Monday, October 13, 2014

From "Repentance" to "Recovery" - a rare NYC performance of Freedom Song

My friends,

The performance of Freedom Song that we’re hosting this Sunday at Emanu-El rises to such a high level, in my estimation, that I feel I need to share it with as many people as I can – and especially, to my friends who are parents of teens, or who work with teens.

I’m pasting the email I sent to the Emanu-El community below. If you are unfamiliar with the work of Beit T’Shuvah, I think you will be amazed to learn about it. Please help me spread the word about this program, and perhaps I will even see you (and your family?) there. Tickets can be purchased on-line at Further, a private session just for educators and youth workers will be held at 3pm; for details email me at

With love,
We went to teen high holiday services, we told the eScapegoat about the things we did wrong...what now?

As I am now in my eighth year at Emanu-El, I have for the first time in my professional career seen the students I met as children grow to be teens and young adults. I couldn't be prouder of the responsible and capable people that you have become and are becoming. Further, I am inspired by the caring and thoughtful parents in this community as I think about how I am striving to raise my own (still little) children.

And, as someone who grew up in NYC, I am very aware of the kinds of challenges with which we teens, young adults, and parents struggle. There is a lot of pressure to succeed and to fit in, and it frankly doesn't get any easier as you get older, it just changes shape.

Which is why it was so important to me, when I first learned of the work of Beit T'Shuvah and their musical Freedom Song that we bring it from Los Angeles to New York City. Beit T'Shuvah is a residential treatment center that approaches addiction and other self-destructive behaviors through Jewish wisdom. Freedom Song, written by residents in recovery, parallels a Passover Seder, with its message of liberation from oppression and internal bondage, with a 12-step meeting. Why? Because, as their Rabbi Mark Borovitz, writes:

"Addiction can happen in every family, no matter what religion they practice and despite any facade of normalcy. If you look at all the things we're addicted to, it's not just drugs, alcohol and gambling - it's a way of living that's become so ingrained in people. We're living in a society where we've forgotten what's important about being Jewish, about what we've brought to the world."

Freedom Song will be performed live on-stage here at Emanu-El on Sunday, October 19th. Doors are at 5pm and the performance at 5:30pm, followed by a talk-back with the cast and then breakout discussion groups led by the performers and our educators. Tickets are $18 and can be purchased through our website, I hope you will be able to join me. This event, run in partnership with the Temple Emanu-El Skirball Center, is open to the general public - so please tell your friends!

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