At Beit T’Shuvah, the word “community” has become synonymous with helping people. We have all seen the change in individuals simply because of the caring hand of others. One by one, we lift each other up. To be someone who seeks out a life of helping others is a strength that should never be ignored. Jade Carter, a Beit T’Shuvah Spiritual Intern, has sought community, been healed by it, and is now working to give that gift to others.
Jade wasn’t always a Rabbi-In-Training. Rabbinical school is long, but not THAT long. She used to just be a valley girl trying to find her purpose. For a long time, that purpose seemed like it was sports. Her team became her family. Once she realized that she could find that sense of safety in sports, she signed up for every team she could. Eventually, she was participating in every extracurricular activity she could—anything to not have to be in the tornado of drama that was her home life.
A kid growing up in a troubled household loses their childhood fast and that is exactly what was happening to Jade. “Something that really saved me was going to Jewish sleep-away camp.” For the first time in a while, she could take a breath and actually be a kid again. At this camp,, she made friendships that are still as strong today as they were in the cabins. While there, she even befriended a camp counselor named Jessica Fishel—yes, the very same Jessica Fishel who would later work in Beit T’Shuvah’s prevention department. Small world!
Once the air chilled, the leaves fell from the trees, and Jade’s summer of fun ended, it was time to back to school—and back to her home life. Just like before, she spent high school jumping into after-school activities. This is where she discovered her passion for art which would later lead to her majoring in art and graphic design at the University of Redlands.
College is a time for fun, self-discovery, and light boozing. For Jade, it was anything but. She traded in fun for depression, self-discovery for mental anguish, and light boozing for heavy drinking. “It is a small town and there isn’t much to do. So, my pastimes became binge drinking, making art, and being sad.” Her depression led to her struggling in school and “graduating by the skin of [her] teeth.”
After Redlands, she returned home to begin an era she aptly calls her “lost 20s.” She started working five jobs and burnt the candle at both ends. Still, she sought that community feeling she had been missing. Only this time, she looked to work to get it. Looking back on when in her life she was the happiest, Jade got a job working for the camp she once attended and then later became an assistant Jewish day-school teacher. Clearly, immersing herself in Jewish communities brought comfort and support. After the first year, she found love and enjoyment in teaching so she decided to get her full teaching credentials.
Just because Jade’s life was back on the right track didn’t mean everything was apples and honey. She still had yet to find a way to put down the bottle. After making friends with someone who was in recovery, she got a glimpse into what that life could be like—planting the seeds for her future sobriety. After a lot of work and a 90-in-90 (90 meetings in 90 days), she finally started to feel happy with her life and herself. Her relationship with the man that would later become her husband became more authentic and personal. She was becoming Jade again. Through it all, she rediscovered her love of helping others.
As the hard worker she is, Jade decided to get her master’s degree—but even that wasn’t enough. “I figured, if I am going to graduate school, I might as well go to Rabbinic school.” Who amongst us wouldn’t figure the same? So, she started attending Hebrew Union College where she is now in her fifth year. After seeing a performance of Freedom Song and talking to Jessica Fishel, she knew that, once it was time for her to become a Rabbic intern, she there would be no better fit than Beit T’Shuvah. “In my rabbinical school interview, I mentioned that I was really interested in working with sober people and addicts because I know they need it. So, being at Beit T’Shuvah has been incredible. I feel like I don’t have to fraction any part of myself.”
It has been two years since Jade started her internship at Beit T’Shuvah and you’d be hard-pressed to find a resident that she hasn’t positively affected. She knew she wanted to work in pastoral care and helping to heal, as we so often say, broken souls. “That is always the kind of work I have wanted to do and I get to do all of it at Beit T’Shuvah.” Jade’s passion for our organization cannot be measured. “There are many Jewish organizations and communities that commit to social justice, to Tzedakah, to community, but out of all of them, I think Beit T’Shuvah is doing it the best. It serves not just the Jewish community but communities that have been rejected or forgotten.”
At Beit T’Shuvah, Jade has found the community she was always searching for. Her safe home. She gives her all to every and anyone who needs that extra bit of love and guidance. The itch for service, that for most of her life she just couldn’t reach, has been scratched within our walls. There is no doubt in my mind, or the minds of anyone who has ever interacted with her, that she is going to make an excellent Rabbi. Everyone needs a helping hand, from time to time, and Jade’s arm is always extended because she knows that “community” is an action.