THE GRIT ISSUE
Harriet Rossetto Founder, Clinical Director Rabbi Mark Borovitz Senior Rabbi
Andrew Besser, Esq. Executive Director
EDITOR IN CHIEF ELIANA KATZ
BOARD OF DIRECTORS Russell Kern Chairman of the Board
ART DIRECTOR KENDL ULLMAN
Annette Shapiro President of the Board
SENIOR DESIGNER ALISON LOWENBERG
CONTRIBUTING EDITORS AMY ABRAMS JANET ROSENBLUM
Lise Applebaum Vice Chair Jon Esformes Secretary David Ruderman Treasurer
PRODUCED BY CREATIVE MATTERS AGENCY a social enterprise of beit t ' shuvah www . creativemattersagency . com
Warren Breslow Chair Emeritus
Nancy Mishkin Chair Emeritus Heidi Bendetson Lynn Bider Rabbi Mark Borovitz Joyce Brandman Emily Corleto Samuel Delug David Elston John Fishel Pat Train Gage Mel Gagerman Carolyn Gold-Mintz, z”l Beverly Gruber Janice Kamenir-Reznik Meryl Kern Dr. Susan Krevoy Bradley H. Mindlin Donald S. Passman Heidi Praw Harriet Rossetto Neil Solarz Ronnie Stabler FRIENDS OF BEIT T’SHUVAH Sheldon Appel Herb Gelfand Jeffrey Glassman Salli Harris Roberta Holland Blair Belcher Kohan Diane Licht Virginia Maas Chuck Maltz Cheri Morgan Ed Praver Joan Praver Avi Reichental Jan Rosen Richard Schulman Lisi Teller Brad Wiseman Robert Wiviott Jill Black-Zalben
RABBI MARK BOROVITZ
RABBI MATT SHAPIRO
CHAPLAIN ADAM SIEGEL
RABBI PAUL STEINBERG
REVEREND MARK WHITLOCK
CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS CURTIS DAHL JSR PHOTOS AVIA ROSEN BEN SHANI PHOTOGRAPHY CONTRIBUTING CREATIVE MATTERS INTERNS DAVID PFLASTER, COPYWRITING RICHARD RAMIREZ, GRAPHIC DESIGN JUSTIN SHAPIRO, COPYWRITING Please send comments, letters, and feedback about this issue of the Beit T’Shuvah Magazine to: firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the development office at 310.204.5200
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EDITOR’S NOTE Eliana Katz, Director of Marketing This edition of the magazine celebrates Beit T'Shuvah's 30th Anniversary. As with all things Beit T’Shuvah, we decided to embrace a magazine theme that is unconventional, uninhibited, and open to interpretation. This visual concept of GRIT is an illustration of the work we do here. Beit T’Shuvah takes what can only be seen as rough terrain, and makes it blossom. In popular culture, grit is associated with Westerns, in which the hero faces down and overcomes obstacles and demons along his journey. We have seen and celebrated many of these heroes at Beit T’Shuvah over these last 30 years. Your donations have made these heroes possible. We—the Creative Matters team and all of Beit T’Shuvah—hope you enjoy reading what we've learned it takes to make souls flourish.
04. & 05. Notes from the Chairman & President of the Board 06. & 07. Notes from the Founder & Senior Rabbi 08. CERTAINTY UCLA Success Case Study 14. SELFLESSNESS The Kahn Scholarship Program 22. DETERMINATIOn The Elaine Breslow Institute 24. EMPOWERMENT A Commentary by Rev. Mark Whitlock 26. SPIRIT The Miracle Project Partnership 32. 30 THINGS You Didn't Know About BTS 34. TENACITY An Alumni Success Story 36. REDEMPTION The Alternative Sentencing Program 46. RESOLVE The All-New Alumni Program
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AMBITION THE FUTURE of bts
ACTION STREET TORAH
FAITH SPIRITUAL COUNSELING
high holidays 39 circle OF MAJESTY 40 BACKBONE gala 42 la marathon 46 CREATIVE MATTERS agency
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THE GRIT ISSUE
RUSSELL KERN Chairman of the Board The power of one, if fearless and focused is formidable, but the power of many working together is better. -Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
OU—and our community of Beit T’Shuvah supporters— have made it possible for our staff to save thousands of priceless souls each and every day for the past 30 years.
This is not an easy feat. For an organization to start from a founder’s vision, and grow into a nationally-known addiction recovery center, takes determination, will, and the continuous love of thousands.
Thus, on behalf of the entire board of Beit T’Shuvah, we want to thank you and tell you how important YOU are to our residents, our staff, and our community. Your passion, your time and your donations support the continual delivery of care to over 130 residents and countless families in recovery. Beit T’Shuvah is not your typical nonprofit organization. Our clinical staff and rabbinic leaders commit their lives to fighting the ravages of addiction that inflict immeasurable pain on addicts and all those around them. With the opioid crisis growing and new hyper-powerful drugs flooding into our communities and schools, we all must commit to doubling our resolve to help in the battle against addiction. And while there are many organizations that are deserving of your support, we are grateful to you for choosing to be part of this remarkable community. A community who has the grit to do the hard work of saving lives and the determination to constantly rebuild souls—a community entirely fueled by hearts of gold. You make up an integral part of our community that never forgets the Jewish teaching: “And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world" (Yerushalmi Talmud 4:9, Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 37a). A community of people who roll up their sleeves and jump in—giving generously of their time and love while placing themselves front and center in support of the difficult task of transforming lives. 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
For the past seven years, I have been fortunate to be a part of many life-changing experiences as a Beit T’Shuvah community member. The time spent coaching many of our residents who have become part of our design agency, Creative Matters, serves as an indelible reminder that with hope, compassion, and time, lives can transform from darkness to light. The spark within a child’s eye can return. One of the goals of living a Jewish life is to experience commonplace deeds as "spiritual adventures" and to "feel the hidden love and wisdom in all things," says Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. Your support—your attendance at Shabbat, the time taken to participate in our many educational events and activities—is your chance to have a spiritual adventure, within a commonplace deed. I am personally grateful to you, our supporters, because you have given me the blessing of becoming a grandfather to two beautiful young girls. These girls are the direct result and beneficiaries of the love and care provided to my daughter and son-in-law in their darkest times. YOU made these miracles possible for me. So I thank you. YOUR grit and commitment to Beit T’Shuvah makes possible the miracles of reconnecting families, rebirthing souls, and renewing hope to hundreds of families across the country. As we all embrace spring, let's remember the Jewish proverb, “God is closest to those with broken hearts.” You are needed to help heal broken hearts that walk through the doors at Beit T’Shuvah. YOU are rebuilding lives and saving souls. Warmly,
Russell M. Kern, Chairman of the Board S P R I N G 2 017
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ANNETTE SHAPIRO President of the Board
hen I think about Beit T’Shuvah celebrating 30 years of saving souls, I can’t help but think about all the men and women that have gone through the program. It has been my honor to witness the transformation of countless souls. As I move around our community every day, I see residents who are working hard to repair their lives, and I see alumni who have successfully recovered their passion and discovered their purpose. I have seen families reunited, romance blossom into marriage, and babies brought into the world by loving, sober parents who were given a second chance through this amazing program. For each person that succeeds in their struggle for recovery, I have the deepest respect. It is not easy. I am proud that for the last 25 years I have been able to volunteer and be a part of helping to make it all possible. I want to talk about gratitude. I want to talk about where we were 30 years ago, a ramshackle house in a horrible neighborhood, and how far we have come. I want to talk about what can happen
when a group of people come together for a cause they believe in. I am grateful for the support that has sustained us on our
journey to where we are now; occupying a sacred space that expresses to the world the value and strength of our spirit and resolve. I am grateful that I can attend Shabbat services on Friday nights and see residents celebrating their sober birthdays. To see the happiness and pride in their faces, to hear the gratitude in their words, and to see the impact that recovery has had on their lives is all the payment I will ever need for the work that I do. The joy they experience is palpable, the appreciation for the blessings they have received is overwhelming, and my soul is filled with gratitude that I can be part of the journey. When I first became involved with Beit T’Shuvah, addiction was a silent problem. The world is different today from what it was 30 years ago. I truly feel that we at BTS have helped to open the doors
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of understanding, and have helped to nurture the idea that recovery is a struggle worthy of dedicated support. Our government now understands that addiction is an issue that needs to be addressed nationally and internationally. To each of you in our community who has helped us grow, who has provided financial support and has encouraged the world to shift its ideas about what addiction is and isn’t, I say thank you. Without your help we could not be what we are today. I want to take a moment to reach out to all the grateful family members who, like me, were personally affected by the amazing work that Beit T’Shuvah does. It is imperative that we do what it takes to ensure that BTS remains viable for the thousands of families that will need it in the future. We need to “pay it forward” so that someone else’s child, wife, husband, mother or father has that same second chance that our loved one was given. Since its inception in 1987, Beit T’Shuvah has helped more than 4,000 people recover from the disease of addiction through our Primary Residential Treatment Program. Thousands more have received assistance through the Family and Outpatient Counseling services. I want to say thank you to Harriet Rossetto for having the visionary idea to start a program that is truly “mission over money,” and I want to thank the entire Los Angeles community, The Jewish Federation, and The Jewish Community Foundation for making her dream a reality. Being involved all of these years has been extremely fulfilling for me, and I have enjoyed the friendships I have cultivated with the residents, families, staff, and volunteers. I feel so lucky, and indeed grateful, to be a part of Beit T’Shuvah.
Annette Shapiro, President of the Board
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harriet rossetto Founder, Clinical Director
rior to “hearing the call” from the universe to become a Jewish Jail Lady, I was a quitter, see-sawing between Grit and Sloth. My missionary self had visions of saving the world, starting projects with idealistic zeal. My nihilistic, doubting self gave up when challenged or confronted with an obstacle. What’s the point? Why bother? Nothing matters anyway. My life drawers bulged with unfinished visions of changing the world. My decision to identify “the call” as a divine summons, a “call” to a higher purpose, is my source of Grit. When I make bad decisions, when the egg drops down my face and I am embarrassed and want to hide, I remember the “call” and I crawl out from under the covers; I “suit up and show up.” No one is more surprised than I am that I have been showing up for 30 years. I could have given up before I even started. We had only a few weeks to find a house to submit our request to FEMA for a homeless shelter for Jewish men and women coming out of jails and prisons. We closed escrow quickly on 216 S. Lake Street, a rundown large enough property to house 30 re-entering felons. I seriously doubted my sanity when I moved into that house with the first three ex-cons and they stole my jewelry while I was sleeping in my office (and of course, they helped me look for it). And then there was the orthodox rabbi/social worker who responded to my “looking for a needle in a hay stack” classified ad. My program model was to integrate 12-Steps, Judaism, and psychotherapy. I only had enough funds for one salary, as I needed a rabbi/social worker. And just like that, he appeared, straight out of Fiddler on the Roof, looking just like Tevia. It felt magical; I asked and God answered! Until the women residents complained that they discovered him in their rooms, stealing their underwear and toiletries. Although he claimed to be “glatt kosher,” he was also discovered sneaking
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“traif ” meat from the refrigerator. Ok God, very funny…What is the message? I knew there was one, but what was it? Should I quit? What did I do wrong? All my self-doubt returned. Fear overcame faith. Clearly I was delusional, trusting in miracles. But then I heard the other, still-small voice whisper…You have to learn to distinguish magical from mystical…and you need to check resumes! I fired the klepto rabbi and learned a very important lesson. And yes, God has a sense of humor! For 30 years, the voices of Grit, persistence, and resilience have battled the voices of despair—what’s the point, why bother, nothing matters. I have trusted people who betrayed me, betrayed people who I should have trusted. I have, over the years, allowed my defiance of the rules to jeopardize the mission. I have walked a tightrope, balancing mission and money, overcoming my reluctance to fundraise. The rewards far outweigh the struggles. Every Friday night at Shabbat services, people express gratitude for their lives and the lives of their loved ones. I witness broken people who become whole, stunted spirits that spring to life. I hear powerful and original sacred music. I enjoy Shabbat dinner in a community where I belong. I hear my husband express his gratitude for me and his life. I experience the love of couples who connected at Beit T’Shuvah and get to welcome their children. I love my work and I work with my love. It doesn’t get any better than that!
Harriet Rossetto, Founder, Clinical Director
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RABBI MARK BOROVITZ Senior Rabbi
eit T’Shuvah has exemplified Grit over these past 30 years. We have followed in the footsteps of our ancestors who have survived and thrived over these past millennia. I believe this has happened because of our unique method of seeing each person as an individual, and helping to uncover the “niggun/melody” of their individual soul. We began with Shabbat services and then started to study Torah each morning. We continue to make Torah relevant on our daily journey of living well. Each chapter of Torah has within it numerous paths to living well, and our job is to help our residents (and now congregants) find the path that they need in the moment to live well. In these last 28 years at Beit T’Shuvah, I have experienced great joy and great pain. The joy of seeing myself, seeing what I have done well and seeing what I haven’t done well, and being able and knowing that I can change. And the great pain of seeing the opportunities I’ve missed, even in what I was doing well. And the pain of seeing the harm I have brought to others when I wasn’t. But T’Shuvah keeps me out of my own self-deception and stops me from being deceived by others—doing T’Shuvah keeps me clean, keeps me open, keeps me real—and then I know what is real and what isn’t. Our tradition has within it the paths and encouragement to help people recover from all types of addictions. It all begins with T’Shuvah, for me. T’Shuvah translates as repentance, return, and response. It means repair, change, and hope. T’Shuvah is the key for all of us to recover from the lies and deceptions that society engages in. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said that repentance is one of the unnoticed miracles that God has put into the world, that true repentance can be turned into salvation. We all need to be engaged in T’Shuvah.
