The Jewish community has come a long way in acknowledging addiction, supporting those who have struggled, and uplifting those in recovery. JCFS Chicago and the Chicago Board of Rabbis invite you to continue this forward momentum. Serenity Shabbat: Raising Awareness of Addiction and Recovery is an important way to lift the veil of shame and secrecy of addiction and extend support to our community. On Serenity Shabbat, during Shabbat Naso or another Shabbat of your choosing, individuals, families, and congregations throughout Chicagoland honor the struggles of those facing addiction and celebrate the blessings of addiction recovery.

What is addiction?

Addiction has been defined as a chronic, relapsing, potentially fatal, brain-based disease.  The disease of addiction has biological, psychological, sociological, and spiritual elements and can impact all parts of one’s life.  Addiction has many origins and comes in many forms, including alcohol and other drugs as well as behaviors such as gambling, gaming, exercise, work, sexual behaviors, pornography, shopping and spending, and social media use.  Some have characterized addiction as “an equal opportunity destroyer” in that anyone can be at risk and all members of a family and community can be affected.

What is recovery?

While abstinence or sobriety can be defined as ending one’s engagement with an addictive drug or behavior, recovery is much broader.  Being in recovery is healing one’s life, across all elements that addiction can damage.  Foremost among these elements are one’s relationships to loved ones, to oneself, and to the Holy.

What is Serenity Shabbat?

Serenity Shabbat:  Raising Awareness of Addiction and Recovery is a time to honor the struggles of addiction and celebrate the blessings of recovery throughout Chicagoland on Shabbat Naso. 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 and behaviors.  

Observing Serenity Shabbat can take a variety of forms such as:

  • using grape juice instead of wine to make kiddush
  • incorporating recovery-related prayers and readings
  • mentioning those facing or lost to addiction during healing and memorial prayers

JCFS Chicago addiction services has created materials for these and many more Serenity Shabbat observances to support a rich, meaningful experience.

View our Serenity Shabbat Resource Guides

We encourage you to honor the struggle of addiction and celebrate recovery in the Jewish community on another Shabbat if Shabbat Naso is unavailable, as many parshiot are amendable to recovery themes.

Communication Considerations on Serenity Shabbat

It is important to consider how we refer to people facing addiction and those in recovery. Person-first language places the person before other identities, particularly those that are potentially stigmatizing.  Examples of person-first language include “a person with an addiction” or “a person in recovery.” There is an online Addiction-ary for those interested in engaging with the most current usages in the Recovery Community. 

Please contact Dr. Beth Fishman, Program Manager of Addiction Services at JCFS Chicago for more information or with questions during your planning process.

JCFS Chicago and the Chicago Board of Rabbis are partnering to promote Serenity Shabbat in the Chicagoland Jewish community.

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