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Beit T'Shuvah MAGAZINE

VOLUME3 NUMBER 1

REDEMPTION ISSUE!

p. 25

RUN FOR YOUR LIFE

THE UNEXPECTED

Or someone else’s- Beit T’Shuvah Runs the HONDA L A M ARATHON for its 3rd year in a row p. 63

COUCH CUSHIONS ARE LIFE SAVERS

How your furniture donation could mean someone’s sobriety p. 28

how to pray better

with rabbi ed feinstein p. 30

NIGHTS TO REMEMBER:

KnockOut Addiction II Sisterhood Boutique Steps to Recovery Gala 2012 The Havdalah Talent Show High Holidays p. 27

Saying Goodbye to our dear friend

p. 16

p. 33

Plus EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH SHERIFF BACA &Rabbi vs. Harriet?

p. 20

p. 29

p. 60

p. 18

Who’s got it right? Or is it a ‘BOTH AND?’

A P R I L 2 012

Three generations of Jewish birthright from Inga Roizm an’s view p. 59

A QUARTER CENTURY OF T’SHUVAH

p. 14

25 INSPIRING Portraits of Redemption & Reentry

Ex- Cons and EntrepreneurS

CELEBRATING

An orthodox young m an finds his spirit in Prevention

The First Ever

Passing It On

p. 10

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 VA H | 1

Elaine Breslow

p. 24


Julian Ellis

Graphic Design Intern

Doug Ullman

Graphic Design Intern

Michael Soter Copywriting Intern

Justin Rosenberg Photography Intern

Ben Spielberg Copywriting Intern

Josh Silver

Copywriting Intern

Lauren Schiro Videography Intern

2 | B E I T T ’S H U VA H | w w w. b e i t t s h u v a h . o r g

A P R I L 2 012

Jaron Zanerhaft Copywriting Intern


CREATING A DESIGN

FOR LIFE at bts communications, we work for our clients as if

our lives depend on it, because they do. that’s what makes us unlike any other marketing and design firm;

we’ve battled our addictions, and come out on the

other side. it is this vigilance to personal betterment that empowers our work, our creativity, and our customer service. interested in seeing our work? just turn the page. we designed this entire magazine,

cover to cover. contact us now to find out how we can help your organization.

info@btscomm.org

| 310.842.3725

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A P R I L 2 012

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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

| 08

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.

he said/she said

| 10

In a candid interview, Rabbi Mark Borovitz and Harriet Rossetto reveal their history, visions for Beit T’Shuvah, and love for each other over 25 years.

E vo lv i n g O v e r 2 5 Ye a r s

| 13

It takes a lot to keep Beit T’Shuvah running. Learn about the women that are the fuel behind the Beit T’Shuvah fire.

Dear Harriet

| 17

Our resident Rebbetzin and LCSW imparts her wisdom and answers your burning and often taboo questions!

Th e H i g h e s t o f H o l y

| 18

A personal and emotional look at Yeshaia Blakeney’s experience delivering the Rosh Hashanah sermon.

Th e G a l a

| 20

A four page spread of the speech and scenes that etched the memory of a million dollar night.

“The palpable

2 5 Ye a r s o f T ’ S h u va h

spirit of redemption and the air of a loving community moved me to tears.” the secret weapon

Avi Reichental | 33 4

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| 25

Rabbi Mark’s restrospective of repentance, return, and new responses in the Beit T’Shuvah tradition.

Th e 2 5 P o r t r a i t s

| 33

Idealist or logistician, line pusher or line drawer, nouveau or classic, these trophies of T’Shuvah find their rightful place showcased in our album of altruism and ascent.

A n E d u c at i o n

| 60

Join John Sullivan, Rabbi Mark Borovitz, and Sheriff Leroy Baca and his team as they unite in an unlikely partnership. A P R I L 2 012


thrift is...

A P R I L 2 012

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Beit T'Shuvah MAGAZINE

MARCH 2012

inside A n U n o r t h o d o x Ta l e

| 14

Through Partners in Prevention, Asher Ehrman breaks free from his pattern of lies and finds a new role in his old community.

Knock Out Addiction 2

| 27

Flashback to the excitement of a celebrity-studded KOA2 at The Petersen Automotive Museum.

Wh at I A m …

| 28

Experience the intricacies of the BTS Thrift Boutique’s mission from the point of view of the donated objects. Includes a Donor Spotlight on Wendy M. Gerdau.

H o w To : P r a y B e t t e r

| 30

Rabbi Ed Feinstein shows us how to strengthen our relationship with G-d, and perhaps a lucky significant other.

Neurofeedback

| 31

Scientific advances and rehab spirituality combine in one recent innovation brought to Beit T’Shuvah.

My Birthright

| 59

Inga Roizman poetically compares her life struggles to those of the protagonists of Genesis.

The gala

A mélange of glamorous photography and Harriet Rossetto’s bold words chronicles the evening of Beit T’Shuvah’s most successful fundraiser of the year.. dressed to impress

O n e S t e p a t a Ti m e

| 63

Beit T’Shuvah runners fall in step with the LA Marathon.

See the Cover Shoot Video Take a picture of the QR Code on the right to go directly to the video on your smart phone or iPad. To see the video go to http://bit.ly/covervideo

Erin Pad | 20

6 | B E I T T ’S H U VA H | w w w. b e i t t s h u v a h . o r g

A P R I L 2 012


the new black

BTS Thrift Boutique Culver City Santa Monica 31 0 . 2 0 4 . 4 0 5 8 A P R I L 2 012

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Chair’s Note

B

eit T’Shuvah wears many hats. Part rehab, part synagogue, part 12-Step meeting, and part extended family, it is a place where broken souls become whole and misfits find acceptance. More than anything else, however, Beit T’Shuvah is a community. The depth and strength of the Beit T’Shuvah community is what sets it apart. It is comprised not only of current residents, but also of alumni, family members, friends, locals, and those who are simply inspired by the energy and passion captured here.

As I begin to speak about the importance of community, I find myself asking what it truly means. I believe a community provides three integral parts of the human experience: belonging, support, and responsibility. Beit T’Shuvah’s community gives people of all walks of life a sense of belonging, a place to fit into in this world. It is also a constantly renewing source of support for its community members; equipped with friends, counselors, spiritual leaders, advisors, and peers alike (often in the same individual!). Each person is a different channel of support for hundreds of members to tap into. But perhaps most significantly, a community requires that you give as often as you take. It teaches its members about responsibility; about how actions affect others. In many ways, this responsibility is the crux of recovery- learning how to be an adult, how to give back. Of the 25 years of Beit T’Shuvah, I have had the good fortune of being involved for seven, in which I have seen a tremendous amount of growth. It is a great honor to further my involvement by becoming Chairman of the Board in 2012. I am strengthened by the support of a board filled with inspirational people whom I respect and admire. I doubt that 25 years ago anyone could have imagined what Beit T’Shuvah would become today, so I dare not constrain Beit T’Shuvah’s future growth to the limits of my imagination. Instead I pledge to passionately help Beit T’Shuvah continue to take shape, as it has, quite naturally until now. Dr. BILL RESNICK, BOARD CHAIR

S

President’s Note

ome 20 years ago when I first met Harriet Rossetto and learned about Beit T’Shuvah’s vision, I was profoundly moved by the men and women who were once lost souls and were recovering their lives through Beit T’Shuvah’s programs. Being part of the leadership of Beit T’Shuvah has taught me so much about people and the wrong choices they make in life. Recently, I spent time with several former residents who today are enjoying their sober lives with their families, friends and community. What better reward can a volunteer receive? Beit T’Shuvah has served thousands of individuals and families over these past 25 years – regardless of their ability to pay. As the incoming President of the Beit T’Shuvah Board, I look forward to continuing to tell our story and helping those in need. I am immensely proud to be a part of Beit T’Shuvah’s ascent to becoming a major agency in our community. The vision of Harriet Rossetto, Rabbi Mark Borovitz, every single member of the staff and volunteers has helped to make this so. As an institution with immediate needs to maintain itself, we have always been focused on the present. Reaching our quarter-century mark, however, has made it evident that we must also look toward the future. As the first-ever President of Beit T’Shuvah, I enter into a position that was created to provide continuity as we continue to grow. I welcome and congratulate Bill Resnick upon becoming Chairman of the Board. Bill and I will share the responsibility of guiding Beit T’Shuvah to even greater success.

ANNETTE SHAPIRO, BOARD PRESIDENT

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Beit T'Shuvah

MAGAZINE

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 Emily Corleto Samuel Delug Jon Esformes John Fishel Mel Gagerman Jeffrey Glassman Robert Gluckstein Carolyn Gold Beverly Gruber Salli Harris Roberta Holland Russell Kern Dr. Susan Krevoy Dr. Gady Levy 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 Dr. Howard Wallach 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

EDITORS IN CHIEF HARRIET ROSSETTO RABBI MARK BOROVITZ PRODUCTION & CREATIVE DIRECTOR JOHN SULLIVAN CONTRIBUTING EDITORS ELIANA KATZ BARBARA FRIEDMAN

ART DIRECTOR KENDL FERENCZ

MARKETING AND AD SALES FANYA COHEN

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS SHAI BLAKENEY HIGHEST OF HOLY | RABBI MARK BOROVITZ 25 YEARS OF T’SHUVAH FANYA COHEN 25 PORTRAITS | JASON DEAN MARATHON, DEVELOPMENT, JEU, 25

PORTRAITS | ASHER EHRMAN AN UNORTHODOX TALE | RABBI EDWARD FEINSTEIN HOW TO PRAY BETTER | JESSE GOLDBERG WHAT I AM... | RACHEL GOLDMAN-

NEUBAUER CANTOR’S CORNER | INGA ROIZMAN MY BIRTHRIGHT | ELIANA KATZ

THE HOT LIST, COVER LOOK, 25 PORTRAITS | BILL RESNICK CHAIR’S NOTE | HARRIET

ROSSETTO DEAR HARRIET | ANNETTE SHAPIRO PRESIDENT’S NOTE | JOSH SILVER 25 PORTRAITS | MICHAEL SOTER 25 PORTRAITS | BEN SPIELBERG NEUROFEEDBACK, 25 PORTRAITS | JARON ZANERHAFT 25 PORTRAITS CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS DREW BARILLAS 25 PORTRAITS | CARLA FINNERMAN GALA | LAUREL JOHNSON COVER SHOOT, GALA HEATHER LANDIS COVER SHOOT ASSISTANT | ERIN

PAD INTERN PHOTOGRAPHER | JUSTIN ROSENBERG INTERN PHOTOGRAPHER LAUREN SCHIRO INTERN VIDEOGRAPHER | JOHN SULLIVAN 25 PORTRAITS CONTRIBUTING GRAPHIC DESIGNERS JULIAN ELLIS INTERN GRAPHIC DESIGNER DOUG ULLMAN INTERN GRAPHIC DESIGNER VOLUNTEERS & ADVERTISERS THAT MADE THIS ISSUE POSSIBLE AMAZING MEMORIES INC. | AMERICAN JEWISH UNIVERSITY | HILLARY BARACK

VOLUNTEER HAIR STYLIST | DREW BARILLAS VOLUNTEER PHOTOGRAPHER | BLACK EQUITIES MOSHE ELAD FIRST IN PRINTING | FACTOR’S FAMOUS DELI | GMPA

ARCHITECTS HILLSIDE MEMORIAL PARK | HOLD THE DATE | LAUREL JOHNSON

& HEATHER LANDIS APPLES & HONEY PHOTOGRAPHY | LOU LANDOLPH VOLUNTEER PRODUCTION ASSISTANT ASHLEE PETERSEN VOLUNTEER MAKEUP ARTIST SUGARRIDE LIMOUSINE SERVICE | JIMMY WOLF GENERAL CONTRACTOR

Please send comments, letters, and feedback about this issue of Beit T’Shuvah Magazine to: btsmagazine@btscomm.org or 8985 Venice Blvd. Ste. H, Los Angeles, CA 90034

*Deceased A P R I L 2 012

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He said /

A Curious Look at 25 Years From the Couple Behind the Mischief and the Magic. Interviewed by Eliana Katz and Ben Spielberg

