Founded in 1987 by Harriet Rossetto, with a grant from FEMA and a loan from the Jewish Community Foundation, Beit T’Shuvah began as a transitional home for Jewish inmates. Harriet’s initial dream was to provide a community of healing that would allow Jewish convicts to successfully integrate back into society. Soon after its beginnings, Rabbi Mark Borovitz joined alongside Harriet to help transform Beit T’Shuvah for years to come. With the unconditional support of community members, including a dedicated Board of Directors, Beit T’Shuvah has grown far beyond its original purpose. Beit T’Shuvah is now primarily an addiction residential treatment center with 125 residents in primary care and 50 residents in extended care. There are no other Jewish residential treatment centers in the United States whose mission is to guide individuals and families towards a path of living well, so that wrestling souls can recover from addiction and learn how to properly heal. The Beit T’Shuvah faith-based model, founded on authenticity and wholeness, integrates spirituality, psychotherapy, Jewish teachings, the 12 Steps, and the creative arts. Beit T’Shuvah has always been considered unique. It is differentiated from any other Jewish organizational model in that it combines the following three elements:
- It is an addiction treatment center.
- It is a synagogue.
- It applies an integrated treatment and team approach.
After 30 years of experience, wisdom, and knowledge of addiction, especially in Jewish light, the Elaine Breslow Institute for Addiction, Prevention and Family Education was formed, which partners with, and offers programs for, spiritual leaders, clinicians, educators, parents, and invested community members who address the overt and covert aspects of addiction and its subsequent destructive and compulsive behaviors and thinking. When the institute came to be, there was no person better to name it after than Elaine Breslow—Elaine was a pioneer. In 1990 she “came out” as the parent of an addict and chaired the first conference on addiction in the Jewish community called, “The Not-So-Secret Secret of Addiction in the Jewish Community.” Rabbi Mark Borovitz and Harriet Rossetto attended the conference and were so inspired by Elaine’s honesty and courage, that they invited her to visit Beit T’Shuvah.
At that time, Elaine was a lady of leisure living in Bel Air, and Beit T’Shuvah was a run-down house in a gang-ridden neighborhood. Nonetheless, she showed up and showed interest in starting The Family Program at Beit T’Shuvah, helping other parents “come out” and overcome their shame and denial of having an addicted child.
Elaine, Mark, and Harriet worked together for over 20 years building Beit T’Shuvah. They were known as “the big three” by the residents. Unfortunately, Elaine passed away in 2011. Left behind was her heart, soul and all of the work she did to help build Beit T’Shuvah. Her legacy continues to run through the Institute, as we strive to help people find wholeness within.