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Reb Eliezer says you should do T’Shuvah one day before you die, and since no one knows the day of our death, we should do T’Shuvah every day. T’Shuvah is Judaism’s response to the myth of perfection. T’Shuvah, as I learned from Rabbi Steinsaltz, means that we have to sever ourselves from the old person. Chronologically and historically it may be true, but it's no longer part of us. We have to divorce ourselves from that no-goodnick and see that we are all imperfect human beings. We’re not supposed to be perfect, we need to be human and we have to do T’Shuvah. Rabbi Steinsaltz goes on to say that T'Shuvah was put into the world before the world was created, and I add, because God knew that we would screw up and need a way back. Doing T'Shuvah every day releases us from this shame, releases us from the blame. Our tradition says, "For one person's T’Shuvah, the entire world endures." Your T'Shuvah will change your life and the lives of everyone around you. My T'Shuvah changes my life and the life of everyone around me. It works in business. It works at home, and it works in the community. This T’Shuvah movement has begun. I am asking you to join it. Join it in your personal life, join it in your business life. I ask you to join me, because in this world of separation and division, T'Shuvah is exactly what's going to bring us together. You Matter,
Mark Borovitz, Senior Rabbi
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CERTAINTY. A UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs Phase 1 Success Case Study authored by Jorja Leap, Ph.D. and Sergio Rizzo-Fontanesi, Ph.D.
While historically viewed—and frequently lauded—as an effective recovery program, Beit T’Shuvah has never undergone a scientific evaluation. In an effort to empirically examine Beit T’Shuvah’s primary care program, a multi-year evaluation study began in September 2015 in collaboration with the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.
as the name implies, successful outcomes to understand why and for whom a given intervention is most effective. The success case method was used in tandem with the life history method in order to chronicle former residents’ lived experiences before, during, and after their time at Beit T’Shuvah.
One year into the five-year study, the first significant piece of the longitudinal evaluation has been completed: The Success Case Study. Success case studies document,
The key findings from this phase of the evaluation are summarized here. Most critically, they substantiate the claim that Beit T’Shuvah has been making for 30 years:
Through COMMUNITY , SPIRITUALITY , and INTER-PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS , they have been successful in
Psycho-Social Components COMMUNITY
100% of the sample credited the Beit T’Shuvah community and social relationships as a necessary component of recovery. Beit T’Shuvah fosters a profound sense of community by promoting a relational recovery model, emphasizing transparent relationships, an open dialogue, and an open-door policy among staff and residents.
100% cite the Beit T’Shuvah community as CRITICAL TO RECOVERY
100% reported forming a deep emotional bond with a Beit T’Shuvah staff member who served as a mentor or guide. For 75% of the sample, this individual was a member of “the big three:" Harriet Rossetto, Rabbi Mark Borovitz, and Elaine Breslow, z”l.
PRIOR SOBRIETY OR RECOVERY EXPERIENCES
61% attended a drug or alcohol rehabilitation program prior to Beit T’Shuvah. Successful recovery, therefore, appears to be a carryover process where residents bring with them the lessons that have been obtained through previous attempts at recovery.
100% of the sample fundamentally agreed that one must be a willing participant in their recovery, and open to the process and expectations asked of the resident.
DEEP EMOTIONAL BOND
with a Beit T’Shuvah staff member
25% relapsed while in treatment at Beit T’Shuvah. While none of the participants relapsed with their primary drug of choice after leaving Beit T’Shuvah, two engaged in compulsive gambling behaviors following treatment. Despite these setbacks, these individuals continue to move forward towards a meaningful life in recovery. S P R I N G 2 017
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Programmatic Components SPIRITUALITY
95% of the sample identify as Jewish, and 80% of the sample cited their spirituality as important to their recovery. What emerged from the interviews is not a dogmatic belief system, but the flexibility to question and apply ancient teachings to contemporary life that developed while in treatment at Beit T’Shuvah.
cited S P I R I T UA L I T Y as important to their recovery
50% specifically credited the clinical component of the program as imperative to their recovery. Beit T’Shuvah utilizes a non-conventional therapeutic approach, with an eclectic array of therapeutic activities.
PROVIDED BY BEIT T’SHUVAH ARE INDISPENSABLE FOR TRANSITION
80% reported working at Beit T’Shuvah at one point, suggesting that the career opportunities provided by Beit T’Shuvah are indispensable for those transitioning from resident to an engaged and productive member of society.
20% of the sample left Beit T’Shuvah during treatment and later returned, one participant did so as many as six times. Built into Beit T’Shuvah’s organizational policy is the necessity of second and third chances (and perhaps even more).
In a similar vein to an organizational policy that is predicated on the belief that each person has within them the possibility for change, is the necessity of taking organizational risks on perceived hopeless cases.
Built into BEIT T’SHUVAH’S organizational policy is the necessity of
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Former residents remained at Beit T’Shuvah between six and eighteen months. For residents to successfully engage in recovery, time is essential.
As a whole, the influence of the 12-Steps in recovery was secondary to the influence of the aforementioned programmatic factors. Though 55% percent of participants spoke about the importance of 12-Step meetings and sponsors, it was typically discussed in the context of maintaining sobriety and recovery once they had completed the program at Beit T’Shuvah.
many respondents described BEIT T’SHUVAH as a
LONG-TERM RESIDENTIAL CARE
2 3 nd
Implicit in all of the interviews is the need for a safe place for residents to recover from the chaos of alcohol and drug abuse, compulsive gambling, and other destructive behaviors. Many respondents described Beit T’Shuvah as a “haven” or “safe place.”
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Beit T'Shuvah: In The Beginning
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AMBITION THE GRIT ISSUE
THE FUTURE B Y R A B B I PA U L S T E I N B E R G
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n 2001, Jim Collins published his seminal work on organizational success and growth called, From Good to Great: Why Some Organizations Make the Leap…and Others Don’t. The book became an international sensation. Interestingly, it starts with a powerful quote attributed to former President Harry Truman: “You can accomplish anything in life, provided that you do not mind who gets the credit.” What an incredibly Jewish idea! And, what a relevant recovery idea! One of the great lessons of life is that accomplishment, as well as greatness and sustained success, is not born of any one individual’s merits. In fact, Collins would later write that emphasis on individual accomplishment leads to hubris born of success and the undisciplined pursuit of “more,” which are the top reasons for organizational decline and failure. Instead, he begins with Truman’s suggestion that we can accomplish anything if we don’t make it about either you or me, but rather about what connects us.
and principles within our future guarantors. Through congregational programs, Beit T’Shuvah has launched several bold educational initiatives that have begun to take a momentum of their own.
K id s Sh a bbat What began as a High Holiday Kids Service in 2014, now includes a lively, monthly Friday service with Beit T’Shuvah families and friends, led by Beit T’Shuvah clergy and band members. The service includes Beit T’Shuvah style music, prayer, and relevant Jewish spirituality with which alumni and community members are familiar and want for the next generation of “Shuv-ites.”
T h e R oc h e l l e a n d R obe r t G l u c kst e in and Family B’ n a i M it z va h P r og r a m
This past year, Beit T’Shuvah celebrated a milestone Bat Mitzvah. In honor of his parents, Brad Gluckstein established this initiative wherein Brad’s daughter, Leila, became the inaugural participant. The And what connects us? Our spiritual values and principles. In other program for adolescents, which includes a personalized ceremony, words, our future—our sustained greatness and accomplishment— learning, and training with Beit T’Shuvah clergy, and a community is ultimately characterized and defined by our Torah and spiritual service project, is designed for current community members and unaffiliated Jews that are looking for alternatives growth, and the preservation of principles over to the typical synagogue B’nai Mitzvah programs. personalities. Thus, our future is dependent not “WE CAN Beit T'Shuvah's facilities are also available for rent only upon vision, but upon a shared communal vision. to celebrate life cycle events including weddings, ACCOMPLISH brises, B'nai Mitzvahs, and more. Jewish wisdom has long understood what ANYTHING IF WE guarantees future success and the continuity of spiritual growth. The sages tell of it in a DON’T MAKE IT A d u lt E d u c at ion midrash of when God delivered the Torah to ABOUT EITHER YOU For the not-so-young learners and spiritual the Jewish people at Sinai. Accordingly, God seekers, Beit T’Shuvah has not only sustained asked the Jewish people for guarantors that OR ME, BUT RATHER its spring Introduction to Judaism course for the Torah would be properly preserved in the the past three years, but has expanded its adult ABOUT WHAT future. The people respond, “Our patriarchs and learning offerings to fall courses, and now, an matriarchs who pioneered this people will be our CONNECTS US.” Adult B’nai Mitzvah class. On the Shabbat of guarantors.” God replied, “They need guarantors Passover in 2017, 10 Beit T’Shuvah community themselves. They will not suffice.” “Our prophets and teachers will members, comprised of alumni, family members, and new members be our guarantors,” the people countered. “I have complaints against celebrated their Bar or Bat Mitzvah again, or for the first time. This them, too,” God said. The people finally declared, “Our children exciting program speaks to the inclusive power of Beit T’Shuvah’s will be our guarantors.” And God said, “Now that’s a guarantor!” It spiritual mission to help people of all ages recover passion and was then that God decided to give the Jewish people the Torah, and, discover purpose through Judaism. therefore, the most important duty for Jews is to bring children to Torah and to educate (Shir Ha-Shirim Rabbah, 1:4). The truth is that the future of Beit T’Shuvah is very present. The Jewish vision of the future is a process of continuous, optimistic In 30 years of existence, Beit T’Shuvah has been witness to an entire becoming. The boldness of Beit T’Shuvah’s vision is now, and must generation of history. The alumni of Beit T’Shuvah who were once continue to be, about what connects us all. It is neither of the past, hardly more than children now have children of their own. The present, or the future, but rather simply what is our way of being spiritual seeds that were planted in them and sown throughout their in the world. As usual, Jewish wisdom describes this best with the social circles are now ready to be replanted in their children, and following Talmudic parable: even grandchildren. The fact is that the Torah and principles of Beit T’Shuvah no longer live within the walls of Beit T’Shuvah alone, but One day a young man was journeying on the road and he also within all of those whom they have touched over the years. So saw a man planting a carob tree. He asked, “How long does it is that our future lives in them; it lives in how they take what they it take for this tree to bear fruit?” The man replied: “Seventy have been given and grow it themselves. years.” The young man then asked: “Are you certain that you will live another seventy years?” The old man replied: In From Good to Great, Jim Collins compares the path of future success “I found already grown carob trees in the world; as my and greatness to pushing a flywheel. He said that organizations forefathers planted those for me, so I too plant these for my might have to begin pushing the wheel with effort and ingenuity, and children (Ta’anit 23a)." measured success is when the wheel takes on a momentum of its own. In the past couple of years, Beit T’Shuvah has actively pushed the And so…our future is in our planting. wheel, so to speak, toward furthering its efforts to nurture its Torah S P R I N G 2 017
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SELFLESSNESS The Kahn Scholarship By Amy Abrams
onnie Kahn has the type of humor, playful and slightly sarcastic, that makes him a perfect fit for Beit T’Shuvah. He is quick with a joke and doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously. When asked if we could feature him and his wife Barbara in a donor spotlight article, he humbly replied, “I don’t really want a lot of recognition.” The Kahns found Beit T’Shuvah the way a lot of other donors do, through the recommendation of Annette and Leonard Shapiro. “Annette never stops talking about BTS,” Ronnie exclaims. “We went to a few events and a few Shabbat services, but if Annette likes something, that’s all we need to know.” The more they were exposed to the program, the more they interacted with the residents, the more they knew they had to get involved. Last year they started the Barbara and Ronnie Kahn Educational Scholarship Fund for residents who are looking to further their education but can’t afford to pay for it on their own. When asked why they chose education, Ronnie explained that as he and Barbara talked to the residents it was obvious how talented and smart they were, but also clear that they probably didn’t have the means to nurture those parts of their personalities by returning to school. While Beit T’Shuvah has made a point of making work-life transition as smooth as possible for their residents, offering the Susan and Leonard Nimoy Career Center, the Sossin-Bergman Externship Program, and the Work Therapy Program, the missing link was a direct path for Beit T’Shuvah residents to pursue education. That conversation between husband and wife led to a simple solution: They would help. “All of the people who would like to go and get an education but can’t afford it are of interest to us,” Ronnie says matterof-factly. “If there is a way to help them, then we will do it. This is
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something that we really like doing. It gives us great satisfaction, frankly.” Ronnie and Barbara have been married for almost 58 years. They met when he was 18 and she was 17, and, as Ronnie puts it, “We started going out, got married, had two children, our children had children…you know, it’s a great life.” He says this in the same pragmatic manner that he talks about heeding the call to be of service to Beit T’Shuvah. These are simply things that were meant to be. They are "Beshert." Ronnie spent his life in the family business, General Motors, and he and Barbara have always been very philanthropically inclined. Barbara has served on many boards, including The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and Ronnie was very involved in The Diabetes Association. After he retired, however, they longed for something more “spiritual.” Enter Annette Shapiro and Beit T’Shuvah. Speaking of the “kind group of people” they have found here at BTS, Ronnie and Barbara say that this scholarship fund is not the end, “We want to keep doing that, but also help in other ways when the opportunity comes along.” Dustin K. is the first recipient of the Barbara and Ronnie Kahn Scholarship Fund, and he can’t stop thinking of new ways to express his gratitude. “Receiving this scholarship has brought hope to my life. It has set me up for success.” Through a selfless act of love, and because of their ability to see the humanity and potential in the souls of people during their darkest hour, Ronnie and Barbara Kahn are changing lives. There are already seven recipients of this scholarship. We want to express our sincere gratitude to the Kahns for being partners on this journey to bring redemption and recovery to those who need it most.
