Jewish Residential Treatment Program for Women to Open This Fall

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Jewish Residential Treatment Program for Women to Open This Fall

Yehudis Litvak

The substance abuse and addiction epidemic has hit the Jewish community hard, with too many heartbreaking cases of fatal overdoses. Addiction treatment programs are life-saving, but most of them are not Jewish and do not accommodate a religious lifestyle. While there are some kosher Jewish treatment programs for men and some mixed-gender programs, until recently there haven’t been any for women only. Mrs. Yael Roizman, a local psychologist, took note of this void and decided to fill it. Working together with the Israel-based psychologist, Dr. Yosef Milstein, Ph.D., she founded Beit Nesicha, a treatment center for English-speaking women ages 17 and above in Kochav Yaakov, Israel. Beit Nesicha is scheduled to open its doors this fall.

Dr. Milstein, Program Director at Beit Nesicha, has worked with kids at risk for many years. Recognizing that there were not enough frum mental health professionals, he trained as a psychologist and gained experience in addiction treatment at his internship, and later job, at the Chabad Residential Treatment Center in Los Angeles. “I gained a lot, and I appreciate and respect the Chabad treatment model,” says Dr. Milstein. “They care about the individual and focus on the person’s recovery.” The Chabad Center has an impressive 70% rate of people staying sober after year, in contrast to 40% average recovery rate in other programs.

However, the Chabad Center only offers its residential program to men. One year, they had an outpatient program for women, and Dr. Milstein saw first-hand the need for a more effective residential women’s program. “It became my mission in life to open a similar program for women,” says Dr. Milstein.

Mrs. Roizman explains that while in the throes of addiction, most people are not particularly observant, but once they experience success in a Jewish environment, many will come back to observance. However, if they seek treatment in a secular program, they are likely to continue leading secular lives. “Why close the door, why give up on Yiddishkeit in order to be healthy?” Mrs. Roizman asks passionately. Providing the women with everything they need to maintain their Yiddishkeit if they so desire, without forcing them into it in any way, is the goal of Beit Nesicha.

Located in a picturesque yishuv with stunning views of Judean Hills, Beit Nesicha will offer a state-of-the-art treatment program, combined with kosher food, Shabbos meals, and spiritual opportunities, such as daily davening and meditation at the site of Mishkan Shilo, where the prophetess Chana had her prayers answered.

There are other advantages of operating the treatment program in Israel rather than in the United States. American programs tend to be tremendously expensive, overwhelming families that have already spent large sums of money in efforts to seek help for the affected family member. Beit Nesicha will be much more affordable. In addition, being away from their familiar environment makes it harder for women to access addictive substances and thus facilitates recovery.

In contrast to American 90-day programs, the Beit Nesicha program lasts a full year, giving each woman an opportunity not only to reach sobriety and lower the risk of relapse, but also to form definite long term plans and take the first steps towards a career goal, such as completing a high school diploma or college courses.

An important component of recovery is building self-esteem, explains Mrs. Roizman. The name of the program alludes to the idea that each Jewish woman is a princess. The women will build up their self-esteem not only through therapy and twelve-step work, but also by volunteering and giving back to the community. The women will be able to volunteer at an old age home, a rescue dog training program, participate in gardening, and plan and cook their own Shabbos meals and invite guests from the nearby community. Equine, art, and somatic therapy will also be available, along with weekly hikes or trips to the beach and special Rosh Chodesh events.

A special focus at Beit Nesicha is on repairing familial relationships which might have been damaged due to substance abuse, mental health issues, or prior dysfunction in the family. The women will be given guidance to “build what was severed,” says Mrs. Roizman.

Beit Nesicha is registered as a non-profit both in Israel and in the United States, and much of its funding comes from private donations. To get involved, or to find out more about the program, please email beitnesicha@gmail.com.