Monthly Archives: December 2011

The Nebulous Future of an Un”Kim Jong-Il” North Korea

By M. Alexander

Kim Jong-Il’s death leaves an unstable state without a clear leader.  Though his son has been named successor, nobody really knows anything about the elusively enigmatic Kim Jong-Un.  He now has a huge weapon’s arsenal at his disposal and a nation of people that do not have adequate access to goods that are essential in the modern world—like food.

The people mourn in North Korea

Public reaction to Kim Jong Il’s death

His death leaves the rest of the world in a state of hopeful fear.  When a dictator falls, one of two paths may be forged—progressive reform or repressive disaster.

In the first model (progressive reform), you have a country filled with citizens that are fed up with the government.  You have a leader that is either open to change or does not have the necessary clout to enforce his dictatorial policies.    The citizens that are hungry for change must be relatively organized, and if they are able to seize a modicum of power, they must not be carried away by the manic hunger that often arrives shortly after the first taste of power.

In the second model (repressive disaster), the new leader is intent upon enforcing stricter laws than the last ruler.  This dictator’s main drive is power, not providing for his people.  He is able to wield the nation’s weapons and assert his strength in a way the last leader was not.  He is ruthless and inexperienced—a combination that can only yield disaster.

Of course, there are many other possible outcomes—military coup and foreign intervention at the top of the list.  But, really, nobody knows exactly what is going to happen.

You may notice that this article is quite nebulous. It is because this story seems to beg more questions than answers.  What is our responsibility in this matter?  Do we sit back and watch, hoping for the best?  Or do we intercede and implement our ideals of democracy and freedom on yet another state of demagoguery? What do you think?

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Filed under Current Events, International, Uncategorized

My Mom, Jennifer Sarnoff: Running to Save Souls

Los Angeles Marathon runner for Beit T'Shuvah

Me and my mom

My name is Jackson and I am 2 years old.  I like pudding and naptime. Another thing about me: my mommy, Jennifer, is crazy.  Wanna know why?

She is running 26.2 miles for the LA Marathon this year. So on top of having to take care of me, feed me, watch me, teach me, clean me, and get me to bed every day, she runs. And not just a mile, or two, but eventually, 26.2! And do you know who she’s running for? Beit T’Shuvah.  She’s running for a Jewish rehab that she never even lived at! She’s never even personally struggled with addiction. I mean, sure, while growing up in Los Angeles, my mom saw a lot of people deal with addiction—some of her family and friends were addicts. She’s seen the tragedy of alcoholism and witnessed the insanity of drug dependency. But she’s not an addict. She’s not an alcoholic. She’s not even a compulsive gambler.

She used to be “normal,” too. I did some eavesdropping and when asked if she ever thought about running a marathon, I overheard her saying in an interview: “No, and I’ll tell you a secret. I almost failed out of PE in high school because I wouldn’t run the mile…I hated running. I used to get hiccups and I didn’t know how to breathe right when I ran. I’m kind of laughing to myself when I run these distances. It blows my mind that I’m about to take on this experience.”

Crazy she may be, but I guess my mom is dedicated. She’s only able to run with the team every other week because she takes care of me. I like to think of myself as her boss. And as her boss I guess I’d like to tell her that I’m proud… huh? I gotta go. My mom’s calling me. And I love her, so I’m gonna go now.

Jennifer Sarnoff


Jennifer Sarnoff has a remarkable, beaming radiance. She is a woman who follows through with her word, promising to run the marathon a year before she signs up. Jennifer is a key component to our team because, like Chris, she did not go through Beit T’Shuvah. She runs because of the kindness in her heart and the professed blessings she feels from seeing the bountiful work of Beit T’Shuvah, treating the broken-willed and restoring the souls of her loved ones. She now runs to save a soul.

When asked about what she is most nervous about running the marathon, she resolutely replied, “Running 26.2 miles… I’m not Forrest Gump.” She’s right, she’s not Forrest Gump—she’s Jennifer Sarnoff. And we think that’s something to be proud of. You can check her Crowdrise page here.

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Filed under addiction, Family Wellness, LA Marathon, Run To Save A Soul, Spirituality, Temple, Uncategorized

Beit T’Shuvah’s Got Talent!!!


