Monthly Archives: August 2010

I want to address the blog, I am a Rabbi and I need your help.


I want to address the blog, I am a Rabbi and I need your help.

Rabbi Mark Borovitz

Rachel Lurie, my assistant, took down the blog because she wanted to keep the focus on Beit T’Shuvah and not on personal attacks. One person wrote to tell me that they thought that taking the blog down was like “book burning”, etc. I want to say that Rachel did what she did with the right intentions and to protect Beit T’Shuvah and myself. However I can’t help to be positive about the reactions we’ve received both positive and negative. I am re-posting the original blog including the comments. I encourage the conversations and am excited to have open and honest dialog with anyone about how to make BTS even better.

I have a deep commitment to keeping the lights on here at Beit T’Shuvah AND I continue to act with integrity. No one is treated better/worse because of his or her financial situation and as you know NO ONE is turned away because they cannot afford treatment.

For the people who accuse me of not doing my own inventory, etc. if you want to talk to me, please call and schedule a time. For those of you who want to accuse me without mentioning your name, have the courage of your convictions.

I want you all to know that I wrote the original blog, I am a Rabbi and I need your help, to start a discussion about passion and it’s limits and it’s rewards, based on the Torah Portion, Pinchas. I welcome your comments, all of them, personal and professional.

This Blog is about recovery and the newest blog is about transparency. I hope you will find my blogs transparent and interesting and stimulating.

God Bless and May the New Year be Sweet and Joyous,

Rabbi Mark

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The Transparent Truth


By Jeff Hewitt

Over the coarse of my many years of recovery experience I have witnessed quite a few patterns that have lead up to peoples “relapse or slip”. Usually it’s easy to spot and you can see it coming from a mile away. Most of the time it unfolds like this; little Johnny is in a horrible place and will do anything to get off the drugs that are ruining his life. He finds a program and starts attending 12 step meetings. As a direct result of working a program his life gets significantly better without drugs. His Family has high hopes that this is it! Little Johnny finally got sobriety this time around. Over the months his life gets so good he forgets about the pain and suffering he went through in the months prior to his sobriety. He stops going to meetings and working a program and eventually relapses. No one is surprised because they all saw it coming. His family is in disbelief and their hope in Johnny fades away like a melting ice cube.

Then there are those who appear to be working a great program and are doing everything a good 12 stepper should do. Then suddenly they are on a binder or a wild spree. When these types use or drink again it’s a surprise to everyone and a shame. What went wrong? In my experience it usually their incapability of being honest with themselves or someone else. In my opinion the hardest thing for any addict to do it admit that they need help in sobriety. That is why it is so important to stay transparent. Everyone knows the old phrase, “ You are only as sick as your secrets.”

I think this is why awareness is so important. Sometimes people get so wrapped up in their transparent they are blind to the reality of their situation. My daily reading and program are necessary to my survival and even more importantly helping the new man fresh in recovery. When helping a person new in recovery it not only reminds me of how I was when I came through the door, it also gets me out of my dangerous head because for most addicts an idle mind is the devils workshop.

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Nasty Comments


My name is Rachel Lurie, I am a former resident of Beit T’Shuvah and some of you may know me now as Rabbi Mark Borovitz’s Assistant.

I made the decision the other day to remove a Blog that Rabbi Mark had posted called “I’m a Rabbi and I need your help”, and to also remove the ensuing responses that came from that Blog. I have now been asked by the Rabbi and the Director of Marketing, John Sullivan to explain to you all why I made that decision.

I came to Beit T’Shuvah from Toronto, Canada on November 24th, 2008 and 20 months, almost from the day I got here I moved out. My journey started off very rocky and very dark. I had an extremely difficult time believing this place that I had come to from so far away was going to be able to help me after such a long time of using drugs and drinking alcohol. I thought I was beyond saving. I was wrong. This place, this House of Return, changed my life. The staff here and the friends that I made here helped me to realize that I WAS a child of G-d and that my soul was not forever lost to addiction. Slowly but surely the light inside me began to grow until I was faced with the prospect of having to go back to Canada. I was stuck. All of my friends were moving through the program as they should and I was stuck. I couldn’t work and for the life of me couldn’t figure out how I was going to stay.

