THE NEW AGE ADDICT
IVY GROWING WILD OVERACHIEVING CHILDREN UNDER GREAT DURESS
BY JESSICA FISHEL AND DOUG ROSEN
FEATURED INSIDE • • • •
High Holidays Gala 2016 Sisterhood LA Marathon
THE NEXT STEP
WORK THERAPY PARTICIPANTS FIND PASSION THROUGH CAREERS
FEATURES NOTES FROM CHAIRMAN AND PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD | 04 New day, new needs, new solutions, as looked at by Board Chairman Dr. Bill Resnick and President Annette Shapiro
NOTES FROM FOUNDER AND SENIOR RABBI | 06 Harriet Rossetto & Rabbi Mark Borovitz face down today’s addiction with Spirituality & Judaism
THE NEW AGE ADDICT
A surprising look at who you’ll find fitting the profile for today’s addicts
THE NEXT STEP
Three Work Therapy participants find passion through careers
BALANCE IN THE WAVES, BALANCE IN LIFE | 18 The heart and soul of Sababa Surf Camp
Beit T’Shuvah’s latest enterprise, BTS Music, is offering publishing & licensing opportunites to the BTS musical talent
A PROGRAM OF PROGRESS
Announcing Beit T’Shuvah’s IOP Program
THE COUNTDOWN TO LAUNCH
Two current successes reflect on their failures to launch
( INSIDE )
IVY GROWING WILD
A raw and expert look at what over-parenting is doing to our youth
DONOR SPOTLIGHT LA MARATHON
AN EXTENDED CARE EXCURSION
Beit T’Shuvah’s Extended Care program visits the Wildlife Waystation pg46
THE 24TH ANNUAL GALA
HEALING OURSELVES, HEALING THE WORLD | 42 Beit T’Shuvah in the fight for social justice and reform
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Dr. Bill Resnick Chairman of the Board Annette Shapiro President of the Board Harriet Rossetto Founder Executive Vice President Rabbi Mark Borovitz Senior Rabbi, CEO Nancy Mishkin Warren Breslow Chairs Emeriti BOARD MEMBERS Lise Applebaum Heidi Bendetson Lynn Bider Rabbi Mark Borovitz Joyce Brandman Warren Breslow Emily Corleto Samuel Delug David Elston Jon Esformes John Fishel Pat Gage Mel Gagerman Beverly Gruber Roberta Holland Janice Kamenir-Reznik Russell Kern Dr. Susan Krevoy Diane Licht Virginia Maas Bradley H. Mindlin Carolyn Gold Mintz Nancy Mishkin Donald S. Passman Joan Praver Ed Praver Heidi Praw Avi Reichental Harriet Rossetto David Ruderman Ronnie Stabler Jill Black Zalben HONORARY BOARD MEMBERS Sheldon Appel Donald J. Berghoff Robert Felixson* Herb Gelfand Jeffrey Glassman Robert Gluckstein* Brindell Gottlieb Salli Harris Blair Belcher Kohan Shelley Kozek Chuck Maltz Cheri Morgan Mike Nissenson Jan Rosen Richard Schulman Rena Slomovic Craig Taubman Lisi Teller Greg Vilkin Dr. Howard Wallach* Brad Wiseman Hal Wiseman* Robert Wiviott Frank Wurtzel *Deceased S P R I N G 2 016
MAGAZINE EDITOR IN CHIEF ELIANA KATZ DESIGN EDITOR ALISON LOWENBERG
ART DIRECTORS ELIANA KATZ ALISON LOWENBERG
CONTRIBUTING EDITORS RABBI MARK BOROVITZ ALI GABLER NICOLE GOODMAN HARRIET ROSSETTO JENNY SHERMAN
PRODUCED BY CREATIVE MATTERS AGENCY CONTRIBUTING WRITERS SCARLET BARBER THE NEXT STEP, GETTING TO KNOW THE BTS SISTERHOOD, ALL THE WORLD IS A STAGE ANDY BESSER A PROGRAM OF PROGRESS MARK BOROVITZ SENIOR RABBI’S NOTE JESSICA FISHEL & DOUG ROSEN THE NEW AGE ADDICT SAMANTHA HENSCHEL AN EXTENDED CARE EXCURSION LYNN LANCASTER BALANCE IN THE WAVES, BALANCE IN LIFE DR. BILL RESNICK BOARD CHAIRMAN’S NOTE HARRIET ROSSETTO FOUNDER’S NOTE ANNETTE SHAPIRO BOARD PRESIDENT’S NOTE JENNY SHERMAN DONOR SPOTLIGHT, IVY GROWING WILD, THE COUNTDOWN TO LAUNCH ADAM SIEGEL HEALING OURSELVES, HEALING THE WORLD BARBARA SOLARZ BTS MUSIC CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS JUSTIN ROSENBERG LAUREL JOHNSON CONTRIBUTING GRAPHIC DESIGNERS LUCY DARBY GRAPHIC DESIGNER NECHAMA SIMON GRAPHIC DESIGNER
Please send comments, letters, and feedback about this issue of Beit T’Shuvah Magazine to: firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the development office at 310.204.5200 w w w. b e i t t s h u v a h . o r g | B E I T T ’ S H U V A H | 3
BILL RESNICK, MD, MBA, CHAIRMAN, BOARD OF DIRECTORS
SEEING THE NEW FACE
his past year has been one of growth for Beit T’Shuvah. The Elaine Breslow Institute for Addiction, Prevention and Family Education (EBI) is taking shape as the educational arm of Beit T’Shuvah, educating parents, teachers, clergy and clinicians on how to prevent addiction. We earned the seal of approval by the Joint Committee on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), proving we meet the highest quality standards. We are now a very respected and soughtafter training ground and teaching site for counselors, psychotherapists and psychiatrists as well. But just because we are JCAHO accredited doesn’t mean we’ve lost any amount of the heart that is the fabric of Beit T’Shuvah. We are, and always will be, a therapeutic, spiritual community that treats addiction through integrating psychotherapy, Jewish wisdom and The 12-Steps—supplemented by a variety of modalities, including art, theater, and surf therapy—not to mention that we are also a congregation providing joyous Friday night and Saturday morning services that engage a larger community.
THIS NEW FACE OF ADDICTION ALSO POINTS US TOWARD OUR CHILDREN, AND TO PREVENTATIVE MEASURES WE MUST TAKE... WE LOOK FOR SIGNS. WE CHANGE OUR OWN BEHAVIORS AND COME TO AN UNDERSTANDING OF THE R OLES WE PL AY IN OUR CHILDREN’S LIVES. WE STOP POINTING FINGERS.
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This magazine’s theme of the new face of addiction really speaks to much of what is currently taking place at Beit T’Shuvah. We are in the middle of a movement—one intended to eliminate the stigma that accompanies addiction, and one that seeks to educate and inform our community about what addiction really is and what it has become. We no longer only think of junkies and alcoholics; addiction shows its face in a multitude of ways: substance abuse, gambling, Internet/Facebooking, sex, eating disorders, cutting/mutilating, shopping, gaming, and the list goes on. But there are also places where it hides: in the quest for perfection; in parents with unrealistic expectations of their children; in kids who think getting into an ivy league school is the end all be all; in valuing our children for their academic or athletic achievements, not for the complete human beings they are. These are all places we need to look at, to examine. And now is that time. This new face of addiction points us toward our children, and to preventative measures we must take. With Beit T’Shuvah’s Partners in Prevention, and the adult education going on at EBI, we tackle the root causes of which addiction is a symptom. We look for signs. We change our own behaviors and come to an understanding of the roles we play in our children’s lives. We stop pointing fingers. I look forward to seeing the continued growth of this wonderful organization, and to know that we not only save lives—we can also put a stop to addiction by educating each other. Thank you all for your continued support and enthusiastic involvement with Beit T’Shuvah, and for joining us in seeing this new face of addiction.
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ANNETTE SHAPIRO, PRESIDENT, BOARD OF DIRECTORS
ACCEPTANCE AND HEALING HOW ADDICTION LOOKS TODAY IN OUR CHANGING WORLD
hen I first got involved with Beit T’Shuvah 20 years ago, addiction was an unspoken word. We only saw the symptoms, which were the troubling behaviors that had no explanation, and no name. Perhaps feeling overwhelmed, or embarrassed, families often try to solve the situation by themselves. Not knowing where to turn to for help, it’s often kept secret. Drugs and alcohol seemed to primarily plague our youth, which made it easy to brush off as “growth pains.” Then we began to recognize many highly functioning adults who were also addicted. Alcohol is socially acceptable, so it is easy to mask the addiction, which keeps us in denial. Addiction does not discriminate. It touches every age group, gender, profession, and social status. It comes in many forms, not just drugs and alcohol. It has become a worldwide epidemic that affects everyone. There is also the economic impact on society, with time lost on the job, theft, and incarceration. Addiction is a family disease. When the addict suffers, their friends and family suffer along with them. The family often unknowingly enables the addict. This co-dependency often perpetuates the problem. The world of addiction today is a different world than it was 20 years ago. We have come a long way. Today, our society takes addiction and recovery very seriously. We now know that addiction is a disease just like any other disease, and we need to keep speaking about it to erase its stigma. Today, we are seeing more people willing to accept that their family or friends need help. One faced with this issue needs help to address the situation in order to recover. Beit T’Shuvah is a non-profit facility that has been serving our community since 1987. Over all these years, thousands of men and women have walked through our doors and begun walking the road to recovery. Many may not have the ability to pay, but they have the willingness to change their lives. We do our best to never turn anyone with that willingness away! In the last 20 years of my involvement with Beit T’Shuvah, it has been very fulfilling to see people recover their passion, and discover their purpose in life. I’d like to recognize the great effort and hard work put forth by each person who walks through our doors. Taking that first step may be difficult, but it is so worth it.
MANY MAY NOT HAVE THE ABILIT Y TO PAY, BUT THEY HAVE THE WILLINGNESS TO CHANGE THEIR LIVES. WE DO OUR BEST TO NEVER TURN ANYONE WITH THAT WILLINGNESS AWAY!
So though the views on addiction have changed throughout the years, what remains the same is that untreated addiction causes broken bodies, minds, and spirits—of those addicted, and their families. Today, acceptance leads to healing—and that gives us hope!
Beit T’Shuvah offers continual support not only during treatment, but also after care. We help our clients to find careers, further their education, and enjoy renewed family unity. S P R I N G 2 016
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HARRIET ROSSETTO, FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT Addiction, in all forms, is the result of denying these challenges. Failure to wrestle with the questions of identity, meaning and purpose creates a sense of existential despair. Not feeling good enough, comparing yourself to others, confusing self-worth and net worth creates hopelessness. Attempting to project an image of perfection to hide your Yetzer Hara, results in shame and the need to blame others. Shame, blame, hopelessness and despair are the root cause of the need to self soothe with food, alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, work-alcoholism, consumerism, compulsive over-achieving, and the pursuit of perfection “in all of our affairs.” We are always seeking, never satisfied—more is never enough to fill the “hole in the soul.” We adopt roles as our identity (doctor, lawyer, Indian Chief, mother, father, child) and confuse role with soul, never feeling good enough.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE AN ADDICT TO BE IN RECOVERY
ll of us, all human beings are either in recovery or in denial of the challenges of the human condition. These challenges are existential, emotional, and spiritual. The existential questions are: Who am I? Why am I here? Do I have a unique identity? Do I define it or is it defined by my conditioning and the expectations of my family and culture? What is the purpose of my life? How do I find meaning in the face of adversity and mortality? Emotionally, we ask ourselves: Am I good enough? Is my worth intrinsic or extrinsic? Is it comparative? Does my net worth determine my self-worth? Do my flaws and imperfections diminish my value? Am I intrinsically valuable? Spiritually, my challenge is to reconcile the warring factions within. Our Jewish tradition has recognized this war and named the opponents Yetzor Tov and Yetzor Hara—the good inclination and the evil inclination. In our tradition, the good inclination is good, and the evil inclination is very good. Both are necessary and both are Godly. Our job as humans is to acknowledge the power of the evil inclination and subdue it with Right Action. For instance, I practice forgiveness and loving kindness even when I’d rather slit your throat or punish you with silence: I eat kale when I’d rather have french fries. I make my bed to defeat the sloth monster that whispers, what’s the point? You just have to mess it up again tonight. This is the voice of futility, of immediate gratification that speaks to all of us, sabotaging our efforts to sustain our commitment to the actions of change.
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Kids who have been given every advantage, who have been praised, indulged, coached, tutored and pressured to achieve are mutilating, starving and killing themselves. They pop pills, shoot or snort heroin, or just fail to launch. They never feel enough or have enough to fill the inner void or their hole in their soul, have never learned to fail and give up too easily. When effort is required, they quit. They think their appearance and resumé is their identity; grades and college acceptance define their worth and they are unable to tolerate ambiguity, uncertainty, discomfort, or imperfection. They are at the greatest risk for anxiety, depression and addictions of every description. Ironically, the over-privileged are the new underprivileged in their ability to live life on life’s terms. These youngsters are sending us a message. They are our “prophets,” telling us that they are lost. They have no idea who they are, what they want, or how to figure it out. We have confused indulgence with love, our protection with caring, suffocating them with expectations and pressure to perform. These are the new faces of addiction, not the black sheep of the family, but The Excellent Sheep, named by Yale professor, Bill Deresiewicz. Here’s the good news: Dr. Lisa Miller in her important new book, The Spiritual Child, writes, “Research shows that children who have a positive, active relationships to spirituality (not necessarily combined with religious observance) are 40% less likely to abuse substances, 60% less likely to be depressed or suicidal. It provides positive inner assets such as meaning, purpose, optimism and gratitude. As a society we urgently need to see the overwhelming strength of spirituality as protection against the leading causes of death to adolescents… accidents, suicides, homicides and addiction.” For 30 years, Beit T’Shuvah has been a leader in the treatment of addiction with an integrative program of positive psychology, spirituality, and The 12-Steps of the Anonymous programs. We have helped thousands of addicts “recover their passion and discover their purpose.” Through our Elaine Breslow Institute we are conveying this message of healing to parents, teens, educators, clergy and physicians to help adolescents recover their passion and discover their purpose in order to prevent the hopelessness and despair leading to anxiety, depression and addiction.