Rabbi Mark Borovitz, Spiritual Leader, COO Where does the story of you and Beit T’Shuvah begin? My story begins a long time ago in a land far, far away…Cleveland, Ohio. It’s written about in this book called The Holy Thief. But the story for Beit T’Shuvah begins when I was in prison the second time. I had a spiritual awakening. Harriet came to the prison, having already started Beit T’Shuvah. In a conversation we had about what the inmates needed, Harriet got very defensive and uppity. She and I just sort of… hated each other right off the bat. She threw down a challenge: “If you’re so smart, why don’t you come help me?” So I did. I showed up because I wanted to do something different. What was your initial vision of Beit T’Shuvah 25 years ago? My vision was to bring more Judaism to Beit T’Shuvah. I went to 12 steps and had a sponsor because I was working at BTS, but it’s Judaism that saved my life. As Rav Heschel says, “Prayer gave me a life worth saving.” I began holding Friday night services at Beit T’Shuvah, and I started a Torah study in the morning. Your staff is comprised mostly of current and former residents. Why do you typically hire from within? I do it for two reasons. 1. I believe in hiring the handicapped. And, 2 (he smirks). They know the system. We’re traditional in the sense of relevant Judaism and recovery, but we are not what the professional world would call a professional recovery center nor are we a traditional temple. The alumni understand the idea of the individual and the community. They can translate better, both the T’Shuvah message and the recovery message. What is Beit T’Shuvah’s greatest immediate need? People. People to hear the message and to live the message. To help the residents and graduates get jobs and careers. To donate. To spread this idea of putting more T’Shuvah in the world. Most treatment centers prohibit resident relationships. Judging from all the BTS babies over the last few years, I’m guessing you don’t. Why not? Ultimately addiction is a disease of hiding from the self. Rather than give people reasons to sneak around and hide, we live life OUT LOUD. For approval, they have to come to Harriet and be serious 1 0 | B E I T T ’S H U VA H | w w w. b e i t t s h u v a h . o r g

“People say ‘It’s not Fair!’ and Harriet responds, ‘The fair’s in Pomona.’” about it. People come here and bare their souls. That creates an atmosphere where it’s easy to be in love with the soul of another. I think that’s really what happens 9 times out of 10 here. Have you ever had to compromise any of your core values during the growth of Beit T’Shuvah? No. We’ve always kept mission over money and principle over personality. Unless you consider family loyalty a compromise of core values. Although I have probably spilled coffee and not cleaned it up. When did you realize you loved your spouse? January of 1989 (sighs and smiles). I was going to have dinner with her on a Tuesday night and she said, “I have a date.” I sat outside her apartment and I was going to leave her a rose. She came home early though, so I went up to her instead, and said, “I just wanted to give this to you.” That was the moment. What’s your favorite Harrietism? People say ‘It’s not Fair!’ and Harriet responds, “The fair’s in Pomona.” Where do ‘normies’ fit in to this picture? No such thing. To me, the quintessential normie is Annette Shapiro, and she fits right in. Everybody fits in this place. Because everybody has a place, all they have to do is take it. If everyone would just take his or her place, the whole world would fit. Where do you envision Beit T’Shuvah 25 years from now? My hope is that 25 years from now, Beit T’Shuvah grows as a center for families, kids, adults and teenagers. Recovery is so much more than addiction; it is helping people become integrated human beings. My hope is that in 25 years we’ve broadened into a place where the whole community comes to learn and to teach. To make that happen, we must raise a lot of money, and build the new industry of Relevant Judaism and Living Well.

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/ She said “Mark was in front of my apartment with a rose. And that was a really good move.” Where does the story of you and Beit T’Shuvah begin? It begins with my reluctant visit to Janet Levy, the self-labeled Expecta-Miracle Lady. At a time when I was near ending my life, Janet offered to pray for me: “Father of the Universe, take this woman by the hand and guide her to her rightful work….” And then she told me to pay attention. In a Divinely guided moment, I found an ad in the classifieds that read ‘person of Jewish background to work with Jewish criminal offenders, MSW required.’ I joined a group of five people visiting locked up Jewish men and women, and it was my spiritual awakening. Along the way I got the idea of opening a place where people could come to beat their addictions; because jail, fear, and punishment were not working. In 1983, I was awarded a small grant to do so and found an old house on 216 South Lake Street. I called it Beit T’Shuvah. What was your initial vision of Beit T’Shuvah 25 years ago? A place where people could come crash after jail where I would serve them chicken soup and they would get well! Your staff is comprised mostly of current and former residents. Why do you typically hire from within? They understand and can transmit the culture. People with degrees don’t necessarily work in this kind of an environment because the way we operate here is still in some ways counter-cultural. ‘Takes one to know one’ sort of thing. What is Beit T’Shuvah’s greatest immediate need? Permits to begin building next door! Most treatment centers prohibit resident relationships. Judging from all the BTS babies over the last few years, I’m guessing you don’t. Why not? I tried being like all other treatment centers but it was impossible! Prohibiting them meant that people would be deceptive. If I couldn’t beat ‘em, I’d have to join ‘em. We chose to surface the relationships, teach people how to have relationships and bring them to the light. I still reserve the right to judge which relationships will be helpful and which might be really destructive to recovery, but I believe in the importance of letting them develop in a healthy way. A P R I L 2 012

Harriet Rossetto, Founder, CEO

Have you ever had to compromise any of your core values during the growth of Beit T’Shuvah? You bet. The value of “first come first serve,” is compromised when a good friend or big donor calls and needs somebody in. I justify that by knowing it allows me to maintain the highest value of taking people in who can’t pay. When did you realize you loved your spouse? There was a precise moment (a knowing smile). I had a date with someone else. I came home from that date- it was an awful date- and Mark was in front of my apartment with a rose. And that was a really good move, you know? Because the one thing I could never tolerate was someone who punished me when I upset him by withdrawing his love, but that rose showed me that was not Mark’s style- he would fight for me. What’s your favorite Rabbi-ism? “Fuck your feelings.” Where do ‘normies’ fit in to this picture? There aren’t any. There’s a line they put in Freedom Song- “You’re either in recovery or you’re in denial” of the human condition. The basic challenge of being a human is learning to manage the inclinations- yetzer hara and yetzer tov. So-called “normies” deny the dark side to look good on the outside, while the addicts can’t keep the darkness at bay. Non-addicts identify with the TRUTH of Beit T’Shuvah- they find connection with people being who they truly are. Where do you envision Beit T’Shuvah 25 years from now? Hopefully still right here, in the new building on Venice Blvd. I don’t envision it getting bigger; I don’t think it needs to. I do see its message carrying beyond the addict community. It needs people who have the passion and the vision to sustain it, and to continue raising the money that keeps us sustainable. This is a person-driven model. It will need persons to carry its message forth.

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 VA H | 1 1


2

top 10 hot list

A

s a wide-winged community with many names, nuances, and networks, Beit T’Shuvah is exposed to quite a bit of worthwhile people, places, and things. Herewith, our top10 favorite among them from this past year...

10 Esformes for his for ward-thinking work with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.

Boutique sign,

7

newly illuminating our Lincoln and Washington Blvd locations.

Ex- Cons and ENTREPRENEURS

pg. 33

Plus EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH SHERIFF BACA pg. 60 &Rabbi vs. Harriet?

The California Societ y of Addiction Medicine, officially recognizing Rabbi

Mark & Harriet Rossetto for “embracing the

pg. 10

challenge” of an unpopular cause.

storytelling year to year inspired this 25th year Beit T’Shuvah magazine.

8

Biggest Heart

Jim Joseph Foundation, awarding grants to educate Jewish youth and ensure the sur vival of the Jewish people in America.

5

Finest Furnishings

Most Alluring Sign BTS Thrif t

25 INSPIRING Portraits of Redemption & Reentry

Best of Science

The Vanity Fair Hollywood Issue, whose iconic beauty and unmatched

Rabbis for Human Rights, because what’s

for humanit y? Honoring board member Jon

4

MAGAZINE

The First Ever

REDEMPTION ISSUE!

Who’s got it right? Or is it a ‘BOTH AND?’

Holy Hotness

cooler than a bunch of Rabbis lookin’ out

Beit T'Shuvah

VOLUME3 NUMBER 1

3

Newest Hangout

BTS Havurah, providing

9

What’s it Got to Do With Us? Ernst & Young

an informal haven of

Entrepreneur of

support and understanding

the Year Award,

for the families of Beit

the most prestigious

T’Shuvah.

business award for entrepreneurs in the

Treasures Estate Sales, Inc. & Treasures Estate Concierge Ser vices,

world, awarded

Inc., unearthing treasures from estate liquidations and facilitating

to our own board

their donations; providing BTS Thrift Boutiques with millions of dollars

member, Avi

worth of elegant merchandise each year.

Reichental.

Favorite New Hotspot

1

BTS Communications’ new

office, with a rooftop view of L A

6

that keeps us grateful, daily.

Most Cutting Edge

Jewish Communit y Foundation -

encouraging creativit y, innovation, and

social entrepreneurship in the L.A. Jewish

communit y through its Cutting Edge Grant awards.

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

A P R I L 2 012


EVOLVing over 25 years

C

d e v elo pm ent d e pa r tm e n t

fro m l ef t : st ep h a n i e cu l l en , n i n a h a l l er , ba r ba r a fr i ed m a n ,

a l is o n d i t love elebrating 25 years of raises $1 million a year, chaired by several outstanding by j a s o n d e a n philanthropic work is women  on the board. Other important campaigns p h o to j u s t i n r o s e n b e r g an impressive milestone include  the Circle of Majesty ladies luncheon, the to reflect upon, but it’s Honda L.A. Marathon Run to Save a Soul campaign, the the responsibility of the KnockOut Addiction boxing event and this year, back Development Department to ensure that by popular demand, the Golf Tournament. Beit T’Shuvah continues to look to the future. Development Director   Nina Haller and her staff, which includes Barbara Friedman, Alison The Development Department has its roots in the first Capital Ditlove, and Stephanie Cullen, have the Herculean task of raising Campaign back in 2000. Spearheaded by Annette Shapiro, Warren the $3.25 million a year needed just to maintain operations. That’s Breslow, and Loren Basch,  it raised $5 million to purchase Beit aside from other projects that may arise, such as this year’s Capital T’Shuvah’s current home. “Call them whirlwinds, dynamos, you Campaign, which has raised $9 million thus far. name it, their activism helped immeasurably,” says Rabbi Mark of the   three longtime Beit T’Shuvah supporters. Since starting work in Development at Beit T’Shuvah three years ago,   Nina says one of the most rewarding aspects of her job is that she “get[s] This year’s Capital Campaign, chaired by Jill Black Zalben and to see people substantially change their lives for the better, who can Bill Resnick with the  guidance of our initial leaders,  Annette and then help the next person.” Her own personal journey for spiritual Warren, has raised a substantial amount, but funding the building connection to both the residential and donor community fuelled her expansion  and  projected operating costs will require  even  more professional growth.  “It’s a perfect fit with Nina,” enthuses Rabbi ambitious fundraising efforts by the Development Team. Mark, Nina’s mentor in all things Development. “She has vision, and   she’s not afraid to ask for needed support for Beit T’Shuvah.”  “The universe has been very kind to us over the years,” explains Rabbi   Mark, adding that the biggest hurdle to overcome is “our own success Finding ways to generate one third to one half of the Beit T’Shuvah and visibility [because] it’s more challenging to convince people that budget every year involves an array of fundraising efforts, including there’s still a need. We’re not denying our success, [but] anybody the most substantial - the annual Steps to Recovery Gala, which knows addiction ain’t going away.” A P R I L 2 012

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An UnOrthodox Tale How a breach of tradition gave way to a flood of Truth by asher ehrman “M y

whole life

I

had been told to lie and

wear a m ask , and now up and tell

350

I

was about to stand

students the

TRUTH.”

I

was raised in an ultra-orthodox Jewish community in New York, where I was taught to not express my emotions and that, “what happened in the house, stayed in the house.” Nobody was supposed to know how I felt— if I was hurting or anything was wrong, I was told to put on a smile and lie. I was forced to wear a white shirt, black pants, black hat, black jacket, a kippah, and tzit-tzit and to grow payos. Everyone in my neighborhood knew one another and my family appeared as the “perfect orthodox family.” The pain I felt and lies I told others eventually became unbearable. To paint a clear picture- when I came home one day wearing a colored shirt instead of the white shirt that I was expected to wear, I was kicked out of my home. I began rebelling and getting in trouble at a young age, but I did not start using drugs until I was 19 years old. My family was embarrassed by my actions; they did not want me to ruin the family’s name. Still, I needed a way to numb the pain that I was constantly haunted by. Eventually, my addiction spun out of control and I found myself in treatment. After manipulating my way through two rehabs, I was still desperate and continued to use. In September, ready to surrender, I checked into Beit T’Shuvah. However, my “Lie, Lie, Lie” mentality still haunted me. After refusing to be honest for my first month and a half at Beit T’Shuvah, I met with the Rabbi who told me that I needed to change my ways. With the help of Rabbi and my counselor, I have been able to change my attitude and live an honest life for the first time in many years. swept under the rug

Soon after hearing my story, Matthew Schwartz (one of the Partners “What happened in the house, stayed in the in Prevention facilitators), asked me to speak to a group of Orthodox house,” says Asher of his teenagers at the NCSY youth group regional convention. I was family’s mentality. skeptical at first, but once Matt said, “You never know, you might help someone out who is dealing with similar struggles,” I immediately said, “Yes, sign me up!” I went through my fair share of hell growing up and had promised myself that I would save someone else from that disparity and struggle one day. Finally, I had found my chance. When the day of the convention finally arrived, the fear kicked in. This was to be my first time not just publicly sharing my story, but more importantly, publicly telling the TRUTH! Sitting in the meeting hall and waiting for my time to share, I began to doubt myself— was this a good idea? My whole life I had been told to lie and wear a mask, and now I was about to stand up and tell 350 students the TRUTH. This idea seemed ludicrous to me. I heard Matthew call my name and the time had come to unveil the truth. It seemed surreal, something that I thought I would never do. I opened my mouth, took a deep breath and started to speak. It was the most amazing feeling in the world. Yes, I had been honest with Rabbi and my counselor. However, speaking to a large group of people from a background and community similar to mine was a whole other ballpark. Once I finished speaking, many students approached me and told me how I inspired them— something I had never been told before. One memorable high school student told me how he has struggled with issues similar to mine, and now he feels equipped to deal with his issues. I am still in awe that I was able to inspire this boy and others— I did not know I was capable of this. The joy I still feel inside is indescribable. Being able to speak the truth and keep the promise I made years ago has been extremely fulfilling. I am so happy that I had the opportunity to participate, and I want to thank the Prevention team for allowing me to speak and experience the joy of seeing the changes in myself. I am truly grateful that today I can live an honest and fulfilling life.

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COV ER LO O K

T

o give our cover models their triumphant veneer, we summoned the genius that already lay within BTS. Back-dropped by a transformed Beit T’Shuvah Sanctuar y, communit y member Ashlee Petersen and volunteer Hillar y Barack turned face and hair into timeless canvas, while the refined fingers behind Apples & Honey Photography and their voluntar y crew snapped away with combined altruism and panache.

WAR M WELCOME: All Beit T’Shuvah

generations, novice and veteran alike bustled through the doors greeting one another with familiar hugs or new handshakes. One item adorned all models throughout the six-hour shoot: a big smile.

Hollywood Style: The iconic

Coke Youngblood hanging out on set.

THE PROPS Make-up Artist Ashlee Petersen on set.

Many of the glamorous and eclectic props & attire that you see throughout the shoot were donated by our very own BTS Thrift Boutique. These- among other fabulous finds- can be found and bought at the Washington Boulevard and Lincoln Street locations.

Vanity Fair Hollywood Issue inspired the Laurel Johnson of Apples & Honey Photography. cover- and much of this 25th year edition magazine. Each year Vanity Fair highlights some of Hollywood’s biggest breakout or Barack goes to Hair Stylist Hillaryrencz’s hair. Fe l legendary stars. We felt it was time, after nd Ke work on 25 years, to break out some of our own superstars. Their seamless cooperation, natural poise, and selflessness on the day of the shoot only stood to accent the beauty of their stories. The Prep : The glamour of this shoot could not have been possible without the donated services of our acclaimed makeup artist Ashlee Petersen and up-and-coming hair stylist Hillary Barack. Our philanthropic artists turned BTS regulars into glam royalty. Special thank you to production assistant Lou Landolph and photographer Drew Barillas whose lighting expertise and portrait shots made the quiet beauty of our set come alive. Standing Ovation: We’d like to thank Moshe Elad of First In Printing, longtime friend of Beit T’Shuvah and continual provider of printing services at reduced costs. He puts our vision to paper each year, John Sullivan & Lauren Schiro of BTS Communications on set with and especially in this edition, as we boast a cover tri-fold for the 25th volunteer photographer Drew Barillas anniversary!

Get the Smoky Eye Look Tips from Ashlee Petersen, a 2-Time Emmy-AwardWinning Pro.

A smoky eye doesn't have to be black and grey- for daytime you can use brown and gold! Smoky is all about the blending. A P R I L 2 012

1. Daytime Smoky Eye: Use a dark brown kohl pencil (kohl is soft and can be easily blended) to line the upper and lower lid. Soften the liner by smudging it with a pointed q-tip. Use a matching eye shadow to set the pencil so it doesn't bleed over the lid. 2. For a quick Evening Transfor m ation: Trace directly over the brown pencil with black. For a quick dramatic fix, rim your inner lid with the black for an additional pop. 3. Hollywood -ready: Individual eyelashes have become an insider-favorite; it's a nice compliment to classic eye makeup and creates a bigger eye. Add a couple to the outer corner of your eye. I like to use dark tone adhesive so the lashes are more easily hidden in your own lashes. Now you’re daytime, evening, and camera-ready! 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 VA H | 1 5


SISTERHOOD BOUTIQUE Each holiday season, Beit T’Shuvah opens its doors for the Sisterhood Boutique. Last November 13th, over 30 vendors—all small and local businesses from the community—gathered to sell and swap their wares. With raffles, delicious food trucks, and tons of schmoozing, window shopping never felt this good!

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LOVE, RELATIONSHIPS, RECOVERY Harriet Rossetto, a woman who once found her calling in the Classifieds, makes her way back to the “Lonelies in Los Angeles,” this time as an advice columnist. Rebbetzin, LCSW, and Founder of Beit T’Shuvah, Harriet is uniquely qualified with a lifetime of experience to answer the questions that often we’re afraid to ask. Submit your questions to askharriet@beittshuvah.org Dear Harriet, Thank you for starting this column. My question is this: If a person is addicted to only one substance, is it okay to use other substances? So for instance, if a person is addicted to downers, should they assume it’s okay to use alcohol and/or marijuana? Thank you. -Confused in Los Angeles Dear Confused, There is no one answer to this question. The question to you is, why do you want to? Is the purpose to get high, to become someone else? To feel different? If that is what you are looking for the probability is that you will not be satisfied by a substitute and your cravings for your substance of choice will get stronger. Why risk it? -Harriet Dear Harriet, What was your life like growing up in your home? And what drove you to believe so much in the Jewish faith that you yourself adopted? -Interested in Malibu Dear Interested, Life was lonely - no siblings, few friends and no G-d. My mother was first generation Jewish American (elder child of immigrants). I embraced the psychology and wisdom of Judaism with Rabbi Jonathan Omer-Man and understanding how to apply Jewish teaching to my inner struggle to become whole. -Harriet

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Dear Harriet, How do you and the Rabbi sustain the love in your relationship? -Hopeless Romantic in Las Vegas Dear Hopeless Romantic, Each of us works hard to act lovingly toward ourselves and each other no matter what we feel. When we’re having trouble, we go to G-d or a chaver for help. We take responsibility for our emotions and don’t blame one another if we are unhappy, nor do we expect the other person to make us better. -Harriet Dear Harriet, I am a 32-year-old woman who, after a short marriage and unavoidable divorce, is ready to date. I work out daily, am active in my community, take classes, and socialize with other people my age. I’m in excellent shape and am told I’m good-looking so finding dates has never been hard. Recently I started dating an amazing guy. He is smart, attractive, has a great job and we get along great. But two weeks ago he told me that he had been in prison and was a recovering alcoholic. This admission scared me and even though I totally like him I have been avoiding him and not answering his calls. What should I do? -Uncertain in New York Dear Uncertain, I have several responses. The first one is that I married a recovering alcoholic who did time and we’ve been happy for over 20 years. He has stayed sober and grown into a beautiful soul. Of course the odds aren’t good. Many recovering people relapse. How much sobriety does he have? What was he in prison for? The fact that he told you is a good sign; think of all the people you might meet who wouldn’t reveal their secrets until you married them. Does he go to meetings and have a program? Does he walk his talk? I would take the risk of seeing how it plays out but watch for red flags. -Harriet

Our daughter came home for an overnight visit because she had a dental appointment to take care of. Everything is fine until the subject comes up about her old photos that were in her OLD bedroom in our home.  I confess to her that I shredded one particular photo that I came across when I tried to CLEAN out her room.  She becomes irate and insists that I disrespected her by destroying her personal property and she wants to go back to the Shuv immediately.  After much anger and tempers raging she stays for her dental appointment and is taken back to the Shuv immediately thereafter.  An entire week went by with not much contact between us before we could try to RESPECT each others feelings and LISTEN to each other.   She eventually accepted my apology.  I agree that I was not respectful of her property but how long am I liable for housing her stuff? How in the future can we come to a faster reconciliation?  Although she is making tremendous strides in her recovery and originally that was all we had cared about…regular living conditions and situations come up that can’t always accommodate her recovery alone.  Please help if you can. - At a Standstill in San Diego Dear At a StandStill, It is important not to get baited by your addict daughter. In order to do this you have to remain neutral and not engage with her in the details. “I’m sorry you  feel disrespected, that was not my intention” and “both of us have done things in the past that we feel bad about and don’t want to repeat.” “We need to learn new ways to talk to one another so we both feel respected” etc. I would be happy to meet with your family and help you learn new ways to communicate with one another. - Harriet

Dear Harriet, Can you possibly offer additional advice to our family other than the way we are handling old business that seems to resurface from time to time? Here is the way it actually happened:

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The Highest of Holy

One Sermon by Yeshaia Blakeney Truly Opens the Gates on Rosh Hashanah

y nature or nurture, I am a fairly stoic person. I live in a world of words and ideas, reason, and wonder.  For whatever reasons I’m not particularly emotional, or so I thought.  This year was my first High Holiday sermon and I was determined to make it meaningful for the congregation and myself.  As I was putting the finishing touches on my sermon I read it to my wife Emily and she had this strange, eager look on her face. I asked her, “What?”  She said, “Nothing, it’s good.” I would find out what that look meant the next day on the Bima.

felt like a child, not in a small way, but in a complete way. Like I had shed some layers of cynicism and disillusionment, I felt free. I finished my sermon, (no idea what I said), hugged the rabbi and greeted members of the congregation.  My grandfather hugged me and said he was proud of me. My grandmother had been putting pressure on me to finish Rabbinical school so I could be a “real Rabbi.”  She’s a classic Jewish Grandmother.  She whispered in my ear, “Don’t worry about rushing through school, I’ve seen you as a Rabbi now.”

I started my sermon, everything was going according to plan, and I was comfortable and relaxed. I got to this particular part about my relationship to the Rabbi and not feeling judged at Beit T’Shuvah, and WHAM! A flood of emotions hit me, and sure enough I started to cry.  I thought “Oh... that’s what that strange look that Emily gave me was all about.”  Women always know.  I was caught so off guard I didn’t even have time to be embarrassed, I smiled and laughed and looked at the Rabbi…I let go.  I was overpowered by the moment, overpowered by truth that is so much bigger than me.

This year I truly understood the meaning of T’Shuvah and holiness; it was revealed to me. I was given a second chance to live right, not just for me but for the world, for tikkun olam.  Only a loving G-d could orchestrate sacred moments like the one I was privileged to experience during Rosh Hashanah.  Those moments that sweep away pessimism, and leave nothing but awe and an aching love in their wake.  I could talk about the ordinary next day I had, or being overwhelmed the last few months, but that would be blasphemous. I am privileged and blessed with the opportunity to share the Sacred with others in my own unique way.  This Rosh Hashanah was truly a great beginning- one of those rare moments when G-d chose not to hide from us, and I, for one, am grateful.

I looked into the congregation and I saw my parents and grandparents also crying. My father and grandfather are also stoic men; my mom, on the other hand, cries during commercials. I 1 8 | B E I T T ’S H U VA H | w w w. b e i t t s h u v a h . o r g

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Cantor’s Corner Things are always busy in our musical corner of Beit T’shuvah, and the past few months have been no exception. For us, busy is a blessing…and our cup runneth over! It is my honor to recap the past few months’ musical goings-on that I have had the pleasure of both witnessing and being a part of. Our High Holiday season was filled with uplifting, haunting, and penetrating melodies that could not have been possible without the hard work of our phenomenal choir and, of course, the (even harder!) work of our Musical Director, Laura Bagish, who toiled tirelessly and with great passion to prepare our choir. No sooner after we were able to take a quick post-High Holiday breath did we begin a string of themed Shabbat services. We featured a Duet Shabbat with Cantor Shira Fox and myself, a Jazz Shabbat (complete with upright bass, vibes, and saxophone) led by the incredibly talented James Fuchs, an acoustic-only Saturday morning Shabbat, and our very first Shabbat Remixed, melding some of our Shabbat favorites with raps written by our own Shai Blakeney... we were even able to replace our traditional opening D’rash with a Spoken Word to music! The energy in our sanctuary has been off the charts…more and more, we are embracing all sorts of new musical ideas and are seeking to push the limits in finding that which will touch people in services. It has all been very exciting. Our most recent musical venture was, of course, the Gala. A choir 30 voices-strong, as well as our House Band, worked hard to prepare and help capture the beauty of the evening. I look forward to the next Cantor’s Corner when I can tell you all about our newest musical innovations.

