman who, after 25 years of incarceration, will be released on conditional parole to Beit T’Shuvah at the end of the year. She said, “As a way to give back to you guys being here, I plan on joining [the cast of ] Freedom Song when I parole to Beit T’Shuvah. I want to be a part of such a wonderful and important program.”

CIW does not look like the prisons portrayed on television. The campus is a large grassy yard filled with brick buildings, trees, flowers and picnic benches, and scattered with women dressed in blue, gray, and white. Many of the women who attended the show have been incarcerated for decades, and some of them will never know life beyond those walls. On the day of the performance, women of all ages, ethnicities, and religions slowly filtered into the auditorium—an audience of 65 women from CIW’s Jewish program, Substance Abuse Program (SAP), and even accidental wanderers into the auditorium. During the performance, I looked around and saw many of the women in tears. In one scene, the male secular lead Virgil becomes angry with Shayna, the female secular lead, when she asks him to talk to his wife. Virgil shoves Shayna and says, “Get out of my way or—” “Or what?” Shayna exclaims. “You’ll hit me like you hit her? You think we didn’t know? I’m not scared of you. I’ve been running from assholes like you my whole life! Where’s your program, man? You claim to be in recovery and run from the mess you’ve made!?” After this powerful line, all of the women stood up and began to clap. The impact that this scene had on them was tremendous. We had never received a response like that. Gini Holtzman, a Beit T’Shuvah alumnus and cast member, commented, “It was like they were being given a voice about their own abusive pasts. It was so powerful that it brought me to tears.” This too was the moment I began to cry, because it truly hit me that we were making a difference. Despite the fact that the women were not all Jewish, they related to the entire play D E C E M B E R 2 012

Kelley Beecher, a Beit T’Shuvah alumnus, Freedom Song cast member and former CIW inmate, followed the performance by speaking to the women about her life at CIW and the new life she now lives. She said, “July 15, 2012 was one of the most emotionally devastating— but healing—days of my life. Every song and every moment of my part in Freedom Song took on a new meaning for me. There were a few times I could not sing because of the overwhelming emotional torrent I was experiencing. I am proof that you can overcome your past and have a meaningful life no matter what you have done.” I could see that Freedom Song had just as much of an impact on the cast members as it did on the prisoners. Many of the cast were uncomfortable with the idea of entering a prison, but by the end of the day, they were disappointed that it was time to leave. Freedom Song at CIW was an enormous success. In Rabbi Halfon’s words, “The very diverse group related to both the universal messages of the play as well as sharing by the cast and staff present. The event exceeded our expectations.” I am thrilled to say that we will be performing Freedom Song at CIW again later this year, as Rabbi Halfon and other officials feel that it is important for even more of their women to see. We feel that performing there is just as important for us, too. w w w. b e i t t s h u v a h . o r g | B E I T T ’ S H U V A H | 3 3

Does This Match?

By Josh Silver

We had three months to redesign forty rooms! How an unlikely pairing of designers and rehab makes for the perfect fit. Even if you didn’t know who Heidi Bendetson was, if you’d been to Beit T’Shuvah in the last 5 months then you

probably would have seen her around. Carrying carpet samples, organizing furniture in the garage, talking to residents and staff; she always seemed to be doing everything and anything to help out and it all had to do with one thing: The Beit T’Shuvah Charity Design Project. Most people wouldn’t think that a non-profit treatment center full of drug addicts and convicts would be the place you’d find an interior designer. In this case, most people would be wrong. Over the course of 3 months, Beit T’Shuvah was the temporary home to over 80 designers in an attempt to make the beauty of recovery match the outward beauty of the facility. The entire project was spearheaded by Heidi, whose voracious and energetic work has not only made the whole project possible but it has turned her into a mentor for many at Beit T’Shuvah. This idea started months ago when Heidi had finished some charity design work for a homeless shelter and fell in love with the experience. “It was such an opportunity to see the fruits of my labor quickly,” she raves. The only downside was that Heidi never got to meet the residents who would be living in the rooms; a fact which she says “was a real disappointment.” At that time Heidi had heard about Beit T’Shuvah from an old friend of hers, Rhonda Snyder. After Rhonda described the feelings of love, comfort, and warmth that she experienced while attending a Friday night service at Beit T’Shuvah, the idea for the Charity Design Project was born. Heidi became the Chair with Rhonda as the Vice Chair and they set out to make a difference in the lives of Beit T’Shuvah’s residents. And so the word went out. “They just came out of the woodwork,” Heidi says of notifying her friends and colleagues that she needed designers. “That was the miraculous part. It was seeing how many people wanted to help out.” The whole time Heidi was recruiting designers she remembered the feeling of not being able to meet the residents at the homeless shelter. This was to be primary demand of Beit T’Shuvah; that she and the other designers be able to meet

