Monthly Archives: November 2011

Can Teenagers Be Grateful?

By: Kaylee Bowling (freshman in high school)

Thanksgiving is a time of love and gratitude.  It’s a time to spend with close fiends and family and let them know what you are thankful for.  When people think about what they are thankful for it’s all the same.  Some say they are must happy to have a roof over their heads and food in their fridge.  For others it may be that they survived another year.  These are the easy things to say but it’s much more difficult to think of things that have a deeper impact.

Today I came with my step dad to work.  Everyone was chilling in the downstairs office listening to him speak.  I was just leaning against the stair railing half listening to my iPod and him at the same time.  He said that X Factor’s gratitude show inspired him to do some sort of gratitude circle so he went around asking everyone what they are grateful for.  Everyone said the same things, they are thankful for being sober, having the opportunity to work for BTS Communications and to not spend another holiday locked up.  When John got to me I couldn’t really think of anything on the spot.  ‘Food’ I said.  Cool shows how grateful I am.  I wondered why I couldn’t think of anything more.  There is so much I should be thankful for, why didn’t I just say something other then food?  So I listened to John speak.  His gratitude was really meaningful and personalized.  He said he was thankful for his new office, newborn nephew, family and other personal things.  I won’t say word for word what he said but it made me happy to hear something different.  I wanted to share what I was really happy for too, and it’s not just food.

Now that I can take a moment to analyze everything, I know that I m appreciative for a bunch of things, for one my brother Austin.  Yes that must be a shocker to some people but he has been helpful just letting me know he is willing to listen to me.  Even though I don’t always accept his help I am thankful for being able to trust him.  I am also tremendously grateful for Beit T’Shuvah.  Without it my mom would have never gotten sober and I would still live in foster homes.  She would not have met John and gotten married.  I still wouldn’t have a dad, but she did get sober.  She got me out of foster care and I have John as my father, which I never thought I could have.  I am grateful for my life being turned around and my family being brought together.  I also couldn’t be more thankful for the friends I have…they are everything to me.  When all hope is lost in my dramatic teenage life they are there for me.  And when I am content they keep me that way.  I am grateful I have gone through so much with people who make me happy to be alive and discover true friendship.

Now obviously I appreciate a roof over my head and food in the fridge, to have been able to survive another year, but there is so much more, I just had to put a little thought into it. So now I ask you… what are you really thankful for?

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Filed under Gratitude

For Those Who Choose to Live

By Jaron Zanerhaft

November 18th marked the 33rd anniversary of the Jonestown Massacre when over 900 people committed suicide by drinking Flavor Aid laced with cyanide at the order of cult leader Jim Jones.  This mass suicide accounts for the greatest number of American civilian casualties pre-9/11.  Though devastating, the psychology of mass suicide does not speak to the type of suicide that claims the most tragic victims: teens.  How can we prevent young adults from taking their lives of their own accord?

October was difficult this year for Agoura Hills.   Within six days of each other, three Agoura High School students lost their lives, each a victim of suicide.  Candlelight vigils, Facebook pages, Twitter R.I.P. notes, memorial services, and much more have honored Dan Behar, Josh Feinberg, and Griffen Kramer, all of whom had difficulty coping with the foreboding of post-high school life.

Agoura High, their alma mater, held it’s first annual Friendship Week from October 3-7 this year.  The new initiative began as a response to an uptick in teen suicides from the surrounding area over the past few years.  Friendship Week was meant to show teens that they are not alone.  Strangely, the three Agoura Hills suicides took place roughly two weeks after Friendship Week had concluded. 

The concept behind Friendship Week is that loneliness is the main contributing factor in teen suicide.   One of the crew from the BTS Prevention program believes otherwise.  “I think that it has a lot to do with the pressure placed upon teens,“ he expresses with genuine concern.  “Families need to realize that teens need a chance to be teens and make their own mistakes.  When we allow them to grow up at a normal rate, it’s possible teen suicide will decline. “  As we continue to explore the reasons for these tragedies, we hold on to hope that nothing like Jonestown or Agoura Hills will ever happen again.

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

This Is Aronofsky’s Brain Against Drugs

Darren Aronofsky, the director of Requiem for a Dream, Black Swan, and The Wrestler, recently hit the small screen, releasing four commercials as part of the nationwide Meth Project.  The Project’s goal is to curb use of methamphetamines throughout the country—as proof of its success, the project cites ABC’s study showing that “meth use has declined by 65% in Arizona, 63% in Montana, and 52% in Idaho since the 2006 commencement of its campaign.”