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The Gala

Ja n ua ry

2012

From Generation to Generation I’m Harriet Rossetto, founder, CEO and Rebbitzin of Beit T’Shuvah. I am the serious note in this evening’s frivolities. I want to put into context what you will experience this evening, L’Dor V’Dor – from generation to generation. What you will see here tonight is Beit T’Shuvah’s response to Jewish continuity. L’Dor V’Dor – the transmission of wisdom from generation to generation is the essence of the Jewish tradition. It is the hope that we do not have to repeat the mistakes of the past – that each succeeding generation will progress in honoring the G-d of One-ness and living the commandments. The Torah is the Big Book of Jewish recovery – the manual for living a whole (holy) life. Unfortunately, there seems to be a malfunction in the transmission system. We are passing down the wrong message to our children and they have closed their ears to us. They do not want to live as “golden children,” the bearers of their parents’ unfulfilled dreams and expectations. They want to be visible as themselves – imperfect, flawed – and they are frightened that they will disappoint you if they reveal themselves. Instead, they starve, stuff, pierce, mutilate and anesthetize themselves so we have to pay attention. They are even willing to die to get off the pedestal. We have passed down the forms and forgotten the wisdom. We have paid less attention to spiritual progress than material progress. We have led our kids to believe that they must be the best at everything

– the smartest, thinnest, richest – in order to feel fulfilled. And of The more we get, the more we want, always chasing, never satisfied. The Torah teaches us to eat, be satisfied and bless. Be grateful for what you have, love your neighbor and yourself. Be of service, accept your imperfections, make T’Shuvah every day, be true to who you are. In other words, be a mensch. Beit T’Shuvah is passing down menschlikeit from generation to generation. This is our 25th year and we have begotten several generations of mensches – we are passing down what they have learned to those who come after them as sponsors, mentors and employers – they are also creating families, passing down their spiritual wisdom to their children. A young man I mentor said to me the other day – “you know, I really feel I went to Love School at Beit T’Shuvah.” He didn’t mean he found a girlfriend (although that happens too – Beit T’Shuvah has more marriages than J-Date), he meant he learned to value and respect himself, his family and friends, to pursue his passion, to be responsible for his actions and emotions, to do the right thing whether he felt like it or not. He had found his T’Selem Elohim – the imprint of G-d within him. So had I. course, it hasn’t worked.

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ELAINE BRESLOW 1945 - 2011

A Tzadeket, a Guiding Light, a Feisty Spirit, and a Matriarch of Beit T’Shuvah

Warren, Jamie, Juliayour wife, your mother, your grandmother - she changed so many lives, and especially, the lives of Harriet and myself. We want to thank you, and let you and her know, that as long as there’s Beit T’Shuvah, there’s Elaine Breslow. - Rabbi Mark Borovitz

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25 years of t ’shuvah by rabbi m ark borovit z

while i have only been here for of these

25

23

years , i have been asked

to write about our experience with t ’ shuvah . t ’ shuvah is the ac tion of repentance , re turn , and new responses in our holy tradition .

Beit T’Shuvah started out as a homeless shelter for Jewish men and women coming out of jails and prisons. In the first few months, it became apparent to Harriet Rossetto, the CEO and Founder, that more was needed than just housing. Harriet underwent the process of T’Shuvah not just with herself, but with her organization. She did an inventory of what was working and what needed repair/tweaking both within herself and within her organization. She then returned to her original idea of making Judaism a part of the recovery process. Harriet’s new response was to begin mandating groups for both the 12 Steps of Alcoholic Anonymous and Judaic Spiritual Ethics and Values. She got a grant to hire a Jewish Educator and used the people from JCPS to lead the psychological groups. She hired a part-time Rabbi and Shabbat Services were held every other week. At the same time, I had started my T’Shuvah process in Prison under the tutelage of Rabbi Mel Silverman. When I was released and came to work at Beit T’Shuvah, I began my return to a decent lifestyle on the “outside.” I had made some T’Shuvahs with people I had harmed and was continuing to make the necessary repairs in my life and in my lifestyle. My new response was to take action when I saw something that needed fixing/enhancing. I joined with Harriet to have Shabbat Services every week- I took it upon myself to be the prayer leader when the Rabbi wasn’t there. I began leading Torah Study classes, making the text relevant to the life challenges all of us were actually facing in recovery. In these ensuing years, Harriet, Beit T’Shuvah, and I have been continuing to DO T’Shuvah. We have grown from Shabbat Services under a tent for 30 people to Shabbat Services in a sanctuary for 300+. We have grown from a ramshackle old house near downtown LA to a state of the art facility on the West Side of Los Angeles. We have grown from 1 employee to 85 employees. We have grown into a resource for the entire Jewish and non-Jewish Community of Los Angeles and beyond. We have gone from a secret that no one talked about to a Nationally Recognized Addiction Treatment Center. A P R I L 2 012

We have expanded our programming, and our music department is talked about all over the United States. We have started Social Enterprises that allow people to “Recover their Passion and Discover their Purpose.” All of this is because we have never stopped doing T’Shuvah. We are continually holding up a mirror to our organization and ourselves. We demand that the people who work here and live here continually do T’Shuvah. In this way, we all recognize our imperfections and join together to be a team/community of broken people who are seeking and working towards wholeness. This is the essence of T’Shuvah. This is the “secret” of our success. T’Shuvah is God’s Gift to humanity. It is the principle that reminds us we are not perfect, nor were we meant to be. T’Shuvah is what gives hope to the staff, residents, families, alumni and Board of Beit T’Shuvah that we can and must continually move “one grain of sand each day” to make our imprint on the world. T’Shuvah is our commitment to living well and living a life of Truth, Justice, Compassion and Love for the stranger, the orphan, and the poor, for ourselves, and for each other. 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 VA H | 2 5


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Jona Goldrich, Annette Shapiro, Bob Gluckstein, Roger Simon, Robert Shapiro, Susan Krevoy, Leo Spiwak

Jimmy Lange, Ryan O’Neal, Alana Stewart, Robert Shapiro, Ricky Quiles & Victor Alfieri

Rabbi Mark Jack Osbourne

Christopher Knight

Jackie Kallen & friend

Alana Stewart & Kevin James

my Lange al has Jim s e ’N O n Rya e rope against th

Annette Shapiro

Roger Simon

September 22 - The Petersen Automotive Museum

Michael King Robert Shapiro

Jose Eber & friends

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Audley Harrison helping out a resident

Rabbi Mark

Zack Wohlman & friend

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What I am… What I can be... I can be the key to a person’s long-term sobriety by jesse goldberg

What I am...

installation or a fun do-it-yourself project.

I am the desk in your daughter’s room, though last I checked, she moved out 15 years ago and is now married with kids.

I can be your outreach to the working poor. In these tough times, when too many in our community are living paycheck to paycheck, I can be the inexpensive alternative to new.

I am the winter jacket you bought that one time you went to Aspen, that’s now taking up space in your closet. I fear the moths may be coming for me. I am the extra can opener sitting in your kitchen drawer. I’ll admit, I was never quite as good as the one you got off your wedding registry, but I work! I am the refrigerator that’s been relegated to the garage because stainless steel is now the new “thing.” Just wait until Apple gets into the fridge business…I might have company sooner than you think.

What I can be... I can be your environmental conscience. Recycle me back into the marketplace so I can fulfill the lifetime warranty you originally purchased me for. Or better yet – repurpose me! I can be a part of someone’s artwork

I can be the key to a person’s long-term sobriety. When someone comes to pick me up from your house, transports me to the store, prices me, displays me on the floor, and sells me to a new family, I can be five different touch points, training five different people with five new skills, helping each of them uncover their purpose in life, recover their passions, and find the confidence to reenter the workforce stronger than ever. I can be the best investment you ever made. If you give me one last chance to be reintroduced to the retail market, I will take all my earnings and send them to Beit T’Shuvah, where the miracles truly happen. I can be all of this and more, if you would just call the BTS Thrift Boutique. And what do you know, here is their number: 310-204-4669.

Did I mention they offer free inhome pick up and bring a receipt for your donations? BTS Thrift Boutique, formerly the Hal Wiseman House of Return, offers a vast inventory that stretches across two store locations. We house furniture and artwork, housewares and sports equipment, antiques, books, records, and of course, any article of clothing from any era or designer you could desire. And be sure not to miss out on our electronics! Many thrift stores have causes that receive a portion of their proceeds, but at BTS Thrift Boutique our cause gets every dime we make and more; our mission envelops our employees, too. In a stroke of visionary action, we bring our cause—the addicts seeking treatment at Beit T’Shuvah—into our ranks and provide a method of job training, education, and experience to prepare them for life outside of Beit T’Shuvah. We run solely on your donations— and we take everything! Our trucks even allow the unique service of home pick-up. Our only profits are the saved lives of Beit T’Shuvah residents, the joy of our customers, and the satisfaction of our donors.

Donor Spotlight - Wendy M. Gerdau Founder and CEO of Treasures Estate Sales, Inc. and Treasures Estate Concierge Services, Inc. Transition specialist; donor extraordinaire. At an estate in Hancock Park, Wendy sits behind antique treasures that await her appraisal. Thirty years ago, through the very painful and exhausting experience of having to liquidate the contents of her childhood home, the ministry of Treasures Estate Sales, Inc. and Treasures Estate Concierge Services, Inc. was born. Treasures is the only comprehensive transition service in the United States, offering full appraisal services, estate sales, non-cash charitable donations, packing and moving. A dear friend to Beit T’Shuvah, Wendy frequently recommends BTS Thrift Boutiques as the recipient of the non-cash charitable donations. Her relationship with Beit T’Shuvah began seven years ago with a seamless truck pick-up by Sheldon Katz, “a real gem,” and his crew, a “well-oiled machine.” Helping people is clearly Wendy’s calling. “This is a wonderful way for me to be able to feel good about helping all walks of life find elegance and dignity in transition.” 2 8 | B E I T T ’S H U VA 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's 2011 Havdalah Talent Show Every one of us has a hidden talent just waiting for the right moment to be revealed. Of course, Beit T’Shuvah, being a community like no other, had a talent show like no other, and talents abounded. Along with the comedic stylings of the dual MCs, it was a night of incredible displays of ability. Have you ever seen ‘Dueling Banjos’ played on a Ukulele? What about a recovering addict playing classical piano? These were just a few of the talents that were unveiled on that magical night. The evening was capped off when our Music Director, Laura Bagish, invited everyone back up on stage for a rendition of Lean On Me. Our whole temple community came together to celebrate and be amazed by the incredible talents of our residents, staff, and alumni. T’was a night of food, music, and revelry worthy of what has become an anticipated annual tradition!

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How to: Pray Better 5 Steps to More Meaningful Prayer

By Rabbi Ed Feinstein, Senior Rabbi, Valley Beth Shalom, and loving friend of Harriet & Rabbi Mark Prayer is an intimate relationship. Prayer is a way to get closer to G-d, closer to the best parts of ourselves, closer to the person we’d like to become. Like any relationship, it requires effort, sincerity, imagination, and practice. Here are 5 pragmatic steps that may improve your prayer as much as they help your relationships! 1. SHOW UP. Like anything important that we do, prayer requires that we actually be present. It’s not the sort of thing we can do with half of our head while the other half is sitting at home watching American Idol. Just like when we love someone, we show up. We try to quiet all the voices and irritations that distract and bring ourselves into this moment. Think clearly and carefully about where you are in the world. There’s a funny ad on TV - a woman is trying to have a serious conversation with her partner over dinner while he’s watching a game on his phone hidden in his lap. This is a sad picture of relationships and is often true of our relationship to G-d.  So turn off your machines, quiet your mind, and be present. Watz Up G-d?

2. TALK. Like all good, healthy relationships, the key is communication. Sitting at a silent table with

the clank of the silverware does not a romance make. Lively, real, and honest conversation builds the bond. Instead of thinking about what you are supposed to be doing or saying, take a deep breath and ask yourself, “What would I like to say to G-d?” If I were in a position to express gratitude, what would I want to give thanks for? There’s no “supposed to” formula. I find it funny that there are so many guidebooks and instructional videos on “how to make love.” Do you make love with the book in your lap? You are with a person, a person you care for -- so respond to that person. Rather than having a preconceived idea of what prayer is supposed to be, go in knowing how this week or day has been. What do I have to say to G-d about it? What would I like to get right?  In prayer, just like in love, bring your spontaneity, your realness, your heart.

3. ASK FOR SUPPORT. Many people turn to prayer for “prayers of need” (beseeching). Where people have it wrong is that they ask for G-d to fulfill their needs for them. That’s unproductive. Like in relationships, prayer does not say, “Dear G-d, fix it for me.” Prayer begins with the recognition that this thing I am asking about is important to me. And if it’s really truly important, the next step is discovering where our resources are. Only then can we ask G-d for help. What do we ask for? Not the solution to our problems, but the courage to keep going, and the wisdom to do it right, and the grace to do it well. Not “G-d, do it for me,” but “give me the soul to meet the challenges in my life.” Those kinds of prayers get answered. Prayers that ask for ENDS don’t work. Prayers that ask G-d for MEANS the wisdom, the strength, the courage, the love, the patience - they work. They get answered. What we’re really asking G-d to do is “help me find the G-d within me.” 4. VARIETY! There’s the dressed up, fancy restaurant dates. There’s getting tacos and eating them

in the car. Both can be magical! Different settings open up different feelings- and you’d have a lesser relationship if you didn’t open yourself up to the variety of those experiences. Similarly, you can pray in all kinds of circumstances, and each will have its own special feeling and resonance. Synagogue prayer is a very special experience, but I have had wonderful prayers at the ocean, on mountaintops, on airplanes, in the silence of a solitary moment. Each one carries its own special feeling because it opens up different parts of us. Being in Beit T’shuvah right before the end of Yom Kippur opens up a different part of you than being in Yosemite at dawn, but G-d is present in both experiences.