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the inside of room 104

before: (Above) This tidy room held a certain charm and attention to detail as evidenced by its residents. AFTER: (Opposite) Keeping to the former floral accents, warm, teal walls adorned with cherry blossoms, orchid bedding and a comfy shag rug transform the room. Photographs by: Cindy Gold Styling by: Amy Gordon & Lya Pinkus D E C E M B E R 2 012

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Does This Match?

and interact with the residents of the rooms. It was a demand that Beit T’Shuvah was all too happy to grant. “It’s very moving for the designer as well,” says Heidi. “I wanted to give both parties a chance to say thank you.” These designers have not only transformed the rooms at Beit T’Shuvah, they have transformed the people as well. “I know I’m very affected by my environment,” says Rhonda. “I have seen what it can do to your soul, to your heart.” To Heidi and Rhonda, the project was only a success if the residents were happy. Seeing the smiles on their faces was paramount to the importance of all that they have done. “People have even told me they sleep better,” says Heidi, who even months later, is still amazed with the resilience and strength of the people who live and work at Beit T’Shuvah. Some of you may be wondering, “How did they ever redesign 40 rooms in just three months?” Well, like most big undertakings, it can actually be broken down step by step. Four male rooms and four female rooms were worked on simultaneously in 3–week cycles. The residents who lived in them were relocated while the project was underway and, once complete, there was a Mini Reveal so that the designers could meet the residents and show them their new rooms. This happened every three weeks like clockwork for a period of three months until all 40 primary rooms were complete. Simple enough right?

“I know I’m very affected by my environment,” says Rhonda. “I have seen what it can do to your soul, to your heart.”


the inside of room 124 before: (Above) This space is cluttered by thrift-store odds-nends with no real cohesive style. Organization and storage were a huge concern.

AFTER: (Below) Clean white walls, refurbished dressers with turquoise accents, and colorful art enliven, while soft fabric choices provide soothing textures. B

Photographs by: A by Emillio O. B & C by Erin Pad Styling by: Esther Benton, Lynda Bezdek, Elaine Gordon, J.C. Hryb, & Jo Kaplan Feldman

There is one thing that Heidi and the rest of the designers agree upon—none of this would have been possible without a man named Craig Miller, the Facilities Manager at Beit T’Shuvah. Of Craig’s contribution to the project, Heidi simply states, “He’s a superstar. Craig deserves more praise than any of us.” Being a nonprofit facility that accepts over 70% of its residents without pay, the treatment at Beit T’Shuvah has always had to come first, and unfortunately, aesthetics have always taken a back seat. This was very much the way it was when Craig first arrived at Beit T’Shuvah. He remembers his first day as a resident and how he thought, “How can anybody get clean and sober in a place that is so dirty?” That is when he made it a personal goal to work for Beit T’Shuvah and to make it as beautiful as he could. For three years Craig has been overseeing the maintenance and beautification of Beit T’Shuvah and for three years, it seems, he has been waiting for a project like this. “This is really what I always wanted to do at Beit T’Shuvah,” says Craig. “And to be able to use my skills to make the dreams of the designers happen was amazing.” Craig understands that by flipping and renovating the entire building simultaneously, you don’t only create a more serene environment for residents, you 3 6 | B E I T T ’ S H U V A H | w w w. b e i t t s h u v a h . o r g

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the inside of room 233

before: (Middle) A drab, dreary and lifeless male room clearly in need of some TLC.

what we did

AFTER: (Below & Right) Leather headboards, personal lighting, and a shower curtain with a sense of humor spoil the residents of the upgraded room 233! Photographs by: A and B by Cindy Gold, C by Erin Pad Styling by: Sandy Anaya & Jill Wolff



Turn minimal, practical living spaces into peaceful, stylish sanctuaries that promote healing and gratitude. Cost: Entirely donation-based. Time Frame: Three months Where we saved: Many of the rooms were upgraded by frugal-finds from our very own BTS Thrift Boutiques. Beit T’Shuvah’s own facility management team completed much of the actual maintenance work. Where we splurged: Designers did not let cost obstruct vision. Some of the accents, furnishings, fabrics, and textiles found in these rooms are among the highest quality. What we could do different: We could have eased the time frame a bit, providing ‘breather’ periods between each design shift, rather than nonstop! Biggest challenge: Raising the funds. How we solved it: With ruthlessness! Designers approached everyone for help—friends, family, and vendors— even going as far as hosting dinner parties to encourage donations.

