In recognition of October being National Substance Abuse Prevention Month:

I am joining many other rabbis in our Greater Atlanta area to raise awareness and break taboos of talking about substance abuse in our Jewish community. We feel it is such an important issue that the Atlanta Rabbinical Association is partnering with Jewish Family & Career Services’ new initiative, HAMSA – Helping Atlantans Manage Substance Abuse to make this a community-wide effort.

Last year at Yom Kippur, I spoke at great length about the need for our Jewish community to be more responsive to our congregants facing addictions. Since that time, I have been overwhelmed by the number of people who have been dealing with addictions in their own families – children, parents, spouses and partners. Far more families have been touched than I ever could have imagined. So one hand, I am gratified that we are having this discussion out loud. On the other hand, it shows that there is a lot of pain out there, even in our own Beth Tikvah community.

We have chosen to use this Shabbat because of an episode in the Torah portion, Noach, where Noah survives The Flood and gets drunk. Why is this the image that is given to us? Wouldn’t one expect that Noah would be just grateful to be alive?

There are many things that can bring a person to such self-destructive behaviors. We often say that addictions are a disease, but what they really show is dis-ease. So we are going to talk about faith, hope and God as ways we can find strength, along with issues we need to confront in our community. For additional information about the work of HAMSA, please contact 770.677.9318 or HAMSA@jfcs-atlanta.org / https://yourtoolsforliving.org/hamsa.

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