Tidbits of Torah

Jewish Resources for Addressing Addiction

Shabbat Parashat Toledot

Shabbat Machar Chodesh – Mevarekhim HaChodeshheadshot white 2015cropped

November 18, 2017- 29 Cheshvan 5778

Dear Friends,
One of the most moving experiences I had as a rabbinical student, many years ago, was a weekend spent at a retreat sponsored by a New York based organization knows as JACS (Jewish Alcoholics, Chemically Dependent Persons and their Significant Others). Just this week, I received a notification that JACS was again seeking the participation of rabbis and of rabbinical students who were interested in helping Jewish people who were in various stages of recovery. If the need for such an organization was there so many years ago, it is needed all the more at this time when the Opioid Epidemic is becoming a focal point in communal discussions across our nation. The Jewish community, Jewish individuals, and Jewish families, are not immune to the challenges of addictions.
Our Torah portion, Toledot, describes Esau’s hunger for food as so urgent and overwhelming that he was willing to sell his birthright for a bowl of soup. Nothing in life seemed worthwhile to Esau as long as he did not have access to that bowl of soup. This description reminds us of how the healthy appetites that we all have can sometimes evolve into addictions that cripple us. And, when that happens, we may risk everything in order to obtain the “bowl of soup” or whatever substance we crave in a way that threatens to destroy our healthy relationships and to strip our lives of meaning.
The beauty of the JACS retreat was that all of us saw Jewish people and Jewish clergy of all denominations come together, respecting our differences, but united in our determination, to be there for Jewish people in recovery. Too often, the support system for people in recovery is based on non-Jewish perspectives. JACS allows for Jewish context in which recovery can be supported. Read About JACS here.

On the Virginia Peninsula, we have limited Jewish resources for supporting people who are addressing issues of addictions. But, we do have some!

Our own Jewish Family Services lets us know that individuals struggling with substance abuse issues can contact Jewish Family Services (JFS) for referrals. JFS offices are in Newport News at 757-223-5635 or Virginia Beach at 757-459-4640.

This week, I sent an email notifying us of a new program called “BaMidbar.” It is is Wilderness Therapy in a Jewish setting at Camp Ramah in the Rockies. The program is geared to young adults ages 18-26. Read About BaMidbar Wilderness Therapy here.
See the website here.

As a Jewish community and as a Temple, we are here for one another in so many ways. Let us resolve to be here for one another when we are battling addictions. There are ways to help. There are Jewish people who have experienced the trials and tribulations of addiction and who are in recovery. Often, these individuals are open to helping others who are in crisis and who may benefit from their support.

I would be glad to hear your thoughts and comments, and to address any questions you may have relating to the subject of Jewish Responses to Addressing Addiction.

I look forward to seeing you at services this Friday evening and on Shabbat as well!

This Shabbat we will be reciting the blessing for the upcoming new Jewish month of Kislev. Rosh Chodesh Kislev will be on Saturday night and Sunday! May it be a month of healing, of peace, and of joy!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror