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 complete well-being. Many of us (some would say most of us) struggle with compulsive behaviors to soothe painful feelings that have the potential to lead us into difficulties with major life responsibilities and relationships. Therefore, recovery can be for anyone. Certainly most of us have room to grow toward greater health and wellness. We also recognize that individuals with hidden challenges like addiction are well served by our community’s growing diversity and inclusion initiatives.
The tools and wisdom in addiction recovery traditions have much to teach, and synagogue communities have a powerful role to play in supporting members in recovery, members who are at risk for addiction disorders, and the broader membership that struggle with stressors both large and small.
This resource for addiction recovery during the High Holidays offers a variety of pathways for the Jewish community to support Jewish people at this holiest time of year. These pathways include ways to integrate recovery language and concepts into Jewish communal 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 your community to be inclusive of those in recovery and everyone who strives for greater wholeness. We at JCFS Chicago addiction services 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 that reference addiction recovery are suggested for inclusion during the High Holiday period. Prayer leaders may consider asking members of the congregation who are in addiction recovery to read these passages during prayer services. Allies of those in recovery (loved ones, friends, or any supportive community member) might also be asked to support Jews in recovery by reciting these readings and prayers. Members in recovery and their allies can often be identified by putting out a call via newsletters, emails, and social media: simply asking members of your community who are in recovery or who are recovery allies to step forward if they would like to volunteer to be readers can be effective. Alternatively, congregations might invite Jews in addiction recovery who are not among the membership to join services to read these passages…perhaps along with telling their personal story of recovery. JCFS Chicago addiction services is happy to provide assistance with identifying volunteer readers from within or outside your community.
JCFS Chicago gratefully acknowledges the contributions of Rabbi Rob Jury to many elements of this High Holiday Addiction Recovery Guide.