Interview with the Recovery Rabbi

February 28th, 2011

Rabbi Yisrael Pinson runs the web site Jewish Recovery, as well his personal blog Recovery Rabbi.  Using these tools, as well as the Daniel B. Sobel Friendship House, located in West Bloomfield, MI, he reaches out to the recovering Jewish community, where he is “dedicated to helping Jewish recovering addicts with their spiritual needs.”

Says Rabbi Pinson, “I started Jewish Recovery to reach out to Jewish Addicts around the world with fresh content that speaks specifically about the concept of Judaism & Recovery as a unit.”

We asked him about his various programs, about the 12 steps, and about the strength those in recovery gain through familiar community and shared faith.

AllTreatment: Your services are fairly unique because you focus so much on spirituality.  Why is this?  What advantages does this approach have over other methods which may disregard this aspect of recovery?

Rabbi Pinson: The most effective programs to address all addictions are 12-step based programs, which are essentially spiritual in nature. It allows for the person to not only recover from a specific addiction, but also to change their lives around, and live more thoughtfully. By infusing the spirituality of the 12 steps with the ancient teachings of the Torah, we empower recovering addicts to continue growing in their spiritual quest.

AT: In what other ways, beyond spiritual help, do you help those in recovery, or do you focus souly on the spiritual aspect of recovery?

RP: Locally, through the Friendship House, and globally through the feedback option on Jewish Recovery, as well as my presence on Facebook and Twitter, I help addicts find the right resources for their recovery. I help people find the right rehabilitation center for their loved ones, as well as connect them with others in their area who have successfully recovered from a similar addiction.

AT: You seem to have a thriving Jewish community around you and your work, “[a] place for Jewish recovering addicts to meet, communicate and support each other in their recovery”.  How does this sense of community, shared faith and support effect the recovering addict?

RP: As many studies have shown, recovering addicts have a better chance of long term sobriety when they recover within their original communities and culture. By helping create Jewish Recovery Communities both online and in cities across the world, we are creating a welcoming places for the newcomer to feel accepted and empowered.Viewpoints: Emotional Sobriety

AT: You are also the Director of the Daniel B. Sobel Friendship House.  How have you been able to share what you have learned here and spread it amongst those who connect with you online?

RP: Our most popular program here, is our weekly Dinner & Learn, where we… eat! and spend some time studying recovery material in the lens on the teaching of Judaism and Kabbalah. Throughout the years we have studied the 12 steps, the “must”s of the Big Book, the Twelve & Twelve, the stories of the Big Book, and now G0d of our Understanding. Those classes are recorded and them uploaded to Jewish Recovery and where recovering addicts around the world can listen and download the classes.

AT: Thank you for taking the time take part in this interview.  Do you have any last thought’s before we close?
RP: As a Rabbi, I am trained to teach and talk. In recovery I finally learned to listen and learn…
S. Cody Barrus
Managing Editor

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