By Bob Green
Ten years ago I found Beit T’Shuvah. Most who come to Beit T’shuvah have drug addiction problems, alcohol or gambling issues. Some are, or have been in jail. All have hit bottom. I had hit my bottom as well. I was dying inside, suffering from a broken heart.
In the previous years, life had been throwing increasing challenges my way. It started with the death of my mother. A year later, I saw my brother at her Shiva in New York. He looked awful, overweight, flushed. He never took care of himself. I remember, the last words I said to him was…”Gerry you look awful, you look like you are going to die.” He did die, three days later. I was shocked, hurt, angry. How dare he die after I yelled at him. I couldn’t grieve, I was so angry.
Later that year my father was killed in a car accident. This, after he took care of my mother for 10 years with her Alzheimer’s disease.
My wife and I bought and moved into a new home. I lost my job, had surgery, my wife and I were trying to have a baby and were unsuccessful. Then my father-in-law died.
I was hanging on by a thread when my wife left me the day before our 10 year anniversary. I was devastated. I thought we had been through the worst of what life could throw at us. I was lost, I didn’t know what to do.
The next day the Jewish Journal arrived at our door. There was an ad in the Journal, a Temple named Beit T’shuvah was having a seminar about relationships and marriage. I had heard of Beit T’shuvah, but I wasn’t familiar with it. I decided to attend the seminar, it was that Sunday.
I remember walking into Beit T’Shuvah. It didn’t look like all the temples I had been to. I was married at the Wilshire Blvd. Temple. I had been to all the “Hollywood” temples, but Beit T’Shuvah was different. There were folding chairs. I didn’t feel like I was walking into a house of G-d. What is this place?
I sat and listened. I was taken by the words of the Rabbi and Harriet. I had been to years of marriage therapy, but I had never heard the truth as was discussed by Rabbi and Harriet that day. I sat with tears In my eyes. I felt that they knew the answers that I couldn’t find. I needed to reach out to them.
When the seminar ended, I went up to Rabbi Mark and asked if he could help me. I said I was lost, that my wife had just left me and that I didn’t know what to do. He looked up at me and said, “Where is your wife, why isn’t she here with you?” I said, “I don’t know, I guess she had something more important to do.” Rabbi looked me In the eye and said, “I guess this should answer most of your questions.”
It was like a brick hit me in the head. I looked up and said, “Wow, can I come see you, can you help me?” He looked at me and said with his sympathetic voice, “Talk to Harriet, she’s the therapist.”
I went to Harriet and asked for her help. She said that I should come to see her the next day. She didn’t know me, yet she reached out to me. The next day, we talked for over two hours. I was in tears and I told Harriet that I ruined my marriage because I smoked pot and I was an addict. Harriet laughed at me and said, “Bob you aren’t an addict, you are just a very unhappy man. I know addicts and believe me, you are no addict.”
Harriet and I spoke for two hours and she left me with four pieces of advice. She said grow up, stop smoking pot, read these books, and come to Beit T’Shuvah on Friday.
It has been 10 years and I keep coming back. My future blogs will talk more about my Beit T’Shuvah journey and how the temple has brought me back to my faith and welcomed me into the Beit T’Shuvah community.