Monthly Archives: February 2012

Living in Gratitude

By Erin Pad

I didn’t really grow up in a broken home, however my parents divorced when I was just ten years old.  It was really hard for me.  Soon thereafter my little sister was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes and my dad and little brother were best friends leaving me as the odd one out, the black sheep.  I got little attention from both my parents because of my sick baby sister and even less from my father.  In some ways, I feel that’s why I started acting out.  I wanted attention, regardless of whether it was negative or positive.  I just wanted to be noticed.  My dad would occasionally come to my soccer games, or swim meets and cheer me on or he would buy me things to show his love.  But I didn’t want material things, I wanted to spend time with him, I wanted his affection and most of all I wanted a dad that I could talk to about what was going on in my life.

Brandon Enjoying his Fulfilling Job at Beit T'Shuvah

You all may know him as program coordinator at Beit T’Shuvah, but to me he is like a second father.  Brandon Berry has been a persisting role model in my life.  He inspires me to be a better person when I’m having a bad day.  He gives me hope when I feel like life won’t ever go on.  He takes time out of his day to ask how I’m doing and maybe to someone else that’s a normal everyday task, but to myself that shows me how much I matter to another person.  Brandon Berry, this is my gratitude to you.  I thank you for all the times, you’ve let me sit in your office listening to me cry and all the times you’ve helped me through my struggles (and we both know, I’ve had MANY throughout my stay at Beit T’Shuvah), but without you there to encourage me to do the things I was afraid to do or give me hope when I was hopeless, I don’t think I’d still be at Beit T’Shuvah living a very fulfilled life.


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The Redemption Chronicles

Therapy comes in all different shapes and sizes.  For me, it’s animals.

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The Redemption Chronicles

Life is tough sometimes.  That’s why we have to keep working our way up the ladder.  But even when we think we have reached the top, there’s more to life we can accomplish.   Keep climbing guys.

Until next time,

Photoblogger E-Pad


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“No I Never Heard Them Singing…Till There Was You”

by Eliana Katz

I am a proud Orthodox Jewish woman.  As my family has moved a number of times, I was raised in a number of different Orthodox communities: Los Angeles, Rochester, and Fort Lauderdale.  There is a certain comforting fluency to these communities and their synagogues. I know that no matter where I am in the world I will be able to follow the order of every service, sing along with every melody, and tune in to each Rabbi’s sermon with the same level of clarity.

            But with familiarity comes the risk of redundancy.  If I’m being what my husband calls ‘Beit T’Shuvah honest,’ as someone who has been going to services nearly ever Shabbat of my life, I’ve grown a bit tired. Then again, perhaps it’s simply complacency, but there is little that has been able to ruffle my spiritual feathers in quite some time.  Since I took up my post at Beit T’Shuvah, I have been promising myself to ‘try’ the acclaimed Friday night services.  As with all things complexly Orthodox, it had to be weather, time, and circumstances permitting, as my husband and I would have to walk the 3 miles home.  Having been in Beit T’Shuvah 9 months, maybe I had to wait out the ‘prenatal’ term before I could fully appreciate what I was about to behold.


            I know for many of you, I will be describing something you take part in every week, but I will attempt to describe my experience of Beit T’Shuvah services with the same awe and wonder of someone who is experiencing them for the first time.  My husband and I took a seat next to one another, and held hands. This was a special treat, as we are used to a Mechitzah—a divider that separates men from women. We then braced ourselves for what would be an otherworldly experience. I have to first state my amazement of Cantor Rachel, the band, and the choir.  I believe the unique brand of Beit T’Shuvah music takes the services to a haunting, marrow-penetrating place I’ve never quite been before. Beyond that, there are three things in competition for my favorite part of the evening: Gratitude/T’Shuvah, Dancing to Lecha Dodi, and the Birthday Speeches.

            Gratitude was introduced to the congregation on the heels of a reading about T’Shuvah.  Congregation members were given the opportunity to openly seek amends or give gratitude for their week in front of the community.  Religiousity aside, all Jews rely on at least one day, Yom Kippur, to wipe their sinful slates clean. As an Orthodox Jew I know that in the daily prayers, we have the opportunity to ask G-d for forgiveness 3 separate times with the reciting of the Amida- the Silent Prayer. But I’ve already cautioned about the habitual becoming rote.  People expressing their remorse and receiving forgiveness in front of a room full of people, THAT is real T’Shuvah. Reading the daily prayer is just the reminder, but in Beit T’Shuvah services, people are invited to do what the Rabbi calls the ‘Next Right Thing.’ I hope for the courage and boldness to make T’Shuvah openly in my life on a weekly basis.

            Lecha Dodi is the prayer that brings in the Shabbat. It welcomes in the Shabbat Kallah, the Sabbath bride. A recent kallah myself, I can appreciate the joy of being literally danced to my Chuppah. That is what the Beit T’Shuvah congregants do- they get up off their seats and welcome in the Sabbath with stomping feet and snapping fingers.  I have a friend that once said, Lecha Dodi truly welcomes the Angels, but only if they feel invited. I now know the Angels RSVP ‘yes’ to Beit T’Shuvah on a Friday night!


