After All We’ve Been Through
5778 years. Two temple periods. A cultural heritage spanning continents, empires, and the revision of human knowledge as we understand it. Persecution, hatred, exile… the creation of a state, and the technological revolution. And yet today it seems that the Jewish people face our greatest challenge yet, the ominous juggernaut of addiction.
Though, as we have survived the trouble and triumph of the last 6000 years, we surely will overcome what has wreaked havoc on so many beloved cultures and institutions, the question must be raised. What is the modern Jew doing to combat ignorance and raise awareness in an age where substance use & abuse is paraded by the media, romanticized by popular hero's, and available freely to our children in cities all over the world today?
As a survivor of addiction, I believe that the root of this disease manifests as early as a child is shunned from the problem, as early as the addicted, the sick, and the homeless are omitted from the curriculum of our schools, and as early as we glorify celebrities who take periodic rehab visits. More than ever, this issue deserves to have a voice in our communities, as Jewish children assimilate into a world vast and increasingly dependent on proper education.
Addiction begins similarly, when we refuse to be satisfied with simplicity. The addict needs more, more elegance, faster gratification, a more self- centered lifestyle. We tend to become obsessed with the trappings of materialism. Thus, and when the king calls us before him and offers us a challenge, we seek only momentary pleasure and are thrown from the throne of royalty. We forget that we are the son of a great king. Every recovering addict has experienced this.
We hide the dark side of addiction from our children, dressing them in the fine cloths of blissful unawareness, but we forget that our legacy is one of truth. When our children are educated against the issues of the world around them, they too will desire nothing more, happily naked in a world where jeweled cloths cover the eyes of the ignorant and addicted. This is not an issue we can afford to neglect.
Today, more than ever, I believe that given our strengths, our history, and our communal dedication to persevere, we are poised to turn our greatest challenges into tools of reform for the coming generation. Today, we are ready. Today, I am proud, proud to be a Jewish addict going through recovery, proud to share my experience, strength, and hope.
Just for today.