Jewish Social Services of Madison to examine addiction in January | Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle

Jewish Social Services of Madison to examine addiction in January 

Buoyed by a grant, Jewish Social Services of Madison is ramping up its addiction support and recovery services with a new Scholar-in-Residence event this upcoming January. 

JSS has invited Cantor Rabbi Rob Jury, founder and clinical director of the Tikvah Center for Jewish Recovery and Healing in Northbrook, Ill., as the next scholar to speak about addiction to the Madison-area Jewish community on Jan. 26-28, 2024. 

“Substance abuse and addiction are pervasive issues that affect people from all walks of life, including the Jewish community,” Jury said. Pointing out the “unique cultural and religious considerations” of the Jewish faith, he added, “Having addiction services tailored to the Jewish community can help reduce stigma and encourage individuals to seek help within their own community, where they may feel more comfortable and understood.” 

The January weekend will mark the first Scholar-in-Residence event since the pandemic, according to Rabbi Renée Bauer, JSS director of spiritual care and outreach. 

“The Shabbaton with Rabbi Jury is the public launching of JSS’s expansion into addiction work,” said JSS Executive Director Kai Yael Gardner Mishlove. Earlier this year, JSS received a $40,000 grant from the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab at Brandeis University to address the national issue of addiction in the local Jewish community. “This work fits within the mission of JSS,” Garnder-Mishlove continued. “We empower, advocate for and provide social services for vulnerable families and individuals across generations and cultures with a strong commitment to Jewish values.” 

Past Scholar-in-Residence events at JSS have focused on aging, grief and healing. Next year’s focus on addiction aligns with JSS’ latest mission to address the issue in the Jewish community. “There is a lot of stigma associated with substance use disorder,” Garnder-Mishlove said. “It is important that we create programming to reduce this stigma that fits the needs of our Jewish community.” 

As part of the weekend, Jury will lead services and speak at Temple Beth El on Friday evening and then at Beth Israel Center on Saturday morning. In addition, Jury will train JSS staff on how to support people going through addiction and their families, as well as examine specific Jewish spiritual care interventions. 

Bauer says JSS is also working with Hillel to plan an event for students at University of Wisconsin-Madison, though details have yet to be finalized. 

Jury, who founded the center in 2020, began to realize there was a need for faith-based addiction services in the Jewish community after officiating at funerals of young people who had died of overdoses. 

After being called upon to support a family whose teenage daughter was struggling with addiction, Jury was inspired to volunteer at an addiction treatment program during his chaplaincy residency. When he shared about his residency, people he had known for years began to open up about their own personal experiences with addiction and recovery that he hadn’t been aware of. 

The center, which is open to all, often incorporates Jewish teachings and traditions into treatment. Jury hopes the specialized services the center offers – from individual counseling and family support programs to intensive outpatient and partial hospitalization clinics – can also “help raise awareness of addiction issues within the Jewish community and educate individuals and families about the signs, risks, and treatment options for addiction.” 

For those who attend in January, Jury aims for them to leave with the hope that recovery is possible. “Addiction, when left untreated, can be fatal,” he said, urging people struggling with addiction or those around them to be proactive about seeking help. “When we live out our Jewish commitments, we can help people save a life and recover their world.” 

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How to go 

-Friday, January 26, 2024: Temple Beth El at 2702 Arbor Drive, Madison 

-Saturday, January 27, 2024: Beth Israel Center at 1406 Mound St., Madison 

-Free and open to the public 

-Contact Jewish Social Services of Madison for more information: Phone: 608-442-4081. Email: