In the midst of a major opioid crisis across the country - and across our county - Alpert Jewish Family Service has formed a coalition of agencies and experts to organize a series of outreach, awareness and educational workshops that will focus on helping Jewish families and individuals who are batting substance abuse.
“Substance use disorder is a family disease and it affects our Jewish community, as it does all communities,” said Dr. Elaine Rotenberg, clinical director at JFS. “We realized it is important to offer help that is more focused toward our Jewish faith. There are very limited options like this in our community.”
The coalition will kick off its new program 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. Tuesday, May 22 at Alpert JFS’ main office, 5841 Corporate Way, West Palm Beach, Fl., 33407. Anyone interested in this subject - whether it’s a personal interest or simply a desire to learn about the problem, what programs are available, and what ’s on the horizon with the coalition - is encouraged to stop by for this kickoff event.
However, please RSVP to Peggy Kaplan at 561-238-0258. Program materials will be available, and refreshments will be served.
The idea for the coalition began to unfold about 18 months ago, when longtime Alpert JFS supporter Bob Herzog got a call from an old friend in New York. The man’s son had gotten “mixed up with the wrong crowd,” become an addict, and had just finished a drug-rehab program in Palm Beach County, Herzog remembers.
But when it came time to re-enter the outside world and live with the support and advice of counselors and other recovering addicts, the family could find nothing that recognized Judaism.
Herzog’s friend wanted help his help finding a program for recovering Jews. “I foolishly said, ’No problem,’” Herzog says.
But there was nothing.
The May 22 open house at Alpert JFS will demonstrate how Rotenberg, Herzog and many others are working to change that. The coalition now includes Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County, Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, Retreat. Premier Addiction Treatment Centers, Palm Beach County Substance Awareness Coalition, Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services and, of course, Alpert JFS.
“Right now there’s a void and we’re going to fill that void,” Herzog says. “We’re no different than any other ethnic group when it comes to addiction.”