Aronofsky departs from the “this is your brain on drugs” movement of the 1990’s and the “just say no” crusade of the 1980’s.  He instead stays true to his directorial style, depicting intensely graphic, seemingly exaggerated realities.

Watching the commercials left me with the same feeling as Black Swan, a queasy stomach, like I had just watched a video that I had no right to see. I was a fly on the wall, viewing the precise moments that mother, daughter, son, and brother would never want exposed.

A hospitalized teenager in the throes of a meth-induced psychosis. A mother hysterically clutching her daughter over a blood-red sink.  A young boy cowering in the corner of his bedroom while his older brother tears through the room looking for money.  A teenager in a dark motel room, selling his body for meth. 

Aronofsky’s commercials all answer one question: What can methamphetamine do?

Meth can bring you to a place where you steal from your family, sell your body, attempt suicide, and/or end up in a mental hospital.  These scenes are real.   They happen.  I just don’t know if his scare tactics will work—they wouldn’t have worked for me.  Will they work for you?


Filed under addiction, BTS Communications, Current Events, Education, Family Wellness, Internet, Spirituality, Uncategorized

Remember when Veteran’s Day was called Armistice Day?

By M. Alexander

Remember when Veteran’s Day was called Armistice Day?

If you remember the early 1940’s, the answer to this question might be yes.  Otherwise, it’s just a little known truth that has disintegrated into the cluttered atmosphere of useless historical facts.

Christened Armistice Day as World War One (The War to End All Wars) came to a close, the name was changed to Veteran’s Day when world leaders realized that World War Two also happened to fall under the category of warfare.

I think that we should change the name back to Armistice Day.  Not as a day of remembering that war has been wiped off the face of the earth (because that is ridiculously false) but as a symbol of hope, as a day that forces us to lay down our weapons and open our hearts to a world in which eternal peace is a vague possibility.

You may say that this takes away from the honor we give to our Veterans on November 11th.  But I say that it bestows upon them a greater honor than before.  They fought valiantly for their country.  But the time has come for peace, the only thing that is worth fighting for.

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Filed under 12-Steps, addiction, Alcoholics Anonymous, Current Events, Education, Family Wellness, Gratitude, Judaism, Mark Borovitz, Spirituality, Uncategorized

Birthday Bash = Huge Success!

While Beit T’Shuvah’s multipurpose sanctuary wears many different hats, on Saturday it wore a feathered fedora for Rabbi Mark Borovitz’s 60th birthday party, transforming the sanctuary/dining hall into something barely recognizable. The doors opened to a dimly lit room with small lounge tables speckling the floor, black curtains adorning the walls and tables, and a full booze-less bar complete with cocktails such as the ‘Fuzzy Harriet’ and ‘Lonely Addicts Iced Tea.’

Rabbi’s gangster-themed “Roast and Toast” birthday party turned the Beit T’Shuvah sanctuary into a speakeasy, with guests dressed as 1920’s flappers and mob bosses.  Only at Beit T’Shuvah is it possible to roast your boss and spiritual leader in his own rehab-cum-barlounge.  While the décor was incredible, the Shirley Temples were delicious, and the food was scrumptious, the entertainment was the highlight of the evening.   Rabbi’s friends, family, and employees took turns serenading and addressing their Rabbi, their boss, their mentor, their husband, and their father.  Unconditional love for the man responsible for the redeemed souls in the room shined through the biting wit of each speech.

Rabbi’s birthday party reflected the enigmatic nature of Beit T’Shuvah.  It is a rehab that treats the deadly illness of addiction, but it is also a community with a sense of humor.  Beit T’Shuvah is able to let its hair down and poke fun of its spiritual leader, while praising him for his hard work, patience, and accomplishments.

p.s. Rest assured, the Rabbi took the roast in stride, so the employee count remained the same on Monday.

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Filed under addiction, Beit T'Shuvah, Current Events, Dating, Education, Family Wellness, Gratitude, Mark Borovitz, Uncategorized

Happy Birthday Rabbi Mark!!!


Today is Rabbi Mark’s birthday!  We didn’t want to let the day go by without acknowledging this special day.  For one more year, Mark Borovitz has added the edge and spice that defines Beit T’Shuvah and has found a way to teach the principles of Torah to even the most seemingly unteachable among us.  Feel free to leave him a birthday message on our Facebook page here.  Here’s hoping your day is enjoyable, Rabbi Mark, and that we may celebrate many more simcahs with you in the years to come!

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Filed under Beit T'Shuvah, Mark Borovitz