Monthly Archives: June 2011

Meaning Above Logic

Cover of "God in Search of Man : A Philos...

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By Rabbi Mark Borovitz

Recovery is the experience where we hear the word of God/Truth in order to regain our passion and purpose of life. I take this idea from the words of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel in his description of the Sabbath in his book God in Search of Man. Rabbi Heschel was talking about the Israelites leaving a great civilization, Egypt, to wander in the wilderness so they could hear the word of God.

This brought up many thoughts for me. The first and strongest was what stops me from doing more of the things that God/Truth has already taught me! I find that I keep returning to the “Great Civilization” (I call the rational mind) that we are living in and following those teachings rather than the Truth that I have learned.

What is the reason for this disconnect? I just realized that the reason is I get afraid of the wilderness. I get afraid to continue on without the scientific validity that civilization gives me. I forget that there is meaning above human logic. I forget my commitment to Truth, God and my fellows.

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Filed under addiction, Beit T'Shuvah, Gratitude, Incarceration, Judaism, Mark Borovitz, Sobriety, Spirituality, Temple, Torah

Project Chai Five

We’re really excited to announce our new Chai Five Project! Our goal is to raise $1,800 for Beit T’Shuvah by September 1st in order to put one resident through school for a year. Chai is the Hebrew word for life, and that’s exactly what our goal is—to give a resident the opportunity to better their life!

Chai is the Hebrew word for life. In Judaism, this word is said to have very deep & mystical powers, as does it’s numerical value, 18, and any multiple thereof.

A Chai Five is a virtual high five. A symbol of celebration, brother & sisterhood, support, and camaraderie. The most basic gesture of recognition for doing something good. But not just any high five, a Chai Five for life!

Put your hands together and Chai Five!

Our goal here is two-fold. The first- quite obviously- we need your dough (duh!). The second though, may be less obvious.  We want to celebrate your giving. This isn’t just another dollar in the bucket. This is a virtual, social experience, patting each other’s virtual tushes, slapping each other virtual Chai Five, all to help out our friends and loved ones whose hands are tied.

And we’re not asking for much. If 360 of you took a moment to donate $5 RIGHT NOW, we’d pretty much hit our goal. And in the spirit of giving, when you donate to The Chai Five! Project, we’ll send you our very own Beit T’shuvah ‘YOU MATTER’ wristband. Because isn’t that the bottom line? YOU DO MATTER, and so does your donation.

Don’t be shy. Share the love! Send Chai Five’s to all your friends by tagging them in your donation.

So, everybody hands in… Chai Five!

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Filed under Beit T'Shuvah, Current Events, Gratitude, Uncategorized

On The Coast of Chaos

The following is an account of the riots and austerity protests that took place in Greece in late May 2011, presented in parallel with the experience of a struggling addict.  One of our interns, on vacation at the time, found herself in the middle of the protests.  Her story inspired another here at BTS Communicationsto retell his own conflict through a new lens…

Syntagma Square

KF: It felt surreal, suspended in the midst of a civil crisis more foreign to me than the land I was visiting. From the balcony of my hotel, I could only watch on as the crowd gathered, their demand for answers falling on deaf ears.  They too had been helplessly watching for years as the government they relied on continued to perpetuate its failures.  A great deal of the population was caught in a bleak cycle of lost jobs and vanished hope for a comfortable future.

JZ:  It feels like I’m dreaming, stuck within a personal conflict more familiar to me than my own home.  From the ceiling of my dorm room, I can only watch on as I isolate from the world, my screams that I should change my life falling silent before they hit my ears.  Consumed by helplessness, I have been watching myself like this for years now as I continue to do the same things yet hope for different results.  I spend a great deal of my time cycling between menial jobs and avoiding any thought of my future.

KF: I began to focus on the individuals that made up the formidable attendance.  A crowd of clenched fists stood on a street corner, zealous teenagers rebelling against their government with youthful opinionated views. To their left, a tired man settled on the sidewalk wearing a tattered tweed jacket; his hair was thinning, as was his hope for his students whose families could no longer pay their tuition.  A mother and father clasped hands and stood with their child between them, two pillars in a stoic stance trying not to show their fear.  As a tourist, I felt no attention, negative or otherwise, directed at me; the protesters were all of one mind with a singular focus.  Still, as continuous waves of people flowed into Syntagma Square, my shock refused to subside.

JZ:  I begin to visualize the individual qualities that make up my formidable internal foe.  A cloud of crazed passion appears first, an all-consuming and teenager-like instinct to rebel against my better interests.  Not much is left, only a tired and worn out voice that begs me to reclaim my education; it’s a thin voice, hollow where it once held hope that anything, even the cost of tuition to my family, would make me take my schooling more seriously.  Now my parents enter my thoughts, how tightly they’ve clung to me as two pillars of support that blindly believe I’m on the right path.  As an addict, I feel no concern, negative or otherwise, towards myself; my demon has only one goal with a singular focus.  Still, as continuous waves of apathy flow into my central nervous system, somewhere, my conscience in shock refuses to die.

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Filed under addiction, Current Events, Incarceration, Sobriety, Uncategorized

Form a Gamblers Anonymous to Hit at Horse Racing

I found this in a 1949 issue of the Milwaukee Journal. Kinda crazy, isn’t it?

Ahh, how times have changed.

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Filed under addiction, Compulsive Gambling, Uncategorized

The Images of Support Groups

The first time I had ever even heard of a support group was through the movie Fight Club, in which the protagonist had begun to attend Alcoholics Anonymous, as well as support groups for the terminally ill, in order to take himself out of his own head. The meetings were depicted as bleak—10-20 people gathered in a circle, beat up and torn up faces drinking stale coffee. And even though some were crying, the tears were emotionless, a saline solution dripping out of jaded and distant eyes.

For a long time, this is exactly what I thought Alcoholics Anonymous would be like. When I went to a private high school bordering the coast in Santa Monica, year after year, another girl would drop out and come back with a “sober companion,” chanting her maxims of sobriety, AA, and preaching her message to anybody who would listen. It was a confusing juxtaposition—were these support groups for the teary-eyed, forgotten cancer patients? Or were they filled with hipsters chewing gum, drinking fresh cups of Starbucks coffee, proudly bragging of their war stories before sobriety? Was this a program of gossip, of determining who was the next to get “loaded,” the next to bite the bullet and give up, or was this a program of old-timers who are one drink away from certain death?

The answer is all of the above.

My first AA meeting was in August 2009; I walked into the Marina Center early one morning, tired and apprehensive. I stepped into a world of rhythmic catchphrases, a world where coffee was currency to fit the pockets of Styrofoam cups. My friend was nodding off as the speaker spoke and time seemed to freeze as I popped Immodium, one after another, precisely at every “tick” and every other “tock.” After an hour the meeting was over and everybody stood up, held hands, and recited the serenity prayer.

I eventually began to regularly attend meetings—at first still high and then sober—and as I “kept coming back,” my perception slowly changed. I found meetings of meditation and forgiving Buddhist-based disciplines, and I found meetings full of kids in high school, only making an appearance because their parents’ dropped them off. I found meetings that I liked, meetings with one speaker and meetings with no speakers, and I found meetings filled with laughter and meetings with only earth-shattering silence.

What I realize now is that Alcoholics Anonymous can be whatever I choose to make it. Sobriety doesn’t have to look like a stereotypical snapshot; it can look like whatever you want it to be.

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Filed under 12-Steps, addiction, Uncategorized