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RABBI MARK BOROVITZ, SENIOR RABBI & CEO
avodah. While sitting in the synagogue of my youth, B'Nai Jeshrun in Cleveland, Ohio, this January, I found myself listening to Rabbi Stephen Weiss bless people for their aliyot, but I heard this familiar prayer in a very different way. It made me recall something Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote in The Insecurity of Freedom: “What will life get out of me?” Rabbi Heschel also wrote: “This is the status of the Bible in modern life: it is a sublime answer, but we do not know the question any more. Unless we recover the question, there is no hope of understanding the Bible.” It is for this reason, recovering these questions, that studying the Torah, following God’s Commandments, and being of service are the foundation of decent living for us all. Ma'asim tovim and gemilut hasidim are actions that go beyond the letter of the law. They touch the essence of Judaism and keep us in alignment, with God's intention always at the forefront of our hearts (kavanah).
JUDAISM - A PATH FOR EVERYONE
n this issue we are exploring “the new face of addiction." And while the spread of addiction has grown – fueled primarily by prescription drug abuse – reaching every subpopulation in our country, it is still the age-old path of Judaism that brings recovery to everyone: recovery of meaning, recovery of wonder, recovery of awe, recovery of a sense of purpose. The Torah can be used as a roadmap showing us all how to better navigate life, minimizing its suffering and heightening its joy. Sadly, too many of us see Judaism as archaic, ritualistic, angry, irrelevant. When people cannot or will not immerse themselves in its text and miss the wisdom and truth that our tradition can give us, disconnection and disease are able to take root. Not all of the people who miss the relevance, wisdom, and truth of Torah are drug addicts, alcoholics, and/or gamblers; they are also people who seek to get more but give less, people who are more interested in the perception of their image than pushing themselves to be their best, authentic selves. The new face of addiction is entrenched in the inability to accept ourselves as imperfect beings and the avoidance of wrestling with the questions about what it means to be human. Judaism is the antidote to the new face of addiction, as it has also been to all of the questions that have plagued us for some 3,300 years. In many Jewish ceremonies, a prayer for bringing the blessings of Torah and Jewish learning, a good marriage, and then ma'asim tovim (good deeds) is offered to those being celebrated. Similarly, it is written in Pirkei Avot, that the world stands on three things: Torah, avodah (service of the heart), and gemilut hasidim (acts of lovingkindness). For many years, I have tried to understand why our Sages added the mandates of performing acts of loving-kindness and good deeds as necessary accompaniments to the foundation of Torah and S P R I N G 2 016
In his book, God in Search of Man, Rabbi Heschel offers us this definition: “Kavanah in this sense is not the awareness of being commanded but the awareness of Him who commands; not of a yoke we carry but of the Will we remember; the awareness of God rather than the awareness of duty. Such awareness is more than an attitude of the mind; it is an act of valuation or appreciation of being commanded, of living in a covenant, of the opportunity to act in agreement with God." In this way, ma'asim tovim and gemilut hasidim open us up and give us the opportunity to live in congruity with God and with others. WOW! Yet, so many of us miss this sacred opportunity and stay stuck in either following the literal interpretation or letter of Torah and the Commandments or ignoring them altogether. We are a people of faith – all of us, regardless of the faith tradition of which we are a part. Even people of “no faith” have faith in something: science, philosophy, themselves, etc. What does seem to be lacking in our society today, however, is appreciation. Many people reflect on their days and deeds, most in order to either beat themselves up (low self-esteem) or to justify themselves (narcissism); few are those who have this appreciation as an attitude of their entire being. We all must be drawn into the preciousness of being human. We have to see each other and ourselves as b’tzelem Elohim, divine images, and reminders of God. We have to perceive the unique worth of taking the next right action, the magnificence of hearing God's call. Only then can we truly be engaged in ma'asim tovim, gemilut hasidim, avodah, and Torah. Only then can we find our unique path to do tikkun (repair) in our corner of the world. This, in my experience, is the path to fulfillment, the solution to addiction, and the joy of being alive. So, what will life get out of YOU?
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KEEPING IT INTERESTING BY ALI GABLER
ou know we like to keep things interesting, right? So in typical Beit T’Shuvah form, 2016 has already meant shaking things up with the Development team, and it’s never been more exciting! In March we officially welcomed our new Director of Advancement, Janet Rosenblum, who comes to us with many years of experience and tons of energy, ready to help carry our mission forward. We feel she is a perfect fit for Beit T’Shuvah and look forward to sharing with you all of the new developments we are sure her presence will bring. At the beginning of the year I (Ali Gabler) was welcomed back from my maternity leave after the birth of my son Wyatt, and we all said “See you soon!” to Avia Rosen who departed on her maternity leave in February after the birth of her 3rd son, Eliott. We also welcomed Cheryl Wolf and Aryeh Robbins to the team at the end of 2015. Through these changes the department has matured in responsibility and creativity, and we feel very confident in the team today and the good work we will be able to do with the help of our tremendous donors. We cannot talk about the beginning of 2016 without mentioning the success of our 24th annual Gala in January. Chaired by Meryl Kern, Lise Applebaum and Janice Kamenir-Reznik, the event raised $1.8 million and had 1,000 guests in attendance. Of course, there were challenges, but we are committed to growing from them. Overall, we had a beautiful evening celebrating recovery and honoring two incredible members of our staff and community, Andy Besser and
Janet Rosenblum, Director of Advancement
Robert Landes. We are so grateful to our honorees and attendees and are excited to announce that our 2017 Gala will be held at a new location to be announced later this year. As we plan our big spring fundraisers we have continued gratitude for Meryl Kern, a tireless advocate and our new Development Committee Chair, for taking on the responsibility of reinvigorating the committee along-side Janet Rosenblum. The committee plays a huge role in the success of events such as this spring’s BTS Open Golf Tournament and Circle of Majesty Luncheon (Watch for your invitations in the mail!) as well as all of the fundraising Beit T’Shuvah must do to keep its doors open to people seeking redemption. We are excited for all of the fun and educational events and activities happening this summer and hope to see you and your families there. We encourage you to follow us on Facebook and Instagram and/or check in on our website for regular announcements of upcoming events. As the Development team works hard to ensure that no one who comes to Beit T’Shuvah for help is ever turned away for financial reasons, they also work hard to create a community that all of you can be a part of—a place where you know that you matter. We would love to engage with you and work together on moving the mission of Beit T’Shuvah forward. Please contact Development at 310-204-5200 for more info on how you can support our lifesaving program. ■
THE TEAM: Janet Rosenblum, Director of Advancement | Ali Gabler, Development Manager | Avia Rosen, Events Coordinator Nicole Goodman, Development Associate/Grants Manager | Amy Abrams, Development Associate Aryeh Robbins, Database Administrator | Cheryl Wolf, Temple Development Liaison
/beittshuvah @beittshuvah www.beittshuvah.org
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THE NEW AGE
ADDICT By Jessica Fishel and Doug Rosen
WHEN WE THINK OF THE STEREOTYPICAL ADDICT, we think of an old homeless person, begging for money, who has not showered in weeks. In today’s day and age, this is not always the case. Today, the stereotypical addict looks like this: graduated high school with a good GPA, has parents who adore them and would give them the world 10 times over, feels tremendous pressure to achieve and to please, and whose purpose has been defined by the school system.
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THE NEW FACE OF ADDICTION: AN OVERPROTECTED, OVERSCHEDULED AND STRESSED OUT TEENAGER Of course, we still treat people at Beit T’Shuvah who at one point in their lives filled the older stereotypical addict mold, but more often than not, we are seeing young adults who look nothing like that stereotype. In the past ten years, there has been a major shift in addiction because of the strict rules and high expectations that parents impose on their children. When we applied to college, we needed good grades, a few hours of community service, a couple extracurricular activities and a sufficient SAT score. Now, however, the expectations have risen to a level that is unachievable for most teenagers. In 2015, parents, teachers and college counselors suggest that students enroll in multiple sports and extracurricular activities, accumulate hundreds of hours of community service, take all AP classes, graduate with a 5.0 GPA and achieve a perfect SAT score. Teenagers are assigned hours of homework and are overscheduled each night of the week. How does society expect these teenagers to stay afloat with all of the pressures that they must endure? When are teenagers supposed to be teenagers, and enjoy their high school years? We don’t have the answers to these questions. But if our experience at Beit T’Shuvah and the current headlines can tell us anything, it’s that the new face of addiction is this: that of an overprotected, overscheduled and stressed out teenager. Some teenagers are able to balance the pressure, work through the stress and avoid using drugs as an escape from reality. However, many students are unable to cope with the expectations they are subjected to, and are never given the proper skills to get through trying times. We regularly see these stressed out students turn to drugs and alcohol as temporary escape from their realities. In California, marijuana is not seen as a “heavy” drug, and there is not as much of a stigma associated with using it. However, what teenagers often do not know, is that smoking marijuana takes a serious toll on the developing brain, and the marijuana that is available now is highly addictive. It is not the same marijuana that “hippies” were smoking in the 1960s. Many teenagers also drink and use prescribed amphetamines to keep them awake during their long days at school and long nights of studying. Again, many do not fully appreciate the harm in taking an extra Adderall because it is prescribed by a doctor. It is hard for teenagers to foresee that their marijuana smoking and Adderall popping may become a problem down the road. Unfortunately, a lot of the time it leads a teenager to becoming addicted at a young age and, as a result, in treatment at a young age.
We can clearly see that the drug epidemic in affluent communities is often directly attributed to stress and over stimulation. Parents love their children unconditionally and would do anything for them, which is wonderful. Unfortunately, such love actually can backfire and, ultimately, destroy their “perfect” child through both pressuring them to fit a certain social model of perfection or through overprotection. Sadly, in 2016, finding a happy medium of working hard and acting like a teenager is very difficult. Parents are rarely educated on how they should curb their own stress about their child succeeding and living up to their expectations. If teenagers did not have to live up to what their parents want them to be and instead could choose their own path, we may not see the “new face” addict so frequently. Severing the umbilical cord between the child and parents is essential, especially when the child enters treatment. Affluent youth must also learn how to care for themselves, which is something many have likely never had to do. They must learn that money, material goods, grades and scores do not matter in the long run! What does matter is being a kind person, helping others, feeling purposeful, finding a passion and enjoying life! These are skills that “new face” addicts need to learn. Today’s addict lacks purpose and passion because the purpose of many affluent teenagers’ lives is to merely do well in school and later in life make a lot of money. How is a teenager able to find out what he or she likes if there is no time in the day for selfdiscovery? We have found in the Partners in Prevention program that educating teens and their parents is the most effective solution to combating the “new face” of addiction. The pressures are becoming more severe each year. We must urgently pursue this and other effective solutions, so we do not have more teenagers entering treatment straight out of high school! It is critical that we remember that we must engage today’s teenagers in meaningful ways and focus on who they are and what matters to them. Grades, test scores and GPA’s do not define them, nor do they measure their character. Rather, character and spirit is measured by how they live out their values. We must constantly remind ourselves and them about the importance of this, so that we do not lose sight of what matters most! If we want our kids to succeed and live good lives we must take this call to action seriously and start taking it now. ■
BARS, BATS & TOTS CONGREGATION BEIT T'SHUVAH EXPANDS PROGRAMMING FOR OUR YOUTH BY CHERYL WOLF
or the past 30 years, Beit T’Shuvah has been known as a renowned treatment center based upon Jewish Spirituality, The 12-Steps, and psychotherapy. As we have continued to build Beit T’Shuvah, our congregation has blossomed as well. Today we offer an array of different experiences, ranging from our lively Shabbat and Holiday services, movie screenings and talent shows, to our guest speakers and Sisterhood. This past year, we launched our Pay-What-You-Can membership campaign enabling everyone who wishes to take part in our community. The campaign was based upon our belief that everyone, regardless of how much money they can afford for temple membership, should still have access to a spiritual home and community. This much needed campaign sprouted from the core concept of the Beit T’Shuvah treatment program mission: we do not turn away anyone who is seeking treatment regardless of their inability to pay. With a 60% increase in our temple membership, we are very proud of this new campaign and all of the new faces to our community. Part of this year’s growth is also demonstrated in the implementation of two new programs focusing on the youth of our Congregation. Firstly, our monthly BTS Kids Shabbat, a family service led by the incomparable Rabbi Paul Steinberg and Cantor Shira Fox, is geared towards our members with children two to ten years old. Each Shabapalooza is held in our beautiful sanctuary and is filled with songs, stories, spirituality and is followed by a family-friendly dinner. We encourage all members of our community with young children to come take part in this amazing Shabbat experience… and bring your friends! Secondly, we launched the Robert and Rochelle Gluckstein B’Nai Mitzvah Program. Beit T’Shuvah has long had a radical idea of what it means to become a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. The term “Bar Mitzvah” translates to one of the commandments which alludes that when a child turns 13, they are now responsible for
abiding by the commandments. At Beit T’Shuvah, mitzvah does not only mean commandment, it also means connection, and we feel it is imperative at this pivotal age that young adults become connected to a community and to their own spirituality. In this program, the student will work with our clergy, a spiritual seeker, our social action program, and of course with their family. They will not only prepare for their ceremony, they will also have the opportunity to participate in the creation of their ceremony with assistance from our Clergy and Creative Arts Department. This program, which can run from 10 months to 2 years, will be far more meaningful than just a “Jewish Party that we study for;” it will represent the story of a particular family and a particular child that are growing into a spiritual network of enduring connection. It is important to note that this focus on our youth is no coincidence, and not an initiative merely because ‘this is what Synagogues do.’ This is more importantly another sprout on a growing tree in which Beit T’Shuvah is proactively trying to nurture our Jewish youth toward healthy, integrated, whole, and confident selves. It’s not just our critical prevention programs or educational immersions that are going to help prevent or diagnose our youth; it is redirecting the traditions and the rituals so that they transcend themselves and become a tool for living well, without even thinking about it. With all of this growth, Congregation Beit T’Shuvah still remains the same loving, spiritual community where all are welcome and a good time is guaranteed. If you haven’t already, we invite you to come check us out! ■
JOIN US EVERY FRIDAY FOR SHABBAT SERVICES & DINNER AT 6:30pm. ASK US ABOUT RENTING OUR STUNNING NEW SPACE FOR YOUR SIMCHA!