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DRIVE Our Hands-On Board Member, Don Passman By Amy Abrams
on Passman is a man of many talents. original music, and by providing studio services at Having graduated from Harvard Law the BTS Recording Studio). Led by Beit T’Shuvah School, he is one of the industry’s top alumnus and music industry veteran Glenn entertainment attorneys. He has worked with Goss, this groundbreaking venture legitimizes some of the biggest artists in the music world— the wealth of organic talent that comes through perhaps you’ve heard of Adele, Pink, or Stevie Beit T’Shuvah, talent that is further nurtured Wonder—and he literally wrote the definitive through their recovery experience. Glenn has guide to the music industry, All You Need to Know worked in the music business for over 40 years, About the Music Business. He has authored several signing publishing deals with EMI and Warner fiction books, whose subjects run the gamut from Brothers, and songwriting for such superstars as Billy madness and murder to magicians and psychics, plays both Idol, Joan Osborne, and Cyndi Lauper. He brings his own the guitar and the banjo and, in his spare time, is deeply involved in unique experience and knowledge to the project. At Beit T'Shuvah, several philanthropic ventures. He has been married for 44 years, is he was able to tap into a deep inner creativity by writing music in the father of four and the grandfather of three. Don has served on the a healthy forum for the first time. Glenn and Don knew that the board of The City of Hope, the Governors Board for Cedars-Sinai, residents’ music deserved a greater outlet and wider audience. With and has been an active member of Beit the BTS Music Company, residents T’Shuvah’s Board of Directors for the THe fortuitous Shidduch between and alumni can now sell and license past five years. their published music, creating personal Passman and BTS Music [...] is exactly income as well as an additional revenue When asked how he first learned about the kind of right-place-right-time source for Beit T’Shuvah. It may sound BTS, he said, “I heard about it, and like a lofty goal, but it’s already hit the miracle that makes Beit T’Shuvah the idea of combining Judaism with the recovery innovator that it is. ground running. BTS Music has created the 12-Steps felt very resonant to me.” licensed music for Jewish Life Television, In short, he knew it was something he an upcoming Jack Bender thriller for the wanted to get involved with. Fellow Board member Lynn Bider Direct TV Network, and an original score for a Jonathan Silverman introduced him to Rabbi and Harriet, and after attending a Friday movie currently in production. Additionally, they have provided night Shabbat service, he was “totally sold.” He read Rabbi’s book, narration for two documentary films that are making their way The Holy Thief, “fell in love,” and the rest, as they say, is history. When through the national and international film festival circuit. asked what has kept him involved with Beit T’Shuvah all these years, he answers, without missing a beat, “It’s their mission. They are doing The fortuitous "Shidduch" between Passman and BTS Music—a such miraculous things.” He goes on to talk about what he calls the board member and a unique Beit T’Shuvah venture—is exactly the “commitment on a very deep level to helping people recover” as kind of right-place-right-time miracle that makes Beit T’Shuvah the something that has obviously been the driving force behind 30 years recovery innovator that it is. Perhaps even more kismet are the folks of perseverance and determination. BTS Music attracts; wildly passionate and professional individuals like Don, whose enthusiastic “lets-do-it” mentality keeps Beit No stranger to talent, Don quickly became aware that, thanks to T’Shuvah blazing trails and saving lives. the Creative Arts Program, Beit T’Shuvah is a bit of an incubator for musical artistry. Understanding the inherent therapeutic role of In describing Don, Glenn sighs deeply, a smile spreads across his face creativity in recovery, Don has been an X-factor in the creation of as he clearly prepares to lay down some profound truths. “There’s the BTS Music Publishing Company. “Obviously I know a lot about Jesus, Buddha, Allah…and then you got Don Passman. Those other music,” he explains, “So it just seemed logical that I would help.” guys might be able to help you with your spiritual life, but when it Bringing his extensive knowledge of the entertainment industry, he comes to music, Don is the guru of gurus. How lucky are we to even has been a vital part of this endeavor which not only showcases the be able to get advice from him? You can’t put a price on that. Only immense talent that we have here at Beit T’Shuvah, but will hopefully at Beit T’Shuvah.” provide a helpful revenue stream as well (through the licensing of
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s the conversation wrapped up, there was a casual exchange of business cards amongst the group gathered in Downtown LA. They were there to discuss an innovative program addressing a pressing need in California’s criminal justice system. While the exchange of business cards may have been a simple courtesy to some, it was a deeply powerful moment for Russell Harrison, Beit T’Shuvah’s Operation Manager. 1 6 | B E I T T ’ S H U V A H | w w w. b e i t t s h u v a h . o r g
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One thing that made this moment so special was how the meeting came to be convened and who convened it. Alongside Russell were several other “lifers,” individuals who had served life sentences for their past criminal activity, including two other Beit T’Shuvah alumni. Notably, they had all been invited by a group of high-level parole department administrators to help develop a peer-led program supporting soon-tobe released “lifers” with their re-entry back into society. The name of the program is the Lifer Peer Reentry Navigation Network.
that we are commanded to contribute to the betterment of ourselves and the world, through acts of humility, loving-kindness, and the pursuit of a more just society. The Street Torah program puts Beit T’Shuvah’s Torah (i.e. our spiritual values and wisdom) into action; on the streets of our city, and in the halls of our government.
One of the first programs we developed is called Feeding the Hungry, where our community members come together to prepare and distribute meals to needy individuals living on the streets of Los Angeles. The fact that this meeting even happened was a reflection that the Additionally, this past September, the Beit T’Shuvah Sisterhood initiated California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) the Purse Project, where we gathered, packaged, and distributed personal Division of Parole Operations had recognized (finally!) the wisdom care kits to individuals living on the streets, as well as those currently that’s driven Beit T’Shuvah’s efforts since its inception. Sadly, as we have in prison. In our pursuits of justice, Beit T’Shuvah has been a proud seen all too often from the criminal justice system, viewing people as and featured member in several state and local campaigns advocating just felons, drug addicts, juvenile delinquents, etc. mischaracterizes them for systemic changes to the criminal justice system. We know from realAND serves to keep an unnecessary separation between both the judge life experience, both individually and organizationally, that helping grow and judged. By recognizing the soul beyond the label, Beit T’Shuvah people into contributing members of society comes through rehabilitation is well versed in the potential for a transformative impact on everybody and reform, rather than strictly punitive measures. Most notably, this involved through real, authentic connections. Beit T’Shuvah’s approach past fall, Beit T’Shuvah residents and staff members were featured towards healing the criminal, the addict, the broken, and the misfit has speakers at 10 local synagogues to support passage of Proposition 57. They shared their stories of personal redemption always been grounded in an appreciation that to raise awareness about sentencing reform and those who have transformed their lives, going from Beit T’Shuvah’s approach juvenile justice. brokenness towards wholeness, are to be honored and regarded as part of the solution. We have towards healing the Nanette Scheid, a Beit T’Shuvah program found that fostering and embracing opportunities criminal, the addict, the facilitator, shared this about her contributions, for connection between people, especially around broken, and the misfit has “While in active addiction I caused a lot of issues of our own brokenness, provides the basis for meaningful relationships and mutual healing. always been grounded in damage. I destroyed relationships and lives [...] of the most important elements in my an appreciation that those One recovery has been to be of service and give back The origins of this relational recovery philosophy who have transformed [...] The people I victimized may not accept my can be seen in wisdom from the Torah. Our T’Shuvah, but my hope is to live a decent life and tradition implores us to recognize and dignify the their lives, going from help others in recovery who still suffer.” holy soul residing within each of us. In biblical brokenness towards law there is a repeated emphasis to look beyond wholeness, are to be Another huge success was the leadership role ourselves and focus on the stranger. According to Rabbi Eliezer in the Talmud (Baba Metsia honored and regarded as Beit T’Shuvah took in helping to push the L.A. City Council to pass the Fair Chance/Ban-the59b), the Torah “warns against the wronging of a part of the solution. Box Initiative in early December. This legislation stranger in thirty-six places; others say, in forty-six prohibits private employers from asking about places.” Consequently, whether sinner or saint, felony convictions during the early stages of the we are all obligated to be sensitive towards both our own needs, as well as those who are unfamiliar to us (i.e. the stranger, job-hiring process. Several times, our residents and alumni gave public testimony in front of sub-committees of the L.A. City Council to the orphan, the widow...). demonstrate the importance of second chances. Beit T’Shuvah’s relational philosophy has also been influenced by the value which Alcoholics Anonymous places on service and action. A.A. Judy Clark, a Beit T’Shuvah alumni reports, “When I initially started has always emphasized the benefit that service activities have on both working, my goal was to see if I could help others because I felt a strong the giver and receiver. This plays out in many ways; especially between appreciation for the assistance I received from Beit T’Shuvah. As my own recovery progressed, my confidence returned and I wanted to be more sponsor and sponsee. As Russell shares: of a voice for the voiceless. Yet along the way, I discovered I had found “Being of service is an integral part of my recovery. When I started my passion for life again. Yes, I was helping others, but in the process, I on this journey that I am on, I had no idea of where to go or what realized I was helping myself and my recovery.” to do. I was guided by those that have trudged this path before me. The example was set and the lesson was learned. I need to do for For Russell, the exchange of business cards represented a small, but real others without any expectation of a reward. The reward comes in soul connection with representatives from the very system that kept him locked up for so many years. It was a living demonstration of the Torah’s the act of kindness.” wisdom that, “In the place where the repentant stands, even the righteous Cultivating a sense of obligation for attending to the needs of others has cannot reach.” Most importantly, it meant that Russell would soon have been one of the main drivers for the development of our Street Torah the opportunity to continue to share and learn about this wisdom with program, Beit T’Shuvah’s community service and social action program. the next group of his teachers. As a community brought together through brokenness, we recognize S P R I N G 2 017
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I first came to Beit T’Shuvah as a rabbinic intern, with a sense that I was interested in what happened here, but
little idea of exactly what I was signing up for. During the first spiritual department meeting I attended, Rabbi Mark emphasized that to be a spiritual counselor meant to be an advocate for the soul. That sounds great! Now what does that mean? Given that I hadn’t yet developed the close relationship I now have with this seemingly imposing ex-con who also happened to be my internship supervisor, I didn’t ask too many questions and took the premise at face value. Things have changed significantly since then. In my five years of working at BTS alongside Rabbi Mark, I’ve worked hard to refine—for myself, for other spiritual counselors, and for our residents—what spiritual counseling in action looks like. I have found that doing this work, both of clarifying the practice generally and working to improve my skills in meeting with residents specifically, has been immeasurably helpful to me; not simply in a professional capacity, but in how it has pushed me to continue to deepen my relationship with Judaism and living well. I have previously described spiritual counseling as the following: "At its best, spiritual counseling reconnects people with their souls, grounds us in the Jewish tradition in a personally relevant way, and holds out a path of hope and meaning as we each work to heal our brokenness." To ask the question that I should have asked years ago, what does that mean? Regarding reconnecting with one’s soul, our tradition teaches, and I believe, that each of us has something within us: a divine spark, a Godly image, a holiness. Daily, we each become disconnected from that element of ourselves. Spiritual counseling helps to reconnect each of us with that divided piece. This also takes as a given that it is not just the residents, but also the spiritual counselors who become disconnected. An awareness of the need to reconnect with one’s self is a prerequisite for a spiritual counselor—if there’s no personal spiritual program in play, I consider it impossible to be an effective spiritual counselor. By holding this awareness of the daily work we each need to do, spiritual counselors can more ably build a relationship with someone who is struggling to do the same. We can more aptly speak to how the Jewish tradition guides us on our own journeys. S P R I N G 2 017
By drawing both on our expertise in Judaism and our personal experience, spiritual counselors can offer guidance to residents based on our wisdom, at the intersection of the personal and the Judaic. The appropriate resource, then, is not dictated by a curriculum or a handbook. In my role as the director of spiritual counseling, though I will sometimes point to certain texts or practices as being potentially fitting for this point in a resident’s journey, I will just as frequently push the spiritual counselor to speak to what that text or resource is for them when they’re in a similar spiritual struggle. By locating that personal source of meaning, the spiritual counselor can better reach the resident. Meaning is inherently personal, and so in sharing an individually relevant element of the Jewish tradition, the session is more alive and resonant for each person. I also believe, and have experienced, that hope and meaning are generated not only by the content, but in the relationship formed between the spiritual counselor and the resident. Relatively early on in my time here, I was meeting with a resident who I was challenging a bit, until he snapped at me. "I'm not like you," he retorted, "I can't just be spiritual all the time!" In the moment, I laughed, because it sounded so absurd, but upon further reflection, I realized that I had failed. Whether because of what I had been transmitting in the sessions or because I hadn't broken through his projections, I hadn't connected with him in a real enough way for him to see that I too knew well the day to day struggle of being a person in the world. In the conversations I’ve had where I’ve been able to move past those barriers into a deeper connection with the other person, there’s a shared sense of spiritual work as a person in the world, from which hope grows and meaning can be found. A key element of my own spiritual work is remaining teachable, holding at the forefront of my mind the teaching: “Who is wise? He who learns from everyone.” I am aided in my own efforts by the insights and honesty of the people I meet with, faced with the importance of being more aware of my own challenges and working to seize the opportunities to grow in my own life. Some of my deepest learnings have come from studying ancient texts with residents in my office, and the new perspectives we’ve reached together. The teaching of “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I?” gains new currency through the lens of a codependent resident struggling with healthy boundaries in relationships. Rabbi Abraham Heschel’s articulation of "faith as faithfulness" becomes further illuminated in witnessing a resident work to stay connected to the initial moment of deciding to be sober. The wandering, steady, often heartbreaking and occasionally redemptive journey of all of us—the people of Israel—comes to life each day for me, as long as I am present with myself and with each person I counsel. Spiritual counseling at its best enhances the recovery of the resident, deepens the wisdom of the spiritual counselor, and brings much of the best of Beit T’Shuvah into the room— relationship, growth, struggle, change, connection, Judaism. Ultimately then, spiritual counseling is about being an advocate for the soul in not one, but three ways: the soul of the resident, the soul of the spiritual counselor, and the soul of Beit T'Shuvah. 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
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Shira’s father is a well-known cantor from Valley Beth Shalom. As a young girl she stood proudly at his side, singing her little heart out. However, by elementary school, and through her senior year, Shira attended an orthodox Jewish Day school where she eventually learned that women’s singing voices were not supposed to be heard in public. She then stopped singing in public forums.
