Because Addiction is a Jewish Problem.

This is a guest post by Betsy Sitkoff, Program Manager of the Jewish Community Health Awareness Initiative (J-CHAI).
Lindsay Lohan. Danny Bonaduce. Amy Winehouse.
We hear about celebrities’ addictions on a daily basis — about how destructive substance abuse is, how it can be prevented, how it can be overcome. But what about the people who are affected in our community? Addiction is a very real issue that affects real people in our lives.
Many people in the Jewish community are very aware of the issue of addiction. Some have experienced it themselves, and many have a family member or friend who has struggled with addiction.
Others have not been exposed to the effects of an unhealthy dependence on substances or compulsive behavior; they might think addiction doesn’t exist in the Jewish community. It’s my job to tell them – and you – that addiction is an issue that affects Jews.
On Tuesday, Aug. 17th, an entertaining and educational FREE event will be performed by an organization that raises awareness about addiction in the Jewish community.
Beit T’Shuvah, a recovery program based in Los Angeles, reaches out to Jews who are struggling with a wide range of addictive behaviors. It has become so successful that it has extended its prevention program and created a “Rent”-like musical called “Freedom Song” that has gained national attention.
Freedom Song” aims to educate members of the general community, especially young people, about addiction and recovery. The musical takes the audience on a journey through one family’s struggle with substance abuse. Set during Passover, the plot is the perfect metaphor for the slavery to addiction that many Jews and non-Jews experience.
What makes “Freedom Song” even more powerful is its performers – all of them are current or former residents of Beit T’Shuvah, and many have said that performing in “Freedom Song” has been a life-changing experience.
Please join me for Freedom Song” at 7 p.m. on August 17th at Sabes JCC (4330 Cedar Lake Road, St. Louis Park 55416) to see the performance, and feel free to stick around for the post-performance discussion. Remember, it’s free! And it’s open to people of all backgrounds. Tell your friends!
The performance is co-sponsored by Shirley and Larry Zipkin and their generous friends, Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis (JFCS), and Sabes JCC, and the media sponsor is the American Jewish World.
Viewers rave about the musical:

“The show was unbelievable. I had tears in my eyes watching it …”
“By the end of the play, I realized that we [recovering addicts and Jews] aren’t so different…we have both been enslaved and we both celebrate freedom.” ”Very moving. It brought back a lot of memories.” ”I was always too afraid to discuss what went on behind closed doors in my family. I was ashamed. This play made me feel a lot less alone, like I wasn’t the only one whose family had problems.”

I hope that the music and stories of the performance will wow you and, of course, raise your awareness of this struggle within the Jewish community.
For more information on “Freedom Song” or the Jewish Community Health Awareness Initiative (J-CHAI) contact Program Manager Betsy Sitkoff at 952-542-4833 or [email protected].
J-CHAI includes the Jewish Domestic Abuse Collaborative (JDAC), the Mental Health Education Project (MHEP) and Healthy Youth-Healthy Communities (HY-HC). It is a collaborative program between JFCS and Jewish Family Service of St. Paul.