By Chris Alvarez
The first ever Beit T’Shuvah Out of Town Family Week recently took place, and my family and I were lucky enough to be able to take part in it. My mother and sister flew over three thousand miles to take part in Beit T’Shuvah’s inaugural family weekend—a weekend that would forever change our lives. Over Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, we took part in family process groups, individual therapy and spiritual learning. Throughout the course of a few days, we were part of a life-changing event that I hope will help many more families in the years to come.
Friday was the first day all three of us were together. The event started out with a group on family dynamics, during which I reaffirmed my notion that my family’s problems aren’t unique. Afterwards I took my mom and sister up the block to the BTS Communications office, which is where I work. I was so proud to be able to show them what I was doing there and introduce them to the people who I work with. Through collaborating, I am finally finding how to use my passion for writing to become self-supporting, something I was proud to show my family who supports me now. That night, Services were so moving that after the weekend, my 20-year old sister asked if I could get her the music from that night and from Saturday services.
Just as services ended Friday’s program, services started Saturday’s events, which included Family Torah Study. Saturday morning services were an experience that I hope to never forget. Having my mom and sister there helped me feel even closer to my higher power. We sang, danced, and prayed together. On Saturday, my sister wasn’t alone in her love for the music; my mom also suggested that for the next Family Weekend that Shy rap more. A little while after services, the cast of Freedom Song performed their innovate musical about addiction and family dynamics. Though I had seen Freedom Song before, it was a different experience seeing it with my family. During the show, I related the characters to my own family, and it was as emotional for me as it was for my mother. With the short amount of free time we had after the performance, my family and I even found time to see the new Batman movie.
Sunday began with a brunch and dialogue for feedback on the weekend, and every family was in attendance. Emotions ran high, my friends’ parents thanked me for being friends with their children, and my mother was able to thank the Rabbi and Harriet for all they’ve done for me.
After this inaugural Family Weekend, my family and I felt like we were pioneers of something bigger, something that will help many others in years to come. Together, my sister, mother, and I were able to form a closer and more meaningful relationship and came to understand how we all play a role in the family. This weekend was the most meaningful thing I have been part of in a long time.