Rabbi Mark changed all of that for me. He got me an Immigration Attorney and paid the fees for the Visa extensions to give me time to figure out what I was going to do. Over the past year I started working at Beit T’Shuvah and have now applied for my green card that is due to arrive in October.

I say all of this to you because I want people to read the Blog’s posted on the Beit T’Shuvah page to hear about the lives that are saved here and the experience strength and hope that not only the residents of Beit T’Shuvah find but their families as well.

Rabbi Mark posted his Blog in the hopes that he would get some constructive criticism to better him as the Spiritual Leader of our Community. What happened instead is that it was used by some as a forum for their personal attacks and vicious comments. Those comments do not reflect what Beit T’Shuvah is about and it is certainly not a compass for the unbelievable work that the staff does here every day.

If there are those of you who have a personal issue with Rabbi Mark, I would direct you to post that to his Facebook page or send him an email at tshuvah2@sbcglobal.net.

Please do not tarnish the name and reputation of a place that has saved countless lives, and will hopefully continue to do so for many years to come.

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Anything is Possible


By Gini Bowling

Gini & Kaylee

What better way to celebrate my two-year sober birthday than to go out of my comfort zone?  I am not an athletic person – I smoke, and love to sit on the couch and watch TV.  Walk eighteen miles?  Sure! Why not?

I get to the Shuv around 5:30 and head out to Shirley’s.  The first person I see is Karen who greets me with a huge hug.  “This is my old roomie”, she announces to the other residents nearby.  Karen and I went through primary together, then sober living and finally Independent.

Karen has been a huge inspiration for me throughout my recovery.  I am a VERY competitive person and Karen came into Beit T’Shuvah after I did.  Our time sharing a room while in primary was amazing but too short.  She moved up to sober living before I did….WHAT?  OH noooooooooooooooooooooooooo….I couldn’t have that!!!!  My competitive side (also known as my ego) took over, and snapped me into action.  The next week I had a job and was moving to sober living.  Thanks Karen.  🙂

A very similar chain of events happened when transitioning to Independent living.  Karen went first and I followed very shortly after.

There are about  10 of us excitedly piling into the van as Doug drives us to Hermosa Beach.  We’ve got our backpacks full of healthy snacks and water.  The sun is setting on the ocean and I take it all in with a deep breath.  There are people all along the bike path with their dogs and their bikes.  A happy energy consumes me – sort of like that feeling I got as a child when everything was perfect in the universe.  Some of the people in the group I have not spent too much time with other then maybe a hello in passing, but right at this moment, we have become bonded.

We start our journey.

Half of the group walks ahead at a faster pace, I can see them disappearing into the night.  Karen, MJ, Steph and Ronit are my comrades.  We can barely see the embryonic lights of the Santa Monica ferris wheel far away in the distance.  “Keep looking at the ferris wheel”, Karen says.

At around mile 8, MJ points to the marker on the bike path and says, “Look, mile 8!”  I am shocked. “Shut UP!”, I say.  “No way — this is EASY!”  MJ chuckles and says, “Just wait till 18, when your legs feel like jello”.  I am not worried I think to myself.  If Karen can do it, so can I!  I look over at Karen and she’s truckin’ along.

Just then I look over at the ocean, and I see big beautiful lights.  “Oh my God you guys, look at that cruise ship!”  Through her laughter, Karen says, “That’s not a cruise ship, that’s an oil rig!”  We roar into laughter for miles.

We are somewhere in the Marina at this point  (can’t gauge because we’ve lost sight of the ferris wheel) and we are lost.  I pull out my GPS on my phone and we are on our way.   We walk about a mile and I hear MJ say, “Oh Gin”.  I look up and we are at a dead end.  At this point, Steph has a stomach ache and a blister and can’t go on.  She sits down and says, “You guys go…I can’t do anymore, tell them to come pick me up here.”  “Oh no” I say, “Come on, you can do it”.  She reluctantly gets up and we back track until we get back on the right course.