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STEP by Scarlet Barber
There is a great void that lies within the transition between living in a supportive rehab environment and entering the workforce. Beit T’Shuvah’s Work Therapy Program recognizes and targets this disparity. This back to work phase in a person’s recovery can be one of the most challenging to face, and even more so to survive. Without being equipped with the necessary tools to make it through this shaky transition, relapse often seems like the only option—the only way to respond to the discomfort, the pressure and the responsibility that comes with extreme change. In the Work Therapy Program at Beit T’Shuvah, residents have guidance and support through this difficult stage. They are taught accountability and financial responsibility. Those teachings, coupled with continued counseling and therapy, position the residents for future success. Extended Care Manager and Work Therapy Program Director, Kelly Mulligan, states, “We imbue an element into the work experience that calls for the residents to bring the recovery principles that they are learning in direct relationship to their drug addiction into their work life.” S P R I N G 2 016
Whether a resident of Beit T’Shuvah has a recognizable passion or not, Work Therapy provides a venue to either explore or discover a passion. Beit T’Shuvah offers Work Therapy in numerous departments: the kitchen, development, clinical, Creative Matters, music, theatre, the BTS Thrift Store, the Elaine Breslow Institute, Partners in Prevention, and the Susan and Leonard Nimoy Career Center. For residents who recognize a passion, Work Therapy provides an avenue to achieve those dreams and gain confidence. For those unsure of what they are passionate about, Work Therapy provides an opportunity to explore possibilities, promoting realization of a possible purpose. For Justin, Jake, and Tara, three Work Therapy participants at Beit T’Shuvah, the program has propelled them forward in recovery, as well as provided them with sustainable tools in achieving their dreams. w w w. b e i t t s h u v a h . o r g | B E I T T ’ S H U V A H | 1 3
JAKE S. Age 28 2 previous attempts in rehab Addicted to alcohol, opiates, and cocaine
naccepted and disconnected were the feelings that swelled, the triggers that catalyzed the fire, the flames that engulfed Jake in the world of substance abuse as early as middle school. Attending a new school for the first time left Jake feeling aimless, anchorless, and seeking out a remedy to his loneliness. Quickly, Jake plummeted down the rabbit hole of addiction. An affinity for drawing and playing hockey were soon substituted with a fleeting sense of purpose in selling weed and eventually, cocaine. A daily battle with chemical dependence accelerated through multiple drugs, devouring the subsequent years of his life. Miraculously, he managed to graduate college in May of 2013, but was still plagued by a complete lack of direction. Jake began to drink daily, and although he used many drugs throughout the years, it was alcohol that took him to his knees. Waking up shaking and miserable every morning, there came a moment where Jake understood the severity of his addiction, and as a result, he asked for help. Jake arrived at Beit T’Shuvah as a day patient in July of 2014, and soon realized it would be the solution to his suffering. Becoming a full-time resident, Beit T’Shuvah became the destination of his salvation. Perhaps Jake’s epiphany foreshadowed his future endeavor of being instrumental in saving lives at Beit T’Shuvah, the community that saved his own life. Bonding with Zac Jones—a program facilitator at the time, now a counselor—after a Sunday morning meeting, he decided to follow Zac’s example of recovery. He decided to take on a Work Therapy position as a program facilitator in December of 2014. Working diligently to procure a staff position as a program facilitator, Jake’s goal came to fruition six months later. Achieving a staff position at Beit T’Shuvah as a program facilitator through the Work Therapy Program has served two functions: Jake has found both a calling he wants to turn into a career, and a close-knit family in the clinical department. His co-workers are his close friends—a bond that exceeds far beyond a work environment. Aspirations of being valuable to others by providing drugs have now been replaced by aspirations of helping the residents of Beit T’Shuvah to stay off of them. He explains with conviction, “It feels so special to work with people that are literally at the verge of death, and watch them come back to life.” Aiding in the transformation of others, Jake is finally starting to find success in his pursuit of purpose.
BOTTOM LINE: Before: “My life was a very small meaningless existence of selfishness and greed. And at the end of the day, I just didn’t feel like I produced anything to make the world a better place.” After: “What I’ve found at Beit T’Shuvah is a use for myself and a use for the skills and talents that I have, and at the end of the day, that makes me feel like I’ve contributed something.”
JUSTIN G. Age 27 20 previous attempts in rehab Addicted to Heroin, Meth, and Crack
moking a little pot here and drinking a little alcohol there, Justin was a typical teenager, but with a solid dedication to his athletic commitments. But things changed once he went away to college—once he was away from his parents’ suspicions and their ultimate authority. Falling into fraternity life, indulgent drinking and debilitating hangovers became the norm for Justin, and eventually, Oxycontin became the cure-all for those nasty morning-afters. No longer just a band-aid, those opiates became a crutch for each and every day he was in school. Just barely graduating, Justin then changed his scene, but the behavior remained the same. His addiction to Oxycontin led to a decade’s long battle with drugs, multiple arrests, the inability to hold a job, and scaring his parents half to death—that’s what landed Justin at Beit T’Shuvah in December 2014. Upon entrance to Beit T’Shuvah, Justin surrendered, resolving to take direction. Adopting pragmatism in the place of escapism, he participates in Work Therapy on the Beit T’Shuvah Thrift Store truck. Naturally, in the past, Justin would take the easy way out by seeking employment in jobs yielding more money for less work, a common characteristic found in addicts. Conversely, it’s hard work lifting furniture all day, but this role fills him with an unparalleled sense of accomplishment.
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While at work, Justin jokes around or discusses the latest sports games with his co-workers, Mickey and John, who are also his good friends. They teach him how to build his work ethic, as well as how to find the silver lining in any given situation, instead of fixating on the negative aspects. His work therapy experience has served many purposes in his recovery, as well as in his aspiration to go back to Law School by teaching him the importance of accountability, time management, and living in the moment. When his brother walked in on him shooting up heroin in the bathroom, the last straw leading to his arrival at Beit T’Shuvah, the bleakness encompassing his life eclipsed any glimmer of hope he had for the future. Now, over a year later, Justin has a great relationship with his family, he’s happy with who he is, and a career in law is on the horizon.
BOTTOM LINE: Before: “I felt hopeless and doomed, like I was fated to a life of misery.” After: “I feel optimistic that I will achieve the goal I set for myself, and I’m proud of the person I see in the mirror.”
TARA P. Age 28 1 previous attempt in rehab Addicted to Crystal Meth
dysfunctional family, battling ADHD, and being sent away from home—these were the trials Tara encountered in the formative years of her life. A sequence of wilderness programs, boarding schools, and treatment centers followed. Arriving home to a broken family in the aftermath of these events, unable to cope, eighteen-year-old Tara escaped the only way she knew how. She left home again, but this time of her own volition, and planted herself in Santa Barbara, attending community college and working two jobs in an attempt to create a life for herself. Instead, she was seduced by crystal meth and a dangerous lifestyle dancing and dealing drugs to support her habit. In and out of jail, engaging in numerous illegal activities, and eventually losing everything, Tara realized she couldn’t use drugs to cope anymore. Tara’s first attempt in recovery at Beit T’Shuvah was in December of 2011, but she was unable to actualize a life in sobriety. “I was never the type of drug addict that ever intended on quitting using drugs. I always thought I would end up in jail or dead eventually, and I knew that, and I never thought I would ever get sober because I couldn’t imagine my life without drugs,” she describes. Multiple years and arrests later, she changed her mind about the inevitability of this resolution, and she entered Beit T’Shuvah for the second time in February of 2014, now willing and desperate for a change. Formerly burdened by the mystery of recovery and sobriety, and unable to conceptualize these notions, Tara slowly became receptive to guidance. “Getting sober felt like leaping for life,” she explains, “I either stand on this cliff and get burned by the fire, or I jump for my safety and hope I land in deep water.” Understanding the difficulty of entering treatment, informed by her own experience, she decided to participate in Work Therapy as a program facilitator in the clinical department. A significant milestone for her, she describes this experience saying, “The most powerful thing about working at Beit T’Shuvah is helping other addicts stay sober; that’s what really keeps me sober.” Discovering a passion for helping others achieve sobriety, Tara was hired full time eight months later. Working in the clinical department began a new chapter in Tara’s life. Connection, patience, honesty, respect, friendship, discipline, family, and a purpose—this is a vast list of how Tara has proved past repetitions wrong. A new ambition to help others by becoming a labor and delivery nurse, like her mother and grandmother before her, stemmed from this position. Tara is a vision of success, illustrating how Beit T’Shuvah’s Work Therapy Program can unequivocally transform someone’s life.
BOTTOM LINE: Before: “I never intended to stop doing drugs. It didn’t cross my mind to try and quit and I was willing to suffer the consequences.” After: “I have everything I want, everything I wish I could have, I have, but it was something that was newly discovered. I never knew that I was able to live the way I live today.”
Revealing the penetrating truth of what the Work Therapy Program experience does for the residents in this transition, Kelly Mulligan explains, “There is the fantasy of sobriety, and there is the reality of sobriety, and sometimes when you fall into the complexities of facing an adult life, you feel like you are further than you have ever been from obtaining what you want in life—when the reality is, you’ve never been closer to achieving your dreams.” ■
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RUSSELL & MERYL KERN BY JENNY SHERMAN
ussell and Meryl Kern have made a wonderful life for themselves through all that they have done for others. Giving their time, energy, professional skills, mentorship and monetary donations, the Kerns have been, and continue to be, a life force within the Beit T’Shuvah community. They have loved ones who have been saved by the treatment center; they have grandchildren who exist because of relationships formed there. They have both had their hands deep in the formation and growth of Creative Matters Agency— the social enterprise of Beit T’Shuvah that trains recovering addicts “high valued skills,” as Russell puts it, in communication art. But most importantly, they fundamentally believe in what Beit T’Shuvah is and what it does for so many affected by addiction. There isn’t another organization that means more to the couple.
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“IT’S THE ORGANIZATION THAT WE’RE MOST PASSIONATE ABOUT...IT’S THE ORGANIZATION THAT WE’RE GRATEFUL FOR, FOR SAVING OUR CHILDREN.”
Russell has known Rabbi Mark for about twenty years—back when Rabbi was still in rabbinical school and Meryl hadn’t yet come into Russell’s life. But when Meryl did show up after interviewing for a position at Russell’s marketing agency, she came fraught with despair for her daughter who was battling legal troubles. Russell immediately thought of Rabbi and Beit T’Shuvah. “When [Meryl] walked in, I was like—I don’t really know why you’re here,” he jokes. “But I know one guy—of any place you should go—and that’s Rabbi.” With that, Meryl’s daughter went through treatment, cleaned up her life and is now living one full of meaning. “Beit T’Shuvah saved my child,” Meryl says with the utmost gratitude. God has a funny way of working. Who would ever have imagined that stepping foot into that agency for a job interview would lead Meryl to the love of her life, and the saving of her daughter. In 2009, the relationship between the Kerns and Beit T’Shuvah branched off into one of collaboration—one that would distinguish Beit T’Shuvah from a sea of treatment centers, and position it as a place that not only offers treatment, but also “AFTER ATTENDING SHABBAT opportunity for SERVICES AT THE HOUSE, AND people to acquire HEARING THE MUSIC THERE, new, relevant skills to help RUSSELL SAID TO HIMSELF, 'OH with a smooth MY GOD, WE’VE GOT TO GET transition into the THE WORD SPREAD OF THIS workforce. After WONDERFUL ORGANIZATION!'” attending Shabbat services at the house, and hearing the music there, Russell said to himself, “Oh my god, we’ve got to get the word spread of this wonderful organization!” It was the beginning of the social media craze at the time, and Russell knew that that digital platform could be instrumental in getting the word out about Beit T’Shuvah. Rabbi introduced Russell to John Sullivan—a BTS resident at the time and one of the key players in the formation of Creative Matters Agency (formerly BTS Communications). Russell began giving John books on marketing and advertising, which he took to rather quickly. Self-teaching, mentorship and direction sparked the idea that, maybe, they could start a little agency that would, “offer graphic design services to the synagogue and other businesses, and try to make it a training for profit business,” says Russell. This idea began as just that—an idea. There was no way of knowing that six years later, Creative Matters would be a thriving business with an impressive list of clients—many of whom are also nonprofit organizations. Russell continues to act as a mentor to the organization, and his prolonged involvement with the agency has been nothing short of critical in its solid, albeit fledgling success. With a marketing and advertising background herself, Meryl had much to offer the budding Creative Matters’ team. She too volunteered her time mentoring the interns, and brought her S P R I N G 2 016
firsthand experience in outdoor advertising to the agency when they began work on Fatburger’s outdoor campaign. “I was able to help guide them and help them learn what outdoor advertising was all about, and how different it is from what they’re doing today,” Meryl says of her involvement. Since Creative Matters was grounded in digital and collateral communication, this insider’s look into another, more primitive, yet essential form of marketing was invaluable to the agency and to its growth. The presence of Russell and Meryl Kern isn’t, by any means, only felt at Creative Matters; they are immersed in the life and culture of Beit T’Shuvah. “It’s the organization that we’re most passionate about,” Russell says, adding, “it’s the organization that we’re grateful for, for saving our children.” To Meryl, donating to Beit T’Shuvah is a “no brainer.” They are consistently in awe of all the great work that is done at the house—all the lives that are saved. “We have new marriages, we have new babies,” Russell boasts. “So the saving of life is not just the saving of life from death—it’s the saving of a full life.” That truth is what makes Beit T’Shuvah so special. It’s not just a place to get sober; it’s a place to reclaim a life that was once lost or never even yet discovered. It’s a place to find human connection and reconnect with estranged friends and family members. Russell reminds us that, “we talk about a richer more meaningful life [in AA], and many people leave Beit T’Shuvah living a richer and more meaningful life. And for [Meryl and me], we believe that to save one soul is like saving the world. So we’re 100% committed to that.” There is one thing that we have to remember when we look at our donors: they aren’t just blindly giving—every donation is deliberate, comes straight from the heart and is backed by unwavering support of Beit T’Shuvah’s cause. Russell and Meryl Kern know that whatever it is that they give, it is going to an organization with a cause that is personal, and one that has undoubtedly AND FOR [MERYL AND ME], changed their lives in the most wonderful WE BELIEVE THAT TO SAVE of ways. The life they ONE SOUL IS LIKE SAVING have made is what it is THE WORLD. SO WE’RE 100% today because of their COMMITTED TO THAT. dedication to changing the lives of those lost. During this interview with the Kerns, the author of this article expressed her thanks for the Kern’s role in changing her life, and for giving her the opportunity to discover her passion. Russell responds to that thanks by saying, “The fact that we can sit here and look at each other and smile, that this little crazy idea allowed an individual like yourself to have her life saved and to find meaningful work—that is what drives our passion and commitment to the organization.” There is no doubt that this amazing couple has been a part of changing the lives of many individuals, including this one. ■
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in the waves
in life By Lynn Lancaster
wo years ago, I was fortunate enough to be a part of the first cohort of Jewish educators to participate in an immersion week at the Elaine Breslow Institute for Addiction, Prevention and Family Education (EBI) at Beit T’Shuvah. I, along with five colleagues— most of us educators, some of us clergy—was invited to learn about myself, both professionally and personally. I was challenged to explore wholeness and brokenness in my own life, addiction and the human condition, and, perhaps, most importantly, the ways that community and Torah go hand in hand at Beit T’Shuvah. It is through learning and hard work that my life has been profoundly transformed, personally and professionally. Over the course of the five-day immersion at EBI, the professionals of Beit T’Shuvah, and the treatment center’s residents, became our teachers. We learned from them and with them. Each day began with Torah study with the rest of the community. We learned about addiction, family, and t’shuvah (repentence). We spent hours learning with Rabbi Mark, Harriet and Dr. O’Connor (a blessed memory), along with many other inspiring people. We were privileged enough to participate in facilitated group sessions with residents, where we quickly realized how much we had in common with the plight of an addict, and how little actually separated us as human beings. The week ended with an incredible Shabbat service, another chance to experience Beit T’Shuvah living Jewish values. We traveled back to the East Coast exhausted, exhilarated and inspired. As educators, we listened to the voices of Beit T’Shuvah and heard the challenges in our own communities. We all worked with families who were already in trouble, many of them living with shame, and most of them trying to hide. Our teens were exhausted from trying to maintain a facade of perfection. Rather than offer them sanctuary from a world that only focused on a narrowly defined path to success, the Jewish community cheered them on. After a week at Beit T’Shuvah, it was impossible to deny the heavy cost our families and children were paying. Why was there no place at the Jewish community’s table for those who struggled, questioned their worth, and were in pain? Why couldn’t we acknowledge that addiction, mental illness and substance abuse were just as prevalent in the Jewish community as in any other? How could we help create Jewish communities that were as comfortable with our tears—and everything in between—as they are with our simchas (joyous occassions)? How could we teach our youth that falling down and getting back up, with the help of our families and community, is what Jewish life is all about. This was the task that the Elaine Breslow Institute put before us. I knew the struggle all too well. Three years earlier, when my own teenage son was at Beit T’Shuvah, Rabbi Mark came to spend a pre-planned afternoon with the teens and families at the Forest Hills Jewish Center. Though I had been a professional in the community for ten years, and had invited Rabbi Mark to work with families that I cared about deeply, I was too afraid to share my own truth. Soon after, I learned that honesty was healing for me and that it created an open door for others to do the same. I returned from the immersion program with greater knowledge and understanding. I also returned with a group of people who had shared S P R I N G 2 016
the experience and understood the work that needed to be done. I was not sure how that work would take shape, but opportunities presented themselves, and I became more confident that I could make a difference. My focus was on creating a safe space for teens and tweens. I knew that I wanted to teach resilience and passion in a way that helped each child realize that he or she was created in God’s image. I wanted our children to have the opportunity to learn Judaism’s message in a way that would help them make healthy choices and take appropriate risks. I also knew that this would not happen in a classroom.