5. A SWEET GOODBYE. If prayer is an act of

intimacy, of bonding with G-d out of love, then here’s a simple analogy. When you meet a person that you love, when you come together to share, how do you finish that moment of intimacy? How do we say goodbye? Always in a way that says ‘I love you and I’ll be back again soon.”

The analogy carries through everything.  I have to be present. I have to be grateful. If I need help all I really want is the knowledge that you are there for me, and when I have to say goodbye, it’s a hug and kiss until next time. Often, my wife trips me on my way out the door and says, “Say I love you and kiss me.” And she’s right- because it means something. And G-d is saying the same thing.

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This is Your Brain on

Neurofeedback By Ben Spielberg

T

he streets of Hollywood used to be saturated with drugs. Nearly empty balloons of heroin filled the corners of Hollywood and Vine. To walk through Hollywood decades ago was similar to strolling through a desolate shooting gallery; there was no hope, no trust, and definitely not any hint of recovery.

adapted based on the weekly results. The individualized program replicates itself in such a way that neural pathways begin to repair and reset, and cognition and perception alter to determine new, healthy thoughts and behaviors. And as the residents progress through their treatment, their perception of their own recovery simultaneously improves.

This is the Los Angeles that Stephen Orenstein, LMFT knew well. Just as our own CEO and Founder Harriet Rossetto actualized Beit T’Shuvah a quarter of a century ago, Orenstein began his work in the field of addiction and recovery. With an internship at the very epicenter of a grimy, tourist-trapped Hollywood, Orenstein began to shape the message that has reverberated throughout his life: addiction is deadly, but recovery is possible. Through a series of successful endeavors in the medical approach to addiction, this revelation has ultimately led to his current life’s work, the Brain Enhancement Institute (BEI). What began as a partnership with Dr. Curtis Cripe has blossomed into multiple facilities across the nation with global capabilities. It is also what is to become the newest applied-neuroscience therapy program at Beit T’Shuvah: Neurofeedback.

Intermittent mappings will indicate if real, scientific progress has occurred. When the clients’ brain map reveals that he or she has reached the projected operating points, their treatment is complete. Yes, it is just what it sounds like: making your brain work better, and returning it to its intended healthy state. This treatment system has proven especially effective in cases of addiction, learning disabilities, autism, depression, brain injury, and posttraumatic stress.

Orenstein’s Institute offers a cutting edge, breakthrough take on treatment that has proven to be effective in conjunction with traditional cognitive-behavioral therapy. But what is this elusive neurofeedback? Often mistaken as an alternative, it is in fact the missing link; a vital bond in the chain of recovery that can keep addicts from coming back to rehab time and time again. In the simplest of terms, neurofeedback trains your brain by addressing the problems at the very origin in which they manifest—in which all things manifest—the neural connections of the human brain. The process of treatment is as follows. The first step for a potential client is to undergo a ‘brain mapping’—an EEG that uncovers the most threatening stressors and damaged areas of the brain. The next step is to receive a treatment program; a collaboration between the client, the computer, and the experts assessing the results. Clients then come to the lab to address their identified stressors through mental aerobics—for example, computer-generated exercises are monitored and continuously A P R I L 2 012

illistration: ellis

The BEI has been both brave and kind enough to venture to the complex terrains of Beit T’Shuvah. While they are for-profit,

Stephen Orenstein, LMFT photo: rosenberg

they have extended themselves to us and will be implementing their program here, providing residents who otherwise would not have the advantage to receive multiple neurotherapy sessions a week. The program is beginning with only two computers, but the potential for growth is enormous. When asked about his vision for neurotherapy at Beit T’Shuvah, Orenstein replies, “I’d like to see every addict coming in the door being able to do this program. I’d like to collect data on it and publish the results. I think it will make Beit T’Shuvah a much better treatment center than it already is because it’ll have newer technology. It’s not about just getting somebody clean, but doing something with their life.” This study will help demonstrate that what is considered a fringe treatment option, neurotherapy, is not so fringe after all. Sound familiar? Beit T’Shuvah is known for stressing the importance of finding passion and discovering a purpose in life. The addition of this program should do just that. “If we start to look at executive function, memory systems, learning systems…” Orenstein says, “it will put people in a much better place. They can go back and do well in school, elevate themselves in a different direction without having to rely on medications that do or do not work.” Beit T’Shuvah fixes broken souls, but BEI fixes broken brains. With half a century’s worth of knowledge and experience, we are excited to watch the development and maturation of Beit T’Shuvah’s neurofeedback program under the tutelage of the Brain Enhancement Institute. Like all things Beit T’Shuvian, Orenstein and the BEI have jumped right in, helping Beit T’Shuvah enhance the cutting-edge addiction program it aims to be. 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 VA H | 3 1


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310.276.6667

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unlike the controversy surrounding the power of addiction, there’s no questioning the influence of these 25 m a m moths of character, each playing a vital role in illustrating the com m and of recovery, reentry, and finding personal redemption. herewith, beit t’shuvah’s 25th anniversary portfolio of residents, alumni, com munity members, friends, and fa mily who’ve revived their souls and reclaimed their lives.

the gatekeeper - ryan kopald

the seeker - dr. charles blakeney

the fighter - zach wohl m an

the patriarch - warren breslow

the renaissance wom an - rosette delug

the rebel- nessa feinstein

the believer - heather garrett

the future - kaylee bowling

the host - nace neubauer

the exa mple - steve bell

the olympian - craig miller

the orator - doug rosen

the trailblazer - emily cohen meth

the congregant - lee sutton

the runaways - fanya cohen & kendl ferencz

the firecracker - ali ditlove

the music m an - coke youngblood

the closer - ben share

the secret weapon - avi reichental

the liberator - carrie newm an

the contemporary - justin hewitt

the awed couple - jae & bob farkas

the x factor - stephanie cullen the headhunter - alison goldberg the happily ever afters - m ark & lisa delevie

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T h e G at e k e e pe r Ryan Kopald, Beit T’Shuvah Front Desk

6 years sober; 195,000 phone calls answered; 1st Beit T’Shuvah Employee of the Month. The first 8 hours of every day, as people walk in and out of the front door of Beit T’Shuvah, they are all greeted by the same individual. That man is Ryan Kopald. For the past 3 ½ years, Ryan has braved the front lines as the main receptionist for Beit T’Shuvah. While Ryan has had jobs answering phones in the past, this time it’s different. It is meaningful for him to be able to give back to the place that helped save his life, and give hope to people on the other end of the line. Before coming to Beit T’Shuvah, Ryan had been an addict for 25 years. Even though Beit T’Shuvah was the first rehab where Ryan sought sobriety, he knows there is something special about this place. He believes it’s the community that makes it work. “Doing this at the same time as other people” is the reason for success. In a success of his own, Ryan has come a long way - from volunteering to answer the phones so he could miss Torah study, to being the first memory residents have upon entering The Shuv. His favorite part of the job is “seeing people transform from that first day they arrive into grateful members of the community.” So next time you walk through the front door of Beit T’Shuvah, make sure to say hello to the true Gatekeeper of our community. Words by Silver & Photo by Barillas

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The Fighter Zach Wohlman, Professional Boxer

4 years sober; 18-4 amateur record; California Golden Gloves Champion; 2-0 professional record. If the portrait of reentry is black and blue and tatted all over, Zach Wohlman is it. Zach fought for his recovery. Literally. In December Zach made his professional debut into the boxing arena. He arrived at Beit T’Shuvah at age 19, trailing his then addict, criminal father’s footsteps. Following a promise by Zach’s counselor Andrew, at 30 days sober Zach was introduced to Freddie Roach, the legendary boxing coach. “Freddie put me in the ring on that first day and I got the shit kicked out of me by a world champion.” Zach spent every day since of the 13 months at Beit T’Shuvah juggling a kitchen internship and getting his ass kicked in Roach’s gym. But he’s not all tough guy. Bar-Mitzvahed at Beit T’Shuvah at age 20, his newfound Judaism and Shakespeare lessons with counselor Kelly is what kept him grounded. When asked what recovery means to him, he snickers: “I’m so tired of the sob story. Being sober is the bare minimum that it requires for me to not be an asshole in the world and play nice with God’s kids. My dad’s my best friend in the world. He’s sober. I’m sober. It’s all good.” His portrait title (The Fighter), though literal, is ironic - “I pretty much just go with the flow.” Well, Zach, as Polonious of Hamlet encourages, whatever it takes, ‘To thine own self be true.’ Words by Katz & Photo by Barillas 3 6 | B E I T T ’S H U VA H | w w w. b e i t t s h u v a h . o r g

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The Renaissance Woman Rosette Delug, World Renowned Contemporary Art Collector Mother of 3; philanthropist; Hammer Museum overseer. Rosette Delug says that the key to life is adaptability, the phoenix-like principle that has ignited her many rebirths. External circumstance has caused many ripples in the “predestined” fate of a woman born to one of the oldest Jewish families in Turkey. Rosette broke the ancestral mold, however, when she ran away from her arranged marriage, chasing her spirit of individuality to Los Angeles. Her insatiable hunger for knowledge led her to study everything from medicine to folklore, from lost-generation literature to Torah.  After a marriage, three children, and a divorce, Rosette found passion in the “moveable feast” of the contemporary art world.  Being a world-renowned collector of art has not exempted her from the harsher hues of reality; Rosette has a son who had to go through Beit T’Shuvah. But that has only been another rebirth, strengthening her family’s bond and furthering her long-standing support of Beit T’Shuvah. Rosette is one of the true masters of Chiaroscuro, balancing a life of contrast to form one beautiful piece of art. Words by Soter & Photo by Barillas A P R I L 2 012

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The Believer

Heather Garrett, CFO Authentic Recovery Center 52 months sober; 15 sponsees over the last 4+ years; math whiz. Heather Garrett has occupied the archetypical role of The Believer for long before the inception of this magazine. Her father (whom many of you may know as Rabbi Mark) was incarcerated by the time she learned basic arithmetic, but this did not stop Heather from believing firmly in his potential for greatness. By middle school, she developed an interest in religion of all kinds, substituting her genetic passion for Judaism with an interest in Buddhist principles and a fascination with holy churches. But by the time her father began to work with Beit T’Shuvah, Heather was caught between two worlds; her dad was treating addiction, and Heather was getting addicted, inhaling fumes of crystal methamphetamine for nearly 12 years. Heather found herself in San Gabriel Valley surrounded by ragged gang members and dirty intoxicants. When these two worlds converged, Heather sought recovery. She finally recognized her capabilities, and her belief turned inward. Sober four years, self-assurance is Heather’s oxygen—helping to overcome self-imposed challenges including getting a degree and running her first marathon last year, losing 170 pounds in the process. Her next challenge is finding the man that can keep up—if you’re that guy, you can email her at an address that matches her attitude: lifehasbeengoodtome@gmail.com. Today, Heather is CFO at Authentic Recovery Center, where she has found the newest outlet for her faith— in others’ recovery. Words by Spielberg & Photo by Barillas

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The Host

Nace Neubauer, Co-Owner, Contemporary Catering & Event Production Beit T’Shuvah 2004 alumnus; early Surf Therapy proponent; smitten husband of Cantor Rachel. If sobriety was the only benefit Nace Neubauer gained from his time at Beit T’Shuvah, that would be a titanic accomplishment in itself. But it’s merely the tip of the iceberg. Add a successful business partnership and a storybook marriage, and it’s safe to say Nace represents the trifecta of successful reentry. Seven months into his stay, life had become a comfortable routine for newly sober Nace when Elaine Breslow challenged him to “go out and live your life…” And so he did. Fellow alumnus Jon Esformes invited him to become a business partner in a catering and event planning business. Nace, who toiled in tawdry Las Vegas before coming to Beit T’Shuvah, worried about getting back into the field. “A huge piece of my life has been [maintaining] a healthy way to stay in the hospitality field and have it not be what it was about then, which is a dangerous field for someone in recovery.” Nace’s face lights up when he describes his ploy to meet Cantor Rachel, whom he, Jon, and a couple others hired to sing “Happy Birthday Mr. President,” Marilyn Monroe-style, for Harriet Rossetto’s birthday a few years ago. The pair’s search for the iconic costume a day before the party quickly became “a montage from a John Hughes movie,” Nace laughs. The two have been inseparable ever since, and on July 11, 2010, their union became official. Words by Dean & Photo by Barillas

