Posted by Beit T'shuvah
By Michael Soter
There is an ancient myth that states that the act of reading is an enlightening experience. Supposedly, the printed page expands the mind— whether it’s Socrates, the Bible, Ginsberg, or Stephanie Meyer. If I were to try to pinpoint the moment in history when anything written on a page was deemed educational, I would guess that it had to be around 1439. Before then, the written word was reserved for academics, priests, and the nobility. It was a sign of education. So, when Guttenburg developed a Western mechanism that allowed for the mass-production of printed material, the word spread—common people had instant access to what was once reserved for the elite.
This allowed for the popularization of ancient texts and in part, gave rise to the Renaissance—but what once opened the door to Homer has since opened the door to Us Weekly. Meanwhile some parents are still living in 1439 and demand that their children read, believing that this will make them intelligent and cultured.
With the advent of television came a new medium that could be brought into the home. A man named Minow, chairman of the FCC, said in 1961 that television had become a “Vast Wasteland.” Television was defined as a numbing medium.
574 years after Guttenburg and 52 years after Minow, we have an irrational dichotomy that goes something like this: “Books=Good and Television=Bad.”
Instead of looking at the medium, it might be more important to look at the content. I don’t quite see how 50 Shades of Grey is more educational than 60 Minutes. I don’t understand how Twilight can be seen as better for your kids than the latest episode of Homeland. After all, Minow also happened to say, in the very same speech, "When television is good, nothing — not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers — nothing is better.”
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January 30, 2013 | 3:37 pm
Posted by Beit T'shuvah
By Ben Spielberg
I've touched briefly on this issue in the past, but it's something that I see very often today. As treatment professionals, we are forced to indulge ourselves in judgement by picking apart the pieces of our client's sobriety.It's controversial because there is a value in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous: “Don't take other people's inventories.” As recovering people devoted to Living Well, we cannot judge the actions that other people take; our resentments are our own. However, when working in a treatment center, the staff is forced to do the opposite. We analyze confrontations, engage in other people's problems and consume ourselves in eight hour intervals with the stresses of new sobriety.
Sometimes, I wonder if it's justified. No matter the amount of letters after one's name, there are still no qualifications that can accurately portray the plight of addiction into recovery. Even people engaged in their own recovery often forget the perils of withdrawal like clockwork, remembering only glimpses of euphoric recall. In addition, recovering individuals are not “supposed” to take note of the smaller issues in the lives of other people. We are not “supposed” to invest time into the recovery of other people, and we are not “supposed” to confront the newcomers in sobriety.
But we do—and it works. So how do we deal with these conflicting values—the values of saving lives, and the values of protecting AA principles? Maybe we can set up boundaries in order to protect our personal lives from our professional lives. Maybe, we can remember that everyone has a different path in their sobriety. After all, there is no one road to recovery. Right?
January 29, 2013 | 10:45 am
Posted by Beit T'shuvah
By Michael Welch
Enter the accelerator--benzoylmethylecgonine-- a continuation of invigoration. Expeditious-thought with sounds of reverberation and body left debilitated. It’s demonstrating an inability for any shot of stability. Psychosis! It’s perspiration due to locomotion begging to be stationary. It’s defined by incoherence but to it, it seems congruent.
Efforts then lead toward a desire to land; to conduct a chemical homeostasis.
Enter the tranquilizer-- diacetylmorphine-- an immediate bounty. It’s soft in spirit with ties to inclination, inclination to habit. It’s known as the seducer the go-getter for the unaccomplished. It’s the Bobby Frost of fixation, demonstrating the ability to shoot stability. It makes absolutely no sense but the sensation is so so sensible.
Egh… I’ve over-shot, or did I under-shoot. I didn’t mean it. Gosh, I’m not ready to go. When did I become it as it needs to be me and I don’t want to leave, but I’m going to go
Not just yet. It ain’t my turn. I need to make sense of this, let me clean this up. This crooked mind doesn’t excuse my crooked actions, action is a gift and I’m the inventor of the crooked. I’ve been taught that I can put anything I want in front of action, so today it will be my foot, followed by the other one. My redemption begins here; it resembles fight, resistance to devastation. It’s my physiological condition’s Emancipation Proclamation. I’ve put my life on the line for the last time, so now I’m putting my life on the line.
Abaddon! I won’t turn a blind eye. I’ve about-faced . I’m face to face. And I’ll tear you limb from limb if you cross the line. I’m committed to this quest, the Don Quioxte of recovery making a redeemer quixotic. I made my stand, and I swear to G-d, stepping on your throat will be effortless. Why would I pick you up? Where were you when I fell?