"I wanted our children to have the opportunity to learn Judaism’s message in a way that would help them make healthy choices and take appropriate risks. I also knew that this would not happen in a classroom." Over the summer of 2014, UJA Federation of N.Y., and the Jim Joseph Foundation requested proposals for Teen summer programs to begin in the summer of 2015. While I wondered how to construct a program that would reach Jewish teens with what I had learned at Beit T’Shuvah, my partner Danny Mishkin was surfing on a beach in N.Y.C., wondering how he could use surfing as a vehicle to teach Jewish teens about Jewish spirituality and resilience. A colleague and mutual friend realized the potential of our working together, and thus Sababa Surf Camp was born. Last summer, we ran three week-long sessions of Sababa Surf Camp. Though we thought that teens would be seduced by the idea of surfing, we quickly found out that not only had most N.Y. teens never surfed, but also it was a frightening prospect for them. However, when we offered them a week of no worries at the beach, the deal was sealed. Danny and I worked with a team from Beit T’Shuvah. Baila Drucker and Joseph Lancaster of Beit T’Shuvah’s family and clinical programs worked with us in N.Y., staffing each of the sessions. Their ideas, creativity, and know-how were instrumental in making our first summer a success. Our week long sessions provide our teens with a respite from their pressured lives. They learned relaxation tools based in Jewish learning and prayer. Surfing is the perfect metaphor and medium for what we are trying to teach. Surfing teaches the importance of getting back up after you fall. Riding a wave allows a teen to feel powerful and humble at the same time. We want teens to be enthusiastic, resilient, healthy and a little bit rebellious. The combination provides a very different Judaism than most of our teens have experienced. With the beach as our sanctuary, and the waves as our learning lab, Judaism becomes cool and can help a teen find life more meaningful and fulfilling. As we prepared for our first summer, I returned to the Elaine Breslow Institute, and Danny attended for the first time alongside me. Beit T’Shuvah was our learning lab. As we expand the program, we continue to use the learning and resources we found at Beit T’Shuvah. We are working to bring the Sababa experience to more teens in N.Y. this summer, and hope that it will expand in summers to come. Our goal, just like EBI’s, is to help teens find their balance in life, as well as on a board. ■ w w w. b e i t t s h u v a h . o r g | B E I T T ’ S H U V A H | 1 9
EVENTS A GLANCE AT THIS YEAR’S BIGGEST MOMENTS
We were honored last year with visits from extraordinary people and organizations, from MLK Shabbat to the kids of The Miracle Project, and discussions led by Suzanna Heschel, Bill Deresiewicz and Eric Gentry to name a few. The Sisterhood brought us latkes and lattes, and our talent show was host to an array of incredible performances. We also introduced the BTS Menemsha Films Series and watched powerful and moving stories in our very own sanctuary.
Leadership Institute Immersion
Food Chain$ Premiere
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Sisterhood Latkes & Lattes
Campus Dedication Event?
Eric Gentry Seminar
Menemsha Film Series
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The Miracle Project joins Beit T’Shuvah
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Suzanna Heschel Night of Learning
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By Barbara Solarz
bts|music In talking about Beit T’Shuvah’s Music Department, Glenn Goss, project leader of the fledgling BTS Music project, says, “We might be the best-kept secret anywhere.” And yet for years now, the Music Department’s exciting brand of contemporary original music has brought the Jewish community into the metaphorical Chautauqua tent and kept them coming back to services by the hundreds. bts|music Glenn came to Beit T’Shuvah in 2014, and is now employed by Beit T’Shuvah to bring professional music industry practices to the Music Department. His life-long experience in the music industry as a veteran songwriter and musician, and a desire to endow the legacy of the Beit T’Shuvah songwriters, make him the logical choice to spearhead the music publishing project, BTS Music. Glenn envisions a BTS Songwriters Collective, a community of songwriters who will “give back” to Beit T’Shuvah, while creating an avenue for songwriting revenue in a unique partnership of their musical talent and Beit T’Shuvah’s resources.
with the scrubs or play in the band?”
James Fuchs is the Creative Director of the Creative Arts Department. Like Glenn, he recognizes that music attracts people to Beit T’Shuvah, but also believes that Beit T’Shuvah helps the individual musician find his or her purpose and passion in life. He articulates the role of the Art Department as part of the BTS program of treatment: “This is a magical place. From where I sit, I’m always finding if people can go through the process, they’ll find they fill a need here. We will find it together . . . because people come to us and they have these talents. And what do you do with it? What do you do with a guy who’s a ProTools whiz? We put him in the studio. What do you do with Alex S.? A guy who’s been here four times, who’s a talented guy who can’t keep off drugs? Give him a place to use his talent while he’s here. . .”
Laura Bagish, Beit T’Shuvah’s Choir Director talks about the character of the songs coming out of Beit T’Shuvah being unique: “What we are doing is different from a lot of people. . . We’re writing songs in a personal way.” Beit T’Shuvah’s catch phrase “You Matter” was inspired by Laura’s introspective anthem “Everything Matters” and trademarks Beit T’Shuvah from the theme song on the website to the ID bracelets given to first time Shabbat attendees, to the sign off on Rabbi Mark’s email. Written from a perspective of personal stories and personal struggles, the music makes manifest rawness, honesty and introspection. It engages those cognitive behavioral processes that are crucial to Beit T’Shuvah’s clinical treatment of addiction. And in return, it rewards the artist with a sense of agency, choice and renewed confidence in their creative faculties. As with most things at Beit T’Shuvah, the original vision for music at BTS came from Harriet. Speak to any of the key players in the music department about the old days, and Harriet’s
The ProTools whiz is Aaron Delug, who manages the house band and the recording studio at Beit T’Shuvah. Aaron came into Beit T’Shuvah on a court order in 2010. Although he could play the bass and guitar, and had gone to school to learn sound engineering at 21, he didn’t tell anyone at Beit T'Shuvah about his music ability. When Choir Director Laura Bagish caught him playing the guitar on the patio, he reluctantly agreed to try participating in the band. “But I’m not doing any Shabbat services. I just want to make that clear. You will never get me to play at a service.” Aaron pauses and wryly concludes: “And the rest is history.” Now he recruits new residents to play at services: “You have to be there anyway, dude. You want to sit S P R I N G 2 016
Aaron is 36 now, and a husband and father. He describes Beit T’Shuvah’s unique appeal: “Most people who come to Beit T’Shuvah, who get involved here, their first exposure is a Friday Night Service. And their first exposure to the Friday Night Service is a guitar solo. When ‘Bim Bam’ starts, you’re right there: drums, guitar solo, all that stuff. Before Rabbi ever says a word about Heschel or whatever he’s going to talk about, before anybody takes a cake or they do gratitude or anything, it’s the first thing that sucks them in—the music.”
“What do you do with Alex S.? A guy who’s been here four times, who’s a talented guy who can’t keep off drugs? Give him a place to use his talent while he’s here.”
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“Do creative people become addicts or are addicts creative? ...so many people who come here are talented musically or in some other area. That’s not an accident.
Talented people become addicts. Addicts are talented. I don’t know how you establish the difference. ”
name will come up as the inspiration for music. And the metaphor for Harriet is: she unlocked the piano. Harriet explains: “Music has always been my connection to mind. I get there through music. I love music. We were looking for a musician and Carrie [Appelbaum Newman] found James [Fuchs] in jail. And she came running back and said: ‘I found you a musician!’ She found me a musician. . . She found me a genius! “And that was a real Beit T’Shuvah story because James was angry and dark and didn’t want any of this, didn’t want The 12 Steps and didn’t want therapy and was grumpy a lot of the time, and I would hear him playing the piano in the sanctuary. And I would go and listen. I ain’t no genius but I know one when I hear one! “And counselors would say ‘He shouldn’t be able to play the piano until he works the steps. Let’s take away the piano because that’s all he does.’ And I said ‘Wrong! That’s the only thing that’s keeping him here and that’s igniting his spirit and if we take that away, he’ll have nothing. Let’s let him play and hope that he’ll get to the other at some point.’ “Songwriting. That was Mark’s [Rabbi Mark] piece. He had this vision to take prayers and have people interpret them and then set them to music. . . To make the prayers contemporary and relevant to people. And that’s taken off, the music writing part.” The music writing part has indeed taken off. In fact, inspired by Rabbi’s Spiritual Songwriting group and led by Glenn Goss in a serendipitous partnership with Barbara Solarz (a congregation member), Beit T’Shuvah is creating a music publishing arm to actively market and license the original music coming out of the Music Department. Harriet continues: “I feel really excited about that. That’s an outlet for talent and creativity as well as a potential revenue source. And putting those things together is what I would like to do in all areas of the program: uniting talent with revenue streams.” A combination of art and a revenue stream is the perpetual dilemma of the working artist. And that’s exactly what BTS Music’s mission is. We publish and copyright music written by our artist collective and our residents, promoting it to Jewish organizations, outside commercial enterprises in the United States and abroad. We employ professional music administrators to market and place our original
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music. The revenue will be split between the individual songwriter and Beit T’Shuvah. We also plan to solicit membership to our Musical Tzedakah Box in which membership donations will help us fund our program. Members of the Tzedakah Box will have access to music downloads and special music events and concerts. And Beit T’Shuvah will have a revenue stream to fund beds for musicians (as we’ve seen, musicians are a particularly susceptible population to addiction), to update the recording studio, and to fund the BTS Music Work Therapy program, which will give residents a chance to work in the music business and learn fundamental business practices while earning money. Beit T’Shuvah recognizes that a large part of our event attendance is due to the musicians who come here to be helped, and who contribute to our music program. We intend to partner with other music recovery and aid organizations to maintain our unique blend of Judaism, recovery, self-reflection, and art.
“out of all the things I’ve done, this is the best musical experience I’ve ever had. It’s more than the music: lives change here. ” Harriet muses: “I don’t know which is the chicken and which is the egg. Do creative people become addicts or are addicts creative? Because creativity is a right brain activity and I think a lot of addicts are right-brained and don’t do well in school and in traditional venues. They don’t find their place easily in the world. And so many people who come here are talented musically or in some other area. That’s not an accident. Talented people become addicts. Addicts are talented. I don’t know how you establish the difference.” Glenn, in speaking about the motivation for the Songwriter’s Collective, explains it this way: “The unique thing is that we have a collective of people who are writing songs and sharing their experience of how they got there and how they get through life. So I think we have that going here because that is what happens here. It happens organically. “For me, it’s bigger than the music. The music for me is something that we do together, that we can share. But out of all the things I’ve done, this is the best musical experience I’ve ever had. It’s more than the music: lives change here. The process—I’ve watched lives change. I’ve watched my life change... And in that, this great music comes out that we share with the community of 400 people every weekend... It has a purpose, a daily purpose, a weekly purpose. It’s not about playing in a stadium. It’s not about that. It’s about what we can give back to this community. And that to me is a real music experience.” ■
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BTS OPEN 2015
On June 8, 2015 Beit T’Shuvah held the BTS Open at El Caballero Country Club in Tarzana. One hundred and nine dedicated players joined us for an amazing day filled with good fun, food, and friends on El Caballero’s gorgeous fairway. Between the cigars, the sunshine, and the follow-through, supporting a good cause has never been so enjoyable! Thank you to everyone for coming out to support us, and making this tournament a holein-one!
THANK YOU TO OUR GENEROUS SPONSORS!
the antin family
delug family | charles winkler
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A PROGRAM OF PROGRESS INTRODUCING BEIT T’SHUVAH’S IOP PROGRAM BY ANDY BESSER
aily marijuana use among college-aged young adults is at its highest since 1980. In California, the rate of youth drugrelated overdose deaths more than doubled in the past ten years. Opiate prescription pain killer abuse is sky rocketing as is heroin use. Prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are, after marijuana and alcohol, the most commonly abused substances by Americans 14 and older. We are in the middle of a major drug abuse crisis. Here at Beit T’Shuvah, we have developed a brand new program that expands the options and opportunities available for those needing and seeking recovery. The Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) at Beit T’Shuvah has just opened and is for adults, 18 and older, who are ready to make the commitment to recovery, but do not require the intensity or duration of Beit T'Shuvah's residential treatment program. For those individuals who are living in a safe environment, our IOP is designed to provide world class treatment within the framework of Beit T'Shuvah's mission of providing addiction treatment to any appropriate client, irrespective of their ability to pay. Our IOP's individualized 90-day program is unique in that we are the only not-for-profit community-based IOP providing clients with their own team of professionals dedicated to their recovery. Each client is assigned an addiction counselor, a psychotherapist, and a spiritual counselor, which allows us to provide truly individualized treatment. As a not-for-profit, we are able to focus on recovery and help each of our clients create a sustainable foundation upon which they can rebuild their lives. The IOP runs from 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. Monday through Wednesday, and from 9:00 a.m. until noon on Thursdays. Following IOP programing, clients have the option of staying on the Beit T’Shuvah campus and participating in the regular BTS programing and BTS community activities. This provides the opportunity for IOP clients to become fully engaged and connected with Beit
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T’Shuvah. Connection to a sober community helps support and ensure recovery. Our program is comprised of a combination of 12-Step recovery and spirituality; we embrace all therapeutic modalities, including medicalassisted recovery. Each day clients will participate in a combination of individual therapy and process group sessions; they will meet with their addiction and spiritual counselors, as well as participate in their choice of community activities, which will aid in their transition back to a meaningful life. Our integrative approach works on mind, body and spirit. The mind-body activities available to our clients include hiking, gardening, choir, theatre classes, pilates, chiropractic care, psalms and songs, music, Los Angeles Marathon training, group fitness training, meditation, art therapy, basketball, equine therapy, surfing and more. All of our programing is designed to teach the skills necessary to achieve sustained sobriety, personal recovery and to create a sense of connection to the community at Beit T'Shuvah. It is well-established fact that connection to a supportive and nurturing community is a key ingredient for sustained sobriety. For nearly 30 years, Beit T'Shuvah has been helping its clients recover their passion and discover their purpose. A passion and purpose filled life is one in which drugs and addictive behaviors become less necessary. As the knowledge concerning addiction treatment has advanced and evolved, so has Beit T'Shuvah's programing and standards of practice. Beit T'Shuvah is providing state of the art treatment in a brand new facility. We are now JCAHO accredited, the highest rating for healthcare providers. Beit T'Shuvah is proud to now be offering a world-class outpatient program under the Beit T'Shuvah umbrella. Welcome to the IOP at Beit T’Shuvah. ■ S P R I N G 2 016
to W n o d t L au un
By J e n n y S h e r m a n WE CAN PICTURE IT—AN ANGSTY TWENTY-SOMETHING PLOPPED ON THE COUCH, BONG IN ONE HAND, GAME CONTROLLER IN THE OTHER— GLAZED, SLOTHFUL AND DISINTERESTED. OFTEN TIMES, WE SEE SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T CARE TO WORK, WHO DOESN’T CARE TO MOVE FORWARD IN LIFE, SOMEONE WHO SEEMS PERFECTLY CONTENT NOT DOING ANYTHING AT ALL. THESE ARE THE IMAGES THAT TYPICALLY COME TO MIND WHEN WE THINK OF A “FAILURE TO LAUNCH.” BUT WHAT GOES ON BENEATH THAT VISUAL CLICHÉ? WHY IS THAT PERSON STUCK? WHAT IS HOLDING THEM BACK? I AM HOPING TO UNCOVER SOME OF WHAT LIES BENEATH THE SURFACE OF TWO PEOPLE WHO GOT SO STUCK: ONE WHO CAME INTO TREATMENT A SELF-DESCRIBED FAILURE TO LAUNCH; AND ONE WHO CAME IN AFTER HAVING CRASHED… HARD—THE LATTER IS ME. MY NAME IS JENNY. I AM A FORMER BEIT T’SHUVAH RESIDENT, AND I NOW WORK AT CREATIVE MATTERS AS A COPYWRITER. I’D LIKE TO INTRODUCE MYSELF, AND MY GOOD FRIEND AND COWORKER, ERIC. I first met Eric Miller in the spring of 2014, when Beit T’Shuvah treated all of us residents to a trip to AJU’s Brandeis Camp Institute for four days of sober fun and bonding. On a grassy field, I was getting to know Eric, and some other commiserating comrades. I asked him what he was “in for.” He said, “Well, Rabbi told me I’m a ‘failure to launch.’” Initially, I giggled a bit, but I understood what he meant. I had come into treatment as an alcoholic, but I identified with that word—failure. And I could certainly understand what it meant to fail at launching in life. Dreaming of the stars, but always believing they were out of my reach. Standing frozen in time while all my peers soared past me in accomplishment. Eric and I quickly became friends. S P R I N G 2 016
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He had this cynical outlook on life, and a self-deprecating sense of humor that I found endearing and relatable. But after a while, I saw the anxiety, I saw the pain, I saw the self-loathing and internal despair. I felt it because I knew it. But I didn’t know where his struggles, where his pain came from, or why he seemed to dislike himself so much. I knew he wasn’t abused or mistreated growing up. I knew his parents loved him unconditionally. I knew he lived in a world of affluence—I too came from that world, once upon a time, and I knew money certainly didn’t buy happiness. So what ‘bought’ so much anxiety and misery? Raising a child in affluence isn’t necessarily a precursor to anything; eric and his dad - 2004 wanting the best for a child is just part of the role as a loving, caring parent. But we often don’t look at the bits and pieces that surround our children as they are growing up; the invisible elements we often have no control over—ADHD and other learning disabilities, sibling dynamics, where we live, our chemical makeup or physical appearance. I wanted to understand Eric better, so I talked to the people who could uncover those elements—his parents. In the early years of his life, Eric suffered from a speech problem. His parents, Joel and Lori, both talked about a medication Lori was given when she was pregnant with Eric called, Terbutaline, which was prescribed off-label as an—experimental at the time—anticontraction medication to delay preterm labor. They both mentioned it in connection with the speech impairment, and I found reports of that medication connected to ADHD, depression, anxiety, autism, and cognitive and neuropsychiatric disorders. I am mentioning this because this is one of those invisible elements in Eric’s life that no one had any control over. Eric’s speech eventually improved—he now has the “gift of gab,” as Lori lovingly puts it and any impairment was close to nonexistent by the time he entered first grade. But the anxiety and frustration attached to it lingered. At about the same time, Eric’s family moved from a modest home to a stately one, with a pool and a lake for a backyard. The luxuries in that home were many, a virtual mecca for a child. Eric and his older sister, Randee, had everything a kid could ask for. But Eric was living in the shadow of his sister. Randee excelled in everything she did, and seemingly “could do no wrong,” as Lori put it. Eric, on the other hand, had trouble communicating. “He was living with a teacher, a doctor, and sibling who was quite verbal, and he couldn’t express himself as much as he probably would have wanted to,” Lori explains. “It caused him to be frustrated. 2 8 | B E I T T ’ S H U V A H | w w w. b e i t t s h u v a h . o r g
And I think it took a lot out of him emotionally because he was frustrated.” Randee moved on to a private school in 6th grade, and Eric’s dad, Joel, wanted Eric to have the same opportunity once he reached 6th grade. In private school Eric was doing well and making friends, but something switched. Joel was upset to learn from Eric’s math teacher that he hadn’t been turning in his homework for weeks. “I was paying all this money for private education, and I threatened to pull him out because he didn’t seem to grasp the cost. I don’t think he appreciated the benefits of private school as much as his sister did,” as Joel explains this time in Eric’s life. He believed strongly that, “if you don’t put out 100 percent effort—if you don’t work for something, then you’re not going to get the benefits, and I’m going to take the benefit away from you.” This theme would continue on through college. Eric would be materially rewarded for goals that were never necessarily his, and then punished for failing to meet them. Inevitably, this cycle would perpetuate some serious but intangible internal struggles.
I WOULD STAY UP UNTIL DAWN, AND SLEEP UNTIL DUSK. THAT WAS THE “EDUCATION” MY FATHER WAS FUNDING. Along that vein, In college, Eric did well, and was rewarded with a shiny, new Cadillac CTS for his good grades. But then Eric would stop doing his homework, stop going to classes, and eventually dropped them. The consequences? His dad started charging him for the car, payments Eric couldn’t afford, so the car was taken away. Eric went back and forth between Michigan State and Oakland University for eight years, never obtaining a degree. This passive behavior continued until coming to Beit T’Shuvah. Similar to Eric’s upbringing, I grew up in the nicest neighborhoods, went to the best private schools, and lived in beautiful homes with pools and beaches in their backyards. I was given whatever I wanted, and wasn’t expected to eric - 2011 work for any of it. I had three credit cards at 16, a different car every two years until I was 27, and tutors at my house every day. Even with S P R I N G 2 016
all those things, I was unhappy. I didn’t know how to do anything for myself. I’ve always had crippling anxiety, a crushing sense of inadequacy, and innumerable fears. I would look around me and see all of my peers from high school go on to Ivy League schools, and then on to jobs as lawyers, executives, doctors and politicians. But I couldn’t move. I failed at every attempt at college—and not because I lacked the intelligence; I just didn’t believe I had enough of it. I was scared, and devoid of any confidence in my ability to follow through with anything. Like Eric, I would start school, do well, and then give up, dropping my classes and never telling anyone. I would spend my days, bong nestled in my lap, TV glaring, and copious amounts of Taco Bell wrappers spread out on the table before me. I would stay up until dawn, and sleep until dusk. THAT was the “education” my father was funding.
and didn’t tell his work. He would leave early and pretend to go to class only to go home, smoke pot, eat fast food and play video games—anything he could do to escape a painful reality that he was a disappointment to himself and his parents. But one day, he realized he couldn’t live like that any longer. He came clean to his parents and they thought it would be best that he seek treatment. So he made the journey to Beit T’Shuvah.
Jenny and her dad , arthur sr . - 1996
WE WERE TWO EREMITIC MILLENNIALS FROM OPPOSITE ENDS OF THE COUNTRY, WHO HAD EACH SPENT THEIR LIVES HIDING FROM THE WORLD, LIVING IN THEIR HEADS INSTEAD OF LIVING OUT THEIR LIVES. But unlike Eric’s father, I was never punished, and nothing was taken away from me. I was excused from my lies, coddled and enabled. After my attempt at two city colleges, I moved back home at 20 and began working for my father’s law office. I would do so for the next seven years, until his death. It was then that I was punched in the face with reality. I had no one to care for me, to make sure I had a roof over my head, a car to get me around, or a job to give me some semblance of purpose. For as long as I can remember, I had been coasting aimlessly through life, and hiding from everything. I smoked pot daily from 7th grade on; it eased my discomfort, and it disconnected me from my world and all the players in it. It kept me in a perpetual state of daydreaming; I was happiest when I was fantasizing about who I wanted to be, what I wanted to look like, and all the friends I wished I had. What actually went on: years, and years of illicit behavior, hallucinogens, cocaine, ecstasy, and 15 years of what brought me to my knees, and to Beit T’Shuvah—a serious drinking problem that I managed to hide for years. I got high, I got drunk, I entered one meaningless and toxic relationship after another—all to escape feeling bad about myself, my choices, and my life.
Eric and I both came into treatment feeling like failures. We both came in with a tremendous amount of anxiety and self-hatred. We both came in feeling alone. We were two eremitic millennials from opposite ends of the country, who had each spent their lives hiding from the world, living in their heads instead of living out their lives. Even when love surrounds you, when you feel alone and like you don’t know how to matter, the world is a bleak place; and motivation, drive and ambition are nowhere in sight. Coming to Beit T’Shuvah, Eric and I both were in that bleak place. With time, help, friendships and guidance, we began to understand our great inner worth. Two years later, the world is a much different place. We each have purpose and drive, and we’re definitely not alone anymore. Today Eric has a wealth of friendships, an incredible relationship with his parents, who are proud of him, and he is a critical member of a team at Creative Matters. As for me, I have a newfound self-love. It was in part fostered by an uncovered passion for copywriting. Words are my currency, and I am affluent in a way I never knew before. ■
Eric engaged in his own form of hiding and self-medicating. Before he came to Beit T’Shuvah, he was supposed to be working part time and going to school part time. But he stopped going school S P R I N G 2 016
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The following are alumni of the Beit Tâ€™Shuvah program that we lost in 2015. Their spirit will forever live in our hearts. Ryan Naghi Robert Shapiro Lindsey Todd Jonathan Zibrak
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Ivy Growing Wild Why Our Overachieving Children Are Under Great Duress
By Jenny Sherman
THERE IS A GROWING PROBLEM TAKING PLACE IN OUR CULTURE ONE THAT MANY OF US AREN’T AWARE OF, OR ARE ONLY JUST BEGINNING TO TALK ABOUT.
t is an issue regarding our own kids. Without sugar-coating it, they are depressed, anxious, addicted, and some even suicidal. At the Elaine Breslow Institute for Addiction, Prevention and Family Education (EBI) we are trying desperately to bring this conversation to the community, so that we can save our children. We are used to seeing people coming into Beit T’Shuvah who are self-described “black sheep.” But often unnoticed are the kids who, in the eyes of their parents, schools, and community, are the best and brightest, the ones in pursuit of the Ivy Leagues. What we are uncovering is that parents are an active (if not aggressive) part of that pursuit, and that pursuit can be harmful to our children. Harriet Rossetto, founder of Beit T’Shuvah and EBI suggests there is a problem with “over pressuring, over parenting, overindulging, helicoptering, and commodifying our children. Where parents’ self esteem has been enmeshed with kids accomplishments—the results are kids who are suicidal, anxious, depressed, addicted.” Rossetto has coined this permeating issue the “Trauma of Privilege,” and she is not alone in this thinking. Rossetto and her like-minded peers know that parents are driven by fear. They’re afraid there
won’t be enough spaces in the top 10 schools. They’re afraid there aren’t enough jobs out there, that there isn’t enough money. They’re afraid that their kids will fail to launch, only to wind up living at home in the basement well into adulthood. They’re afraid their children may (gasp!) settle for mediocrity. Fear-based parenting has taken the place of love-based parenting, and something needs to change. Harriet Rossetto believes that change begins now, and its seed is being planted at EBI.
