Recovery from addiction is a holistic experience of well-being, encompassing physical, emotional, and spiritual health and the commitment to maintain and enhance gains in all of these areas.  The Betty Ford Institute, a leader in addiction treatment and education, has defined recovery as a “voluntarily maintained lifestyle composed of and characterized by sobriety, personal health, and citizenship” (Betty Ford Institute Consensus Panel, 2007, p.221).

In this sense, “recovery” is not only for those with histories of addiction but can include all human striving for well-being.  Many of us (some would say most of us) struggle with compulsive behaviors to soothe painful feelings that can lead us into difficulties with our responsibilities and relationships.  Therefore, recovery can be for anyone. 

The wisdom in addiction recovery traditions have much to teach.  Individuals and families in recovery and Jewish communal organizations play a critical role in supporting addiction recovery, including those working a recovery program, those who are at risk for addiction disorders and their families, and all community members who struggle with stressors both large and small. 

This resource suggests ways for individuals, families, synagogues, and other communal organizations to incorporate addiction recovery themes into High Holiday observances.  The offerings begin with Elul and continue through the Yom Kippur break-fast and include ways to integrate recovery language and concepts into Jewish practices through the inclusion of recovery speakers, special readings and kavanot (intentions), topics for Divrei Torah, and 12-Step Torah study sheets.  We hope this resource guide inspires you and/or your community to be inclusive of those in recovery, those at risk, and everyone who strives for greater wholeness.  We at JCFS Chicago addiction resources are here to assist as you consider how you might integrate these practices. 

A note on suggested readings and prayers

Throughout this guide, readings and prayers referencing addiction recovery are suggested for inclusion during the High Holiday period.  Prayer leaders in homes and synagogues may consider asking those who are in addiction recovery to read passages during meals, study sessions, or prayer services.  Allies of those in recovery (loved ones, friends, or any supportive individual) might also be asked to take this role.  Members in recovery and their allies can often be identified by putting out a request to one’s social circle or via social media, newsletters, and emails: simply ask those in your networks and communities to volunteer as readers.  Alternatively, individuals and congregations might invite Jews in addiction recovery outside of current circles to participate in services or meals.

Often individuals in addiction recovery will share their personal story of recovery if asked; such candid and inspirational sharing is a powerful addition to any setting.  JCFS Chicago addiction resources is happy to provide assistance with identifying volunteers from within or outside your communities. 

JCFS Chicago gratefully acknowledges the contributions of Rabbi Rob Jury to many elements of this High Holiday Addiction Recovery Guide.

View our High Holiday Addiction Recovery Guide


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