By Michael Soter
Seven months ago, I started a weekly newsletter to be handed out during Shabbat services at Beit T’Shuvah. I called it Tikkkun Olam, meaning “ to repair the world.” We are now on the 25th issue.
It started much like my sobriety, an idea, unformed and shapeless. I did not know whether it would last or it would die. But when I started hitting the keys on the keyboard, when I started asking residents, parents, board members, and temple members to contribute—I knew that I would keep it going. When I started awakening to all the harm I had caused while I was shooting heroin, when I started realizing that I could only repair my corner of the world if I remained sober—I knew I would keep it going. I would put out an issue every week and I would stay sober.
The first issue was an introduction. It highlighted resident stories, a drash on the haftarah, and a creative writing piece. I loved doing it. I loved figuring out how to format the paper, I loved looking for relevant cartoons, I loved getting other people involved—and I didn’t do it myself. I asked for help when I needed it.
Since then, there have been times that I haven’t loved what I’m doing. I get frustrated, I get bored, I get depressed.
I have come to terms with many “isms” I never thought I had—workaholism, perfectionism, and pessimism. Through all of the issues, I have produced, I have kept to my commitment, and I have helped it grow. I have watched my sobriety, once shapeless and unstable, grow along with Tikkun Olam. I have watched parents cry after reading about an addict still going through the depths of addiction, I have seen residents awaken to their long lost passions for writing and for life.
I now send Tikkun Olam via email every week to those who would like to receive it. If you would like a weekly copy, you would just like a single issue, or you would like to make a contribution—please email me at Tikkunolam.firstname.lastname@example.org. This week’s theme is Sarcasm. Where does sarcasm come from? Is it insecurity? Is it a power struggle? When is sarcasm appropriate? When is it harmful? If you would like to make a contribution, please send me an email. I would love to expand my base of writers, painters, and drawers.