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T h e O ly m pi a n

Craig Miller, Facility Director at Beit T’Shuvah 2400 miles run per year (equivalent of 89 marathons); 6,570 work orders handled per year; $2,218 raised for the 2012 Honda LA Marathon Run to Save a Soul Campaign so far. Focused and determined, Craig Miller purposefully strides through the Beit T’Shuvah hallways. He is a no-bullshit kind of guy, with an ever-evaluating stare. There is an air of progress with each of his steps, which is fitting, since commitment to self-improvement is paramount to his philosophy on both recovery and the LA Marathon. He arrived at Beit T’Shuvah just two weeks before the LA Marathon in 2010. Craig was not used to standing on the sidelines, as he did that day with the cheering Beit T’Shuvah crowd, and on those sidelines, he made a commitment that he still runs behind. “I had abandoned my athleticism to drinking. I abandoned myself,” Craig states, with a twinge of remorse. “To be able to take part in the marathon this year—it’s an internal victory.” Once just a runner, he’s now dedicated to others’ victories, as a training Coach. Craig feels that he is “back where I am supposed to be.” Today, he is the Facility Director at Beit T’Shuvah, a position he created, managing facilities of two BTS Thrift Boutique locations, the Comey compound, and the two buildings of Beit T’Shuvah’s main campus. A real fixer-upper, Craig and his team of four unabashedly face the flood of work orders submitted each day by the residents and staff. Safe to say Craig is truly the glue that holds Beit T’Shuvah together. Words by Zanerhaft & Photo by Barillas

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The Trailblazer

Emily Cohen Meth, Administrative Director for Clearview Treatment Center 14 years sober; 6 marathons and 1 triathlon for APLA; Original Rabbi’s Girl. Most people would not assume that Emily Cohen Meth is a recovering addict. But before this spirited, intelligent mother of two arrived at Beit T’Shuvah, she spent most of her 20s bouncing from treatment center to jail and back again. Beit T’Shuvah changed all of that. When she arrived in the summer of 1997, there were only seven women in the female program. Her ongoing joke with Rabbi Mark is that she is the ‘OG’—Original Rabbi’s Girl. Emily says that her relationship with the Rabbi helped transform her; she fondly remembers the moment they truly connected after pulling an all-nighter for Shavuot. When asked what the key to her longtime sobriety was, she explains, “Relationships are the key: self, others, and a Higher Power.” Emily feels honored to be called The Trailblazer. Not only has she worked hard to make recovery the focus of her life, but she is also blazing trails through her numerous marathons and triathlons for AIDS Project Los Angeles. As the current Administrative Director for Clearview Treatment Center, she is a devoted soldier in the fight against addiction. Emily’s shining example of recovery speaks volumes to what people can accomplish when they have a strong community like Beit T’Shuvah as support. May she continue to blaze the trail and may we all follow in her leaping footsteps. Words by Silver & Photo by Barillas

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T h e R u n awa y s

Fanya Cohen, BTS Communications Marketing Manager Kendl Ferencz, BTS Communications Art Director Combined over: 1000 days sober; 900+ days worked; 500 projects completed for BTSC. It doesn’t take much to figure out why these two women have been lumped together. As if born with marathon jerseys on their backs, these girls have been sprinting from their own shadows since as far back as the road would allow. Trying to control their lives from as early as 7 years old, Kendl and Fanya were plagued with addiction before it ever took the form of drugs and alcohol. For Kendl, it was because she was literally “too skinny and sweaty” to live in her own skin, for Fanya, it was that “she woke up one morning with nothing and nobody,” but in the final hour, both managed to run here. As their oft-parallel stories would have it, both wound up working at BTS Communications under John Sullivan’s bullshit-proof, all-seeing eye. When everyone else had given up, John had the faith to give them another chance. “It feels like another life. Like I was reincarnated,” Kendl muses. Fanya likewise recalls, “he let me be me and it was okay.” Now, both agree, it’s just about “showing up.” This impromptu interview takes place with the Runaways sitting crouched on a curb, with cigarettes dangling from their lips—a setting reminiscent of a former life. Today, it’s an incongruous backdrop to their metamorphoses into stunning, inspiring women. Content to let life unravel, to relinquish control, these two runaways are finally staying put. Words by Katz & Photo by Barillas

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The Music Man Sam Coke Youngblood, Jr., Aspiring Musician

Over 37 million sober heartbeats; 20 songs written; Benches 225 As Coke’s fingers dance laterally across six steel strings, the wood of his acoustic guitar vibrates. The accompanying sound waves are thoughtfully meditated and consistently symphonic. His fingers didn’t always dance— before Beit T’Shuvah, Coke had come to California from Texas and pawned all of his belongings for drugs, save for his guitar. His arpeggios were a dissonant reverberation of his chemical dependence. Coke heard of Beit T’Shuvah through just short of six degrees, and reluctantly checked in despite his heavy opiate cravings. After just a matter of months, he called Beit T’Shuvah home. With his current job at Interscope Records and a lust for living, learning, and loving (just ask the ladies), Coke has enrolled himself in school for this spring. Consistently twanging major chords now, his strong sense of morale and ethical cadence belie his blue-eyed ‘goyish’ presence. Mistaken for a Bieber type, but more of a Mick Jagger—this won’t be the last you see of Mr. Youngblood. Words by Spielberg & Photo by Barillas

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The Secret Weapon Avi Reichental, Beit T’Shuvah Board Member

7-year Beit T’Shuvah member; CEO of 3D Systems Corporation; Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Looking at Avi’s energetic, winning smile today, you’d never guess that seven years ago, he was a tired man—tired of rejecting his Jewish roots and tired of his lack of community. When a friend told him about Beit T’Shuvah, he decided to attend a Friday night service. The palpable spirit of redemption and the air of a loving community moved Avi to tears—and he has been involved ever since. He heard music he hadn’t heard since childhood and “each note began to melt his armor.” He reconnected to his Judaism and reconnected to himself. Between business trips that often rule over the life of this technological maven, Avi always attends Beit T’Shuvah services. As the head of the HR committee on Beit T’Shuvah’s board, Avi builds sustainability and is an integral organization consultant. He endows Beit T’Shuvah with tremendous gifts, often unnoticed, maneuvering miracles from behind the scenes. But Avi says the true gift is the one that he has received, the gift of connection to his roots, his father, and his heritage. Avi’s father passed 6 months ago but not before the two connected in the deepest and most meaningful way a father and son could. Years of Beit T’Shuvah teachings opened both Avi and his father to reconnection and healing in time. And the gift just keeps on giving as a deeper connection has formed with the loving family of Beit T’Shuvah. Words by Soter & Photo by Barillas

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The Contemporary Justin Hewitt, COO of Transcend Sober Living

3 years sober; 24 Treatment Centers Attended; operates 5 Sober Living Houses.   Justin Hewitt’s story begins with a collect call from jail.  Not being Jewish, Justin wasn’t sure that Beit T’Shuvah would accept him into their program. Sitting in the Van Nuys Jail, he was moved that this Jewish treatment facility would take the time to meet with him.  The road to recovery, however, isn’t strewn with sunshine and roses; it is typically paved with blood and tears. This is quite literal in Justin’s case—After he was released from jail, one final attempt to get loaded ended in a cut from a broken crack pipe.  The final straw, Justin checked into Beit T’Shuvah the next day.  In comparison to other treatment centers, Justin says Beit T’Shuvah “allowed me the time to rebuild my life.”  He believes that the best part of Beit T’Shuvah was the community he was able to build here. He is still in contact with a number of his comrades in treatment. In his sobriety, Justin decided to branch out and work in recovery himself to help save the souls of addicts (hence, his title).  Today, he has his hands full as the COO of Transcend Sober Living, an organization that owns and runs five separate sober living houses.  He is now a functioning member of society whose passion has become giving back to the recovery community that helped to save his life. Words by Silver & Photo by Barillas

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The X Factor

Stephanie Cullen, Beit T’Shuvah Development Assistant Over 600,000 minutes sober; Hello Kitty enthusiast; Raiser’s Edge queen. Stephanie Cullen is an enigma—at age 13, she was vehemently anti-drug. By her early 20s, she was a full-blown addict; a devotee to the mechanical pill mills of Florida. She’s not your typical addict; equipped with a marketing degree, she walks the hallways of Beit T’Shuvah with a sincere smile on her face and an endearing skip to her step. A lover of knowledge and philosophy, Stephanie meshes well with the Development office, which sits at the epicenter of bustling recovery at Beit T’Shuvah. She performs her duties at Beit T’Shuvah with the same intelligent tenacity she once used to tend a cocaine-riddled bar, swindle pharmacies, or forge MRI reports for pain pills. She has since adopted the rigorous and vital mission of sustaining Beit T’Shuvah. If Stephanie’s addiction was chemical, her desire for t’shuvah is biological—her transformation represents the universal underdog. Unlikely to secede to her opiate urges, Ms. Cullen prevails. Despite the trauma of addiction and the animosity she once felt towards her life, Stephanie has proven to be an X-Factor in the growth of Beit T’Shuvah. Words by Spielberg & Photo by Barillas

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The Seeker

Dr. Charles Blakeney, Developmental Psychologist Research Fellow; Former White House Consultant; Integrity Fanatic. Dr. Charles Blakeney transformed from an after-work drinker into an alcoholic when he and his wife lost funding for The Berkeley Academy, a facility that assisted emotionally disturbed teenage girls. He sunk into the alcoholic depression that sometimes succeeds a sudden void of purpose, landing him at Beit T’Shuvah in 2001. On the road to recovery, his doctorate would not save him—he did not know how to apply his studies in moral psychology to his own life. He threw himself into a program of recovery, focusing on spiritual and emotional issues rather than purely academic ones. At this time, a question began to burn within him: “What is it, exactly, that we are recovering?” He began to focus on the notion that one of the main things we are recovering is integrity. With this idea in mind, Dr. Blakeney approached Harriet and Rabbi with the plan to do a qualitative and quantitative study of Beit T’Shuvah residents, attempting to dissect the process of recovery. After research in Switzerland and interviews in Culver City, he and his wife compiled a research paper in conjunction with Dr. K. Helmut Reich entitled “Leaps of Faith.” Beit T’Shuvah is now updating its treatment program to incorporate their findings. Dr. Blakeney has found integrity in his own life, integrating academia with his spiritual quest. Words by Soter & Photo by Barillas

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Anyone Few

can run

can change lives

run to save a soul For more information about training and sponsorship for Team Beit T’Shuvah LA Marathon contact Ali Ditlove at: 310.204.5200 x230 or aditlove@beittshuvah.org www.beittshuvah.org/marathon A P R I L 2 012

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T h e P at r i a rc h Warren Breslow, Beit T’Shuvah Legend and

Businessman Extraordinaire (CEO G & K Industries) Actively involved in 6 charities; 12-year tenure as Beit T’Shuvah’s founding Chairman; +15 golf handicap. While his name often evokes intimidation in those who only know of him, a first encounter with Warren Breslow immediately dispels any reservations. Warren displays keen eyes and an unreserved, wide smile.  From the slight scratch in his voice to his wise countenance, this man has clearly known both joy and sorrow.  At the entrance to the classroom Warren donated to Baruch College, his alma mater, a plaque reads, “Giving back is not a choice—it’s an obligation.” This is the credo by which Warren lives.  With a spirituality that coincides perfectly with Beit T’Shuvah’s philosophies, he followed his wife, Elaine of blessed memory, one of Beit T’Shuvah’s most selfless angels, into the Beit T’Shuvah community in 1989.  His leadership and support have proved invaluable ever since.  “Everything I do, I have a need to do well,” he explains, citing his real estate development business, his involvement with Beit T’Shuvah, and even the way he plays golf.  Having visited every continent, he finds African safaris particularly majestic.  Reminiscent of an addict’s experience in the outside world, Warren describes safaris as “the only kind of zoo where a man in a cage watches animals roam free.” Words by Zanerhaft & Photo by Pad

The Rebel

Nessa Feinstein, Beit T’Shuvah Women’s Program Coordinator Daughter of 2 Rabbis; banned from Chabad of Indiana University; counseling for over 3 years Nessa has always had the soul of a rebel. From Lobbying in D.C. to meeting the Dalai Lama, she has been a spirited activist for victims of discrimination and those without a voice. At Beit T’Shuvah, Nessa has carved out her own niche as a beloved counselor, friend, and purveyor of wisdom. Here, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t had Nessa ‘drop some knowledge’ on them- in a resident’s words.  The sibling of an addict, Nessa deeply cares about the struggles and triumphs of early recovery. “There is this moment,” she says, “when you realize—oh, this person really trusts me.” With a mischievous smile Nessa reveals, “I want to talk about the uncomfortable.” This, incidentally, is often the stuff of breakthroughs. At Beit T’Shuvah we know that having a rebel on our side is our ace in the hole in the fight against addiction. Words by Cohen & Photo by Rosenberg