FEAR-BASED PARENTING HAS TAKEN THE PLACE OF LOVE-BASED PARENTING, AND SOMETHING NEEDS TO CHANGE. This past year, EBI welcomed three authors, each at the forefront of this discussion: Julie Lythcott-Haims, Dr. Lisa Miller, and William Deresiewicz. Each author has firsthand experience in the world of Ivy Leagues, and each has a great understanding of, and insight into, the plight of young people on their quest for perfection, the immense suffering taking place, and a parent’s role in stoking the
WHAT THEY FOUND: THOSE COMMUNITIES SHOWED RATES OF SUBSTANCE ABUSE, ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION HIGHER THAN IN THE INNER CITY. flames. Harriet and EBI are striving to get the word out—to as many parents, educators, and community members as possible— before it ends in catastrophe. We see now that it’s not just the black sheep. The “success” stories are winding up just as troubled as the “screw-ups.” These authors peel back the curtain to suggest why.
to want their child to succeed. “We gaze down at our precious little ones with a promise to do all we can to help them make their way into the long life that lies ahead. There is no amount of direction on our part that will teach them to stand or walk before they are ready.
The common thread for Lythcott-Haims, Miller, and Deresiewicz is the importance of allowing a child to walk their own path—not that of another’s vicarious design. Former Dean of Freshmen at Stanford University, and a mother of two teenagers, Julie LythcottHaims has put her years of research and findings into her book, How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success. Throughout her years at Stanford, LythcottHaims has seen “the love and fear behind our over involvement,” as parents. She has “come to the conclusion that we define success too narrowly. And what’s worse, this narrow, misguided definition of success has led us to harm a generation of young adults—our children.” What deems a child a success, more often than not, are perfect grades, endless extracurriculars and acceptance into a top tier college. Dr. Lisa Miller, author of The Spiritual Child: The New Science on Parenting for Health and Lifelong Thriving, explains that that pressure to succeed begins at a very young age. Kids are valued by the sum of their parts. “I’m an athlete, I’m good at math, I’m popular or not.” But children need to be looked at and treated as a whole person—“a being on earth, a soul, a being of love,” says Miller. Through that lens, “everything might just look a lot different than just the sum of [their] parts.”
Author Lisa Miller
But we are eager for their progress,” as Lythcott-Haims so delicately describes those first years of parenting. But there is a point when eagerness turns to desperation, and when exactly that switch takes place is unique to every parent-child relationship. Lythcott-Haims talks about shifts in parenting—important ones that took place in the mid 1980s. An increased awareness of child abductions in ‘83; the idea that kids don’t do enough school work, influenced by the publication A Nation at Risk, also in ‘83; the “self-esteem movement”; and lastly, the creation of the playdate in 1984. Unlike the childhoods of yesterday when our mothers would tell us to go outside and play, and be home in time for dinner, play-dates—meant to be a scheduling tool for mothers returning to the workforce—did something different: “Once parents started scheduling play, they then began observing play, which led to involving themselves in play. Once a critical mass of parents began being involved in kids’ play, leaving kids home alone became taboo, as did allowing kids to play unsupervised,” says Lythcott-Haims. Children would become increasingly dependent on a parent, and less apt to making their own decisions and thinking for themselves.
The encouragement and embrace of spirituality plays a bigger part in a child’s life than we realize. As a clinical psychologist and a mother of three (two tweens and one teen), Dr. Miller has studied the growth of children, both at home, and through her work at Columbia University. In a study her colleague conducted over the span of ten years, that colleague looked at a cohort of young adults living in affluent suburbs of New York and San Francisco, beginning at 6th grade all the way through high school, college and out the other side. What they found: those communities showed rates of substance abuse, anxiety and depression higher than in the inner city. And within the child report, teacher report, and parent report in the home, there was a great deficit of unconditional love. That deficit shows up in more places than we may realize. Miller When parents are so preoccupied by, and deeply involved in every describes a typical day in the life of a young person. When a parent move their child makes, the child begins to lose a sense of self. picks up their child from school, do they say, “I am so happy to see They begin to believe that what they are doing, what goals they are you, tell me what happened today?” Or do they ask, “How was the striving to achieve, and the direction in which they are headed is math test, how was the soccer game?” Miller explains that, “loving, “right” just because that is what they have been told to be right by good parents who wanted good things for their children—who the people who hold the most influence over them—their parents. truly loved their children, had been subsumed in a rhythm of a “But there is something that’s a great deal more important than culture of outcome, a rhythm of a culture of the commodification parental approval: learning to do without it. That’s what it means to of the child.” become an adult,” a point William Deresiewicz makes in Of course, things started out far simpler. It is only natural for a parent his New York Times’ bestselling
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book, Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life. An award-winning essayist and critic, Deresiewicz taught English at Yale for ten years, and at Columbia for five. Deresiewicz so poignantly describes the importance of following one’s own path, saying, “You won’t be able to recognize the things you really care about until you have released your grip on all the things that you’ve been taught to care about.” Having been immersed in the Ivy League world for 15 years, Deresiewicz has seen the harrowing pressure placed on kids. Not only are parents primping their children for their idea of success beginning at an early age, schools are instilling in their students the same kind of fear of failure. Kids have tunnel vision—they are racing ahead, with their eyes on a prize that may be of no value to them. They work tirelessly to get perfect grades, honors, awards, to make connections for their future, and for what? For whom? “The system manufactures students who are smart and talented and driven, yes, but also anxious, timid, and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose: trapped in a bubble of privilege, heading meekly in the same direction, great at what they’re doing but with no idea why they’re doing it,” as Deresiewicz describes this confused, sheep-like race to the finish. Rossetto sees this kind of behavior constantly in her work with addiction. The kind of pressure to perform, to be great—where
THERE IS SOMETHING THAT’S A GREAT DEAL MORE IMPORTANT THAN PARENTAL APPROVAL: LEARNING TO DO WITHOUT IT. THAT’S WHAT IT MEANS TO BECOME AN ADULT.
Harriet Rossetto, Author Julie Lythcott-Haims and Doug Rosen
that greatness is defined by a child’s accomplishments, instead of by their character, their individuality. “You want to be building an internal scaffold which gives the kids a sense of meaning and purpose, and why they’re doing this, says Rossetto. “Because if it’s only the grades, then when they finish they have no idea what they should do next. We have to build within them a sense of connection with something greater than their performance S P R I N G 2 016
results.” The Elaine Breslow Institute and Beit T’Shuvah’s Partners in Prevention Program have workshops, immersion programs, and individual/ family programs designed to crack open this deeply flawed system. EBI has been created to help parents, educators, and
Author William Deresiewicz
community members redefine success for our children. At a grassroots level, we are making an impact. Luckily, we are not alone in our concern for our youth. Changes are being made at the collegiate level—particularly, changes to the college admissions processes. A report titled “Turning the Tide,” primarily the work of Harvard Graduate School of Education, with contributions and endorsements from presidents and deans of admissions at many elite institutions of higher learning, maps out what is wrong with the admissions process, and makes suggestions on how to mitigate the way in which our children are being poorly served by the status quo. A recent New York Times article by Frank Bruni, titled “Rethinking College Admissions” sheds light on Turning the Tide. “Colleges are becoming more conscious of their roles—too frequently neglected—in social mobility. They’re recognizing how many admissions measures favor students from affluent families,” says Bruni, adding, “They’re realizing that many kids admitted into top schools are emotional wrecks or slavish adherents to soulless scripts that forbid the exploration of genuine passions. And they’re acknowledging the extent to which the admissions process has contributed to this.” The fact that Harvard— the apex of elite institutions of higher learning in this country—is able to see that the issue is great enough to do something about, well, that gives us great strength and solidarity in our own movement for change. We hope to bring truth back to an old cliche of helping our children to follow their dreams. Not the dreams we manufacture for them; the dreams they need to learn to weave for themselves. Only then can we be true ambassadors to the whole, spiritual child. ■
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RECOMMENDED BOOKS There is a growing body of literature that supports the concerns we have for our children, as detailed in this issue. Help us change the culture of parenting from one that’s fear based to one that’s love based. The only way to see change is to educate ourselves on how to make it happen.
THE GIFT OF FAILURE Jessica Lahey
TEACH YOUR CHILDREN WELL Madeline Levine, Ph.D.
SLOUCHING TOWARD ADULTHOOD Madeline Levine, Ph.D.
THE PRICE OF PRIVILEGE Madeline Levine, Ph.D.
HOW TO RAISE AN ADULT Julie Lythcott-Haims
THE SPIRITUAL CHILD Lisa Miller, Ph.D.
THE BLESSING OF A SKINNED KNEE Wendy Mogel, Ph.D.
THE BLESSING OF A B MINUS Wendy Mogel, Ph.D.
HOW CHILDREN SUCCEED Paul Tough
Your book purchases can benefit Beit T’Shuvah! Please consider buying them through Amazon Smile by assigning Beit T’Shuvah as your choice charity at smile.amazon.com. 3 4 | B E I T T ’ S H U V A H | w w w. b e i t t s h u v a h . o r g
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AN EXTENDED CARE
THE WILDLIFE WAYSTATION By Samantha Henschel
THE BARONESS OF WILDLIFE
he year was 1976 and Martine Collette was at a neighborhood bar in Kagel Canyon. She overheard two cowboys talking about how they came across some beautiful acreage while riding around the hills. Her ears perked up, as she was looking for new property for herself—and 50 exotic animals. The neighbors of her Lakeview Terrace home had been getting uncomfortable with how the number of animals seemed to be multiplying in her backyard; they were particularly concerned about the monkeys and mountain lions. So, it became Martine’s goal to find land on which she could house them all. Just over a month later, after some negotiating, the 162 acres were hers. Thus Wildlife Waystation was born. Since its inception, Wildlife Waystation has housed over 78,000 animals. It started
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out mostly with natural California wildlife; a baby bear that fell out of a tree, or a deer, raccoon, or opossum that got hit by a car. Then, it became a tiger or two from Ireland, who ate hamburger meat until a proper diet could be constructed. Eventually, they started getting calls more frequently and of a greater magnitude: a facility had closed down in Florida and there was nowhere to put the animals. Martine took them in. A primate study had concluded at New York University and 50 chimpanzees and other primates would go back into biomedical research or be euthanized. Martine took them in. The state of Idaho called, asking them to house 27 large cats. Of course, Martine took them in. And until Idaho released full ownership, Wildlife Waystation could not implement birth control, so 27
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In order to have a good, sober life, we have to learn to take on roles we may find incredibly uncomfortable, ones we aren’t prepared to take on.
large cats turned into just under 60 in a two and a half year period. Whether Martine planned to get into politics or not, her innate concern for these animals forced her to evolve into the essential diplomat she is now. “I had to,” she says. Her spirit of resilience—born of having to deal with antagonistic political forces—shaped her into the stateswoman she embodies today. In order to overcome these problems, Martine had to develop a set of skills that were not inherent for her. But she learned to be politically savvy and strategic because that was what was required for the Wildlife Waystation to stay alive. She has become a fearless businesswoman, as well; the kind of businesswoman who raises $2.7 million a year for the sake of the animals. I see a clear parallel between the issues she faced—having to become someone she hadn’t planned on becoming—and what we, people in sobriety, take on in giving up our addictions. In order to have a good, sober life, we have to learn to take on roles we may find incredibly uncomfortable, ones we aren’t prepared to take on. We must learn to adapt, the way Martine has, and pay the price the world is asking in order for us to walk the path we were destined for.