In 1998, when Shira was just 16 years old, she was asked by Rabbi Mark Borovitz to sing during High Holidays at Beit T’Shuvah. Rabbi Mark has had a long and deep connection with Valley Beth Shalom, and with Cantor Shira’s father. Shira was initially excited about doing it, but she later decided she wasn’t going to—she wanted to respect the orthodox tradition. There are typically no female clergy in the orthodox world, and certainly no female cantors. When Shira went off to college she sank into a very severe eating disorder. During this time, she set her passion for singing aside because she was “so focused on trying to be someone [she] was not, and was lost in who [she] thought [she] was supposed to be.” She worked hard on her recovery, and when Rabbi Mark reached out to her again in 2011, she was determined to add her voice to Beit T’Shuvah’s congregation. Shira knew that she wanted to use her voice, “literally and figuratively,” through song. "It was one of the main ways I wanted to lift people up.” She was not sure that her hopes of singing full-time would work out, so she said a little prayer to herself and to God: “Please put me where I am meant to serve.” What she didn’t know is that she had received a voice message two days earlier. It was from Rabbi Mark, who had asked her if she could sing at Beit T’Shuvah. She accepted Rabbi’s offer and began singing regularly for Beit T’Shuvah’s Shabbat services. As tends to inexplicably be the case for people at Beit T’Shuvah, Shira felt her prayer was answered. “Throughout my 20’s, I felt a sense of Jewish homelessness,” she recalls. When she was reintroduced to Beit T’Shuvah, she loved the
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idea that “Judaism and recovery work in partnership.” Because of her own experience with addiction and recovery, she felt that she finally had a Jewish home. In 2012, Shira started working at Beit T’Shuvah as a spiritual counselor. She wanted to speak to people who, despite their daily struggles, “thirsted for truth.” Thanks to the thriving Sondra and Marvin Smalley Music in Recovery Program at Beit T’Shuvah, her musical involvement is not just limited to being the cantor. Off the bema, Shira collaborates in the planning of the beloved themed Shabbats with resident musicians, and helps residents write and compose new liturgy-based music. The BTS music program bridges and combines music, spirituality, and Judaism in a way that utilizes the unique musical talents and creative inspirations of residents and alumni through musical performance, songwriting, and studio-recording. Residents are encouraged and given the opportunity to express themselves creatively, and to unite the pieces of themselves in transformative and healing ways. “Music can take us beyond the boundaries of ourselves,” Shira reflects, “It can take us beyond the negative narratives of our lives, and help heal the pain of the past. One’s very self in recovery can feel inaccessible…people can feel as though they’re stumbling in the dark. Music can be the most available light-switch around.” For Shira, this is all very personal. “Music and Jewish wisdom make great dance partners, helping people to heal beyond other traditional modalities. For me, being able to be a part of all that is happening here is one of the greatest privileges of my life.”
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Beit T’Shuvah has been immersed in a 30-year study of what we call human brokenness—the inherent inner human dilemma wherein we live in an uncertain world with uncertain meaning and an uncertain future. Our teachers have been those in our community who are most acutely broken: the junkies, criminals, alcoholics, gamblers and thieves who are no longer able to deny their inner scission. What we have found is that the destructive behavior of addiction and crime are truly the most severe symptoms of a deeper brokenness: the inability to integrate our contradictory selves. We have found at Beit T’Shuvah that the antidote to this human dilemma is contained in a deeply personal and relevant Judaism. It is a Judaism that understands the Torah as a guide to living as complete human beings—as both holy souls and imperfect beings that make mistakes. The Elaine Breslow Institute (EBI) at Beit T’Shuvah was created with the determination to transmit and share these Torah lessons of redemption, and demonstrate how they can lead each one of us on a path toward wholeness. EBI is designed to empower Jewish educators and medical professionals to create healthy communities and families. In the past two years, with the generous support of the Jewish Community Foundation’s Cutting Edge Grant, we have fully launched as a national-reaching education center with Beit T’Shuvah’s original methodology at its core. We have trained hundreds of Jewish educators and medical professionals, returning them back to their communities with a new and unique spiritual skillset. In this past year, The Crown Family Foundation graciously supported our efforts to implement a mentorship program, comprised of wellknown professionals throughout the country, through the Leadership Institute. In collaboration with our staff, the East-Coast based Leadership Institute—which strives to further the leadership capacity, pedagogic skills, and Judaic knowledge of congregational school educators—has helped EBI implement new follow-up programs, like the Action Research Project. This project is created by both mentor and trainee, and is designed to help inspire trainee’s communities with their newfound spiritual understanding and awareness. One of our participant’s Action Research Project, for example, involves implementing six lessons for his students (2nd-6th grade), to help deepen their understanding of prayer, and use prayer as a lens of self-reflection and self-growth. Most recently, we are excited to be partnering with the Los Angeles Board of Rabbis, offering them immersion programs tailored to promote true change in the Los Angeles Jewish community.
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After going through the immersion, our participants and mentors have a newfound determination to change the way they teach and interact with their communities. On the subject, here is a Q&A by Program Director Nicole Goodman, with one of our Leadership Institute mentors, Ira Wise. What is your career path right now? -N.G. I have been a Jewish educator working in synagogue schools since 1991, when I received my Master of Arts in Jewish Education from the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in Los Angeles. In 2005 I was approached by Evie Rotstein, then director of the Leadership Institute [...] The Leadership Institute was to be the first truly long-term collaborative effort between HUC-JIR and The Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTSA). It was funded to be a twoand-a-half year advanced training program for educators directing synagogue-based schools. - I.W. Why did you decide to get involved in EBI? At the end of the third Leadership Institute cohort, in 2012, the 10 mentors decided to go on a last learning retreat together. We had been S P R I N G 2 017
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THE ELAINE BRESLOW INSTITUTE A Q&A BETWEEN PROGRAM DIRECTOR NICOLE GOODMAN & EBI MENTOR IRA WISE discussing the possibility of staying together as a consulting firm, but I think we knew this retreat was our last chance to learn together as a team. One of the other mentors had been involved with Beit T’Shuvah for a number of years at this point and suggested we bring Harriet Rossetto in to be our teacher. Anyone who knows Harriet can guess where this is going. We fell in love. And at one point, Harriet mentioned that she and Rabbi Mark had been contemplating the EBI as a place where rabbis, cantors, educators and other Jewish professionals could learn to be more effective in connecting with people with addictions in their communities—to become competent as first responders. She had us at “Hello.”
Name one moment in the immersion experience that really stuck out to you. In order to be useful as mentors we needed to be a part of the Immersion. So the mentor team became the very first cohort [for EBI] three years ago. We showed up with the idea in our heads that we were consultants who were going to objectively review the Institute and give advice on how to make it better. About 60 seconds after sitting down with the EBI staff, we realized we needed to lose the metaphoric clipboards and just be present and participate. It was life-changing for me. The standout moments happened during the three times we had [partner] study with residents. My partner was a heroin addict in recovery for, at that time, nine months. She said, “You are the expert. Tell me what it means.” Taking a cue from Rabbi Mark, I said “I can only tell you what it means to me. And that is not necessarily all that it means. Why don’t you start?” And for the next 45 minutes we studied together. By the second session, we were studying, but the text became our lives. I observed a thing or two that she told me about her life and she looked at me like I was a psychic. She had drilled right through the lies I had told myself to the truth I wouldn’t let myself see. That was when I truly began to understand what Beit T’Shuvah is about. Why did you decide to stay involved with the Institute as a mentor? S P R I N G 2 017
There was never a decision to stay. Leaving would be a decision. I was in for life midway through my second session with my resident learning partner. What does it look like to be a mentor for EBI? This is an interesting question. What does it look like to be in recovery? We learned during our retreat with Harriet when this all began that “You don’t have to be an addict to need to be in recovery.” For someone who speaks an awful lot of truth, I am not sure I have ever heard Harriet utter truer words. In some ways we mentors are each in recovery. Some of us are actually working the steps. All of us have developed an intimate connection to what Beit T’Shuvah is and does, and that has become an essential part of who we are—personally and professionally. Practically, it means being in regular, scheduled contact with our mentees, helping them with their Action Research Plan and, if they see it that way, their own recovery. What impact does this program have on the Jewish community and Jewish education? As the program grows, so will its impact. In my school, you can detect a little Beit T’Shuvah in the classrooms and in school Tefilah (worship) as we try to teach our students how to seek and identify ‘radical amazement’ in their experiences. As professionals and as people, participants become more grounded, more centered as they make their own personal inventories and seek to do T’Shuvah. That has an impact on the communities in which we work. The EBI promises to be a place where Jewish professionals learn practical skills for their work, and how to work on their souls. That will have a very deep impact on all we serve. For more information on EBI, go to www.btsinstitute.org, or email Nicole at email@example.com. w w w. b e i t t s h u v a h . o r g | B E I T T ’ S H U V A H | 2 3
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EMPOWERMENT Called to Empower All of God’s People By Reverend Mark Whitlock
Catholic churches in any significant numbers.” We have experienced a drop in millennials attending COR Church. Millennials are interested in espousing a cause, not religious dogma. There has been an increase in heroin addiction, racism, hate crimes, police abuse, bullying and no faith in governmental leadership. The church must meet the social needs of suffering people. The church must listen more than just preach!
ome religious institutions have a dark hidden secret. It has been a secret for centuries. The secret is: some religious institutions enable, rather than empower, suffering people to change. The church does quite well with people without problems, but not well with people who have problems. We do a wonderful job praying for the poor. Prayer is good, but services to assist recovery from substance abuse, hunger, homelessness, poverty, and unemployment are better. Some houses of worship are so heavenly-bound that they are no earthly good. Yet, the church is called to empower God’s people. Holy Scriptures command us to care for the poor. The Bible says, (Deut. 15:11) “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be open-handed toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.” There is, however, a difference between empowering the poor and enabling them. Far too often, churches focus on paying off a mortgage, repairing stained glass windows, and purchasing new artifacts. Most people do not care about the buildings or new artifacts. Rather, they focus on social causes! Most churches spend more time entertaining dues-paying members than suffering souls. Religious institutions are spiritual places, but they are also social service agencies. Religious institutions are called to give people fish to eat, but they must teach people how to fish and ultimately own the pond from which they fish. The millennial generation is tired of religious institutions promoting values and doctrines but failing to meet the needs of the community. Richard Flory, Senior Director of Research for the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture, says, “Based on our data, evangelical millennials are decidedly not moving into mainline Protestant or
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Most people in low-income communities have used the church for money and resources, but people suffering from addiction often remain ignored. The substance abuse community distrusts the church. They feel judged and often misunderstood. The church must first open its hearts, minds, and souls to serve the least visible members of the community. The church needs tools to meet the “felt needs.” Religious institutions have a rich reservoir of the most talented and successful people in the community. There are thousands of people attending religious institutions willing to volunteer their knowledge, money, and time to help people in need. The religious community should learn to partner on social services for recovery programming, empowering workshops, and dismantling ideological differences for the betterment of all communities. Beit T’Shuvah has, for 30 years now, been listening. It has heard the call to empower individuals of all faiths and statuses, helping them to rise above and transform. They have set the example for long-term vision, in which religious institutions become centers of empowerment for the least of these—not limited by cash assistance but through the dissemination of training, sharing of resources, cause funding, and becoming advocates for the poor. Poor people need religious institutions to work with them to create jobs, housing, sober living homes, drug and alcohol treatment facilities, and offer a moral platform where all people are accepted. Religious institutions may form partnerships with other religious institutions, government, social service agencies, drug recovery programs, financial institutions, and medical centers to offer free social service programs, financial tools, teachers and services to all interested participants.