Typical Bedroom Layout

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Does This Match?

help save Beit T’Shuvah costly dollars in maintenance—dollars that could go towards taking someone off the streets and giving them a home here, at Beit T’Shuvah. Of course, Heidi and Craig’s work hasn’t stopped with just the rooms. Once Heidi saw the rest of Beit T’Shuvah’s facility she knew that there was more work to be done. She contacted a friend of hers, a landscaper by the name of Stacy Sharf, who convinced the Real Estate Principles Organization at the Jewish Federation to donate a number of live succulents to be planted in Shirley’s Patio. The RPO members not only donated the succulents, they came to plant them themselves. This patio is a center for bonding and has become a daily refuge for many of the residents and staff and now they have even more of a reason to enjoy it.

The culmination of the Charity Design Project took place on July 12, 2012, when Beit T’Shuvah hosted a Grand Reveal to showcase all of the rooms. The culmination of the Charity Design Project took place on July 12, 2012, when Beit T’Shuvah hosted a Grand Reveal to showcase all of the rooms. The event honored all of the staff, designers, and residents involved and easily generated the most interest in interior decorating that Beit T’Shuvah has ever seen. With each room sporting a unique style and feeling, there was something for even the most design-challenged guests to ogle at.

the inside of room 104

before: (Bottom Left) A modestly decorated room that could still benefit from a face-lift. AFTER: (Right & Below) Faux hand-painted hardwood floors, picturesque floral bedding, and intimate personal touches bring shabby chic to rehab! Photographs by: A by Cindy Gold, B and C by Erin Pad Styling by: Heidi Bendetson C

The beautification of Beit T’Shuvah is something that will never cease. As the organization grows and changes so too must the facility but it is certain that the efforts of Heidi and the rest of the designers will stand as a testament to the effect that 80 strangers can have on a group of addicts. Heidi has become more than just a designer. In fact, certain residents have joked that her constant presence on the grounds means that she may secretly be living at Beit T’Shuvah. Heidi has truly become a mentor to us all. You can tell a lot about someone based on where they live. And thanks to the guidance of mentors like Heidi Bendetson, anybody who sees Beit T’Shuvah will be able to see just how much we cherish the facility that has given countless individuals a new road to freedom from addiction. The goal A for this project was to turn a treatment center into a home but with the addition of Heidi and the rest of the designers, it seems that we have turned a home into a community.

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the inside of room 205

before: (Right) Nothing but mess fills the dirty living space.


Photographs by: Photos A and B and E by Erin Pad, Photos C and D by Emillio O.

AFTER: (Above & Left) A modern, European Styling by: Nikta style created from classy and elegant Asanad & Gabriella features fosters a tasteful living space. Toro


the inside of room 243

before: (Above) Pale and lifeless walls with hodge-podge furniture crowd this room. AFTER: (Right) Surfer-chic and ergonomic, this room brings the California beach life indoors. Nament resecusam D E C E M B E R 2 012

Photographs by: D by Emillio O. and Photo E by Erin Pad Styling by: Jaye Eigler, Shelly Litvack, & Gary Morris E

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New Breed AD MEN Does Mad Men hold anything over BTS Communications? by gary wexler just like you see on mad men, ad agencies were always filled with high-pitched drama. In the mid-seventies, I was a young copywriter at McCann-Erickson advertising, writing television and radio commercials for Coca Cola and Clorox Bleach. I noticed that on Fridays, at about 2pm, most of my fellow copywriters and art directors were nowhere to be found. At the same time, one of the building’s elevators would be consistently jammed shut.

A few months into my job, at a Creative Department staff meeting I brought up this curiosity. There was total silence in the room, then a few whispers and some smirks. Later, someone came to my office, shut the door and said, “Gary, you made a terrible mistake asking that question in front of the whole department. Don’t ever ask again or no one will have anything to do with you.

