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Rabbi's Shabbat Message

Rabbi Lauren's Video Holiday Message




Shana Tova everyone and happy National Recovery Month! 

August 31st was International Overdose Awareness Day. I hope you've heard this already from myriad other Jewish and mental health organizations that you follow. It is also almost Rosh Hashanah AND National Recovery Month, so I want to take this opportunity to reflect on Unetaneh Tokef, the fifteen hundred plus year old words we recite on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur:

וּתְשׁוּבָה וּתְפִלָּה וּצְדָקָה מַעֲבִירִין אֶת רעַ הַגְּזֵרָה

U'teshuvah u'tefillah u'tzedakah ma'avirin et roa hagzeirah

Unetaneh Tokef asks who will live and who will die this year, and posits that teshuvah (repentance or turning anew), tefillah (prayer), and tzedakah (charitable giving or just actions) can avert EITHER the severity of the decree or the decree itself, depending on whose translation you are reading. How does this relate to a drug overdose? That depends on whether you read this as an addict or as someone tangentially connected to recovery.

For those of us actively dealing with or in recovery from addiction, we always have the ability to make amends, pray for direction or beg for a reprieve, and give of ourselves to help others. Every day, every moment is an opportunity for redemption. We will always be addicts, but the severity is averted by recovery.

For all the Normies (like goyem but for alcoholics and addicts), you too can help avert the severity of jails, institutions, and death that most of us will face. You can offer loving support to a child, parent, friend, or partner dealing with addiction. You can help them find treatment, a therapist, a support group, housing, a job, a meal, or some positive direction. You can ask your Jewish community of choice to host recovery oriented speakers, or make sure your rabbi knows where to refer someone who comes looking for help. Most of all you can get training to use Narcan (naloxone HCl) to reverse an opiate overdose and save someone's life. We will be offering these trainings in the fall and supplying everyone with Narcan to administer if you see someone overdose. You can save a life, you can avert that decree.

Shana Tova; have a safe and healthy new year. Please enjoy this recording of Unetaneh Tokef from Mishkan Chicago, my old home, composed by Steven Chaitman, a wonderful musician and a friend. On Rosh Hashanah it is written, and on Yom Kippur it is sealed. May no one be written off from the Book of Life, because we are all worth saving.

Joel Dworkin,

HAMSA Program Manager




Sun, September 26 2021 20 Tishrei 5782