Let us stop keeping secrets. We are called to empower all of God’s people. Reverend Mark Whitlock is Executive Director of the USC Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement and Senior Pastor of Christ Our Redeemer AME Church, Irvine. S P R I N G 2 017
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UNMASKING The Arts & Recovery By Justin Shapiro
ne of the better known productions of the BTS Theater Program is the original musical, Freedom Song. Written by a number of residents along with Stuart Robinson, and under the musical direction of Laura Bagish, the plot consists of two separate real-life situations. On stage left, a family partakes in a Passover Seder. On stage right, an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting is in session. Michael Kamenir, alumnus of Beit T’Shuvah and head of the Theater Program explains: “We learn a lot about both sides, independently. As the piece progresses, what we find is that there are a lot of similarities between the two. In the end, as Harriet would say, you don’t have to be an addict to be in recovery. We find that in a typical Jewish family, not everything is what it seems to be. There is no perfect family. By the end of the play, the two sides melt together, and show the similarities, rather than the differences, of all people.” The show reveals how addiction affects a whole family, not just the one who’s addicted. “It’s a family disease.” The cast and crew of Freedom Song tour around the country, performing in cities like Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, New York, New Jersey, Washington D.C., St. Louis, Denver, Jackson Mississippi, Nashville, Seattle, and all over Southern California. The 11-year running Freedom Song is performed for several thousand people each year. “That means several thousand people a year get to hear what addicts go through,” Michael shares, “That there is hope; That there’s hope for families.” Freedom Song is so powerful because it refuses to ignore the fact that addiction is real, and that it can happen to anybody. The show takes addiction out of the shadows. “By talking about it freely on stage, we open up a dialogue for other people in the audience to do the same. It spreads the message of recovery.” The cast and crew of Freedom Song travel all over the country to put on the production for Jewish schools and temples, enabling communities everywhere to engage in this necessary conversation. And that’s just scratching the surface of the Theater Program at Beit T’Shuvah. The Theater Program offers two theater-based groups weekly. One of them is called “Theater Junkies,” which was originally started by Kelly Mulligan, z"l, a former and greatly beloved counselor who unfortunately passed away last year. This group is about letting loose. “It’s a very non-threatening, fun time. It helps to get the mind S P R I N G 2 017
going. When you come into early recovery, your mind is not fully recovered yet. This helps you focus. It helps you interact with other people.” The other group is “Recovering Theater.” This group is about pure improvisation. “We take daily situations that we have in our lives, and have other people act them out for us, so that we can see our own behavior [...] and maybe we can improve,” Michael says. It is a group that invites residents to take a look at their pasts, and try, creatively, to figure out how to avoid making the same mistakes twice. Michael is the perfect fit for this program. He has an unbridled enthusiasm for everything theater, and the gestures to match. Michael has had a love for acting since he was nine years old. He landed lead roles in his high school and college plays, and acted professionally for a while, including a stint in a national tour of the popular show Grease. When addiction slowed him down, it was Beit T’Shuvah, and the Theater Program, that brought him back to his passionate self. He wanted to take that passion and help expand the program into the robust therapeutic resource it is today. Michael states, “Our primary purpose of having the theater program is not to teach people how to perform. It is more of a creative outlet, and for people to exhibit passion and purpose.” There are many parallels between acting, creativity, and personal recovery. “The whole idea of rehearsing is showing that you can finish something you started.” That you can work to refine and reform as you practice. Sound a bit like recovery? Many addicts have a lot of trouble sticking with their commitments. Participating in something where you rely on others, and others rely on you, can help with learning how to follow through on what you set out to do. When suffering from addiction, we tend to hide our true selves by putting on figurative masks because of our personal insecurities. Being creative, and literally putting on masks, allows us to dig deep into what’s behind them: our innermost emotions. It shines a light on what’s going on for us, and why we do what we do. Even though a lot of it is about pretending to be somebody we are not, theater is one of the most powerful forms of true self-expression. w w w. b e i t t s h u v a h . o r g | B E I T T ’ S H U V A H | 2 5
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SPIRIT A Partnership Between Beit T'Shuvah Residents & Autistic Youth By Eliana Katz & Justin Shapiro
Elaine Hall was never able to have biological children. All she ever dreamed of was living a normal life, “I wanted Tot Shabbat and Little League and to be the soccer mom with a minivan [...] When I found out I couldn’t give birth […] I felt that I wasn’t a Jewish woman.” At her temple on Rosh Hashanah, her Rabbi invited her to hold the Torah at the bema, instructing her to “hold it like a baby.” Elaine revealed to the Rabbi that she wasn’t able to have children. He told her that the Torah mandate to bear children, "Peru U’Revu" (be fruitful and multiply), can also mean creating ideas and learning how to give them to the world.
He said there was “nothing greater or more Jewish than to adopt, and give family life to someone who would not otherwise have it.”
And that’s what Elaine decided to do.
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She chose to adopt from Russia, the land of her heritage, where she was blessed to find her two-year-old son. But shortly after, he began acting out in peculiar ways. “He spun around in circles, he stared at his hands for hours, he banged his head, he cried, he tantrumed,” Elaine recalls. Her maternal instinct was to go along with his unique behavior. “When he flapped his hands, I’d flap with him, and we’d be birds […] If he spun, I’d play Ring around the Rosie. We’d spin together." She just thought he was trying to adjust to America, but finally, at two years and ten months, he was diagnosed with autism. A devastating blow, Elaine grieved for three weeks. “Then I looked at my son and realized he’s no different just because he had a word attached to him, and I would do everything I needed to do to help him be the best he could be.”
expert, travelling the globe to train universities and programs on how to do the very thing she was told not to do: enable autism, and unlock the spirit. This brings the story to Beit T’Shuvah. Beit T’Shuvah is a place where spirits—all parts, dark and light—are enabled, engaged, and nurtured. Elaine had known about Beit T’Shuvah for many years. She admired their unique approach, particularly the emphasis on creativity and music. Through Nes Gadol, the B’nai Mitzvah program Elaine founded at Vista Del Mar, she met Meryl Kern, a longtime Beit T’Shuvah supporter. Meryl told Elaine that she must do something with the residents at Beit T’Shuvah. As Elaine was developing her adult program, she realized she needed peer mentors. Elaine went with Meryl and Russell Kern to bring the idea of BTS resident mentors to Rabbi Mark, and it was a “shidduch made in heaven.”
Elaine began to travel the country in search of the best methodologies to nurture her son. What she found was that her instinct to “join her son’s The Beit T’Shuvah volunteers Elaine Hall at work with The Miracle Project autistic world,” rather than try join the Miracle Project, where and force him to exit it, was they mentor autistic young shunned by traditional therapists. adults each week in everything Fortunately, she found others from improvisation classes to who were seeing autism in a inclusion workshops. Partially different light. Her intuitive funded by a generous grant approach was actually becoming from the Jewish Federation, the a cutting-edge methodology. members of the program are Dr. Stanley Greenspan and Dr. learning, through improvisation, Barry Prizant, who ultimately to practice job skills, social skills, became her mentors, were and relationship skills. “Their premier autism experts at the therapists and parents might movement’s forefront. “When I coddle and protect them,” Elaine Miracle Shabbat at Congregation Beit T'Shuvah was joining, entering into and notes, "but the Beit T’Shuvah honoring [my son’s] autistic world, we connected. What does any volunteers are there to be direct with them—to treat them like peers, mother want but to connect with their child?” They agreed. not clients." These kids learn how to behave in real-life situations. Elaine’s background is in entertainment. She trained child actors on sets that included everyone from Elizabeth Taylor to John Goodman. She enlisted the help of industry friends—actors, dancers, lighting designers, and musicians—and trained them with everything she knew about autism and child coaching. Using music, storytelling, and playfulness, they began to work with her son 10 hours a day, seven days a week. Eventually, “He emerged out of his isolation and connected with people other than me. He still had autism, he was still nonverbal, but his spirit was alive.” This discovery ultimately led to her creating The Miracle Project, a nonprofit organization that received seed funding from the Jewish Community Foundation. The Miracle Project uses trained actors, musicians, and other mentors to work with autistic children and their siblings to act, dance, sing, and even produce original live musicals. Documentarians took interest, which culminated in the making of Autism: The Musical, an Emmy Award-winning HBO Documentary. Elaine quickly became a sought-after, award-winning author and S P R I N G 2 017
“The mentors from BTS have always been extremely respectful of the boundaries; sensitive, willing, energetic, and non-judgmental, never judging our kids—ever.” There is a deep mutual understanding between two groups who have been labeled and misunderstood, and are now being applauded and embraced. The Miracle Project and Beit T’Shuvah also come together on a community level, offering screenings of Autism: The Musical, and collaborative Shabbat services. What truly binds them, Elaine feels, is the “Tzelem Elohim,” the image of God, which, according to the Torah, lives within each and every individual. Since the diagnosis of her son, Elaine has been working to make sure that there is a bright place in the world for autistic children. Elaine profoundly asserts, “In the Torah, if one letter is missed, the Torah is not kosher. If one soul is missed, is not included into the world, we are not whole.” The Miracle Project and Beit T’Shuvah are working together to ensure that no soul is ever overlooked. w w w. b e i t t s h u v a h . o r g | B E I T T ’ S H U V A H | 2 7
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For a rehab to create a marketing agency takes guts. Will clients entrust their organization's hard earned branding and messaging to a bunch of recovering addicts? Will Beit T’Shuvah be able to support such an agency even when, like all start-ups, it may come upon hard times? But Beit T’Shuvah is no stranger to taking risks. Or having a backbone. It’s no stranger to taking first chances, or second chances for that matter. And frankly, that’s what Creative Matters is all about. It is an agency where individuals who have burned every bridge, thrown away every opportunity, and deflated every passion, get a chance to earn those things back. Through Work Therapy internships, they learn to show up. To work hard. To sweat through challenges, and churn out nail-biting, deadline-defying creative work. It’s the truth. Sometimes the risk is worth the reward. Here are the stories of some of the former interns who think so…
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I came to Beit T’Shuvah as a last resort, suffering from over a decade of crippling depression and plans of suicide. After years of constant crying, isolation and shame associated with my sadness, life became too much to handle. Four months into my stay at Beit T'Shuvah, I was presented with the opportunity to intern at Creative Matters. Despite no prior experience, I learned to master the art of graphic design and was hired on as a full-time designer after six months. Never in my life had I felt such a sense of pride and accomplishment, and every day I’m faced with new challenges and learning experiences that I’m able to tackle with confidence, both in and out of the office. After only two years, my art has been featured in the Huffington Post and fosters a growing fanbase, and there is no shortage of opportunities for me. I am thankful every day I come to work, and I’m optimistic about my future for the first time.
Creative Matters saved my life because it gave me one to live. I might have been a soon-to-be graduate from UCLA, but I knew nothing about where that was going to take me. My heroin addiction landed me at BTS at only 80 pounds. I was a shell of a person, devoid of anything that once made me “me.” Creative Matters gave me a place to come alive—over 2 and ½ years I worked my way up from intern to copywriter to senior copywriter. I learned a ridiculous amount about writing, advertising, marketing, and creative work. I was given the tools to learn how to think differently, to brainstorm, revise, and reinvent. I ultimately left Creative Matters for a dream job at Facebook, moved to San Francisco, and am currently a lead copywriter on the creative team at a large tech company. I 100% know that I wouldn’t have any of it without the opportunity afforded me by Creative Matters. I owe them my dreams.
When I first walked through the doors of Beit T’Shuvah, the bleakness surrounding my spirit had debilitated me for over a decade. Simply put, my time at Creative Matters transformed that darkness into an unshakable desire to follow my dreams— something I never thought possible. I had two aspirations when I was a kid—to help people, and to write. Being a copywriter intern at Creative Matters is the only venue I’ve ever had that allowed me to put into practice both of those things. I have a purpose now, and a motivation to live a full life again. I have since been accepted to graduate school to pursue psychology. Although I am a writer, I honestly can’t even begin to put into words the immense amount of gratitude I have for being gifted this opportunity.
Like many young addicts, I arrived at Beit T’Shuvah a flawed human being. And my many months there helped take me from an adolescent junkie to a functional adult. But for those of us who enter treatment and don’t want to seek a career in recovery, there remains an existential angst, which creeps into our minds as our time in primary treatment draws to a close. How will I leave my indelible mark on the world? What is my purpose? For me, those questions were answered at Creative Matters. Through my work there, I discovered a passion for anthropology, which I am now receiving my Masters in as I graduate from San Francisco State University. I wholeheartedly believe that I would not be over five years sober without Creative Matters. I am proof that every single life is worth saving and worthwhile once saved.
I am a person who couldn’t stay sober. I struggled for years with my alcoholism, going in and out of rehabs, detoxes and sober livings. I had, at one point in my life, been given a scholarship to attend an art school in Philadelphia for graphic design, but let it slip away because getting loaded took precedent. Every time I got sober (which was so many times that I’ve lost count), I ended up working at a coffee shop (like a lot of recovering addicts do), feeling
hopeless, and then relapsing. Thank god for Creative Matters. The girl who couldn’t show up for ANYTHING is now an art director at an amazing agency (or as I like to call it, an agency with a soul) who helps other people who were lost like her, who got married and even has a 18-month old daughter. The impact it has had on me is immeasurable, and my life is literally unrecognizable because of it.
