JACS is a program for Jewish people and their families battling addiction. Rather than segregating the two, JACS guarantees that people suffering from addiction could grow and recover alongside their family members by going through the process together. Along with help, JACS offers other services through its support groups. It also provides addiction counseling and education on the disease of addiction to Jewish community members.

Their primary goals:

  • Encourage and help Jewish alcoholics or chemically dependent people, as well as their families, friends, and acquaintances, to seek addiction rehabilitation in a supportive Jewish atmosphere.
  • Increase understanding and awareness of the disease of addiction as it affects the Jewish community.
  • Serve as a resource center and clearinghouse for information on the impact of alcoholism and drug addiction on Jewish family life.

The Purpose of JACS

One of JACS’s most significant successes as an organization has been the de-stigmatization of addiction among Jews and the replacement of negative ideas with more realistic and constructive ones.

Myth: Jews do not consume alcohol or drugs.

Reality: Alcohol and drug addictions do not discriminate; they impact Jews just as much as any other group!

The guilt and humiliation caused by this false and destructive notion prevent many Jews from finding the help they require and deserve.

JACS’ purpose is to dispel myths and empower people and the Jewish community to successfully treat addiction where it exists and prevent it where it does not. It offers a supportive network of Jews who have successfully recovered from addiction and codependence, as well as the community professionals, clergy, and educators who assist them. JACS is a Resource Center where individuals, families, groups, and community institutions may go for helpful, reassuring information and links to the “recovery tools” that have helped thousands of people in our network.

JACS is a unique gathering place where Jews from all walks of life may come together in a spirit of Achdus (Unity) to join forces in conquering the plague of addiction.

JACS Traditions

  • Anonymity is the Spiritual Foundation of All Our Programs
  • Live and Let Live
  • Take What You Like and Leave the Rest

In general, Jews have a propensity to keep emotional issues within their families private, and they frequently resist getting assistance for drug addiction out of fear of being exposed and shamed. JACS wants the Jewish community to recognize that addiction, whether to alcohol, drugs, or medications, is an ailment that can only be cured with the aid of expert treatment.

JACS also offers retreat weekends to give opportunity for serious spiritual gatherings, Shabbat celebrations with like-minded people, and forums for rabbis and rabbinical students to address themes of recovery and Judaism. Local JACS organizations have emerged in many areas to raise community awareness, provide information and services, and establish a caring and understanding network for individuals in recovery and their families.

JACS, in addition to hosting retreats around the country, sponsors Spiritual Days on select Sundays throughout the year and hosts rehabilitation seminars during peak holiday seasons. JACS members also celebrate Sukkot, Chanukah, and Purim with the same aim of sobriety.

Spirituality and the Jewish Tradition

Judaism’s religious teachings and spiritual traditions provide a framework for rehabilitation and healing. Some individuals incorrectly assume that programs like AA, NA, and PA have a Christian focus and are, therefore, “off-limits” to Jews. That, however, is just not the case. JACS works hard to demonstrate to other Jews that none of these 12-step programs are centered on a particular faith but rather on a “higher power” that can be applied to any religious background, including Judaism. Members of these groups are allowed to pray to any God they believe in; while others read prayers from their own liturgy during the sessions, Jews are free to recite any prayer from the siddur. (Jewish prayer book).

The anonymous fellowships’ 12 Steps are extremely consistent with Judaism and the self-growth paradigm given in Jewish literature. The Jewish paradigm is based on personal development in three areas: physical, emotional, and spiritual. Each of these areas may be nourished and strengthened via Jewish tradition observance, worship, and prayer, as well as involvement in 12-Step groups.

Judaism also teaches that a person must succeed in three continuing relationships: with himself, with others, and with God. All of this is taught throughout 12-step meetings and is the basic foundation of programs like AA, NA, and PA. JACS has achieved progress by conducting more of these sorts of fellowship gatherings in synagogues rather than Christian churches in an effort to mainstream the practice and establish a network for Jews who attend these events.

The History

In 1978, Jewish AA members were asked to join the newly formed UJA-Federation of the New York Task Force on Alcoholism, including professionals and leaders. They were able to give the disease “a name and a face” in a way that the Jewish community had never seen before. The Task Force had an original plan: conduct a weekend retreat for recovering alcoholics, addicts, and family members – a type of spiritual homecoming — a unique merging of Jewish tradition with 12-step recovery philosophy, for the first time anywhere.

That weekend in 1978 marked the beginning of JACS, a new self-help/mutual support movement of recovering Jewish people empowering themselves, speaking to their communities, and advocating for services on behalf of addicted Jews and families.

JACS has been the leading voice for alcoholic and chemically addicted Jews and their families for almost three decades. JACS has been a program of JBFCS (Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services) and a fundamental component of its Rita J. Kaplan Jewish Connections Programs since 1992.

Find a Recovery Program

Addiction is a condition that affects individuals of many faiths, including Judaism. Some Jewish people may discover that in order to effectively recover from drug misuse, they require a religiously based support structure. For people of the Jewish religion dealing with addiction, a JACS support group can offer counseling, referrals to treatment, and mentors. Contact a treatment provider immediately to discover a JACS affiliate or an addiction treatment program.

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