UJA: Why T’Shuvah Center?

Rabbi Igael Gurin-Malous:
A shocking 12 percent of all New York State residents above age 11 suffer from addiction each year. In 2017, in New York City alone, someone died of an opioid overdose every six hours. This rate doesn’t account for any other addiction-related overdoses.

T’Shuvah Center's spirituality-based model for those suffering from addiction is founded on action, authenticity, and community. Our mission is to provide addicts with the opportunity to build a community for recovery using a model that integrates Jewish wisdom, text, and ritual; psychotherapy; the 12 Steps; and spirituality.

What kind of treatment does T’Shuvah Center offer?

Our core recovery team comprises of three people: a spiritual counselor, a recovery coach, and a therapist.
We offer recovery care, with a comprehensive six- to nine-month residential recovery program. Family engagement and therapy are core part of the recovery process.

We also train and prepare clergy and Jewish educators to better support those in our community suffering from addiction, which includes creating curricula and conferences. Finally, we engage with the broader Jewish community to help erase the stigmas of addiction and implement practices to best support individuals in every stage of recovery.

What makes T’Shuvah Center’s model of care unique?

The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It’s connection. At T’Shuvah Center, we aim to create opportunities for people to connect and rebuild their lives. Our core curriculum consists of skill-building and life skills classes. Some examples include relationship mending and building, recovery in the workplace, art, cooking, creative writing, meditation, music, theater, yoga, and anger awareness and relapse prevention. Clients also engage in Jewish study, spirituality groups, and Shabbat programming.

T’Shuvah Center’s program is based on a model used at Beit T’Shuvah, an extraordinarily successful 30-year-old recovery community in Los Angeles, California. I formerly served there as the director of Spiritual Counseling, and I’m eager to bring this proven method to New York.

Why is it important to have a Jewish space dedicated to this work?

Just as the Jewish community takes care of the elderly, the poor, and the sick, we also must take care of those who are struggling with addiction. Our traditions and texts have a lot of wisdom to offer. Judaism can fill people’s lives with meaning and community, and that is a core piece of recovery. We also help bring awareness to the fact that Jews, like anyone else, can suffer from addiction. This makes it easier for those who are suffering to seek meaningful help and recovery.

How do you see T’Shuvah Center evolving in the next five years?

T’Shuvah Center will become a staple of the New York Jewish community. We hope that we will reach a point where no one will feel “less Jewish” because of their addiction. In addition to serving residents and their families, we will have created curricula and be running conferences so that there is much greater awareness about how to help people struggling with addiction throughout our entire community.

There will also be a community of T’Shuvah Center alumni fully engaged in and welcomed by the Jewish community, whether it’s in JCCs, synagogues, Moishe House, or Repair the World.

For more information, please contact David Newman, Chief External Affairs Officer, at dnewman@tshuvahcenter.org or 347.706.0958

1 NY State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS)
2 New York City Department of Health