By Lisa Lisser
Connection is the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.
Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to be and Embrace Who You Are (2010) 19.
We are living during a time of schism. People are broken and continue to be breaking. We are all seeking, yet some just can’t seem to find what they are looking for in healthy ways. Today we call it the “Opiod crisis,” but really it has been with us from time immemorial. We burst into the world broken and spend the rest of our lives trying to repair ourselves and those around us. We are all desperately seeking to return to our authentic selves.
More than 30 years ago, two broken souls found each other. One was an ex-con, who finally was able to reclaim his Judaism in prison. The other was a Jewish social worker who believed she needed to exist outside the good girl mold that she grew up in. She is Harriet Rossetto, and she opened a halfway house for Jewish ex-cons in 1986. Through that personal mission, she connected with Mark Borovitz, not yet a rabbi, but a blossoming spiritual soul who happened to also be an ex-con. Together they grew a home for return, Beit T’Shuvah in LA. It is a unique blend of Judaism and 12 Steps, psychotherapy and spiritual counseling, and it stands apart as a space for recovery that is a center for connection and belonging.
Since that time, Beit T’Shuvah has become a home to many people, Jewish and non-Jewish, struggling to overcome the grips of addiction: addiction to drugs and alcohol, as well as addiction to processes and relationships. Recovery is a lifelong process. It is not a quick fix. It requires work every day, and to sustain that kind of effort people need support. Beit T’Shuvah has provided that support. Their philosophy is in their tag line. “You Matter.” A longitudinal study undertaken two years ago established that the magic that made Beit T’Shuvah work was the sense of connection and community its residents and alumni developed. It has been the only residential recovery space using this integrated approach in the United States.
In fall 2019, the T’Shuvah Center will open in New York City. It will be an east coast sister of Beit T’Shuvah modeling its practice on the work started in LA, but crafted to meet the specific needs of the metropolitan New York community. Recognizing that 20-30 percent of the calls requesting help at Beit T’Shuvah came from the East Coast, and noting that in 2017 alone drug overdoses killed 1441 people in New York City, Rabbi Iggy Gurin-Malous, the director of spiritual counseling at Beit T’Shuvah, responded to the urgent need to build a center in New York. The T’Shuvah Center recognizes that the opposite of addiction is not sobriety – it is connection. And at the T’Shuvah Center, that connection will be steeped in Jewish learning that is deeply personal and relevant to finding wholeness.
On October 10, 2018, the T’Shuvah Center will be hosting a Day of Learning at the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan in partnership with UJA Federation of NY from 8:30 am – 2 pm. The focus of the learning will be human brokenness, the Jewish response to the Opiod crisis, the impact of addiction on the family, the challenge integrating our roles and our souls, and how the T’Shuvah Center will create a sacred space to repair broken souls here in New York. The program is open to all and free of charge. Rabbi Mark Borovitz, Harriet Rossetto and Rabbi Iggy Gurin-Malous will speak on the exceptional value inherent in their approach to recovery and the specific role the T’Shuvah Center will play as a space for recovery and connection in NYC.
To register, visit: HTTP://BIT.LY/TSHUVAH
Lisa Lisser, MARE, is an Adult Jewish Learning Specialist, trained at Elaine Breslow Institute, Beit T’Shuvah, LA.