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All those missing people jam themselves into the elevators on Friday afternoons to snort cocaine.” I didn’t even comprehend what she was talking about. But eventually, I learned that in the creative businesses, drug use was a constant lace in the fabric. In the eighties, I owned an ad agency for about five years. I used to make a weekly speech in the staff meetings, telling my employees that they needed to come to work sober, particularly on Monday mornings. After I sold out to my partner, I discovered she had been supplying members of the staff with all sorts of “stuff.” But even this history could not have prepared me for the drama I would experience after Beit T’Shuvah resident and family friend, Jonathan (Yoni) Reznik, invited my wife and me to Shabbat services. He introduced me to BTS Communications, the social enterprise ad agency created by Beit T’Shuvah. While I had been in many creative environments populated by drug users, I had never been in a room where the creative and account people were ex-cons and recovering heroin addicts, alcoholics, gamblers and thieves, who made a point before we began to work, to tell me their life stories and their struggles with recovery and sobriety. If I had thought that the honesty of their stories and struggles were evoking holy moments, it was nothing in comparison to the holy creative moment I was about to encounter. When I asked to review their work, I expected to see the typical beginners’ creative presentation that I had become accustomed to both as a Creative Director and an Adjunct Lecturer at USC/Annenberg School of Communications. I was stunned. Never in my career had I seen this level of creativity out of beginners. There was killer design, powerful copy, great concepts and impressive strategic thinking. But there was something else–a hunger to learn and absorb all they could from what I had to give. It quickly became obvious to me what was happening. I believe that John Sullivan, the creative director, a former heroin addict, and his staff were pumping all the anxieties of their lives and energies of their recoveries into their creative process. Few people I had met along my career path have combined these particular anxieties and energies, with a deep sense of integrity. The creativity was bouncing off the walls and reverberating from the ceiling. Sullivan and his staff put Mad Men’s Don Draper, Peggy Olson, Lane and Michael Ginsberg to shame.

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The work of these professionals cast enormous potential upon BTS. It is a new day in the advertising business with massive changes happening in the industry, influenced by the daily advances in technology. BTSC has their fingers on this consistently evolving pulse. Who wouldn’t take a meeting with an agency that has this kind of story? BTSC is risk taking and fearless. When one has been through what they’ve experienced risk comes easy. And when facing their recoveries, what they might fear from the ad business pales in comparison. But it is also a new day in the nonprofit world. In a tumultuous economy and a new generation of a leadership, the nonprofit sector is also being turned on its ear, forced to pursue new ideas and practices. One of those new ideas is social enterprise---businesses created within a nonprofit structure. BTS Communications is one of social enterprise’s best examples. Social enterprises are merging both nonprofit and business practice to create a new hybrid with potential to change both the nonprofit and the business world. They are teaching nonprofits how to run their organizations with bottom-line efficiency, as well as creative sales and business acumen. However, social enterprises are also demonstrating for business the importance of collaborating with nonprofits to deliver goods to our society that go way beyond profit. If BTSC continues to be properly cultivated, it will emerge as a powerful source of funding for Beit T’Shuvah, bringing in millions each year, as well as be an outstanding model for the entire social enterprise system. As time goes by, Mad Men will look like Mickey Mouse in comparison to the stories that could arise from BTS Communications, its drama, its elation, and its influence upon business and society. Just thinking about this eventuality makes me high.

Gary Wexler is a volunteer mentor and trainer for BTS Communications. An award winning ad agency copywriter, creative director and owner, today Gary is a consultant as well as the Adjunct Lecturer in both Nonprofit Marketing and Advertising, in the Masters in Communications Management program at USC/Annenberg. He is presently immersed as the Founding Revolutionary of

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h o pe takes fl ight

{ Beit T’Shuvah Finds Hope in The Pianist of Willesden L ane } By chris alvare z


f hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul, as Maya Angelou once said, then reality is the thing with scales that glares at hope hungrily.

Imagine you have three children, and can only save one. This is the dilemma faced by Lisa Jura’s parents in the play The Pianist of Willesden Lane. Recently the residents of Beit T’Shuvah attended a performance of this dramatic work at the Geffen Theater. Set in Vienna and London during World War II, The Pianist of Willesden Lane tells the story of young Lisa Jura, a Jewish piano virtuoso. It chronicles her travels to London aboard the kindertransport (trains used to evacuate Jewish children from mainland Europe to Great Britain between 1938 and 1940), her life in London during each devastating bombing, and her struggle to continue pursuing her passion for piano. However, she never loses hope that she will sustain her passion and hold on to her essence though all odds were against her. While in London she worked in a garment factory, and the only time she was able to play the piano was at night—but these nights weren’t peaceful. Imagine trying to master a difficult piano sonata against the background dissonance of destruction. The nights were terrifyingly shattered with the sounds of German bombs and British screams, while Jura played in solitude in her basement. Starring Mona Golabek, this amazing one-woman play touched the hearts and treated the souls of many residents of Beit T’Shuvah. Among them was Jonathan Friedman who, after the play, thanked

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Mona “for such a life changing experience.” Another resident in attendance, Lily Perrault, said, “It was very inspirational and inspired a sense of hope in me.” The sentiment was reciprocated. Mona reflected that “the residents were among the best audiences [she] has ever experienced…[she] appreciated their open hearts, courage, and love.” Mona furthered her appreciation by visiting Beit T’Shuvah personally to have an open discussion with the residents. Having attended the same showing of the play, I have to agree. As the play started I didn’t know what to expect; throughout it I was bombarded by many different emotions, but as the play ended I left feeling something that I had not felt in a long time. Like Lily, I felt a sense of hope; hope that there is a better future for me and my fellow residents at Beit T’Shuvah. Hope is a powerful emotion; it is what drives me and what allows me to accept things that do not go my way. As Mona Golabek played Claude Debussy’s movement, Claire de Lune, I felt that no matter what, everything would turn out okay. At Beit T’Shuvah hope is vital for recovery. It is what keeps me going. Watching fellow residents take cakes and accumulate years of sobriety gives me the hope I so desperately need to grow and succeed on my own. Just like in the play, however, hope takes time. But when the right time does come, hope will take flight and overcome the most formidable obstacles… even Lisa Jura’s; even mine.

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Cantor’s Corner For quite some time now, we have heard the phrase “Just Jewish” as Rabbi Borovitz’s response to “what kind of temple is Beit T’Shuvah?” I often find this an interesting thing to ponder on. What does “Just Jewish” mean? It’s certainly not just a euphemistic or fun way of saying that our synagogue does not identify with any one specific Jewish movement, unlike so many of our shulneighbors. It is so much more than that. To me, this phrase is the very heart and soul of our temple. It is another way of saying “everyone matters”… and by everyone,—YES, I mean you too. This concept has been at the forefront of my mind for some time now. How can I, as acting Cantor, translate this concept of “everyone matters” into our prayer and our music? For one, I try to make sure that the music reaches out to everyone and not just some people—from those whose souls are stirred by the older and more traditional (where I like to hang out a lot!) to those who respond to the more contemporary and energetic. More importantly, “Just Jewish” to me means I am always charged to give every soul in our community consistent opportunities to have new musical experiences. Judaism is an ever-adapting continuum and it would be a tragedy to force anyone to be “stuck” in only one way. With this new year, I want to vow that this concept not be at the back of my mind but rather at the forefront in everything I do as Cantor, be it sing or select new music or resurrect “oldies.” It is my hope that our experiences only continue to be expanded. Wishing you all a great year!

Best, Cantor Rachel

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ne of the biggest questions that hovers over the head of Beit T’Shuvah is how we make enough money to sustain our mission. Beit T’Shuvah has blossomed from a simple treatment facility into a many petaled flower that includes six properties, 120 residents, 45 outpatients, 87 staff members, and a multitude of programs. With more than half of the beds at Beit T’Shuvah filled by residents who pay nothing to be there, the question is amplified: “How, exactly, does Beit T’Shuvah support itself?” In addition to numerous philanthropic donors, the funding is thanks in no small part to the efforts of a very special group of ladies: Beit T’Shuvah’s own Development Department. Aside from the staggering $3.25 million a year that must be raised simply to maintain the facility, there are also a myriad of side projects and events that pop up throughout the year, and it is the job of the Development Department to see that they all go off without a hitch. The event was headed by Development Director Nina Haller and her staff, which includes Barbara Friedman, Stephanie Cullen, Lexy Nolte as well as Temple Director Ali Ditlove. Their task is simple: raise nearly one half of Beit T’Shuvah’s annual budget while simultaneously organizing and scheduling any and all fundraisers throughout the year. Needless to say, these women are some of the hardest working people in the recovery business. And of course, there’s never a dull moment for the Development team. Between Knock Out Addiction, the L.A. Marathon, Circle of Majesty, and Beit T’Shuvah’s most substantial fundraiser, the annual Steps to Recovery Gala, the Development Department is constantly abuzz. Their most recent undertaking was bringing back Beit T’Shuvah’s annual Golf Tournament, the BTS Open.