We are somewhere between 14 and 18 miles, and I am starting to loose speed.  My feet and legs hurt so bad.  There is no way that I believe that I can do this anymore. – Thank God for GaGa in my iPod.  A bit further, and I fall back to the rear.  I can see the rest of the crew pushing on and I wonder how they are doing it.  I just don’t understand where they are finding the energy to push forward.  I keep shifting back and forth in my mind – “I can’t do this” to “If they can do it, then so can I” and back to “I can’t do this”.  We find our way back to the bike path and I can see the ferris wheel.  It has definitely gotten bigger, however it’s not big enough.  At this point my phone alerts me of a new Facebook message.  It’s David, he’s updated his status to say, “successful mission. completed with ease and comfort. thank you all for your love and support, i mean that wholeheartedly. “ – I want to throw my phone for a moment and then I realize that this status couldn’t have come at a better time.

It’s about 1:00 in the morning and we are walking (dragging) through Venice.  Steph falls back with me and asks me if I’m ok.  I say, “No.  I am not ok.  I can’t go anymore”.  She says, “Oh no, yes you can..you can do it!”  I don’t believe that I can do it at that moment, but something inside me is pushing me.  That ferris wheel is getting brighter and bigger…

The last mile was the most difficult.  MJ stayed with me and put up with me having to stop every few feet to sit.  At one point he asked me if I wanted him to carry me the rest of the way.  I said,  “No..I can do this, I just need to rest for a second”.  Thanks MJ.

We finally made it to the ferris wheel.  My legs felt like they were going to fall off.  My eyes welled up with tears and I felt a lump in my throat.  I did it.  I can’t believe I did it.  I walked eighteen miles.  I was floating.

This experience has affected other areas of my life.  I am pushing through things everyday, that previously I would have given up on.  I have this drive inside now that is taking the place of fear.  I realize the importance of community and lifting each other up.  The bond that I have with the others is indescribable.  Anything is possible if you want it and are not afraid to ask for help!  You can do it!

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Filed under Gratitude, Run To Save A Soul

Gambling Addiction – An Insidious and Morbid Disease


By: Anonymous

I have always contemplated why God “blessed” me with such defects including a highly addictive personality and a chemically imbalanced brain which causes deep depression. Here at Beit T’Shuvah I have learned the appropriate coping skills to not only live with these defects but to move forward towards a balanced and successful life.

I am in Beit T’Shuvah for a gambling addiction, which is an insidious and morbid disease. If I were to keep gambling it would take me down a torturous path with absolutely no return mentally and physically. Throughout my gambling career I lied, cheated, manipulated and stole from the people who loved and cared about me the most. This included my immediate family and close friends. Being in the trenches of horror for so long I realized I needed more help and discipline than a 12-step program can provide me. After doing extensive research, I had heard about Beit T’Shuvah through a family friend. Beit T’Shuvah is the only in-patient treatment center to deal with problem gambling in the state of California.

In May 2010 I walked through the doors and immediately felt as if I was “at home”. After only living at Beit T’Shuvah for a few weeks, I had already had a sense of warmth, understanding and security from both the staff and residents alike. This was a very unfamiliar and foreign situation for me. Especially associating with 120 different personalities with various addictions.

My very first Shabbat service at this recovery center was a contributor to me emotionally feeling for the first time in months. Amazingly, I was receptive to the enjoyment of Shabbat services. It was like I was sitting at a blues concert with Rabbi Mark (who adds a lot of chutzpa and excitement to services). Both current and past residents/ staff members produce all of the music. I have willingly gone to Shabbat services every Friday and Saturday for the past four months and loved every minute of it.

One of the most spiritual experiences I’ve had, which was an honor to be a part of, was the Shavuot service (commemorating the anniversary of the day God gave the Torah to the entire Israelite nation assembled at Mount Sinai). We sang, enjoyed an in-depth education about the Torah and had an extremely unusual bonding experience composed of our community embracing the Torah being wrapped around all of us at 6am after being up all night.

I then had an epiphany. Even though we struggle with various addictions we are there for only one purpose. That purpose is to recover with friends and be a positive attribute to society. When one resident is in trouble, we as a community sacrifice our own time to help out. For example, one resident who has a sentencing coming up got at least thirty letters written to the probation office on his behalf and is expecting at least forty of us to accompany him to court to lend support at his sentencing.

This is what Beit T’Shuvah is all about, selflessness, community and recovery. I am getting the tools, wisdom and spirituality; I need to progress and to learn how live independently once again.

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Filed under 12-Steps, addiction, Compulsive Gambling, Temple, Uncategorized