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REDEMPTION BTS Thrift Store Legacy By Brad Wiseman
y brother Mark Wiseman’s life was literally hanging in the balance. A life of drugs and mental illness took its toll on this A-Student and All-CIF middle linebacker from Beverly Hills High. Mark was 50 years old and facing a third strike in the prison system. Beit T’Shuvah, specifically Harriet Rossetto and Rabbi Mark Borovitz, took Mark in, gave him a home and a community, and literally saved his life, as they have for countless others. My beloved father of blessed memory, Hal Wiseman, felt such an intense sense of gratitude, that he was compelled to use his talents in real estate to help Beit T’Shuvah acquire what is now known as the BTS Thrift Store. Its purpose was to raise money through the sale of donated goods, to provide a vessel for our residents to work and evolve back into society, and to be a significant source of revenue for Beit T’Shuvah and its mission of saving lost souls. Little did he realize, since he founded the thrift store nearly 14 years ago, his vision would generate over $1,000,000 in sales each year. When my Dad passed away in 2010, I had the distinct honor of assuming his role as board member in charge of the thrift store. With my hands-on involvement, we saw our annual sales increase from $800,000 to over $1,000,000. We have never looked back from the $1,000,000+ mark since. Although my father has passed on, his legacy and the important work he did on behalf of Beit T’Shuvah lives on. Our sales continue to contribute to the vital housing and recovery of our residents. We are grateful for a continuously growing donor base that provides better merchandise all the time. We employ our residents who are currently in recovery as well as those who have completed the program. This year, we have been completely dedicated to improving customer experience; organizing the store, creating larger, breathable aisles, and clear signage within the store. The Wiseman family continues to donate our time, expertise, and contributions to this very worthy and important cause. Yes, Hal Wiseman’s legacy lives on through his children, grandchildren, and all of those lives that have been touched by the BTS Thrift Store that he founded. To donate to the BTS Thrift Store and help continue our mission of supporting Beit T’Shuvah, please call 310-204-4669 or go to www.btsthriftstore.com/donate.
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Hal Wiseman, z"l
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COMMITMENT Cookie Miller Donates First By Justin Shapiro
hirty years in the making, Beit T’Shuvah knows what it means to shapeshift. We started with Founder Harriet Rossetto’s vision, an eight-resident home for Jewish men leaving jail in a run-down property on Lake Street. We were also a tiny Jewish congregation under a hot tin roof led by Rabbi Mark Borovitz. With Harriet’s evolving vision to become an addiction treatment center for the Jewish and downtrodden, and with the help of our pioneering Board Members Warren Breslow, David Ruderman, and Annette Shapiro, we were able to move to a larger and safer location at 8831 Venice Boulevard. This allowed us to become home to 130 residents from all walks of life, 98% of whom, to this day, don’t pay the full cost of their treatment. In that new building, we became the multi-faceted organization that we are today; offering everything from traditional therapies to spiritual counseling, mind-body fitness, creative arts, career counseling, Work Therapy internships, paid externships, youth prevention services and more. As Harriet’s vision continued to morph, so did we: Our campus expanded to include a new, cutting edge facility next door, thanks to Joyce Brandman’s unwavering generosity, which houses an IOP program, a 300-family congregation, and the Elaine Breslow Institute for Addiction Education.
Cookie’s entrée into the program was at a Friday night service, where she was introduced to Rabbi Mark and Harriet. Cookie embraced the community immediately and was, as she puts it, “thoroughly impressed by the environment and the unique philosophy of ‘saving souls.’” Cookie joined the congregation several years ago. She attends services on a regular basis, and continues to “expand her spirituality” in the process. She has gotten to know some of the residents on a more personal basis over the last year, especially since her daughter was also recently a resident at Beit T’Shuvah. Because of her own experience, she wanted to make a contribution that was meaningful, and it was very important to her that her donation went specifically towards scholarships for those who cannot afford treatment. As far as she’s concerned, the Harriet Rossetto Scholarship Fund was created at the perfect time. “So many people seeking treatment have no financial support from those around them, because of their addiction.” Cookie greatly appreciates all the hard work Rabbi Mark and Harriet do on a regular basis. She believes having a fund of this nature, with Harriet’s name on it, is very important. So important, in fact, that she became the seed donor, generously donating $50,000 to the cause.
Through the years, and through our many triumphs and struggles, one thing has stayed true: Beit T’Shuvah remains a treatment What inspires Cookie about Beit T’Shuvah center committed to taking in every soul in is seeing the remarkable transformation that Cookie Miller at this year's Gala need of saving, regardless of their ability to the residents make during their journey pay. So, at this 30-year mark, we have taken of recovery, and by being a part of the steps to ensure that our “mission over money” philosophy remains community. “When you get a window into the soul of each person,” in tact, an immovable anchor, no matter what Beit T’Shuvah may she says, “and witness the growth of these people, who are working look like in the future. The Harriet Rossetto Scholarship Fund offers so hard on their lives, it is incredibly inspiring. At the services, I see financial assistance to struggling addicts who cannot afford treatment people find success and miracles every week.” on their own, reaffirming our belief that every soul has the right to recovery and redemption. We are proud to announce that Cookie Cookie’s donation, and every donation to the Harriet Rossetto Miller was the fund’s first donor. Scholarship Fund, will work to ensure that as Beit T’Shuvah grows, so do the miracles that happen here. With a daughter who is an alcoholic, Cookie is no stranger to alcoholism, or Beit T’Shuvah’s long reaching history. 20 years For more information on the Harriet Rossetto Scholarship Fund, ago she was brought through our doors by an invitation from her please call Janet Rosenblum at 310.204.5200 x241 or email her at friend Joan Praver, the creative writing instructor at Beit T’Shuvah. firstname.lastname@example.org. S P R I N G 2 017
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Y O U
STAINED GLASS The stained glass artwork in the coffee bar was made right here in Santa Monica by artist Rafael Abecassis. Rabbi Mark and Harriet are the people presented in the second panel.
DI DN’ T
HORSES GIVE THERAPY Beit T’Shuvah offers equineassisted psychotherapy at Will Rogers State Park every Thursday. Clients learn to express themselves through grooming, feeding and exercising the gentle horses.
B E IT
Spock helps find jobs
The admissions department receives approximately 450 phone calls a month inquiring about our program and bed space.
Leonard Nimoy, z"l, and his wife Susan donated the funds to create the BTS Career Center, helping our residents transition by offering career counseling, resume building, educational advisement, interview skills, and job placement.
Joan Praver has been a volunteer teaching creative writing at BTS for the last 17 years. She recently turned 89.
ALL THE PRESIDENTS’ MEN (AND WOMEN) Rabbi Mark and Harriet have been recognized by both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations for their groundbreaking work in recovery by the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
WHO IS SHIRLEY? Shirley’s Patio, the popular communal space on our campus was created by Warren Breslow, who donated the money in memoriam of his mother, Shirley. 11
BETTER THAN J-DATE
LOST AND FOUND
Harriet often jokes that we have a better success rate than the online Jewish dating platform, as we’ve had dozens of marriages and babies born through relationships formed at BTS.
The resident’s favorite meal is Mexican Day Wednesdays. Burritos, nachos, and enchiladas are all on the menu. By the way, our industry-grade kitchen is run entirely by residents and alumni. We also cater!
9500 is the name of the room in the men’s ward where all new male residents start out. Unlike other bedrooms which sleep 2, it sleeps 6. Since BTS started out as a halfwayhouse, it is affectionately named after the cellblock of the same name at the L.A. County Jail.
ON THE ROAD Freedom Song, an original musical written, produced, and performed by BTS residents and alumni has been performed in multiple cities across 16 states.
TOP CHEF WINNERS Antonia Lofaso, the relative of a former resident, won Top Chef Duels in 2014 and donated the $25,000 prize to Beit T’Shuvah.
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OUR TORAH IS A SURVIVOR One of our Torah scrolls is a Czech Memorial Torah Scroll, recovered from the Holocaust and brought to us by community member Ephraim Sales.
RECOVERY, INK. Freddy Negrete, a famous tattoo artist and former resident, facilitates a group every week for new residents to talk about purpose and passion. 15
BTS at 14,505 Feet Last year, as part of the Mind-Body Program, a group of residents climbed Mount Whitney: all 22 miles and 14,505 feet! 16
BACK TO THE GRIND 38 residents are currently transitioning out of Beit T’Shuvah and into the workforce: 22 clients are receiving training through jobs at Beit T’Shuvah while 14 are working out in the community with jobs spanning treatment, marketing, real estate, fitness, banking, and film production.
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MUSIC FOR THE PEOPLE
RUN BABY RUN In the past 8 years, 375 residents, alumni, staff and community members have participated in the L.A. Marathon. In that time approximately $700,000 has been raised.
FARM TO BTS TABLE Food Forward is a nonprofit that rescues excess fresh produce from various sources to provide nourishment for people in need across Southern California. Once a week they provide 4-6 cases to BTS to stock our salad bar with farmer’s market greens.
Our latest venture of less than a year, BTS Music (Publishing Company) has already created licensed music for Jewish Life Television, an upcoming Jack Bender thriller for Direct TV, and an original score for a Jonathan Silverman movie. 21
BETTER THAN PEN PALS Our Alternative Sentencing program corresponds with 122 state prison inmates, plus another 21 inmates who are incarcerated either in federal, out-ofcounty or out-of-state correctional facilities. They also manage a caseload of 55 residents who are currently involved in the criminal justice system. Because of Alternative Sentencing’s advocacy, 11 of those residents are sentenced to BTS in lieu of jail or prison time.
LOVE AT LATER SIGHT Harriet and Rabbi Mark were not always lovebirds. When they first met, she initially couldn’t stand him. Actually, the feeling was mutual.
A CHAT WITH ELI This year, Rabbi Mark was asked to give a talk to the ELI Talks (a Jewish version of Ted Talks) about his personal T’Shuvah story. It was hailed by some participants as “the best ELI Talk ever given.”
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In 2011, Rabbi Mark took to the ring with Tom Arnold for Knock Out Addiction: a fundraiser that brought in $100,000 for Beit T’Shuvah.
The friendly face behind the hallway corner desk is Susan Reneau's. She began as a temp on Lake Street in 1999, and never looked back, thank heavens...
“TOES UP” is how Harriet refers to her last day at Beit T’Shuvah. That is to say, she intends to be here until the day she dies! 25
HAVA NAGILAH! The new venue at Congregation Beit T’Shuvah has housed 3 weddings, 5 B’nai Mitzvahs, 3 Brises, and 1 Rabbinic Ordination in its new sanctuary. To plan your next simcha here, email email@example.com.
PROBLEM SOLVERS Our award winning Right Action Gambling Program is in its 7th year, partnering with UCLA Gambling Studies Program and with the California Office of Problem Gambling to treat gamblers and their families.
Regarding the origin of the name “Beit T’Shuvah” (House of Return), there was never any doubt on the moniker of our organization: Once Harriet learned the meaning of the word T’Shuvah, she knew that was the name for this place where souls would be given second chances.
CELEBRITY KNOCK OUT
About 20 rabbis currently in the field have trained or interned at Beit T’Shuvah. We have 2 interns who are about to be ordained, and we’ll have 6 incoming interns next year.
MISSIONARY POSITION 98% of our residential clients receive scholarship support. This is why funding from our donors and grants is so vital to our organization.
