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Jewish Documentary on Addiction to Hold Free Public Screening in Spokane

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Jewish Documentary on Addiction to Hold Free Public Screening in Spokane

Matthew Kincanon | FāVS News

The Spokane Area Jewish Family Services and Temple Beth Shalom will present a free public screening of an award-winning documentary Nov. 4, from 6-10 p.m., that chronicles addiction and spreads a message of recovery.

The film “The Jewish Jail Lady and the Holy Thief” follows the troubled pasts of Harriet Rossetto and Rabbi Mark Borovitz and how they worked together to remove the stigma surrounding addiction. The documentary also follows them as they established the Beit T’Shuvah, a nonprofit addiction recovery center in Los Angeles. Together, over the course of 35 years, they save thousands of lives.

The trailer for the documentary ‘The Jewish Jail Lady and the Holy Thief.” The film follows Harriet Rossetto and Rabbi Mark Borovitz, and their “love story of religious proportions.”

Sheryl Stone, the primary organizer of the event, said Rossetta and Borovitz travel to different places to try to help communities with the serious issues surrounding addiction.

Borovitz, the CEO and senior pastor of Beit T’Shuvah, said the nonprofit began when Rossetto was looking for a mission and prayed to be guided to her rightful work. After seeing an ad for a job in the L.A. Times looking for someone of Jewish culture or background to work with Jewish offenders, she found her calling and got the job. She became a field worker for the Jewish Committee for Personal Services visiting incarcerated men and women in federal state and county penal institutions.

“There was nowhere for them to go when they got out, except back to their old ways and got caught in the vicious revolving door of recidivism,” Borovitz said. “My inspiration was to have a safe haven for Jews returning from penal institutions so they could change.”

Treating the Whole Person

When it comes to the nonprofit’s approach, Borovitz said it takes an integrative approach by treating the whole person.

“Addiction is a disease of body, mind and spirit. Hence any and all treatment has to address all three entities,” he said. “We combined psycho-therapy, spirituality and the 12 Steps of A.A. Every resident has a spiritual counselor, an addiction counselor and a therapist.”

Borovitz said the nonprofit treats every person as an individual and places mission over money. They work to create a community that serves as a healing agent and destigmatize all addictions.

Stone said it is hard for people to get treatment, and when they do the treatment lasts for 30, 60 or 90 days if they are lucky.

Borovitz hopes attendees will take several things with them after the event concludes. He wants them to have hope, commitment to look at themselves, see each person as a fellow traveler, end comparisons to one another and create safe and welcoming spaces for recovering people and their families.

With the problem of addiction getting worse and it coming in many forms, including in Spokane, Stone said there are different approaches to treating addiction that should be explored and that everyone should work as a collective to address it.

She is hopeful that this event will be a solution-oriented discussion and open more pathways for people to be able to connect and bring some things out in the open.

“Communitywide, bring all of the ideas together and let’s make something happen that’s better than what we have,” Stone said.

Spokane Screening

Temple Beth Shalom will host the screening, Q&A and panel discussion. Panelists will include Rossetto, Borovitz, Spokane County Sheriff John Nowels, Spokane Regional Health District Officer Frank Velazquez, Frontier Behavioral Health COO Jan Tokumoto Downing, M.Ed. and Sandra Altshuler, Ph.D., who served as coordinator of the Spokane County Adult Felony Behavioral Health Therapeutic Drug Courts for a decade.

You can register for the event here.

Aside from the film, Rossetto and Borovtiz have written several books about their work: “Sacred Housekeeping: A Spiritual Memoir” by Rossetto, and “The Holy Thief: A Con Man’s Journey from Darkness to Light,” and “Finding Recovery and Yourself in Torah” by Borovitz.

Matthew Kincanon
Matthew Kincanon
Matthew Kincanon is a communications coordinator with a journalism and political science degree from Gonzaga University. His journalism experience includes the Gonzaga Bulletin, The Spokesman-Review, Art Chowder, Trending Northwest, Religion Unplugged and FāVS News. He loves being a freelancer for FāVS because, having been born and raised in Spokane, he wants to learn more about the various religious communities and cultures in his hometown, especially Indigenous communities.

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