January 28, 2013 | 2:22 pm
Posted by Beit T'shuvah
By Yeshaia Blakeney
The Beit T’Shuvah hallways have been an interesting place as of late. What happens when you take a handful of addicts and give them each their own blog once a week? Addicted to Redemption that’s what. If you've been following the Beit T’Shuvah blog, you might be noticing an interesting trend. Many of the blog titles have been provocative and circling around areas where humans are (for lack of a better word) weak. Titles including the words sex, food, marijuana etc.—sounds harmless enough. It's a ploy! They are catering to the lowest, most immature part of you! Don't fall for it! It's like reality TV or cotton candy; seems like a good idea until you’re finished then you have a tummy ache and pink sugar all over your fingers (or pink fingers in your brain with reality tv, (that's a metaphor)). There has been a war inside the offices of Beit T’Shuvah, a war for the most hits on our respective blogs. It started with a ginger friend of mine who shall remain nameless, a crafty salesmen and dubious Irishman who could sell ice to an Eskimo or intelligence to me. Then I got caught up in the competition on accident. Because of my natural charm and charisma, I of course attracted a descent following and unbeknownst to me became a competitor. Then it spread to the younger generation in the prevention office and it even infected our Cantor and Rabbi. The Irishman, the youngsters, (and I hate to say it) but even the cantor and Rabbi will stop at nothing to get your attention and I for one can't participate and intend to keep a steady course on the high road.
In all seriousness I'm all for a healthy competition, but the competition should be about meaning, writing, creativity and ideas, not just about hits and attention. It seems to me what's happening at the Shuv is a reflection of the marketing orientation in our society. No quality, all quantity. Kim Kardashian is one of the most well-known human beings on earth and she has done literally nothing (besides look amazing). But just because I put a provocative picture of her to promote my blog, I’ll win this week’s hit race, pathetic! It is amazing how quick we were all willing to sell our soul for a few quick hits, and it wasn't even crack. Well I am going to make a change. I say we all come together and create meaningful content! Not this pathetic garbage you all have been spewing for a couple of hits once a week. As the most talented writer of us all I would like to validate you by saying you are all equally clever, so enough competition. You all have lost your way, like the Jews in this week’s Parsha wandering in the desert, questioning Moses, wearing him down. I'm not saying I'm like Moses in this metaphor, I'm just saying. You might not all make this transition and not all of you are as wise and have as much sobriety as I do, but I think if we all commit we can stop competing and let our true selves shine for the world to see. It's time to redeem ourselves and get back on track! Addicted to redemption Forever!
January 27, 2013 | 1:21 pm
Posted by Beit T'shuvah
By Rachel Goldman Neubauer
I used to be a really jealous person. I don’t know if that was my nature or if I was conditioned to be that way—growing up as a performer, it sort of seems that competition and jealousy would be things that go hand-in-hand. Either way, I found it hard to be happy for other people’s successes, especially when they were people that I worked with. I haven’t been aware of this part of me in quite a while—or more so, that it had greatly disappeared—until last night. All I knew beforehand was this is a part of me I didn’t like.
I’d like to dedicate this blog posting to Shy Blakeny, who I had the honor of giving his 10th cake to (along with many others) two nights ago at Beit T’Shuvah and whom I work very closely with. He is the one who made me realize this past Shabbat that part of me that I didn’t like has grown and changed into part of me I like. Here was my coworker, my office-mate, my clergy partner, speaking so eloquently of trials and successes…even some things he has that I know that I want. All of me was happy for him. ALL of me. He is someone I am in awe of and there was nothing that I could do but have my heart swell (and kvell a bit) as he spoke. This isn’t a new phenomenon, but perhaps just the first time I ever really noticed it wasn’t the same way I reacted to others’ successes as I did maybe 7 years ago.
I know this past Shabbat was Shabbat Shira and as the cantor, I should probably be talking about music. Yes, there was song and yes, I sang. But Shy was the most ‘musical’ part of Erev Shabbat services to me. Through Shy, I was able to hear the melody of my soul again, and hear at that point that some notes had changed and it was now something I much more enjoyed listening to. It’s nice to know that our own melodies can be re-written, re-orchestrated, tweaked, and enhanced.
January 25, 2013 | 11:02 am
Posted by Beit T'shuvah
By Rabbi Mark Borovitz
I have been reading the newspapers and watching some movies and I am struck by the dissonance between these two media outlets. In the news, we read about the City of Bell and how the leaders raped the city with no regard or remorse. Today I read about a party thrown by CAA at Sundance that seems inappropriate. The Wall Streeters and the Banks too Big to Fail have never really made amends and admitted guilt. No one wants to acknowledge when they have been wrong.
The Congress is too busy blaming each other to get things done. Businesses are trying to crush their competitors with lies, innuendos, corporate spying, and copyright infringements. Non-Profits are afraid to admit failures/weaknesses for fear of losing their funders. The Government, in their wisdom, has limited deductions for charitable contributions on the people who give the most. No one wants to take responsibility!