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AN ALUMNI SUCCESS STORY BY ELIANA KATZ
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On the subject of grit,
these two gentlemen have academic knowledge. So much so, that they named their own video production company “JUNK.” Yep, you read that right. Risky? Maybe. Off-putting? Who cares. Richie and Ben are of the belief that their gnarly pasts and their complex journeys through recovery are the very things that make them extremely good at what they do. On Richie’s resumé, it might read as the following: Spent over a decade in the production business, working for LA-based firms and producing commercials for everyone from the NFL to the U.S. Army. For Ben, it would say: Four years working up from assistant editor to camera man and editor for independent documentaries and news channels. But here’s what’s not invited on a typical CV. Both Richie and Ben spent a combined 22 years in a drug-addled sub-existence. For Ben, it was mostly heroin. For Richie, he was a “garbage can: cocaine, crystal meth, heroin, lots of booze, shit ton of weed, you name it.” Their addiction took them to places you pray your kids never learn about. “I wrecked two cars while on Valium,” Ben recalls, “and there’s the $50,000 I spent on crack cocaine over the course of a month using my family’s credit card.” Richie’s determined to up the ante: “I blew a hole through my septum. I was 5150’d and hospitalized for meth-induced psychosis. I spent a year and a half holed up in my apartment hearing voices, with boarded windows and mirrors. I left only briefly to freak out, run around naked, and get thrown in jail.” Also not on the resumé: their heart-twisting and Breakfast Club style fist-in-the-air triumphant stories of finding their lives again at Beit T’Shuvah...(Cue “Don’t You Forget About Me” by Simple Minds). Community and creativity sit at the crux of everything Beit T’Shuvah does, and that ultimately saved both of their lives. “Beit T’Shuvah put me around people again,” Ben recalls. “It gave me people to look up to. I had been alone for six years. Just hanging around 130 people, I learned how to interact, tell the truth, lie, get caught, deal with my lies […] I was able to experience the subtleties of human interaction that you miss when you’re shooting dope.” For Richie too, the Beit T’Shuvah community was everything. “I came to a community I knew nothing about and immediately was welcomed by everybody.” His first time out of isolation in decades, he immersed himself in it. “I was really happy to do the house jobs, mopping, washing dishes, because I was doing something other than being inside my own head. I was helping a community.” He became House Manager, joined the Organic Garden program as an intern, and played in the Beit T’Shuvah band. In a plot-twist that is possible only at Beit T’Shuvah, Richie and Ben, separately, found their way to Work Therapy internships at Beit T’Shuvah’s in-house marketing agency, Creative Matters. Richie says, “When you hear about ‘God Shots,’ this…it had to be God involved. What are the chances that I land at the one rehab in the world that has a position available where I can get back into the career that I loved, and do so at my own pace.” When Richie showed up in 2014, he was a humble, willing pupil, putting aside any ego that 10 years in the business might entitle him to, and supporting the needs of a barelythere video department. Ben joined as an intern camera operator S P R I N G 2 017
and editor shortly thereafter. There, he began to develop the work ethic he now hangs his hat on. He speaks of “coming here, every day, having to create something in a work environment, and have people give positive or negative feedback, and learn how to process those responses.” He’s learned how to balance his self-critical tendencies (that were once debilitating) with a learned confidence that he’s doing good work. That struggle is useful. “It’s a good energy to be in.” Using some of that good energy, their talent and motivation turned that department into a fully operating in-house video production company. Creative Matters became capable of producing video campaigns for such well-known nonprofits as Starlight Children’s Foundation and the Anti Defamation League. In their time at Creative Matters, here’s what Richie and Ben learned about themselves. Their commitment to their sobriety, despite any wavering moments, involves daily self-reflection, taking of personal inventory, and the willingness to do what's needed for selfimprovement. It means, in the same way that they can’t get lazy with their sobriety, they refuse to get lazy with their work. Because then, the product—work or self—could suffer. They learned that they live in gratitude for every moment they are alive. They also learned that in their sobriety, they derived much more meaning and fulfillment from telling stories that matter. Stories of recovery, of standing up for good, of giving back. And they learned that, in time, they became pros at it. Which is why, with gratitude to Beit T’Shuvah, they felt ready to pursue their own path, and start their two-man shop. Because of their transparent approach to their company (Their tagline is: Two drug addicts who got their shit together), they get to epitomize the authenticity they worked so hard to recover at Beit T’Shuvah. “The biggest thing for me with JUNK,” Ben offers, “is that authenticity and truth underlie everything we do. We’ve turned down work that doesn’t feel aligned with that. We don’t want to do things that don’t feel right. Truth is in everything we do. It’s what we’re searching for.” They won’t hide behind their stories. In fact, their intriguing backstory is often what gets them in the room in the first place. “I came from an industry of a lot of self-aggrandizing agency speak. I hate that shit.” Richie laments. They believe when people are able to see the two of them, and turn a negative expectation into a positive impression, it makes the clients even hungrier for the potential output. Richie refuses to just say “yeah we can do it, and churn out videos like a factory […] In the same way I learned to connect with people at Beit T’Shuvah, I connect with my clients, their stories, and their brands’ stories.” People are able to see that. They are able to feel it. Richie and Ben’s backgrounds differ. Ben worked on small passion projects; Richie on Superbowl ads. But Beit T’Shuvah brought their stories together. It saved their lives. It reintroduced them to their passion of film-making in a way that was spiritual and manageable. Because of it, they are able to come together to create a melting pot of drive, talent, and perspective. In their own words: “The two of us together can create anything. You know…all the junk.” To learn more about JUNK, check them out at: www.junk.film, firstname.lastname@example.org, @junk_films, 323.382.5485. 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 5
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REDEMPTION Alternatively Sentenced to Life By Justin Shapiro
ncarceration is cyclical. According to a study published in 2014 by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, about 68% of 405,000 prisoners released across the U.S. in 2005 were arrested for a new crime within three years of their release. 77% were arrested within five years. But Beit T’Shuvah’s Alternative Sentencing department, led by former inmate Carrie Newman, makes it possible for those incarcerated to break the cycle and find redemption. Between the years of 1992 and 1996, Carrie was arrested 11 times. In that period, she was visited countless times by a JCPS worker (Jewish Committee for Personal Service). Jewish by birth, she was asked if she wanted to participate in her faith by going to services or by seeking the council of a rabbi. She would always say no. She wasn’t brought up practicing Judaism, and never felt a connection to it. One day, she finally conceded and agreed to try both. Andrea Simmons was the JCPS worker assigned to her, and after major spiritual progress together, Rabbi Mark Borovitz, also a JCPS worker, made an impassioned plea for her release at her last hearing in 1996. She was offered the opportunity to be among the first women accepted to the newly established women's program. Eager to deepen her participation in the Beit T’Shuvah community after she completed the program, she started work as a ‘tech’ in the clinical program, which lasted for three years. Ironically, after refusing their services for so long, Carrie began to take interest in JCPS work. The JCPS is a program started by The Southern California Board of Rabbis in 1921 with the ambitious goal of having social workers and rabbis visit Jews in jails, prisons and mental institutions throughout Southern California. This career shift would ultimately put Carrie third in a lineage of “Jewish Jail Ladies,” following in the footsteps of Harriet Rossetto, Beit T’Shuvah’s founder, and Pauline Ledeen, Harriet’s mentor, who visited Jewish men and women in California’s jails and prisons from the mid-1950’s until her death at the age of 97 in 2007. With full endorsement from Harriet, Carrie formalized the creation of the Alternative Sentencing department at Beit T’Shuvah, where she still works to this day. As a representative of Beit T’Shuvah, she would visit Jewish men and women every week to be a friend, provide services, and get them in touch with a rabbi. In 2001, Carrie became the official Alternative Sentencing coordinator. She was a one-woman show, also attending school to complete a degree in criminology.
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At the request of Rabbi Mark, Carrie also began hosting Beit T'Shuvah CGA meetings, a 12-Step program for criminals and gang members. CGA was relatively new at the time; started by a group of inmates led by Richard Mejico in 1996, all of whom thought they would never return home from prison. Richard, a hardcore gang member who was incarcerated after being found guilty of murder in the early 70’s, was given the death penalty. As the story goes, while on death row, he received a visit from a nun who told him that he had a lot of work left to do in this world. He was shocked, because as far as he could tell, his life was over. On Richard’s birthday in 1972, the death penalty was ruled unconstitutional in the state of California. He suddenly felt a renewed sense of purpose and hope. He was working the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous while still in prison. However, 20 years later, Richard still felt that there was a piece missing in AA that he needed. He wanted to understand why he made a lot of the criminal lifestyle choices that he did. Richard’s sponsor told him to “take it to God.” So he did. He created Criminals and Gangmembers Anonymous, to allow them to meet specifically about the shared experience with the criminal lifestyle. Carrie saw parallels from Richard’s life to her own, and became a member of CGA. The CGA program has been a vital component of Beit T’Shuvah ever since. Eventually, Richard had a compassionate release hearing, because he was sick with cancer. Carrie got the opportunity to testify at his hearing, which she calls “a highlight of her career.” He was released from prison after 36 years, and passed away in 2010, but his CGA legacy lives on. Carrie has witnessed many beautiful and often surprising transformations through Alternative Sentencing, which places about 30% of Beit T’Shuvah’s residents each year. “We never know,” she says, “because sometimes we meet someone at the jail, and we think that they’re going to flourish at Beit T’Shuvah, and sometimes they struggle [...] My favorite transformations are the ones that get voted least likely to succeed, and then low and behold, they overcome their demons and surprise everyone.” Carrie smiles to think about it, “I love my lifers,” she says. She has facilitated the transfer of many, some after 25 or 30 years in prison, into Beit T’Shuvah. She has watched them absolutely thrive. Whether they are serving a life-sentence in prison, or fighting a first time case for a misdemeanor, Carrie Newman and her team at Beit T’Shuvah are fully committed to taking each individual out of jail, and offering them a chance at a life beyond their wildest dreams; a life of redemption. S P R I N G 2 017
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FORTITUDE Partners in Prevention By Jessica Fishel
n 1989, an amazing youth outreach program was conceived. Though it was not called Partners in Prevention at the time, it is when Rabbi Mark Borovitz began facilitating youth prevention programs at several synagogues throughout Los Angeles. Rabbi Mark became a well-known and respected name in the local religious school circuit, and his Judaism-infused prevention lectures became highly sought after. Seeing the popularity of Rabbi Mark’s programs proved that there was a need for addiction prevention in the community. After years of informal presentations, Rabbi Mark and Harriet decided to create an official program, which they called Partners in Prevention.
"What we’d like more than anything is to be put out of business [...] our ultimate vision is to spread the message so far and wide that we fortify our children..."
Beit T’Shuvah was a pioneer in starting the imperative conversation about addiction in the Jewish community, especially among its youth. The Partners in Prevention program has evolved and morphed over the years to fit the needs of educators, youth, and the trends in our society. In 2006, Rabbi Mark, Harriet, and The Change Companies created a seven-module curriculum that replicated Beit T’Shuvah’s successful treatment model of combining addiction education and Judaism. The curriculum was a success, and from there Partners in Prevention grew significantly. With this growth came the passing of the torch to Jennifer Ginsberg and Rodger Goodman, and then to Kathy Marks and Douglas Rosen. The program began to pick up speed, and became nationally recognized and highly in-demand. Many Jewish institutions that were once in denial about addiction in their communities decided to use Beit T’Shuvah’s curriculum to address the growing addiction problem. Beit T’Shuvah’s program is unique, as it does not focus on drug use or addiction, but instead on the feelings and inner dialogues that lead individuals down destructive paths.
In 2010, I joined the Partners in Prevention team. I was straight out of college and determined to help as many people as possible. Since I grew up a Jewish girl from West Los Angeles, attending private Jewish day school, private Jewish summer camps, and even youth groups, I was an accurate reflection of the exact prototype of the teenagers that Partners in Prevention aims to help. Today, Douglas Rosen and I have continued to grow the program and reach out to as many as 150 Jewish institutions across 20 states. Most recently, Helen Molitz, S P R I N G 2 017
former principal of Sinai Akiba Academy, has joined the team to help create a new curriculum for sixth through eighth grade students that focuses exclusively on technology, social media, and marijuana and alcohol addiction education. Participation of the Beit T’Shuvah residents has also been a cornerstone of the Partners in Prevention program. Residents volunteer their time to share their stories with teenagers, offering an authentic look at what could easily have been a peer of their own, and hopefully prevent them from falling down the same dangerous rabbit hole that they did. As a recovery community, it is our responsibility to educate today’s youth and teach them how to live wholesome and fulfilling lives.
What we’d like more than anything is to be put out of business. That is to say, our ultimate vision is to spread the message so far and wide that we fortify our children; teaching them early on about handling difficult issues, facing difficult thoughts, and making difficult but important choices. Unfortunately, for now, there is a stronger need than ever for the Partners in Prevention program. The drug problem in the United States is growing at monumental speeds; studies show that in 2016 there were more overdoses in the United States than car accidents. According to NBC, “50,000 Americans died from drug overdoses last year, the most ever, new federal statistics show.” The expectations of today’s teenagers are unprecedented, as are the pressures they must endure. Suburban teenagers from affluent homes are defined today as “at-risk youth.” Many students and their parents, especially those in the Jewish community, are of the mind that they will never fall into the insidious trap of addiction, but unfortunately that is not the case, as addiction does not discriminate. On average, 65% of Beit T’Shuvah residents are between the ages of 18 and 25, which is a devastating statistic. We will continue to evolve and morph the program to help change this statistic. We are committed to helping the Jewish community combat the drug epidemic and provide support, spirituality, and education to all those who need it. To bring Partners in Prevention to your community, please call Jessica Fishel at 310.204.5200 x236 or email email@example.com. 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
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As always, this year was filled with excitement and enrichment. Here are the highlights from some of our events, including Spock in the Sukkah, the Sisterhood Purse Project, our Shared Legacies Martin Luther King Jr. Day event, our first Adult B'nai Mitzvah celebration, and Alumni Appreciation Shabbat.
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THE GRIT ISSUE
September 2016, 5776
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CIRCLE OF MAJESTY
1. Lindsey Montoya, Heidi Bendetson, Tiffany Calig, Meryl Kern, Nancy Mishkin, Harriet Rossetto, Lois Bloom, Annette Shapiro 2. Harriet Rossetto, Nancy Mishkin 3. Honoree Andrea Sossin-Bergman, and guest speaker and alumni David Cardoos 4. Stacey Sharf, Heidi Bendetson, & Heidi Monkarsh 5. Lois Bloom & Guest 6. Heidi Bendetson & Julie DeMayo 7. Tiffany Calig (center) & Guests 8. Charlotte Kamenir, Harriet Rossetto, & Janice Kamenir-Reznik 9. Diane Licht & Emily Corleto 10. Guest, Annette Shapiro, Ilyse Teller, Debra Smalley, & Sondra Smalley 11. Andrea Sossin-Bergman & Hilary Anzalone 12. Debra Smalley & Sondra Smalley 4 0 | B E I T T â€™ S H U V A H | w w w. b e i t t s h u v a h . o r g
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THE GRIT ISSUE
Just show up. We'll take care of the rest.
CONGREGATION BEIT T’SHUVAH offers a musical, spiritual experience that’s fun for the whole family. All we need more of... is you. Our unique prayer services will keep you on your feet—by choice! Our Kids' Shabbat, Adult and Youth B’nai Mitzvah, and Adult Education Programs offer something for everyone. So, come in jeans, or come in a suit—just get here already! REACH OUT TODAY To learn more about our immersive, experiential High Holiday Services or our Pay-What-You-Can Membership call 310.204.5200 x213 or email Cheryl at firstname.lastname@example.org
Congregation Beit T’Shuvah
8847 Venice Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90034 S P R I N G 2 017
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GALA Beit T’Shuvah
We were overwhelmed by the support of the Beit T’Shuvah community at our 30th Anniversary Gala. Nearly 1,000 supporters filled the ballroom at the Beverly Hilton with tremendous joy and energy, a testament to our pioneering honorees, Founder Harriet Rossetto, and Founding Board Members Warren Breslow, David Ruderman, and Annette Shapiro. Over $1.9 million was raised, which is the largest grossing event in Beit T’Shuvah history. A new residential scholarship fund named after our founder, Harriet, was launched at the event so that Beit T’Shuvah can stay true to its mission of helping anyone in need of our services, regardless of their ability to pay. Special thanks to our powerful Master of Ceremonies Rabbi Ed Feinstein of Valley Beth Shalom, and our hard-working Dinner Chairs, Meryl Kern, Lindsey Montoya, and Jen Morgen, and Honorary Chair Nancy Mishkin for making the event so successful. Thank you to our Auction Co-Chairs Deb Fried and Helene Eisenberg for creating a beautiful and robust auction. We are so proud of our community; your support has gotten us to this 30-year milestone.