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The event took place on October 29th, and was one of the most successful fundraisers of the year. An impressive committee was rallied for this event, and the two men at the helm were Jan Rosen and David Elston, longtime Beit T’Shuvah supporters and golf enthusiasts. “While at the recent boxing event, [Knock Out Addiction], says David, I commented to Nina Haller, saying, ‘What a shame it is that BTS hasn’t had its golf tournament in years.’ Apparently, I didn’t realize that in the BTS world, that was tantamount to volunteering for a job that was not yet created.” It’s clear to see that golf has always been an amazing source of fundraising. “Golfers take their game as seriously as most sober people take their recovery,” adds David. “The concentration, the dedication—all of it comes into play.” Even Jan Rosen, whose involvement with Beit T’Shuvah goes back over seven years jokes, “Golf is my addiction.” He goes on to say, “I love golf. It’s a way to get people involved with a great charity.” The work of these two men was instrumental in making the BTS Open a sophisticated success, and with their efforts and those of the Development Department, Beit T’Shuvah is one step closer to making their annual budget. The important thing to remember is there is never a way to give too much to a good cause. Beit T’Shuvah is in the business of saving lives and none of that would be possible without men like Jan and David or without the dedication of our dynamic Development team. But for them, saving lives is just par for the course.

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sisterhood concert

A night of eclectic sound

This past June, the BTS Sisterhood hosted A Night of Eclectic Sound with all proceeds going to the programs of BTS. Over 100 people enjoyed the outstanding talents of Craig Taubman, The Bobby Hunt Trio, Danny Peck as well as our own James Fuchs, Rachel Goldman Neubauer and Laura Bagish. Even some of our residents participated. It was an amazing evening that showcased the eclectic talents of all involved. 4 6 | B E I T T ’ S H U V A H | w w w. b e i t t s h u v a h . o r g

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PRO GR A M ne ws



THE KEY TO RECOVERY } By: z ak kr aus


“Baruch Habah B’Shem Adonai.” May you who have come be blessed in the name of the Source of Life. These are the words of welcome that have been used for thousands of years to welcome people to Jewish communities throughout the world. Imagine standing in a detoxing fog on stage in front of 200 people you’ve never seen before, having prayers in foreign tongues wildly shouted at you in welcome. Then you have to attempt to recite a response in the Hebrew language you might not have ever heard nor spoken, all on what might be your first day sober. Luckily, the Beit T’Shuvah Sisterhood soothes the wounds of the shock-and-awe one might experience after being accepted into the House of Return. A new tradition has started at Friday night Shabbat services. The Key to Recovery program began in March of 2012 through the inspiration of Allene Prince of the Beit T’Shuvah Sisterhood. The Key to Recovery program is a symbolic reminder to new residents that they will always have a community and a family at Beit T’Shuvah. The new residents are given a symbolic blank key containing the phone number to Beit T’Shuvah and a card, containing the words “The Sisterhood of Beit T’Shuvah welcomes you and reminds you that you hold the key to your recovery.” In true Beit T’Shuvah style, this new tradition is steeped in personal empowerment. It is up to the individuals to do the work and build a solid foundation for their recovery to rest on. One truly does hold the key to their recovery in their hand, but to be reminded that they don’t have to go at it alone is perhaps what allows them to use it. During the first ceremony in which keys were given to new residents, the core active members of the Beit T’Shuvah Sisterhood came on stage to present the new residents with their keys. It was heartwarming to watch the birth of a new tradition, and hopefully a reminder to people that the pleasure of receiving is moot if not stirred by the thoughtfulness of giving. The standard of giving is a bar that has been set quite high by the Beit T’Shuvah Sisterhood. They keep busy D E C E M B E R 2 012

