The disease of addiction is as much an issue among Jews as it is among any religious or ethnic groups. In order to address this problem, the Jewish community needs to embrace alcoholics and drug addicts. They are our relatives, our friends, our colleagues, and even our leaders. Judaism is not only for the well; it is also for the sick. The Jewish community can be a source of strength and hope for those struggling with alcoholism and addiction and those touched by it. But first we need to open our eyes to the disease and become sensitive to the suffering that it causes. (Sentiments expressed by Rabbi Paul Steinberg in his book, Recovery, the 12 Steps, and Jewish Spirituality: Reclaiming Hope, Courage & Wholeness (2014)).
In fulfillment of her Rabbinic Ordination at the Academy for Jewish Religion in Yonkers, NY, Rabbi Ellie Shemtov wrote a thesis entitled, “Beit Yosef, a Sacred Space for Healing from the Disease of Addiction.” As the ex-wife of an alcoholic who subsequently passed away from this disease, Ellie understands the need for a facility like Beit Yosef. As a result she has spent the past three years exploring the possibility of making her thesis a reality.