In the age of smart phones and internet, your Seder-booking experience is breeze. Yet, those who are in treatment centers may have a hard time experiencing the “freedom” of attending a seder, especially a sober seder.
Now, two local Palm Beach organizations are pitching in to make a difference for the Jewish patients at the treatment centers in Florida’s Palm Beach and Delray areas.
The Jewish Recovery Center (JRC) and The Jewish Federation (JFS)are coordinating with the recovery safety protocols of the local treatment centers to pull off a “Passover miracle” for their patients.
In less than two weeks, they coordinated a Passover seder program to accommodate Jewish individuals in treatment centers who would have been have been unable to make it to a Passover Seder due to the treatment centers’ protocols.
“The best-known quote from the Pesach Haggadah is, ‘why is this night different from all other nights?’ For some, this quote took on a whole new meaning with their journey to recovery from addiction,” said Rabbi Meir Kessler, Director of the Jewish Recovery Center.
According to the JRC, Jewish residents in treatment will have the opportunity to celebrate Passover, the holiday marking the ancient Hebrews’ deliverance from the Egyptians, during a special sober community seder on Wednesday and Thursday evening.
“The fact that a Jewish patient in recovery doesn’t have access to ‘public’ seders will not affect his or her ability to observe the ancient Jewish holiday of Passover,” Rabbi Kessler said.
Jewish members of the recovery community, at large, especially appreciate the Passover story of Moses leading the slaves out of Egypt to freedom.
While most Jews will attend Seders in homes or synagogues on Wednesday and Thursday night, Jewish recovery residents in the Delray and Boca areas will have the opportunity to celebrate their own personal freedom at the JRC sober seder.
“It is very important to those attending when they can learn and maintain a robust spiritual life,” Kessler said. “The Jewish recovery communities appreciate the diligence and attention shown to call-outs and program attendance rosters. They value the JRC and its continual efforts to support the community throughout the institution.”
Like community Seders, the Sober Seder includes questions, reading, eating, and drinking special foods and beverages and other Passover traditions.
Kessler said that the attendees are given Haggadahs, the books which include the highlights of Exodus. Attendees participate in the readings with their friends. Kessler said that on many occasions there are attendees who are celebrating 1 day or 5 years and each one is recognized for their achievement in a welcoming and safe environment.
“There’s something bittersweet about a Seder for someone on the road to recovery. After all, Passover celebrates liberation from captivity, something an individual in recovery longs to experience,” said Sharon, a member of Jewish Recovery Center.
In the past, some attendees hold back a tear at the Haggadah line “Tonight we are all free men,” said Kessler. He said that organizations who send their clients to the seder, hope that “through positive spiritual engagement, the lives of the attendees will improve, and that when they return, they will feel energized to apply themselves to recovery.
Rabbi Kessler is the founder and spiritual director of the JRC whose programs are a key resource for Jewish addicts, their families and the recovery Jewish community in Palm Beach County. Located in the “heart of recovery” for the United States, the JRC has close working relationships with programs and addiction center providing vital spiritual guidance and support.
This report first appeared on the COLlive.com news site.