By Jaron Zanerhaft



Get ready.  Beit T’Shuvah is hosting its annual Talent Show with Havdalah this weekend, December 10 at 7p.m.! The buzz is getting louder each day, and anticipation is flowing through the halls, as the acts rehearse for the big night.  This year’s show promises to provide a Saturday night you won’t forget.

Last year, many great acts graced the bima as Beit T’Shuvah’s sanctuary was transformed into a performing arts theatre.  Curtains, lights, sparkling decorations, and the soulful sonic mixes of our resident sound team from BTS Productions draped Beit T’Shuvah’s most talented with an atmosphere of class and stardom.  Who could forget Nancy’s stirring rendition of Blondie’s One way or another?  “When she sang, ‘I’m gonna getcha,’” remarked BTS counselor Kelly, “I believed her!”  Talon gave a surprisingly poignant and profound rap, backed by a remix of John Lennon’s Imagine, and Sam (a.k.a. “Coke”) performed a set of originals full of ancient wisdom.  If last year was a taste of what’s to come, don’t be shocked if a few record deals are drawn up this weekend.


While Beit T’shuvah’s Music Department was solidly represented last year, talent also arose from well-hidden sources.  Diana, who fronts a Fleetwood Mac cover band, shared her voice, and even some of the counselors joined in, such as Jen who sang beautifully. In between musical numbers, a variety of skits speckled with impersonators and cross dressers kept the crowd amused and engaged.  The two MCs of the evening, Michael and Aaron, had the audience roaring with laughter even before the first act went on.  Throughout the night, Michael showed nearly inappropriate affection for some of the female performers, and Aaron played his famed “I like Cheese” song.

This year, young Joshua will weave his way amongst the talent to MC us through the show.  Josh was only too happy to talk to the press.  “I’m suuuper excited!! It’s gonna be a great night!!!” he says, with arms flailing through the air.  “I’m gonna wear a bowtie!”  The glint in his eye says everything.  The Beit T’Shuvah 2011 Talent Show will be one for the books. Don’t miss it!  This Saturday.  December 10th. 7 p.m.  Be there.

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Filed under Beit T'Shuvah, Current Events, Internet, Judaism, Sobriety, Spirituality, Temple, Uncategorized

Lindsay Runs to Save Souls

By Ben Spielberg

As I listen, immersed in her story, I notice Lindsay’s cadence and rhythm as she explains her development into a Beit T’Shuvah resident. She tells me of her struggles and success; her voice lowers and slows to a crawl as she retells her history pre-Beit T’Shuvah, and her voice rises in pitch and quickens as she speaks of her future aspirations of running the Run to Save a Soul 2012 LA Marathon.

Lindsay Posing After Surf Therapy

Just another day at surf therapy

When most people think of recovering drug addicts, they don’t think of Lindsay Recht. They don’t think of college students, who hide their methamphetamine use from their friends and family. They don’t think of “nice Jewish girls” or strong women. They definitely don’t think of swimming teachers or frightened yet poised diabetics. However, Lindsay Recht is all of those things and so much more.

Her story is heartbreaking—as I interview her, I notice her voice quiver and crack when she talks about her family history of addiction. I notice her body shake briefly as she discusses how low her drug use took her—how her parents had to let go of her and how drugs exacerbated her feelings of never fitting in. Most importantly, though, I notice the light in her eyes as she talks about the LA Marathon—how she is no longer running for herself, but instead for the next addict coming into Beit T’Shuvah.

This progression for Lindsay was not easy. Before her time at Beit T’Shuvah, she resisted sobriety despite moving into sober living. After reluctantly moving into Beit T’Shuvah, Lindsay had a cathartic experience in temple one day. “I was dancing at [temple] Valley Beth Shalom,” she shared, “And rabbi came up to me and told me I had this light about me. And he thanked me for sharing it with [them].”

This marathon won’t be easy for Lindsay, either. “It scares me, honestly. I’m diabetic. At this point, it’s like, I’m not running it for me anymore. I’m running it for someone else—for the next drug addict who needs a bed. It’s so much bigger than just me at this point.” Because of her courage and selflessness, we will be following Lindsay until she crosses the finish line. You can view her Crowdrise page or check her out on Twitter.

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Filed under addiction, Beit T'Shuvah, Current Events, Education, Gratitude, Judaism, LA Marathon, Run To Save A Soul, Sobriety, Temple, Uncategorized