RESCUES MEET RESCUES As a long-time friend of Martine’s, Kelly Mulligan, Work Therapy Program Director and Director of the Extended Care Program, has organized a trip for Beit T’Shuvah to go to the Angeles National Forest animal refuge. The 20 of us from the Extended Care Program who got the golden ticket arrive on a particularly warm September afternoon. After driving through a windy canyon road, we come to the sign that reads “Wildlife Waystation Entrance.” The vans stop near a large, wrought-iron gate. As I step out of the vehicle, the air is buzzing and I can feel activity all around me, but the only thing I can see so far are six red-tailed hawks flying above the property. I have a strange feeling we are about to embark into Jurassic Park. We all sit in excitement and curiosity as we wait for passage. A friendly man with a white and gray peppered beard finally appears. He has a walkie-talkie on his hip, and a large ring around his belt, thick with different keys. His name is Bob Friend and he has been a volunteer at Wildlife Waystation for 19 years. 3 6 | B E I T T ’ S H U V A H | w w w. b e i t t s h u v a h . o r g
He leads us up some steps to an area shaded by low-hanging trees and umbrellas. The Martine who greets us at the gazebo of her private residence is an exceptional host. Waiting for us with a bucket of cold drinks, she is warm, accessible, and attentive. But I know that Martine Colette is first and foremost a warrior: as the founder and director of the Wildlife Waystation, she is fierce about the protection of the animals she has saved. We are split into two groups as the tours begin. Bob leads my group to the beginning of a trail. He reminds us not get closer than three feet; because of my childlike wonder, I will have to remind myself of this frequently. Reaching the mouth of the aviary, a family of peacocks walks around in the open, about five feet in front of me. The female, a peahen, is brown and tan and has a similarly colored baby, the size of a duckling, scurrying around beneath her. The mother digs in the dirt with her sharp, metatarsal spur, showing her baby how to hunt for insects and other edible dirt dwellers. When we come to the parrots, they twist themselves around to look at us, with their heads cocked or upside down, observing us from different angles. They “speak” discernable English words as we pass. Over the ear-piercing screeches of the fowl, Bob tells us that Macaws test at a four- or five-year-old level. He also tells us that their feathers are, in fact, not the bright colors they appear to our eyes; the array of iridescent hues we see are an illusion created by the sun. As we pass the alligators, they slink just below the water’s surface so that only their eyes are visible. We cross a bridge that leads to another gate. Bob unlocks it and it leads to yet another gate. All of a sudden, the atmosphere feels different again; a palpable buoyancy hovers in the air. And then I hear it—a roar. I feel it reverberate through the ground, up my spine and into the back of my neck. I am speechless, entranced, in awe. And I haven’t even seen the animal the bellowing belongs to yet. The first cat enclosure we come to is where the servals reside. Similar in markings to leopards, they are about 35 pounds. Aside from their distinct, large ears, they have proportionally long legs, like a cheetah. Sitting upright, they look at us rather indifferently. To my left is a calm and interested black panther. He puts his head low when we are in front of his cage, as if to listen. His paws look heavy and are the size of a big baseball mitt. I
can tell he is old and rather docile. It seems he is using his hearing to investigate us; from the cloudy, bluish-grey of his eyes, I assume he is blind. I hear a low growl above me and turn my attention to the snarling, sleek black jaguar sitting in the top of his two-story enclosure to my right. It is clear we are not welcome. An opportunistic, stalk-and-ambush predator, the jaguar has the strongest jaws of any cat belonging to the Family Felidae; they are feral and ferocious creatures. I look away out of respect and move on. The last cage in this section belongs to the leopard. She watches us from afar. When most of the group leaves to continue to the next area of the refuge, a few of us linger to look at her. She leaps up and sprints towards the front of the cage. Then she rubs her head and body along side it, playful and sweet. In a matter of seconds, I feel curiosity, fear, respect, and adoration. “Leopards are the hardest cat to handle,” Bob explains. “They’re unpredictable.” Then, we come to the first enclosure of lions. Bob tells us that in the wild, lions live to be about eight years of age. Here, they live to be over 20 years old. Two females lay on either side of one huge male. The females barely move, and the male watches us without changing position. I feel a gentle tap on my shoulder as one of the volunteers lets me know it is time to move on. I look around and everyone else is far ahead of me. I have no idea how long I’ve been standing there for. Bob is in front of a cage, running his fingers along the wire to make noise and calling out “Kengazil!” I half expect a dog to appear. A giant lion comes bounding out, clearly pleased to see his friend. “He doesn’t know he is a lion,” Bob laughs. Kengazil rubs his body against the relatively thin fence, lovingly. Bob turns his back to him while he tells us the lion’s story, and I am surprised he leaves only a few inches between himself and the cage. The lion lies down and I crouch so that we are eye level. I feel such a strong spirit behind those eyes. Again, I am left behind as Bob leads the group to the “grouchy” and disinterested Liger.
Next, we come to the mountain lions, who are strikingly beautiful. They have big, lightcolored, almond-shaped eyes that watch us attentively. Their heads are huge; face structures angled and defined; honey- and barley-colored fur covering solid bodies; tails long and thick. They pant heavily in the heat and follow us in a hungry way as we pass them.
In a matter of seconds, I feel curiosity, fear, respect, and Then Bob leads us down a thin, dirt trail, where adoration. the fence begins to stretch and close overhead. There is a rumbling thunder of noise, and as we get closer, the sound of the chimps becomes deafening. We come to an opening where about 30 chimpanzees are visible around us. The scene is sheer chaos. They are riotous and rowdy, aggressively banging on their enclosures. The booming is what I imagine it would sound like to be on a rollercoaster during an earthquake. They curl their lips, spitting water at us from a distance of over twenty feet. They huff and puff, pounding their chests and the floor with their brutish arms, making sure we know exactly who’s in charge. As we walk away, the chimps give one last heavy, anarchic hoorah.
“Leopards are the hardest cat to handle,” Bob explains. “They’re unpredictable.”
We traverse another set of tall, rusted, iron gates and up a steep, dirt road. We come upon what is referred to at the refuge as “Upper Idaho.” Divided between “Upper” and “Lower Idaho” are the majority of the lions and tigers. At “Upper Idaho” there is a long enclosure with seven lionesses, and just beyond that—the tigers. With captivating colors and calm magnificence, the tigers are completely enchanting. Tall in figure and commanding in presence, their bodies arch, as though their spines are longer than their frames. The largest living cat, tigers can get up to 860 pounds. Responsive to our presence, they come close to us, comfortable meeting our gaze. My heart breaks for this impressive species: they are severely endangered. 100 years ago there were close to 100,000 tigers in the wild. Now, there are less than 4,000. By the time my children are grown, they will be extinct; to my grandchildren, tigers will only live in stories. This deeply devastating truth clouds my heart as I saunter back down the hill behind the group. We are led through another gate and Bob locks w w w. b e i t t s h u v a h . o r g | B E I T T ’ S H U V A H | 3 7
it behind us. Past the rabbits and foxes, we cross a narrow bridge with water to the left. Multitudes of waterfowl swim and strut, peacefully cohabitating. Above the crossing, I see a big piece of wood with Shakespeare’s words etched into the grain, “Nature teaches beasts to know their friends.” We have come full-circle, back to the very first bridge we crossed. I feel changed since the first time I was at this bridge, merely an hour ago. I am different, although I can’t quite articulate how. Perhaps that is the effect the wild has on a person.
PRIDE As the sun goes down, we head back to the gazebo for a home-cooked meal. Twinkling lights strung in the trees create a warm glow. Stars come out and the night comes alive. A cacophony of sound grows: the howling of the wolves, the rumble of the chimps, the bay of the cats, the chatter of the birds. And now, the delicate sound of crickets accompanies the untamed symphony under the moonlight. We sit at round tables and fill ourselves with savory food. Martine bustles around, socializing with every one of us, making sure we have everything we need. With a mug of coffee in her hand, she settles in a chair next to me. She has seen me with my leather notebook and tape recorder. “What can I do for you, little one?” she asks me. I have so many things I want to ask her that I’m not sure where to start. So I ask about the beginning: I want to know about the very first animal Martine took in. She tells me it all began with just one baby mountain lion named Pride. Martine met Pride in 1965, when she arrived in the United States from France. She was married to an American writer, and they were at Pan Pacific Auditorium, the premiere location for indoor public events at the time. “There was a gentleman advertising outdoor life for Idaho, and in a chicken-wire crate he had a 10-month-old mountain lion. When I came by again later and it was still sitting in that small crate, I said to the man, ‘Somebody should take this baby out. I’ll take him out.’” She stayed with the cat the rest of the day. Later that evening, she told the man, “If you can’t take better care of that baby, I’ll buy him from you.” When the show closed, the man sold the young mountain lion to Martine’s then-husband. She then tells me about her childhood. French born, Martine inherited her love for the wild from her father. He was a naturalist and a Belgium diplomat. She joyously accompanied him everywhere. “I was the son he never had,” she says. “I had a wonderful life. But my mother didn’t much care for the way I was; she wanted a sweet, pretty, dainty girl. So I was my father’s child. It took my mother about 50 years, but she’s ok with it now,” she laughs. She traveled with her family all over the world and was exposed to the mistreatment of wild animals at the hunting and trapping camps in certain countries. “As soon as the village people realized I liked animals, everyone began bringing their offerings to us,” recalls Martine. “Some wanted assistance with ill animals and others just
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wanted to give me a gift. Back in those days we had no veterinarians and very little in the way of medicine to help sick animals. Our basics were penicillin, iodine, tinctures of violet, sulfur powders and goat’s milk. If these did not work, the animals died. I got very proficient at diagnosing basic situations and giving treatment. There’s nothing quite like the feeling you get after helping a sick, defenseless animal. Even though they’re deadly predators, there is a real innocence about them.” Her favorite part about what she has created is dealing with the animals; all her favorite memories are animal related. “When you get to kiss a tiger first thing in the morning, you know it’s going to be a good day. It’s pure magic,” she says with light in her eyes. “But this is a lot of hard work,” she says, in the French accent that still drifts in and out of her speech. “There is not an easy day. Sometimes, when a lot of money comes in, it’s easier—the hardest part is to get money.” What are the rewards? She says, “I am raising a baby tiger right now. Where do you go from there?” She smiles. “I raised a baby bear last year. It’s all a privilege. I got to raise a lot of baby chimpanzees—that’s such an opportunity, such an amazing thing,” What she says next separates her from many who have a love for animals but do them a great disservice by anthropomorphizing them. “But your responsibility is to raise them to be chimpanzees—not your pet, not your child—you have to raise them to be chimpanzees. The challenges are huge.” She asks, “What else can I tell you, pumpkin?” In terms of her future, and that of the Wildlife Waystation, she says, “I haven’t gotten old enough to think about what happens when I’m not here. Right now, I have a book to write that needs to be done.” She plans to retire at the 40th anniversary of Wildlife Waystation, which is in 2016. She explains that a milestone like that is a favorable time to make some changes. “It’s a good year to retire,” she says. All that means is someone else will be in charge of fundraising, essentially making sure this place has what it needs to continue operating. The Latin music that was in the background has stopped and she excuses herself. “I have to go put some music on,” the hostess says. And with that, our interview is over. As she walks away, I picture her as she has been described to me from people who knew her long ago: with a bikini, boots and cowboy hat, a pistol at her hip. Around 10 o’clock, we start gathering to leave. Martine gives each of us a hug and thanks us for coming. “Best of luck to you, little one,” she says to me. We pile into the vans, intoxicated by what we have experienced. Winding down the canyons, a warm breeze blows onto our faces as we leave the sounds and smells of the wild behind us, and we talk about what it all meant. The raw power and beauty of the animals was clearly embraced by us all. But I think Kelly intended for us to experience something else, too: Martine—a woman whose essence is pride; a woman who, through sheer force of will and character, manifested her dream. I imagine he wanted us to see what it looks like to have a purpose, and to know it with every fiber of your being. And to see a person committed to working tirelessly to make the world a better place, whose vision fuels her forward every day, who experiences her work as inspiration – and so, it is not “work” at all. ■
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RUNNING 4 RECOVERY 2 0 1 6 l a m a r at h o n The 2016 L.A. Marathon landed on Valentine's Day this year, and what better day is there to show your love for our community? Our Running4Recovery Team of 65 runnersâ€”20 of them current residentsâ€”with the support of their sponsors, raised $140,000 for recovery at Beit T'Shuvah! Go Team!
To inquire about joining or sponsoring our team, please contact Nicole Goodman at email@example.com.
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Photos by Laurel Johnson
This luncheon is a wonderful annual celebration with the group of women who lovingly support Beit T’Shuvah! A huge thank you to the ever-generous Lisa Greer who hosted this year’s event at her beautiful Beverly Hills home. 9
13 Pictured from left to right: 1. 2. 3. 4.
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Elaine Caplow & Friend Friend, Annette Shapiro & Lisa Greer Nace Neubauer & Avia Rosen Annette Shapiro, Lois Bloom, Ronnie Stabler, Meryl Kern, Dina Leeds, Harriet Rossetto 5. Sharon Glaser & Jean Friedman 6. Dina Leeds addresses the audience 7. Ronnie Stabler addresses the audience 8. Harriet Rossetto addresses the audience 9. Baila Drucker & Harriet Rossetto 10. Meryl Kern & her daughter Lindsey Montoya 11. Ronnie Stabler & her daugher Sari Ross 12. Barbara Friedman & Avia Rosen 13. Andrea Sossin-Bergman & Lisa Greer 14. Heidi Monkarsh, Stacy Scharf & Heidi Bendetson
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BY ADAM SIEGEL
f the many spiritual values that converge and emanate from Beit T’Shuvah, one is the significance that both Alcoholics Anonymous and Judaism place on service and action. Over and over, A.A. emphasizes the benefits that service activities have on both the giver and receiver. Integrating this wisdom with the Jewish tradition’s directive to care for the widow, the orphan, and the poor, we have developed a wide variety of programs and partnerships to enable our residents and community members to engage in acts of chesed (loving kindness) and seek out tzedek (justice). Over the past year, our community has dramatically expanded our social justice and community service endeavors. These activities have included such things as advocating for reforms in our criminal justice system, as well as providing home-cooked meals to those living on the streets of our city. The Beit T’Shuvah community is well aware of the dynamic relationship between personal healing and societal repair. To this end, all of our service and justice programs are grounded with a time dedicated for reflection and study. Additionally, years of experience have taught us that continual personal growth and positive change are best internalized while experienced within the fellowship of a spiritual community. In advocating for change in the criminal justice system, Beit T’Shuvah has been a proud and featured member of several city-wide coalitions that are working on both the state and local levels. We know from real-life experience, both individually and institutionally, that helping people grow into contributing members of society comes through rehabilitation and reform, rather than strictly punitive measures. We voiced this important message in several public forums about
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the passage and implementation of CA State Proposition 47. The passage of this proposition has led to the re-classification of a dozen low-level felonies to misdemeanor convictions. Scarlet Barber, a Beit T’Shuvah resident shared about her volunteer work at a Prop. 47 reclassification clinic, “…the clinic …was an amazing cause to volunteer for because it helped others find hope for the future, like I’ve found at Beit T’Shuvah. Engaging and talking to these individuals, who want nothing more to succeed in finding happiness, was truly enchanting. I believe that if you love something, you should give it away and give back by helping others to achieve their dreams.” The Beit T’Shuvah community is well aware of the dynamic relationship between personal healing and societal repair. To this end, all of our service and justice programs are grounded with a time dedicated for reflection and study. Additionally, years of experience have taught us that continual personal growth and positive change are best internalized while experienced within the fellowship of a spiritual community. In advocating for change in the criminal justice system, Beit T’Shuvah has been a proud and featured member of several city-wide coalitions that are working on both the state and local levels. We know from real-life experience, both individually and institutionally, that helping people grow into contributing members of society comes through rehabilitation and reform, rather than strictly punitive measures. We voiced this important message in several public forums about the passage and implementation of CA State Proposition 47. The passage of this proposition has led to the re-classification of a dozen S P R I N G 2 016
IF THE WORLD IS TO CHANGE THR OUGH OUR EXISTENCE, THEN WE MUST LIVE OUR LIVES TO CHANGE THE WORLD...I FEEL LIKE SPEAKING BEFORE THE COUNCIL WAS ONE SMALL STEP FOR ME, BUT ONE GIANT LEAP FOR ADDICTS AND EX- CONS ACR OSS THE BOARD.
low-level felonies to misdemeanor convictions. Scarlet Barber, a Beit T’Shuvah resident shared about her volunteer work at a Prop. 47 reclassification clinic, “…the clinic …was an amazing cause to volunteer for because it helped others find hope for the future, like I’ve found at Beit T’Shuvah. Engaging and talking to these individuals, who want nothing more to succeed in finding happiness, was truly enchanting. I believe that if you love something, you should give it away and give back by helping others to achieve their dreams.”
battled for a partnership with growers and retailers to improve working conditions for farm laborers across the United States. The film features Beit T’Shuvah Board Member, Jon Esformes, and our panel discussion included Jon, alongside with leaders of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (C.I.W.). In April of 2015, we had our largest contingent of participants in Jewish World Watch’s “Walk Against Genocide.” Jewish World Watch was co-founded by Janice KaminerReznik, a long-standing Beit T’Shuvah board member.
On the city government level, Beit T’Shuvah has worked alongside our coalition partners at LA VOICE, Bend the Arc, and Homeboy Industries, on the Fair Chance/Ban-the-Box initiative. This campaign is focused on prohibiting private employers from asking about felony convictions during the early stages of the job-hiring process. Several times, Beit T’Shuvah residents and alumni gave public testimonials in front of sub-committees of the L.A. City Council. Brian Silver, a Beit T’Shuvah resident, summed up his involvement by sharing: “I came to Beit T’Shuvah with an attitude of ‘if the world is to change through our existence, then we must live our lives to change the world,’” adding, “I was invited…to be a part of something great, something greater than just going to work for myself. I had a chance to speak on behalf of other addicts and criminals to change the world…I feel like speaking before the council was one small step for me, but one giant leap for addicts and ex-cons across the board.” We are hoping our efforts will inspire the LA City Council to amend these laws in by the middle of 2016.
Our community service activities have focused on our tradition’s imperative to recognize and dignify the holy soul residing within all of us. Over the past year, as homelessness has become a more prominent local issue, our community responded by initiating a bi-monthly “Feeding the Hungry” program, where residents, staff, alumni, family, board and congregation members came together to prepare and distribute over 1,500 meals to individuals living on the streets of Venice, Santa Monica, and West Los Angeles. Beit T’Shuvah resident Brandy Estes described her involvement by saying, “I’m familiar with the lack of hope and spiritual emptiness that comes from living on the street. I found it very powerful to be able to share some of the hope that I’ve found while at Beit T’Shuvah with the folks I encountered during the event.” Through this program, our community members have become more connected with their capacity to uplift and elevate some of the neediest individuals across our city.
Based on Beit T’Shuvah’s continuing commitment for economic justice and human rights, we are honored to be partners with two nationally recognized organizations who are on the forefront of advocating for meaningful and substantive society change. In February 2015, we hosted a screening and panel discussion of FOOD CHAIN$, a film detailing how a group of Florida farmworkers
Often times, the bonds that initially bring our community together are based on our individual brokenness, but as many of us have learned, these bonds are quickly forged and eventually strengthened by working together; to share ourselves, our stories, and our holiness with the world. ■
IF YOU WANT TO ELEVATE SOMEONE’S DAY OR HELP TO BRING REAL CHANGE TO OUR WORLD, CONTACT CHAPL AIN ADAM SIEGEL TO GET INVOLVED: ASIEGEL@BEIT TSHUVAH.ORG S P R I N G 2 016
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HIGH HOLIDAYS The High Holidays are a celebration of change. At Beit T’Shuvah, we celebrate the capacity for each of us to change every day, and this commitment enables our High Holiday services to be expansive, rich and utterly unlike any other services you’ve seen. We harness the power of our awe-inspiring community of 1,000+ souls (including our tots!) through prayer, music (original, and traditional cantorial and choral), and opportunities for many different members of the community to share their own thoughts and journeys.
James Fuchs & Laura Bagish
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Shai blows the shofar
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ALL THE WORLD
IS A STAGE BY SCARLET BARBER
sing addictive substances to escape from feelings of despondency may work for a while, but when entering recovery, the inability to express that bleakness remains. So, how does an addict or alcoholic channel those indescribable feelings into a constructive outlet? In this search, what often emerges is the unveiling of a creative side previously suppressed by addiction, and a new way to express the inexpressible. In line with the intrinsic nature of Beit T’Shuvah, the Theater Program came into fruition from a passion of one of its very own residents. This zealous resident, Tricia Nykin, now Theater Program Director of the Creative Arts Department, came into the house longing to reconnect with her love of theater. Expressing extreme interest in helping fellow residents to revive their own creativity, Tricia inquired about starting an improv group, and James Fuchs, the Creative Arts Director, synchronously wanted to start a Theater Program at Beit T’Shuvah. Thus, a year later, the Theater Program was born. This department has given residents a remarkable opportunity to get in touch with their creative side. Hosting several events a year, and initiating groups to help residents hone their artistry, the Theater Program epitomizes the therapeutic value of creative expression, while emphasizing the importance of altruism in recovery. For the past nine years, Beit T’Shuvah’s very own musical, Freedom Song, has been performed across the country at different synagogues, schools, and other institutions, dispelling the stigma of addiction that plagues so many families. Stage left, there is a Jewish family having dinner over Seder on Passover who has disowned their drug-addicted daughter. At stage right, an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting is taking place. Cast members are not only eradicating the societal shame that stains the truth of addiction, they are also performing their own personal truths by rewriting the original monologues to share their stories. Far and wide, the reception of Freedom Song has been remarkably impactful, as audience members raise their hands and exclaim in tears how this has been their very own story, or story of another family member battling addiction. By relieving audience members of their preconceived notions of addiction, the performance removes them of a tremendous amount of
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false guilt and shame. There is this interesting cycle that takes place, where someone sees Freedom Song, and the very next day, reaches out for help, but not just from any treatment center, they want help from Beit T’Shuvah. And while in treatment at Beit T’Shuvah, some of those very same people decide that they want to be involved in Freedom Song themselves. Seeing the musical Freedom Song becomes this catalytic event that inspires these residents to change their lives, and in effect, the lives of many others. And Freedom Song is just the beginning. In 2015, the Theater Program partnered with Menemsha Films to hold a curated yearlong series showcasing six films, each of which embodies altruistic motifs such as gratitude, acceptance, and humility. By inviting residents to perform before the screening of each film, the series combines elements of artistic expression and performance, with important topics relevant to our community and society as a whole. Resident performances parallel the subject matter of the film and range anywhere from a stand-up comedy routine or a skit, to a poetry reading, or guitar performance. “I think that it can be very inherently therapeutic, because when you share your art, you are sharing a piece of your soul,” Tricia explains, “I think at the end of the day, that’s what is so important about this film series. We’re all experiencing something beautiful together.” One of these films, titled Nicky’s Family, was shown in October of last year, and it is an incredible true-story of British humanitarian, Sir Nicholas Winton. This awe-inspiring man took it upon himself to save 669 Czech and Slavic children right before the outbreak of WWII, yet never told anyone. When his magnanimous and life-saving acts became public knowledge years later, it propagated more acts of advocacy—inspiring the children and grandchildren of those who he saved to begin their own charities. The theme of Nicky’s Family in the Menemsha Films series speaks to the true essence of integrity, a vital component to recovery—to do the right thing, despite all odds, and not expect any recognition other than that of one’s self. An especially notable and moving event presented by the Theatre Arts Program in December of 2015 was the screening of Autism: The Musical, a documentary on five of the children from The S P R I N G 2 016
''I WA S N E V E R S O P R O U D O F T H E M A S I WA S T H AT N I G H T. I T H I N K T H E Y U N D E R S TO O D T H E S T R U G G L E O F T H E AU T I S T I C K I D S A N D T H E S T R U G G L E O F T H E I R PA R E N T S.'' Miracle Project. A program devoted to empowering individuals with autism and other disabilities, The Miracle Project encourages kids to channel their struggles with adversity, and illustrate themselves throug inclusive theater and expressive arts programs. Autism: The Musical, filmed over the course of six months in Los Angeles, chronicles the lives of five autisticspectrum children and their parents, as the kids learn to socialize and communicate with each other while they write an original screenplay and rehearse for the production. The screening of this aweinspiring documentary led Beit T’Shuvah residents and staff members to get involved by volunteering with The Miracle Project. Harriett Rossetto, Founder of Beit T’Shuvah, commented on the reception of the film, saying, “I think the residents were actually engaged in the evening, I was never so proud of them as I was that night. I think they understood the struggle of the autistic kids and the struggle of their parents. And they were very kind and connected and a lot of them wanted to volunteer.” Addicts and alcoholics know the despondent feeling of marginalization, similar to kids with disabilities. Fighting addiction causes many to have an endless well of compassion for others who are also trying to make a space for themselves in this world, despite all odds. It is a goal of the
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Theatre Program to hold a space for the kids from The Miracle Project to host their own improv group at Beit T’Shuvah, along with the residents. The Theater Program builds a platform for the residents to get involved and in touch with both their creative and philanthropic endeavors. This year, Beit T’Shuvah’s Theater Program is hosting some very exciting events that are not to be missed! In June 2016, Jewish Women’s Theater will be performing The Art of Forgiveness, a compilation of performances in the form of stories, plays, and poems encompassing the significant, and at times painful act of forgiveness. Some other highlights are resident-performed comedy shows every few months, as well as an in-house play later this year. Commenting on the importance of these events, Tricia avidly says, “We’re very fortunate to have incredibly artistic, creative, and talented people here. And if you can tap into what that creative side is, and what their creative expression needs to be, then they can just flourish and grow and it’s really beautiful to watch.” So grab a front row seat. ■
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24t h A N N UA L
We celebrated openness, authenticity, and honesty as we stepped out of the shadows and into the light at the 24th Annual Beit T'Shuvah Gala, honoring Andy Besser and Robert Landes.
Honoree Andy Besser & his wife Joannie
Janice Black (center) & Friends
Rabbi Mark Borovitz, Harriet Rossetto, Board Chairman Dr. Bill Resnick & Board President Annette Shapiro
Landes Family & Andy Besser
Warren Breslow (left) & Friends
Honorees Andy Besser & Robert Landes
Left to right: Lise Applebaum, Meryl Kern, Avia Rosen, Rabbi Mark Borovitz, Harriet Rossetto, Deb Fried, Helene Eisenberg
Rabbi Mark Borovitz & Harriet Rossetto
Honoree Robert Landes & Christina Kretschmer
Cantor Shira Fox
Rabbi Mark Borovitz. Russell Kern & Harriet Rossetto
Dr. Robert Besser
Andy Besser (left), wife Joannie (far right), & Friends
Gala Co-Chairs Lise Applebaum & Meryl Kern. (Not pictured: Janice Kamenir-Reznik)
Deb Fried, Cheryl Wolf, Nicole Goodman, Avia Rosen, Amy Abrams, & Barbara Friedman
THA N K YOU, A N D SEE YO U AT N EX T YEA R’S GA L A !
GETTING TO KNOW THE BEIT T’SHUVAH
S I ST E R H OOD BY SCARLET BARBER
SISTERHOOD TEMPLE BEIT T’SHUVAH
pon entering the Latkes and Lattes event held last December, a benevolent ambiance flowed through the Sanctuary. It wasn’t only the freshly-made latkes and hot lattes radiating warmth throughout the room; beaming smiles and affectionate hugs could be seen everywhere. This fundraising event, put together by the Beit T’Shuvah Sisterhood, gallantly demonstrates their mission to give back to the community and residents. Women passionate about helping Beit T’Shuvah residents in their recovery—that is the altruistic pursuit of the Congregation Beit T’Shuvah Sisterhood. Founded in 2009 by Shelly Balloon, the Sisterhood consists of 100 women who compassionately assist the community in any way they can. As many of the women have had family come through the house, they are passionate about aiding the metamorphoses of the residents. The Sisterhood executes their mission by arranging several fundraising events a year, promoting temple membership, and hosting a Meet and Greet every Friday night at services to give back to the Beit T’Shuvah residents and community as a whole. Co-presidents of the Beit T’Shuvah Sisterhood Cathy Galper and Pat Lyon, believe in the extraordinary program Beit T’Shuvah provides. They recognize the efficacy in the integrated program of spirituality with addiction treatment in order to help addicts find their way in recovery. Cathy knows this battle all too well; her brother went through the house from 2007 to 2009, and they are both recovering addicts. Cathy explains, “I want to give back to this place because they help those that are in recovery from addiction, and to me, it’s such an amazing thing to see people from what they were to what they are now. It gives me hope, and it makes me feel good to be here
and be a part of it.” Being involved in the Sisterhood keeps Cathy grounded. She feels at home in the Beit T’Shuvah community, and her devotion to this cause sustains her own recovery. Friends and companions sharing a common goal, the Sisterhood gathers for a potluck every Sunday morning before holding a meeting to discuss their humanitarian affairs. In the meeting, they brainstorm fundraising events and initiatives they would like to curate such as Latkes and Lattes, Night of Eclectic Music, the Fashion Show and Luncheon, the Holiday Boutique, and Honey from the Heart. They also donate money to Beit T’Shuvah’s Running4Recovery Marathon Team, and have sponsored some residents on the Birthright trip to Israel in the past. Without the Sisterhood, the residents wouldn’t be afforded these life-changing opportunities. As one of the entities representing the Beit T’Shuvah Congregation, the Sisterhood promotes temple membership. They urge women, who become members of the congregation, to join the Sisterhood as well. Representing the Sisterhood, Cathy Galper and Pat Lyon are also members of the Temple Membership Committee, along with many of the board members. When we think of generosity, we often think of giving financially. But Beit T’Shuvah would not be what it is without the people who are generous in other ways: with their time, energy, dedication, creativity, heart and soul. The Sisterhood exemplifies that generosity. They don’t need to help—they want to. That sincere desire is a blessing that brings joy and support to the Beit T’Shuvah program and its residents. ■
To join the Beit T’Shuvah Sisterhood, please contact Cheryl Wolf at firstname.lastname@example.org or 310.204.5200 x213. S P R I N G 2 016
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Beit Tâ€™Shuvah 8831 Venice Boulevard Los Angeles, California 90034-3223 www.beittshuvah.org
R e c o v er Your Pa s s i on D i s c o v er Your Purpos e To get involved, contact the Development Department at 310.204.5200.
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