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The Slaves Among Us

When an addict hits bottom and the stark choices of recovery or death are before him, he is offered an opportunity to start again and end the enslavement of addiction. Starting again takes tremendous courage and experts have shared that a recovering addict must take life one day at a time. Some addicts do not make the transition to recovery and face all the consequences of addictive behavior.

Each day is one day. Ask a recovering addict how long he or she has been “sober”? For those who are new in recovery, the answer might be from the time they woke up that day until that specific moment. Each day is an opportunity to change the people, places and things that triggered the addictive behavior. Often there are relapses. Each day is an opportunity to make amends and to rebuild trust.

Jews in recovery know about being slaves and also know that they could not be redeemed into recovery without help. Like the Hebrews who’s God rescued them and brought them from slavery to freedom on the first Passover, our God, or as they say in 12-Step programs, our Higher Power, does not abandon these suffering people. Each person has a direct connection to God without intermediaries and He hears our genuine calls for help.

Also, as God’s partners, men and women, many of whom in recovery themselves, offer daily spiritual guidance and strength as sponsors to help others in recovery. The path to freedom in recovery is not easy and often quite painful as the addict must spiritually face who they really are and the pain they caused to others.

Every year, on the anniversary of the first Passover night, three thousand years later, family by family, we gather to tell the story of the Exodus and re experience the journey from slavery to freedom. By reciting the words of the special liturgy, the Haggadah, we eat special foods and adding our unique family contribution to the Biblical account,\.

We attempt to spiritually connect ourselves to the enslaved Hebrews, transform ourselves and in freedom, become the people Israel, with hope for the future under God’s protection. I have often heard the stories of addicts and their recovery at my Sedarim. Their personal journey truly reflects the path from slavery to freedom, a message we all need to hear on Passover.


Rabbi Dr. Eric M. Lankin is a Jewish communal professional whose doctorate in pastoral counseling focused on the issue of Jews and recovery from addictions. He lives in Highland Park, NJ. He may be reached at

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