And lastly, my husband and I had the distinct pleasure of choosing a weekend with 7 sober birthdays. From just a tender year to a seasoned six, each person got up and expressed gratitude to the community, their counselors, their friends, their spiritual guides, and encouraged fresh residents in the program to continue to put one foot in front of the other.  They each ended their speeches with the simple yet profound, ‘Thank you for my life.” Through tears and even laughter, I don’t think I can aptly express to you the articulation and eloquence with which these individuals relay their hearts. It is the reason why I have said, since I’ve come here, myself a ‘normie,’ that EVERYONE can benefit from recovery.  I’ve come to feel that perhaps it is the missing link in the evolution of the complete man.

            The last unique component, which I guarantee you will find at no other synagogue, is when the new residents are welcomed and embraced by the community on the pulpit each week. With ‘Baruch Habbah B’Shem Hashem,’ [Blessed is he who walks in the name of G-d] they are shown that they are not just a number in a clinical facility, but a human being with a soul that is now a part of something much greater than itself. These residents are told by the congregants- yelled at even!- through their detoxing fog, “HOLD ON!”


A newly grateful member of the community, I too plan to do just that. 


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The Redemption Chronicles: Valentine’s Day

This is my personal vignette on Valentine’s Day.  On a day when the people who already have someone they love give each other gifts, it can often be a sad day for those who sit with a lonesome heart.  I’m not here to break your heart but to simply remind you that when it feels like your heart sits on a broken crack….there is often a blooming rose in the shadows.  Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.


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Beit T’Shuvah Charity Design Project

Designers Touring Beit T'Shuvah

As many people know, Beit T’Shuvah is always striving to give their residents the best care possible.  We are lucky enough to have found a group of volunteers who wish to be a part of that vision, spearheading a project new to the realm of treatment facilities.  Being a nonprofit facility that accepts over 70% of our residents without pay, the treatment has to come first, and unfortunately, aesthetics have always taken a back seat. Thanks to these volunteers, that won’t be the case anymore. Over the course of 3 months, a group of interior designers will take on the challenge of giving our primary care bedrooms a face lift- redesigning the 40 bedrooms from top to bottom.  Beit T’Shuvah and the designers involved hope that by transforming the rooms in which the residents live, they will learn that respect for the place they live in is key to transforming their lives.

This past Friday, the first crop of designers was escorted through the rooms for the first time. Many of the generous designers had volunteered their services before they even knew what Beit T’Shuvah was and whom they were helping.  Of course, once they found out they would be working on a residential addiction treatment facility with a group of people trying to change their lives, their interest was sparked.  Their Charity Design Project, Designed from the Heart, Beit T'Shuvaheagerness to craft comfort for people in times of turmoil is truly moving.  Many of them fired off question after question, not just about the rooms, but about the residents who live in them.  “How long do people live in these rooms?  What kinds of places do they come from?  How much closet space do they need?  Would people actually use a nightstand?”  The moment they discovered who they were doing this for, all the designers seemed greatly excited about the prospect of working on this project. They even jokingly referred to the men’s patio area as “our designer’s challenge.”

The interior designers, who are all donating their time and skills free of charge, were brought together by a new organization called Designed from the Heart.  Heidi Bendetson, the visionary and founder who is bringing all of the designers together, has been hard at work as her and her fellow designers spend the days leading up to March researching this project.  Rhonda Snyder, another pioneer of the design project, spoke to the designers about the direction they should go in with these rooms.  “We want to make these rooms a serene haven for the residents,” she says.

Everyone involved knows that there will be a lot of work to do.  Some of you may be wondering, “How are they going to redesign 40 rooms in just three months?”  Well, like most big undertakings, it can actually be broken down step by step. Four male rooms and four female rooms will be worked on simultaneously.  The residents who currently reside in them will be relocated for 3 weeks while the project is underway. Once complete, the design teams will move on to the next 8 rooms until all 40 are complete.  The project is planned to take place from March through June and will culminate with a Grand Reveal Open House this upcoming summer, showcasing the transformed bedrooms to the inner community, the press, and the general public.  Simple enough right?  And the hope is that these 40 rooms will just be the first phase of the project.  “We’d love to continue with the other rooms, as well as some of the common areas,” states one of the designers involved.  Of course, it’s going to take more than just designers to finish this project on schedule.  The Beit T’Shuvah Charity Design Project will be offering community service to local high school students as well as community volunteers for flooring, lighting, painting, and installing.

You can tell a lot about someone based on where they live.  We at Beit T’Shuvah are all hoping that this design project will give resident’s the opportunity to start respecting the area that they live in and will hopefully turn a treatment center into a home.

*For opportunities to get involved:

  • as a designer (whether you’re an interior designer or have incredible decorating panache)
  •  a sponsor of furniture or materials such as paint, flooring, carpeting, fabric, window treatments, etc),
  • a service provider (such as flooring, painting, lighting, etc)
  • or just a good ol’ volunteer
Please contact Heidi at or 310-702-2558 for details!

* Community Service Hours available and all Donations are Tax Deductible.


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The Redemption Chronicles


Welcome back fellow residents.  This is post number two of the Redemption Chronicles.  The theme this week is reflections.

Reflect on your past.

What kind of person did you used to be?

Have you grown spiritually since being at Beit T’Shuvah?

Reflect on your present.

How do you see the kind of person you are today?

Until next time- photoblogger E-Pad!


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