providing fundraising for various Beit T’Shuvah efforts, from dinners for marathon runners, to the Annual Sisterhood Holiday Boutique anticipated by Shuvites and the local community alike, donating to the sober Birthright trip, and joining the other donors and Board Members that keep Beit T’Shuvah flourishing. The Key to Recovery program comes from Allene Prince’s own experience when her daughter was a newcomer to the house. Allene had taken notice of a key ring with charms that her daughter was collecting and bought her one for her collection. She also purchased a blank key and pasted the words Key to Recovery on it. Allene has a very good understanding of what one’s life must be like to end up at Beit T’Shuvah, and like any loving Jewish mother it’s her instinct to comfort the broken. This instinct inspired Allene to write the text for the card that is presented with the key. When asked about the impression left on the new residents involved in the program, Allene said, “I think the gifts of the symbolic Key to Recovery and card with the welcoming text give new residents something tangible to “HOLD ON” to (another motto shouted to residents on Friday nights upon their entry into the program). We understand that new residents may feel overwhelmed, their lives may be in great turmoil, and gifts to hold and keep may help ground them.” The thing that separates Beit T’Shuvah from most if not all recovery centers is how deep the roots of support dig into the soil. As a former resident, I think in the beginning of my experience I took for granted how many people take time out of their lives to add something to my recovery. People who often never meet me or even know who I am, think that I matter. They make it a point in their lives to ensure that people like me have a chance at a life we didn’t think imaginable. The Key to Recovery program gives residents of the house a new sense of gratitude and appreciation for how much support it takes to let us recover our passion and discover our purpose.

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l etters

{ from t he com muni t y } Dear Harriet,

Subject: RE: Comment about the Beit T’Shuvah Magazine

I will never forget the words I heard in a voice message after returning from an emotionally exhausting rollercoaster ride cross country helping my daughter Alex get on a plane to Beit T’Shuvah. “Alex made it, she’s our worry now.”

Got it! Thanks for the clarification.  As you might guess, I neglected to turn to page 9 to clarify the contributor concept.  This list is impressive--and I am relieved that all funds collected still go to the residential programs.  I sincerely appreciate the personal and thoughtful response. 

Those words of support were from you, Harriet, and I’d like you to know how much they meant to me. I finally could exhale knowing Alex was going to be safe and receive the help and support she so desperately needed. Thank you so much! You, Rabbi Mark, and all the support staff at Beit T’Shuvah are truly a blessing and I feel grateful everyday for being the unique, amazing place that it is! Thank you for your support and honesty. Lisa

Nina, I wanted to convey to you, Adam, Harriet, and Annette, how much I love the latest BTS magazine. I am reading it cover to cover and am getting somewhat teary over being reminded of the wonderful work being done for so many Jewish and non-Jewish addicts.

P.S. Please feel free to share this message. I would like people to know how much BTS helps people!!

I really hope to come back to one of the events next time as I love the rah, rah and hoopla of excitement of accomplishing so much good with the promise of even more in the future.

From: Z.R.
 To: Barbara Friedman

I am also pleased that we could participate in donating to the marathon and the capital campaign. Along with that I am encouraged and, I have come a long way,too.

Subject: Comment about the Beit T’Shuvah Magazine I am aware of the good work that Beit T’Shuvah does in our community and the ways that it helps people change their lives, so when I get a mailing from you, I like to read it to learn more. However, recently I have been turned off by the over-the-top glossy, glitsy magazine.  To me it spells Hollywood, Glamour, and, worst of all, Lots of Money.  I may be one of the few people who feels this way, but because I respect what you do and because I feel so offended by this way of promoting your organization, I feel obliged to write.  I hope this input is helpful and is received as from someone who is trying to help--not just lambaste. 
Z.R. From: Barbara 
 To: Z.R. Subject: Re: Comment about the Beit T’Shuvah Magazine Thank you for writing and we do appreciate your comments.  While we did get a bit glitzy, it was because it was a special edition – our 25th year (our regular issues are not that fancy).  However, we get very, very discounted prices from our printer, so we did not spend a tremendous amount of money.  There is a list on Page 9 of “Contributors” (photographers, advertisers, etc) who donated their time and resources toward this issue, but it should have been bigger!

Here’s to keepin on keepin on....I loooooove what you all are doing and I loooooove the magazine. With a grateful heart, Anonymous

Dear Harriet and Rabbi, The Beit T’Shuvah magazine that I received today is amazing. I am so proud to be part of this organization that does so much to impact individuals and families.  Thank you for all that you do and thanks for giving me the opportunity to be involved. Love, Heidi

Thanks again for reaching out.

Hi John and Staff,


I think “WOW” describes the magazine. All of you should be so proud of yourselves. From cover to cover it is not only a piece of art, but an emotional statement.  We never get tired of reading the incredible stories of the residents of Beit T’Shuvah.  The ones in the magazine were not only moving, but were so beautifully written

Barbara From: Z.R. To: Barbara 4 8 | B E I T T ’ S H U V A H | w w w. b e i t t s h u v a h . o r g

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and the photos amazing. Loved how you gave credit to all that contributed.  We are sure you are getting rave reviews and they are most certainly deserved.   All of you are so talented and have found your passion—what a blessing.   May we suggest that in the next issue you have a page for letters to the editor as we would all like to share in your great success.  Vanity Fair has nothing on you. Fondly, Sandy and Marvin Smalley

Dear Beit T’Shuvah Residents, I can’t tell you in words how grateful we, the 8th grade of Bnai Shalom Day School of North Carolina are to have been part of your community when we visited. We learned a great deal about addiction and how badly you can mess up your life by having one. I felt like I knew what you were going through because my father had an addiction with alcohol which killed him last year. Hope all of you are doing well. Be strong. Thanks again. Sincerely,

choices. But we want you to know, deeply, we appreciate your soul and strength and your beautiful program at Beit T’Shuvah. All that goodness is eternal, not lost, no matter what. G-d bless you both. Megan and Gregory

Dear Rabbi Mark and Harriet, As you may remember from the letter I sent you a few months ago, I wanted to include Beit T’Shuvah as one of my “special birthday contributions.” I am delighted to report that I received nearly 150 cards with lovely birthday wishes enabling me to make this contribution of $3,430 to Beit T’Shuvah. Being able to help young adults with addiction issues find themselves and return to productive lives with their families and community gives me great joy. I am honored to be a part of this unique, exceptional program. My best, Anonymous

Sean To Development Department: Dear BTS, The effect of the place, community spirit, the ethos where religion is strong but in an entirely free and unforced way, where everyone is welcome, where part of the deal is acceptance of who you are as a first step to change, where everyone is asked to acknowledge the underlying Judaic ethos, but no one has to accept it, and where you can stay on after you become “sober,” and are not expected to go back into the real world until you are ready in every sense, and where almost all of those who work there have been through the reality of addiction and come out of it with an understanding and a nonjudgmental love for each other. This was a very powerful and fundamentally life-affirming human experience. The human reality matters, and there above money and personal religious identity. A true spirit of brotherhood. The contribution such a place makes to the world is truly remarkable. It is transformative in every way, every stereotype, and every prejudice dissolves, the human being is sovereign. I am so grateful to have witnessed this. Andrew

Enclosed you will find a donation made by a small group of 7th grade students at Tehiyah Jewish Day School in Northern California. This year the students learned the importance of Tzedakah and Tikkun Olam through a year of study and action. The students formed “mini-Foundations” with names and mission statements based on issues they were passionate about… The students learned to research non-profit organizations locally and internationally. They raised money through…their own bake sales, lemonade stands, and fundraising letters to friends, teachers, rabbis and neighbors. Many students donated from their own Bar and Bar Mitzvah gifts… In addition, each Mini-Foundation [created] a presentation which included facts, photos, videos…to present at our Final Presentation and Donation Ceremony. Their purpose was to educate and spark awareness about their topic for the Tehiya student body, administrators, teachers, and parents…The students proudly highlighted your organization, mission and why they chose you!

Dearest Harriet and Rabbi Mark,

The Hugs Not Drugs Mini-Foundation comprised of Gabe, Kieran, and Aaron selected your organization and is contributing $412.00 to the wonderful work you do to foster justice and repair the world. Congratulations!

Naturally, we are sorrowful over our daughter Rabyn’s terrible

Sincerely, Elana Isaacs (Tzedakah and Youth Leadership Consultant at Tehiya Jewish Day School)

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FREEDOM song Help destigmatize addiction in your town. For booking information call jessica fishel at 310.204.5200 ext.204

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Partners in Prevention is one of the best programs

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Nona S. Solowitz


73241 Highway 111, Suite 2C, Palm Desert, CA 92260 760.423.0133



Alumni Association

To preserve a lasting connection between alumni and the community. D E C E M B E R 2 012

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Beit T’Shuvah 8831 Venice Boulevard Los Angeles, California 90034-3223

Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage


Los Angeles, CA Permit No. 672

R e c o v er Your Pa s s i on D i s c o v e r Your Purpos e t o g e t i n v o lv e d , c o n ta c t b a r b a r a f r i e d m a n at b f r i e d m a n @ b e i t t s h u va h . o r g o r c a l l 310.204.5200 e x . 204 5 4 | B E I T T ’ S H U V A H | w w w. b e i t t s h u v a h . o r g

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Beit T'Shuvah Magazine Vol.3 Num.2  

The Design Issue