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1. Clockwise from top left: Meryl Kern, Lindsey Montoya, Russell Kern, Helene Eisenberg, Deborah Fried, Jen Morgen, Rabbi Mark Borovitz, David Ruderman, Annette Shapiro, Harriet Rossetto, & Warren Breslow 2. M.C. Rabbi Ed Feinstein 3. Nancy Mishkin & Rabbi Mark Borovitz S P R I N G 2 017 4.Auction Co-Chairs Deborah Fried & Helene Eisenberg
THE GRIT ISSUE
Opening Remarks, Rabbi Ed Feinstein, Master of Ceremonies
“TONIGHT WE H AV E G R AT I T U D E FOR THE MOST P OW E R F U L T H I N G AN YO N E C AN A S K. . .
5. Leonard & Annette Shapiro 6. Warren Breslow & Gail Buchalter 7. Leo Spiwak & Susan Krevoy 8. Joe & Ronnie Stabler 9. Rabbi Mark Borovitz & Harriet Rossetto 10. Anne Cohen-Ruderman & David Ruderman 11. Clockwise from top left: Lorraine Barron, Barbara Friedman, Harold & Stephanie Bronson, Adam Nimoy & Guest, Catarina & Delia Chiaramonte, Harriet Rossetto, & Mel Barron 12. Annette Shapiro & Diane Licht 13. Debra Smalley & Guest 14. Sam Delug & Janice Kamenir-Reznik 15.Guests of David Ruderman & Anne Cohen-Ruderman 16. Kenny & Shelli Harrison, Alica & Ron Gabler 17.Guests of Warren Breslow & Gail Buchalter 18.Joyce Brandman & Anne Cohen-Ruderman 19.Lise Applebaum, Rabbi Mark Borovitz, Les & Lynn Bider
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“...T H E S E P E O P L E G AV E M E BAC K M Y S O N, T H E Y G AV E YO U BAC K YO U R C H I L D R E N, AN D YO U R S P O U S E S, AN D YO U R F R I E N D S, AN D T H E I R C H I L D R E N...”
20.Guest, Andy Besser, Joannie Burstein Besser, & Jordan Besser 21. Brad & Dolly Wiseman 22. Guests of Annette & Leonard Shapiro 23.Rick & Emily Corleto 24.Chairman Russell Kern 25.Julie & Gary Soter 26.Dina & Fred Leeds 27. Michelle & Randy Gold, Cookie Miller 28. Lois & Ronald Bloom 29. Heidi & Albert Praw 30.Harold & Stephanie Bronson 31. Ginger & Peter Bort, Patty Finklev 32.Clockwise from top left: Laura Kinsman, Guest, Harriet Rossetto, Lindsey Montoya, Steffanie Jordan, Nancy Mishkin, Meryl Kern, Phyllis & Frank Tell, Judith & Phillip Miller 4 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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". .. S O S TAN D U P,
E V E RYO N E S TAN D U P AN D SAY T H AN K YO U FOR THE L I V E S T H AT H AV E B E E N SAV E D.” - Rabbi Ed Feinstein, Master of Ceremonies 33
33. Janice Black Warner, Stanley Black & Jill Black Zalben 34. Mintha Sheffield & Jon Esformes 35.A Momentous Standing Ovation 36. Development Team Members Amy Abrams, Cheryl Wolf, Janet Rosenblum, & Avia Rosen 37. Members of the Beit T’Shuvah Music Department: Alex Giaime, Carlos Calvo, Laura Bagish, Glenn Goss, Luca Gache 38. David Suissa & Dr. Danny Lieber S P R I N G 2 017
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Beit T’Shuvah at the
LA MARATHON On Sunday, March 19, 2017, 24,000 runners from all 50 states and 63 different countries raced the iconic “Stadium to the Sea” LA Marathon. 50 of those runners consisted of Beit T'Shuvah residents, staff, board members, and community members. Thanks to the support of the entire BTS community, we were able to raise over $125,000, and had one of the biggest block parties on the course. THANK YOU FOR ALL OF YOUR SUPPORT! To learn more about Beit T’Shuvah’s marathon team, go to www.running4recovery.com
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The following are alumni and community members of Beit Tâ€™Shuvah that we lost in the last year. Their spirits will forever live in our hearts. Merideth Alden Alexander Ilse Appel Warren Appel Edward David Astrin Michael Bergman Stacy Cheiftz Steven Dorf Dede Dunn Justin Dunn Bette Frankel Bram Goldsmith Nathan Gordon Natalie Hall Esther Hilson Oleg Ifraimov Darla Katz Paulette Katz Fran Kaushansky Marilyn Kove Alan Kowit S P R I N G 2 017
Florence Levine Richard Maitin Lizette McBride Scott Metcalfe Carolyn Gold-Mintz Bruce Mullen Kelly Mulligan Ryan Naghi Lila Nooristani Linda Plant Max Ritvo Joel Seiden Evan Shapiro Josh Soifer Menashe Somekh Luke Ullm Jonathan Weisgal Sidney Weissman Carrie Wiatt Sammy Zallen w w w. b e i t t s h u v a h . o r g | B E I T T â€™ S H U V A H | 4 7
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“If you don’t come back to visit, you come back to stay.” - Harriet Rossetto 4 8 | B E I T T ’ S H U V A H | w w w. b e i t t s h u v a h . o r g
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R E S O LV E T H E S T E V E N B R A D L E Y D O R F A L U M N I A S S O C I AT I ON BY MARTIN SNYDER
nspired by these prophetic words of wisdom from our Founder and Clinical Director, Harriet Rossetto, Beit T’Shuvah has established the Steven Bradley Dorf Alumni Association. Steven, of blessed memory, was a loving and valued member of the Beit T’Shuvah family, whose residency dates back to the original Lake Street days. Notwithstanding that Steven completed his Beit T’Shuvah treatment program years ago, he remained, until the day of his untimely passing, very devoted to Beit T’Shuvah and, in particular, to alumni activities. Steven was a good man and good friend of Beit T’Shuvah. He will be greatly missed, and the Alumni Association established in his name and honor is a fitting legacy. Beit T’Shuvah has learned over these many years, as Steven Dorf demonstrated, that recovery doesn’t end with the completion of our program. Recovery is a life-long process that demands ongoing diligence. The spiritual growth that is the cornerstone of Beit T’Shuvah’s faith-based model of recovery is sustained and enhanced by continued involvement and connection with Beit T’Shuvah. And that is the purpose of the Alumni Association—to empower 30 years of alumni with a continuing sense of belonging and purpose. The new Alumni Association was launched on January 13, 2017. The first meeting included the Alumni Council, a group of former residents, and Beit T’Shuvah staff, all of whom successfully graduated the Beit T’Shuvah program. The members of this group are generously volunteering their time to organize and energize the Association. As its first order of business, the Alumni Council elected a board of directors: Richie Kulchar and Michael Soter as co-chairs, and myself as treasurer. Lexy Nolte recently became the staff alumni coordinator and alumni secretary. At its first organizational meeting, the Council identified areas of potential interest, and formed committees to implement them, as follows: social events, mentorship, alumni Shabbats, newsletter, alumni AA, alumni study group with Rabbi Mark and
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Harriet, networking, education, fundraising, and social action. A hallmark and core tenet of Beit T’Shuvah, which distinguishes it from its rehab counterparts, is community. Becoming, and remaining, a member of our unique community can mean a lot of things: attending Shabbat services, celebrating sober birthdays, and participating in family education and other events. Doing so makes a statement that continued spiritual growth is not only important, but essential to living well. Alumni are a critical component of the growth and success of Beit T’Shuvah’s community. To inspire the participation of our alumni in the Beit T’Shuvah community, the Alumni Council initiated a number of alumni-oriented activities. An Alumni Appreciation Shabbat was held on March 24, 2017. We were overwhelmed by the turn out— it was standing room only, bustling with individuals, couples, and children whose lives were found here at Beit T'Shuvah. There was even a surprise fundraising appeal led by Michael Soter, in which, after many generous hands shot up in the air, we raised $5,700. This special Shabbat featured an alumni band and choir led by our Music Director Laura Bagish, alumni speakers, an alumni-led gratitude, and 14 sober birthdays. What a kickoff! Other planned events include an alumni picnic, organized by Carrie Newman, scheduled for August 6, 2017. We’ve launched our first alumni newsletter, designed by Creative Matters, are planning a networking/education speaker event, and an alumni study group with Rabbi Mark. Beit T’Shuvah is very excited about the Steven Bradley Dorf Alumni Association. We resolve to keep as many alumni connected with Beit T’Shuvah as possible. For more information about the Alumni Association and upcoming events and activities, please contact Lexy at 310.204.5200 x230 or email email@example.com. 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 | 4 9
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CAROLYN GOLD-MINTZ 1937-2016 Carolyn Gold-Mintz was a loving mother, grandmother, sister, and wife. She was also an extraordinary friend. Carolyn was active and took leadership roles in many community activities including Beth Hillel, United Jewish Welfare Fund, Women’s American ORT, Los Angeles ORT College, and to our great fortune, Beit T’Shuvah. Her warm, kind, and generous spirit left an indelible mark on our organization. She was so committed to our mission that she and her husband, Gary Mintz, were among the first to commit to Beit T'Shuvah's Legacy Giving program. Carolyn was also an avid golfer and loved to participate in our annual BTS Open. As such, we are dedicating this year’s BTS Open in her honor. She passed December 23rd of last year, at her home surrounded by her family. May her memory be a blessing.
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LEGACY Planning for Beit T’Shuvah’s Future
By Janet Rosenblum, Director of Advancement
Annette & Leonard Shapiro
Warren Breslow & Gail Buchalter
eit T’Shuvah’s Legacy Committee wants to ensure that our organization will be here to celebrate another 30 years and more. To accomplish this goal, founding board members Warren Breslow and Annette Shapiro are serving as cochairs for this committee and to date, approximately $6 million has already been pledged in Legacy commitments. Annette and Warren formed this committee because of their devotion to Beit T’Shuvah, and they are joined by other members of the community who share their mission.
Jewish community. Warren has made an enormous contribution throughout the city, and particularly at Beit T’Shuvah.
Both Annette and Warren have held key leadership roles throughout the organization’s history. “Beit T’Shuvah is my legacy,” remarked Warren, who served as Beit T’Shuvah’s first board chair, a position he held for 12 years. “Once you start something important, you want to see it continue, and that’s exactly how I feel about Beit T’Shuvah. It’s why I supported our Legacy Giving program,” he said.
Annette invites each of you to share with her in this legacy: “As we celebrate our 30th Anniversary, please join me in securing the future, as we build this Legacy for Beit T’Shuvah. I am extremely proud to have been involved with Beit T’Shuvah for all these years, and for the countless lives that have been saved. A Legacy gift enables our community to show how much we care for those who need our help.”
“I was blessed to be successful in business, but years from now I don’t think most people will care which buildings I built. But investing in the people at Beit T’Shuvah [...] and what Beit T’Shuvah does for the community, that will always matter,” Warren affirms. Warren was responsible for securing Beit T’Shuvah’s Westside home on Venice Boulevard and, together with Annette, led the Capital Campaign to renovate the property. When Joyce Brandman generously donated the funds to purchase the second property next door, Warren was involved in negotiating that deal as well. This property is now the cutting-edge facility that houses everything from Congregation Beit T'Shuvah and the Elaine Breslow Institute, to Partners in Prevention and individual and group therapy sessions. Warren has always believed “that giving back is not a choice but an obligation.” He was inspired early in his career while working for a Jewish accounting firm where all the accountants were giving to the Jewish Federation. Later at Goldrich and Kest, a real-estate development firm that developed Bel Air Crest, the Blair House, and countless other projects, Warren worked with Jona Goldrich and Sol Kest (both of blessed memory) who were committed philanthropists investing generously throughout the
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Annette has also served Beit T’Shuvah as board chair, and continues to serve as the president of the board. She has served the Jewish and larger community as a “professional volunteer” for over six decades. Her commitment and leadership to numerous organizations, and especially Beit T’Shuvah, have been nothing short of extraordinary.
A beautiful new Legacy Wall was recently installed in the lobby of Beit T’Shuvah’s new building and was dedicated in memory of Carolyn Gold-Mintz, z”l. Carolyn was also extremely dedicated to Beit T’Shuvah, and was highly instrumental in getting the Legacy Giving program launched. Through our Legacy Giving program, donors have the option of leaving a gift to Beit T’Shuvah after their passing. A Legacy gift can be made by adding simple language to your will, or living trust, that bequeaths a specific amount of money, or a percentage of your estate, to Beit T’Shuvah. If you have already left a Legacy gift to Beit T’Shuvah, please let us know so we can recognize you among our legacy donors and have the opportunity to thank you for your gift. If you haven’t made a Legacy gift, but might consider it, please let us know. Annette, Warren, or any of the members of our Legacy committee, would welcome the opportunity to speak to you. I am also happy to discuss Legacy Giving with you, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 310.204.8914.
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Beit Tâ€™Shuvah 8831 Venice Boulevard Los Angeles, California 90034-3223 www.beittshuvah.org
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