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The Future

Kaylee Bowling, Daughter of Beit T’Shuvah Alumni Pioneer of Beit T’Shuvah Teen Center; over 10,000 texts sent in an average month; running her first Marathon. At 14 years old, Kaylee Bowling is our youngest Portrait of Reentry, though her story reads more like a Portrait of Entry. Kaylee was fortunate enough to receive a preemptive strike. Her mother, Gini Sullivan, reclaimed Kaylee and her brother Austin from foster homes after going through Beit T’Shuvah herself. “I am tremendously grateful for my life being turned around and my family being brought together,” Kaylee says, boasting a strong two months of her own sobriety. Kaylee spent her 9th grade winter break hanging out with the Partners in Prevention gang after her last outing with drugs and alcohol—a 5-day runaway culminating in a homeless night huddled up in a cold stairwell. Now, Kaylee is a vibrant, positive influence. Bringing her friends to hang at Beit T’Shuvah, Kaylee has started what Prevention hopes will be a trend; expanding the program into a Teen Center in the new Brandman Building. Kaylee is the proof that you don’t have to wait until you’re older to benefit from the wisdom and community of recovery. Words by Zanerhaft & Photo by Sullivan

The Example

Steve Bell, BTS Communications Business Development Manager 29 months Sober; 9 sponsees to date; recovering Macher. Steve Bell seamlessly transitions from discussing the politics of gambling addiction to sharing his own brand of self-deprecating humor to anecdotes of his time in prison. Two years ago, Steve was arrested and charged with embezzlement; he’d been stealing from his employers to fund his high-roller lifestyle and gambling addiction. After posting bail, Steve awaited sentencing at Beit T’Shuvah’s Right Action Gambling Program, a program that has since expanded from five people to forty; from one group a week to two groups a day. In prison, gambling is one of the few activities that keep inmates sane. For Steve, it was the abstention from it that preserved his sanity. That and the fact that over the 8 months, “the Beit T’Shuvah community wrote me every single day, visited me every single week, and awaited my release at the prison gates.” Today, he is focused on “living well, because I still owe every single person I’ve hurt.” Steve works for BTS Communications, in an effort to give back what was so freely given to him. Words by Soter & Photo by Johnson

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T h e O r ato r

Doug Rosen, Director of Partners in Prevention 7 years sober; proud father of two; preventer of 10,000+ destructive actions. Interviewing Doug Rosen is an adventure in and of itself. He darts through the Beit T’Shuvah hallways, paying little heed to the frantic laptop-wielding questioner who follows behind. Doug was once the successful VP of a movie studio, producing and developing feature films. But drugs, once only a supporting actor, began to play the parts of director, producer, and lead actor in his personal life. While text-walking, he tells of being fired and arrested, arriving at Beit T’Shuvah in 2004. His tipping-point toward recovery came in the form of the Prevention Program, in which recovering addicts would tell their stories to adolescents. Prevention became his purpose. Today Doug leads groups throughout the country, addressing the taboo and dismantling stigmas. But the thing Doug is most proud of surrounds him as he sits down for the first time in the interview. There are pictures, letters, and drawings from his wife, Avia, and his two sons, Jack and Teddy. Directly above his computer is a piece of crayon-scribbled paper that reads, “Jack R. loves Daddy R.” Words by Soter & Photo by Avia Rosen

The Congregant Lee Sutton, Beit T’Shuvah Temple Member

Mother of 4; grandmother of 5; 75+ Beit T’Shuvah services attended. Lee Sutton got a real education the first time she stepped through the doors of Beit T’Shuvah a year and a half ago. “I was spellbound,” she recalls. “To hear a sacred prayer in rock ‘n’ roll was unbelievable to me.” Shabbat services and a continuing Beit T’Shuvah ‘e ducation’ have been fixtures in her life ever since. Lee first heard of Beit T’Shuvah through Jewish Family Services when she was looking for help for her grandson, who had gotten involved with alcohol and drugs. “I was really naive,” she admits. “The education I got from listening to the residents and the birthday speeches was remarkable to me.” Today, a well-informed Lee enthuses “I’m just so proud of all these residents who came through so much and came back from such torture and made something of themselves... I’m happy to be in the same room with them!” And we feel blessed to be in the same room as Lee. Words by Dean & Photo by Pad 5 4 | B E I T T ’S H U VA H | w w w. b e i t t s h u v a h . o r g

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The Firecracker Alison Ditlove, Beit T’Shuvah Development Associate

Three-time Beit T’Shuvah resident; LA Marathon Fundraising Team spark plug; Beit T’Shuvah kitchen enthusiast. It’s a short trip from Beverly Hills to Beit T’Shuvah, but Alison Ditlove took the longest, darkest route she could find. In and out of jail, addicted to hard drugs, and deeply in debt, she had exhausted the patience of her father and her friends by the time she arrived at Beit T’Shuvah (for the first time) in 2006. It was a far cry from her Bat Mitzvahed, Beverly Hills High homecoming, UCLA pedigree past. Today, Ali’s colorful spirit brightens the Beit T’Shuvah halls daily, and her weekly email updates are a motivating force for the Beit T’Shuvah LA Marathon Team. Finally overcoming the recovery/relapse cycle, Ali came to stay in April 2009, swiftly moving from resident to intern to Development Associate. This firecracker’s meteoric reentry is a shining example of how Beit T’Shuvah’s principle to not turn anyone away regardless of their financial situation—can pay big dividends. Her dad, who had written her off a few years ago, “is my best friend today.” Words by Dean & Photo by Rosenberg

The Closer

Ben Share, Marketing Associate, Sysco Foods 6 years sober; prolific B-Baller; Sysco Foods Salesperson of 2011 Fiscal Year. Back in 2002, when Ben Share’s parents first took him to a Beit T’Shuvah Friday night service, his mom and dad just wanted the bare minimum for their son at the time: to graduate high school and not end up in jail. He did graduate, but his increasingly erratic behavior ultimately led his parents to stage an “outer-vention:” They changed the locks on the house. Petrified by “the homeless thing,” Ben decided to rob his own home. Once inside, however, he had a change of heart. Calling his dad, he asked “if the offer to go to that BTS place was still on the table.” That afternoon, in a “nerve-wracking” drive with his father, Ben’s journey back to integrity and responsibility began. “Everything that I have now in my life,” he enthuses, “can be traced directly back to [Beit T’Shuvah].” Now Ben bonds with his dad weekly on the basketball court, a habit he picked up with some residents back at The Shuv. Words by Dean & Photo by Rosenberg A P R I L 2 012

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T h e L i b e r ato r

Carrie Newman, Beit T’Shuvah Alternative Sentencing Coordinator 186 residents helped in the last year; 122 inmates reached in the last year; 16 years at Beit T’Shuvah. Simply put, Beit T’Shuvah’s Alternative Sentencing Coordinator gets your ass out of jail, and puts you in Beit T’Shuvah instead. In PC terms: Carrie advocates on behalf of those who would benefit from receiving residential treatment in place of incarceration. Carrie has turned her personal history with the law (11 arrests, 4 felony convictions) into an asset that can benefit her clients. She credits her arrival to Beit T’Shuvah in 1996 to the persistent jail visits of Pauline Ladeen, who pioneered the alternative sentencing program, and a courtroom appearance by Rabbi Mark, whom she didn’t even know at the time. True to Harriet Rossetto’s original vision, the alternative sentencing staff works with inmates who are seeking addiction treatment and/or transitional resources upon release from prison. Through her work, Carrie is able to “pay it forward:” liberating people from their destructive past by leading them along the same path she herself took 16 years ago. Words by Dean & Photo by Rosenberg

The Awed Couple Jae and Bob Farkas, All-Around Mensches

4 Years Married; 50+ Family Groups Attended; 30 years in helping professions. CraigsList Personal Ads conjure images of scammers and philanderers—not of decent folk looking for soul mates. Bob and Jae Farkas reveal their unlikely digital matchmaker with wry, playful smiles. They came to Beit T’Shuvah, however, under more heartrending circumstances- when one of our counselors (their “Angel”) found their daughter at Tarzana detox. Believing that “it was Beshert,” they have found countless opportunities to offer moral support to other struggling families in the Beit T’Shuvah Family Program. Bob, a professional organizer, relishes the chance to “help people de-clutter their lives.” Jae, who works in the field of sexual assault and interpersonal violence, enjoys the chance to receive support, too, rather than remain on the giving end. She calls her experience with the program “humbling and expanding.” Excited about the newly formed Havura, Jae says, “It fills in a community gap of camaraderie for people who came for their family members- and stayed for themselves.” Words by Zanerhaft & Photo by Rosenberg 5 6 | B E I T T ’S H U VA H | w w w. b e i t t s h u v a h . o r g

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The Headhunter Alison Goldberg, Beit T’Shuvah Career Counselor 5 Years Sober; Placed 100+ Residents in 2011; 4.0 Grad School GPA. Alison Goldberg stares intently at a computer screen with her brow furrowed, fingers flitting over a keyboard, and focus that befits her beauty. After spending a lapse of time in a psych ward, Alison entered Beit T’Shuvah broken but ready to reclaim her life. When Alison began the arduous grad school application process, she knew that Beit T’Shuvah was where she wanted to work. “Here,” Alison explains, “I get to work with the whole person.” Awaiting the opportunity at Beit T’Shuvah, Alison took her first job as a Headhunter. She was a natural from the moment her feet hit the ground, achieving 27 placements in her first year. In November 2009, Beit T’Shuvah finally acquired the budget to hire her and she has since had a direct influence in many residents’ reentries. Despite sometimes having to “guide [residents] by the hand,” it’s worth it to be “part of somebody’s life and transformation.” Words by Zanerhaft & Photo by Rosenberg

T h e H a p pi ly E v e r A f t e r s Lisa and Mark Delevie, Beit T’Shuvah Donors

Married 10½ years; parents of 4 fine children; community [over]activists. It’s the classic rom-com; your wild-thing woman meets your soft-spoken gentleman for a happilyever-after finish before the credits. The backstory, however, is a little less charming. Lisa and Mark’s road to romance was paved mostly with alcoholism and estranged family. Lisa’s path was also laden with bipolar disorder, Mark’s with unemployment and food stamps. For both, Beit T’Shuvah was the last stop. It wasn’t long before opposites attracted. But Rabbi Mark, Harriet, and counselor Lyla—Lisa and Mark’s saviors—weren’t quite as tickled. “Get a job!” Rabbi scolded the attorney-on-welfare Mark. Be it the fear of G-d or his budding love, Mark began a job on a 30-day challenge that has yet to end ten years later. Avid supporters today, they give because “we wouldn’t be here today if we didn’t.” Ask Lisa what keeps her sober and she’ll tell you: “The Rabbi in my head…He bore his lessons into us and I swear to G-d we live by them.” A P R I L 2 012

Words by Katz

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Planning Stage Clockwise from left, John Sullivan, Sheriff Leroy Baca, Rabbi Mark Borovitz, and Fanya Cohen hold court in the Sheriff’s office.

an education

A look at the growing partnership between Beit T’Shuvah and the LA County Sheriff’s Department by jason dean & fanya cohen When you are in a custody environment your role is not the role of an educator, it’s the role of someone providing security and discipline [for] people who we look at as convicts and inmates—and it is our job to try to maintain control of that. In order to change that [role] perception it requires that we also make a transformation. Just as the Chief has described, an inmate in jail who changes his life through the educational, spiritual process, we as deputy sheriffs can also experience a change in the way we view our role.” – Commander Gerald Cooper 12:35pm, Tuesday, December 6, 2011: Pitchess Detention Center’s North County Correctional Facility (NCCF) Castaic, California Returning to Supermax for the first time in three years, an eerie echo follows the sound of the heavy metal door locking shut behind John Sullivan, escorted by a commander and a lieutenant. It is a far cry from Sullivan’s previous visits: No heavy shackles hanging from his wrists, no chains linking him to a string of other inmates, and no waiting to be transferred into the state prison system to serve out the remainder his sentence. Sullivan was once an inmate sign shop worker of the Jail Enterprise Unit (JEU) - part of LA County Sheriff Leroy D. Baca’s Education Based Incarceration (EBI) initiative. Today, he is an 6 0 | B E I T T ’S H U VA H | w w w. b e i t t s h u v a h . o r g

honored guest, sharing his story with the currently incarcerated sign shop workers. He will impart a lesson he learned firsthand: Freedom begins within. It is not constrained by bars or criminal records. It is determined by what a man is able to contribute to this world. As he walks away, astonished, he reflects, “I was just talking to my former self.”   4:00pm, Thursday, September 26, 2008: Los Angeles County Correctional Facility, California Sitting on the wrong side of the thick plexi-glass when Beit T’Shuvah alternative sentencing staffer Phil Hamburger asks him what he is going to do differently this time, Sullivan responds, “If I knew that, I wouldn’t be sitting behind this glass.” The transparency of his answer must reveal a measure of willingness, because Beit T’Shuvah (BTS) decides to go to bat for a convicted felon who is not Jewish, has no money, and has a lengthy track record of missteps with the law.    6:30pm, Sunday, October 10, 2010:  Social Innovation Fast-Pitch Competition. The University of Southern California A seed is planted for Sullivan’s ironic return to the JEU Sign Shop, A P R I L 2 012


