By Beth Fishman, PhD, Manager, JCFS Addiction Services
The Jewish community has come a long way in acknowledging addiction as a significant issue and in supporting community members struggling with addiction and those in recovery. JCFS Chicago and the Chicago Board of Rabbis invite you to continue this forward momentum.
Serenity Shabbat: In Solidarity with Addiction Recovery is an important way to lift the veil of shame and secrecy of addiction and extend support to our community. Serenity Shabbat, during Shabbat Naso 3 June 2023 / 14 Sivan 5783 or another Shabbat of your choosing, is an opportunity for individuals, families, and congregations throughout Chicagoland to celebrate the blessings of addiction recovery.
In Parshat Naso, we find a spiritual basis for living that involves abstaining from intoxicants; the Torah teaches that one of the pathways to be close to God involves abstinence from mood altering substances. JCFS Chicago has created materials to support a rich, meaningful Serenity Shabbat experience.
Here are three ways to support addiction recovery in the synagogue or at home:
Kiddush and Oneg with grape juice instead of wine
Your synagogue can participate in Serenity Shabbat by using grape juice to make kiddush and refraining from serving wine or any other alcoholic beverage during Shabbat Naso. Participating in this way sends an important message that your community is an ally to Jewish individuals and families facing addiction or in recovery.
Adults may choose grape juice over wine for several reasons: designated drivers, medications that interact with alcohol, health concerns, pregnancy, family histories of alcoholism, or simple personal preference. Alcohol consumption is dangerous for some, and this is particularly true for individuals in addiction recovery. As such, non-alcoholic options should always be offered whenever wine is present. In addition, by referencing “fruit of the vine” rather than “wine,” prayer leaders provide a verbal cue that making kiddush does not require the consumption of alcohol.
Tzedakah in honor of Serenity Shabbat
Giving tzedakah just before or on Shabbat is a treasured tradition in Judaism. Serenity Shabbat presents an opportunity to raise awareness about addiction in the Jewish community by directing the tzedakah during Shabbat Naso to support addiction recovery programs.
Recovery Speakers and Stories
Serenity Shabbat is an ideal opportunity to invite community members who have struggled with addiction and their loved ones to tell their stories. If you are interested in having a Jewish recovery speaker, JCFS Chicago addiction services can assist you in identifying someone from within your own community or connect you to someone in the broader community in long term recovery. Speakers focus on the life affirming messages of recovery, share the spiritual gifts they have received in recovery, and give particular attention to the role of Judaism in their recovery journey. You might also post Jewish recovery stories on your website. Community members can become more effective allies by understanding these diverse journeys.
These are just a few of the many ways that your community can observe Serenity Shabbat. For more ideas, please visit the Serenity Shabbat Resource Guides for synagogues and for the home. In this way your community helps to send the message that addiction is a Jewish concern, that recovery is possible, and that the Jewish community cares.