Yet, three movies that are at the top of the lists—Lincoln, Argo and Silver Linings Playbook—are all redemption stories. In Silver Linings Playbook, the main character finally realizes his wrong. In Argo, the main character forces the Government to follow through and redeem the people who got out of the embassy. In Lincoln, the 13th Amendment is the main thrust of Lincoln’s last months of his life. All of these movies celebrate the Spirit of Redemption. Lincoln and Argo are even based on true stories. Was there subterfuge and deceit to make the ends? Yes! Is this the right way to do things? At first blush, I would say no, yet does the end justify the means? In both cases I have to say it was about saving lives. The Jewish Tradition says that saving lives is the ultimate Mitzvah.
In our world today, we are more concerned about saving our money and our “face” than about saving lives, ours and others. Without Redemption, without T’Shuvah, without admitting guilt we will never move forward and change our ways of living. I am angry that we, the people/stakeholders, allow our Government to engage in rhetoric and gridlock. I am angry that we, the people/shareholders, don’t hold our companies accountable for their failures as well as their successes. I am angry that we, the people/the consumers, watch Argo, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, etc. and don’t say NO to inappropriate behaviors and YES to Redemption.
We have the way, our country was founded on Redemption. Our faith/All faith is founded on Redemption. I am calling on you to join me in making Redemption a movement. Let’s redeem ourselves, let’s redeem others and let us all become Addicted to Redemption so we can all LIVE THE DREAM of God and us!
January 24, 2013 | 1:15 pm
Posted by Beit T'shuvah
By M. Alexander
Last week, Michael Welch, my esteemed colleague and blog-writing rival, wrote about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. He claimed that people wear the label of OCD like a crown, but that the actual disorder is something much more sinister than the desire for cleanliness.
In my line of work, speaking to adolescents, I notice that another disorder is equally over diagnosed—Attention Deficit Disorder. Those who have a difficult time paying attention in school are given Adderall when they’re eight years old. The parents who demand straight A’s from their middle-schooler rush them to a psychiatrist when they get a C in seventh grade Spanish. Parents all think that their kid should be getting A’s, that their child should be able to sit in a classroom for eight hours a day and not get distracted—if this is difficult, it must be the work of a psychological imbalance.
I am not saying that ADD doesn’t exist and I am not asserting that nobody should be medicated for it. It is sometimes necessary and incredibly beneficial. But it is astounding how many kids are given medication at such a young age, how many of my friends continue to use ADD as an excuse for their inability to pay attention during meetings. Let’s be real—paying attention is hard, meetings are boring, and not every kid is meant to get a 4.0 GPA. Your kid might not end up being a brain surgeon, and it’s not because he has a disorder, it’s because he’s just not that good at science.
Maybe we should focus our attention on helping kids pay attention instead of running to pill-peddlers every time things aren’t going perfectly. Here’s a common scenario: kid gets put on Adderall, kid can’t sleep, kid gets put on medication for his insomnia, kid sleeps too much, kid gets put on anti-depressants, kid gets numb, kid starts smoking weed. Now, we have a 16 year old who takes amphetamines to go to school, sedatives to go to sleep, anti-depressants to live, and marijuana to feel. And you wonder why so many young people check into Beit T’Shuvah.
January 23, 2013 | 3:25 pm
Posted by Beit T'shuvah
By Ben Spielberg
1. Five words: “Oops, I made a mistake.” Everybody makes mistakes; not everybody admits it. Be the bigger man. Admit your wrongdoings.
2. Don't just say “sorry.” One of my biggest pet peeves is when people constantly apologize for everything they do—especially if they don't actually change anything after they've apologized. If you are going to say “sorry,” don't do it again!
3. Don't make the same mistake again. Performing the same action repeatedly and expecting the same results is literally insanity. I think that line might even be in the commercial for “Insanity.” Once again, all human beings make mistakes. If you continue making mistakes, you need to do something differently. Don't do it again. Stop it. I said don't do it.
4. Do something nice for other people. I've heard that the world is in a constant balancing act between good and evil. If you can't do much, do what you can to make the world a better place. Give blood. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Donate $18 to Beit T'Shuvah because Ben Spielberg's Blog told you to.
5. Teach. Sometimes, there are things we can't apologize for. We hurt people. We burn bridges. That pain doesn't just go away on its own. Sometimes, the best thing we can do for ourselves is help other people not make the same mistakes we made. Talk to people. Offer advice. Share your experience with the world.
6. Live for t'shuvah. Redemption is unbalanced—one good action doesn't make up for one bad action. It's more exponential, and the best way to truly make the world a better place is to keep doing good things. Don't teach people once; teach them often. Say sorry when you make a mistake, and then don't make that mistake again. Donate $18 to Beit T'Shuvah on a monthly basis because Ben Spielberg's Blog told you to. Your soul will thank you.