the past two decades of using his charismatic persona to “hustle for good.” 8:00am, Monday, September 1, 1969: Faye Ross Jr. High School, Artesia, California It is the first day of school for a young, bright teacher by the name of Leroy D. Baca. Here he will form his philosophy on the human condition: “The nature of the human being’s responsibility, more than any other one, is to learn…and no two people learn the same.” This philosophy will come to shape his second career path.   8:00am, Monday, December 7, 1998: Los Angeles County, California Leroy D. Baca is elected as the 30th Sheriff of Los Angeles County, which is home to the largest jail system in the United States. Many years later, it will become evident that though they may not read from the same book, Sheriff Baca—the longest standing Sheriff to hold office in county history—and Rabbi Mark are definitely on the same page. Recognizing that the where he tapped into skills that would inspire his county jail system’s primary eventual career path. After delivering a riveting focus on punishment won’t three-minute pitch (winning the $10,000 1st reduce crime and rampant prize as well as an additional $2,500 coach’s recidivism, Sheriff Baca will award), Sullivan is approached by Adrianne direct a department-wide Ferree, a civilian staff member of the JEU who philosophical shift toward is touched by his story and impressed with emphasizing rehabilitation. his dynamic pitch for BTS Communications   (BTSC)—a new kind of not-for-profit creative resent day: agency that trains recovering addicts in various Over a series of exclusive aspects of advertising and marketing. They discuss interviews taking place Sullivan’s dramatic turnaround and bringing the Cohen, at Sheriff Baca’s headquarters, aca, Fanya B BTSC model of recovery into the county jail system. y ro Le f an, Sherif various jail sites, and Beit Such a collaboration would require extensive PR and John Sulliv Mark Borovitz abbi R d T’Shuvah an marketing efforts, serving as a perfect opportunity to demonstrate the capabilities of BTSC. Spearheaded Rabbi Mark, John Sullivan, Sheriff by BTSC Marketing Manager Fanya Cohen - who Baca, Commander Cooper, and other Beit T’Shuvah and LASD herself embodies heightened professional productivity as a direct result personnel join together to form an addiction and reentry workshop to of a life in recovery- this partnership would ultimately showcase the be implemented in the L.A. County jail system with Beit T’Shuvah’s practical application of the BTSC mission. And thus the beginning expertise. Rabbi Mark credits Sheriff Baca for promoting a paradigm of what Sullivan calls a “mind-blowing” relationship will take root. shift within the county jail system that makes for a synergistic and natural relationship between the two organizations. “I think [a Beit 7:00pm, Friday, December 19, 1986: T’Shuvah/LASD partnership] honors Harriet Rossetto’s original Van Nuys, California vision for Beit T’Shuvah,” says Rabbi Mark. “It’s [also] a way of In the back of a squad car, silently muttering, “Oh shit, here I go again,” honoring the blessed Pauline Ladeen for every one of us who got the future Rabbi, Spiritual Leader, and COO of Beit T’Shuvah Mark visited by [Beit T’Shuvah’s original] Jewish Jail Lady. Pauline never Borovitz is awash in feelings of despair, disbelief, yet predominately gave up on anybody.” surrender as he is carted back to prison. Eventually, right there in   prison, he will wholeheartedly embrace his Jewish faith, spurring a Sheriff Baca agrees. “If you’re just doing it as a job, it won’t work,” he

From left to right, Commander Gerald Cooper, Alex Solowitz, Dr. Weintraub, Deputy Bates, John Sullivan, Chief Alexander Yim

P

“People who have been in a

dark place and have recovered make excellent resources as teachers.” -Sheriff Baca 180-degree shift that will finally end his “cycle of destruction.” 11:30am, Tuesday, December 16, 2012: En route to North County Correctional Facility, California In what Rabbi Mark Borovitz thoughtfully calls a “surreal experience,” he reenters the back seat of a squad car driven by LASD Commander Gerald Cooper. He and John Sullivan are headed to visit the inmates at NCCF. Almost 25 years since his incarceration, he invigorates and inspires his audience - A reaction that he has come to know well in A P R I L 2 012

tells deputies who become involved in the EBI programs. “But if you sense that you can change a life for the better, that’s what we’d like you to see your duty as. Not just security.  Security is fine, but we want you to appeal to the inmates’ higher thinking.”   Commander Cooper, who embraced Beit T’Shuvah from his first encounter, acknowledges that the old system of simply warehousing prisoners did little to prepare them for reentry into society. He’s energized by the prospect of partnering with Beit T’Shuvah as a whole, and Sullivan in particular. “It is just a perfect fit,” he says, 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 VA H | 6 1


citing the alignment between the spiritual, educational, and moral recognition programs in the Jail Enterprise Unit and the mission of BTS Communications.       Self professed ‘reformed police officer’ Chief Alexander Yim of the Correctional Services Division says Sheriff Baca helped him see the connection that the ultimate form of crime prevention is learning. It represents a shift from the philosophy that it’s possible to “arrest your way out of the problem” and toward the idea that “if you change [inmates’] hearts and minds when they get out of jail, they’re not going to commit crime again.”   Sheriff Baca recalls one inmate likely facing death row for murder who, while grateful, thought Baca’s educational initiatives might be wasted on him. Sheriff Baca disagreed. “You don’t know where your next address will be,” he said. “It might be in heaven, and you don’t want to go there unprepared.”   “I think everyone should have recovery programs in their life, even if they don’t have the issues to recover from,” affirms the Sheriff. “The nature of the human being’s responsibility, more than any other one, is to learn. When you stop learning and think you have all the answers, then you stop becoming what you were intended to be.” The learning has to be an ongoing process. “Just because you turned 18,” he continues, “doesn’t mean you’re ready to roll as an adult, or 21, or in some cases 30, or even 40.  Confucius said it takes 100 years to develop a human being.” Sheriff Baca reiterates that he places high value on the experiential wisdom gained by those who have been in a dark place and found the strength to change their circumstances.   Present in every step of this exploratory process, John Sullivan is gratified by the organic alliance. “We are all trying to do the same thing, especially with having interns that are in treatment, taking classes [at Santa Monica College], and talking about recovery and spirituality along with our work. That combination is what makes BTS Communications a success…My goal is to bring everything I can to the table for the Sheriff’s Department, because, once a beneficiary of the JEU program myself, it changed the trajectory of my life.”   It seems on the whole that these men simply ‘get it.’ “The important piece here,” sums up Rabbi Mark, “is that Sheriff Baca is telling [the LASD], ‘We have to look at ourselves.’ In AA terms, it would be doing an inventory. In Jewish terms, it’s doing t’shuvah.”  By making the JEU program an institutional priority, and by engaging the participation of Beit T’Shuvah and other community-based organizations, the LASD is putting intention behind the philosophy that originates from the office of Sheriff Baca. Getting out of jail can be a transformational experience, but staying out is evidence of a transformed life. 6 2 | B E I T T ’S H U VA H | w w w. b e i t t s h u v a h . o r g

FREEDOM song

“Freedom Song is the most powerful and emotional performance that every parent and teenager should see together.” -Dr. Chuck Slonim, Board Member of Congregation Schaarai Zedek in Tampa, Florida help destigmatize addiction in your town. for booking information call jessica fishel at 310.204.5200 ext.204

freedom song is a production of beit t’shuvah, a rehabilitation center in the united states dealing with addictions of drugs, alcohol and gambling.

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M y B irthright

As I’ve been reflecting on the Torah chapters from Abraham to Jacob, I can’t help but think of the context as a whole as well as each generation’s struggle as they’re both profoundly relevant. BY Inga Roizman

I

t seems to me, that we, the human race are a dysfunctional family; living in lies, and passing down deceit, jealousy and every form of manipulation with little questioning.

They did not see they were protected, their question was, “How can G- d allow this atrocity, how can G-d be so cruel” – They were protected and blessed yet they struggled with trust in G-d.

We were in darkness long before we were enslaved in Egypt. As a child, I wasn’t aware of the self-destructive ideas, the lies I adopted as beliefs about myself and how the world functions. Many of the beliefs I learned from my own dysfunctional family.

I see the story of Jacob and Esau as both sides of my self and as it relates to the sibling rivalry between my mother and I. Jewish tradition says whomever raises a child becomes their parent. Barbara and Eddie raised me as well as my mother. My mother was 20 years older than I. We are both part Jacob and Esau.

It makes sense that our Rabbi begins the spiritual counseling sessions asking us to write, “What are the lies you tell yourself?”’ Those beliefs seem to be the ones we TRUST and hold loyalty to. Even if they serve us negatively, we still remain enmeshed within our short sighted pay off rather than trusting G-d. Paradoxically, it seems our deepest inherent nature is to listen to and serve G-d.

As a child I was favored. My mother was in her addiction. The roles of Jacob and Esau were interchangeable. Towards the end of my grandmother’s life, I was in my addiction – I was famished like Esau. My grandmother was blind like Isaac but with dementia, I thought, like Jacob my mother stole my birthright, my inheritance.

Listening to G-d cannot be taught. One must choose to listen on their own.

I posed the question to myself, “Was my birthright, my inheritance ever really my birthright?”

Abraham said, “Hinneni,” here I am. He was connected. G-d told him where his place was, yet he went to Egypt anyway.

It was promised to me, but she was blessed. I spent many years bitter with resentment and estranged from my mother. I thought her actions were fraudulent, I thought she did not love my grandmother as I did. She was made master over me with my resentment towards her. I wept aloud like Esau.

I knew my place was to be sober 23 years ago but I continued in my darkness to my Egypt anyway. G-d blessed Abraham. I’m not certain if his nearly killing his son Isaac was blind faith or not, but AFTER the frightening realization that he was almost a sacrifice, Isaac may have felt safer in the world knowing that G-d protected him. He could have easily seen this in a negative light – “How could G-d be so cruel as to test my father with my life?” Isaac was also blessed. He grew wealthy and followed in his father’s footsteps. Lying about his wife and digging the same spring water wells, looking for his place. My wells were drugs and alcohol. I followed in my mother’s footsteps. Isaac asked G-d for children on behalf of his wife Rebekah who was unable to bear children. My grandparents couldn’t have their own biological children, they adopted my mother. These are my ancestors, Barbara and Eddie Blacher. They saw the Holocaust. A P R I L 2 012

I have been wrestling with G-d my entire life. I have been blessed. This is MY birthright - To see G-d right here. Jacob plans to go home – his fear, defensiveness and guilt for wronging Esau has built up armies in his head. Jacob wrestled with the angel. He wrestled with doing the right thing and was not going to let go until he was blessed. He became Israel – and Esau fell on his neck. They both wept. Sincerity was there, forgiveness prevailed the spirit of T’Shuvah. Jacob and Esau reconciled as my mother and I have. I have become more whole. Forgiveness brings me to myself. Israel was born from doing the right thing. Israel was born from the decision for forgiveness.

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From left to right, Beit T’Shuvah’s Marathon Team coaches, Chris King, MJ Cohen, Gini Sullivan, and Craig Miller

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un To Save a Soul is more than just a catchy slogan adopted by Team Beit T’Shuvah for their LA Marathon program. It’s a shared commitment. This year’s team has several returning members for the March 18th race, but there are others who had never even considered running a marathon before signing up with Beit T’Shuvah’s team this year. For recovering addicts, the process of entering, training for, and actually finishing a marathon is an apt analogy for the “one-step-at-a-time” thinking that many of them learned when they took their first tentative steps in recovery.

never run, and that’s why I’m doing the marathon. I want to challenge myself and save a soul.” This is Beit T’Shuvah’s third year as an official participating charity of the Honda LA marathon and their largest team ever; last year’s team raised over $100,000 -- the fourth-highest total among some 70 participating nonprofit organizations.   Beit T’Shuvah Development Associate and Marathon Concierge Ali Ditlove says that participating on the Beit T’Shuvah team for the LA Marathon is a shining example of the broad menu of recoverybased activities available at Beit T’Shuvah. “It’s a huge part of many Take a moment to browse the profile people’s recovery program,” she conpages of this year’s 40+ runners (www. firms. “It’s become a new hobby for peocrowdrise.com/TeamBeitTShuvahLAple who were never interested in running O N E S T E P AT A T I M E Marathon2012), and you will quickly before. And it’s another thing people can appreciate the dedication that is shared include when they look at what makes By Jason Dean among team members; their reasons for up their recovery.” Ali’s morale-boosting running are often quite touching and training emails are a weekly inspiration personal. Here are a few… to runners. “It’s so illustrative of the recovery process,” she says. “Someone who was on the streets, loaded on heroin or god-knowsAfter suspending his training last June due to complications from what six months ago, can come and run the LA Marathon on our Crohn’s disease, BTS Communications photographer Justin is ready team. ITS AMAZING!”  for his big run, even though he’ll be doing it minus his entire large   intestine.  “Whether I run across or walk across, I will CROSS that Corporate sponsorships are still needed and welcomed at every finish line.” Kaylee, age 14, is running because Beit T’Shuvah “saved level of support, Ali stresses. Individuals and companies interested my mom’s life, my stepdad’s life, and is currently helping me stay in sponsorship opportunities can contact Ali at (310) 204-5200, out of trouble.” Lindsay, an insulin-dependent diabetic, says, “I have ext.230 or aditlove@beittshuvah.org.

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Beit T'Shuvah Magazine Vol. 3 Num. 1  

The First Ever Redemption Issue

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