On August 11, ten staff members from JF&CS attended the Spirituality and Wellness Summit, organized by The Wellness Institute, a division of the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute (JLI). The focus of the summit was on decreasing the stigma surrounding mental health, addiction, and recovery in the Jewish community. The day was filled with expert panelists and delicious kosher food, both of which fueled our staff members’ interests to immerse themselves in the conversation.
Session topics included spirituality and the 12 Steps, the role of faith leaders and communities in mental health and addiction recovery, the neurology of spirituality, spiritual tools and techniques used in recovery treatment, personal experiences, emotional sobriety, Jewish mindfulness, and more.
Joel Dworkin is the new HAMSA Program Manager at JF&CS. HAMSA (Helping Atlantans Manage Substance Abuse) provides support, resources, and education for those seeking recovery from substance abuse. Dworkin coordinated with the National Wellness Institute to invite our staff to the summit. He knew how valuable the experience could be for staff members and their clients.
According to Dworkin, “It was amazing to have ten staff from JF&CS attend the Summit. A mix of clinicians, professionals, and advocates. People who don’t often have the opportunity to work together were discussing what they learned at different sessions and coming up with ways to put those lessons to work for our clients.”
Some feedback from our JF&CS attendees:
Rebekah Peltz, Social Media Manager at JF&CS, said, “As a new employee of JF&CS, it’s important for me to understand the struggles our community faces. Hearing first-hand accounts of recovery while at the summit was both inspiring and eye-opening for me. It helped me acknowledge the work I need to do in my everyday life to better serve those around me.”
Alyssa Reynolds, Youth Mental Health Navigator at JF&CS, shared one of many thoughts that they gleaned from the summit: “There was one quote that really connected to my work and desire in my job. ‘Often the greatest gift we can give someone is to listen to them’ -Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. When we take the time to listen and hold space for someone, we give them one of the greatest gifts in life. The world moves so fast, and people often feel so alone and powerless. As we listen and honor each person and their story, we take the time to find the hero in each individual. We use those hero traits to empower each person, strengthening them.”
Elizabeth Kiefer, Marketing Content Coordinator at JF&CS, told us, “There were so many interesting topics to choose from, but my favorite was Spirituality is Simple, led by Mr. Smitty Grinder and Rabbi Eliyahu Schusterman. While I’m not in recovery, I found their discussion relevant and helpful to aspects of my life.”
Julie Zeff, LCSW, CPCC, stated, “I attended a session where I picked up a few new tools along the way, and that reinforced some of the wisdom and tools that I currently use with clients who struggle with anxiety and overwhelm.”
Mira Cohen, Marketing Specialist at JF&CS, felt a personal connection. She shared, “I’m both Jewish and a person in recovery- so every session I attended, really hit home. It’s imperative for the Jewish community to learn about addiction because addiction is a human issue, so that means it’s a Jewish issue.”
In between sessions, staff sat down for a catered kosher lunch, and had a chance to reflect on the morning sessions with other attendees. The hall was full of good company. They had the opportunity to meet others from the Jewish community and catch up with friends from JLI and The Wellness Institute. It was an honor to be in such good company and learn from our peers. Our JF&CS staff was able to walk away with valuable insight and tools that are applicable to the everyday work that we do.
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