July 19, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

‘Freedom Song,’ a Transformative Play About Addiction, Comes to New Jersey

With the enthusiastic support of the Eric Eliezer Levenson Foundation for Hope, headed by Eta Levenson and family of West Orange, in addition to 12 local synagogues and the JCC of MetroWest, Jewish Family Service of MetroWest and the Joint Chaplaincy Committee of MetroWest, “Freedom Song,” a transformative play about addiction, will be performed twice in New Jersey.

On Thursday evening, November 2, the JCC of MetroWest will host the 50-minute play featuring a cast of young, recovering addicts. On Sunday morning, November 5, a second performance of the unique play will be held at Temple Emanu-El of Westfield, New Jersey. Admission is free and each performance will be followed by a Q&A session and an opportunity to speak with the actors and their facilitators. Reservations in advance are requested.

For Lisa Lisser of South Orange, this event is personally meaningful and groundbreaking. For Lisser, a lay leader at the Greater MetroWest region where she also serves as VP of education, her participation in a five-day immersion program for Jewish educators at Beit T’shuvah in Los Angeles was remarkable. It was during this program that she first saw a production of “Freedom Song.”

Founded by Harriet Rossetto, wife of the facility’s spiritual leader Rabbi Mark Borovitz, Beit T’shuvah is a residential center with a capacity to serve over 100 adults ages 18 and over who are recovering addicts. With no limitation on time spent in the program, which can span from two to nine months, the faith-based healing program integrates spirituality, psychotherapy, Jewish teachings and the 12-steps approach. In 2005, the Music in Recovery component of the program wrote an original musical they called “Freedom Song.” The play, performed by current residents of the program in recovery from drug, alcohol, gambling and other addictions, interweaves a Passover seder with personal stories of addiction. The play draws parallels between being a slave in Egypt and being a slave to your addiction. The underlying question throughout the play is “What are you a slave to?”

For Joyce Lichtman and her husband, Marty, the play has a personal and uplifting significance. When their son Benjamin was struggling with addiction five years ago, the Lichtmans were directed to a performance of “Freedom Song” in Morristown, New Jersey. Blown away by the message of the play as well as the fact that the actors were all successfully recovering from their addictions, the Lichtmans were able to enroll Benjamin at Beit T’shuvah in Los Angeles. During his treatment, the Lichtmans saw firsthand the innovative and successful approach of the program. Now recovered, Benjamin will be acting in the MetroWest performance. “We have come full circle,” said Joyce.

Lisser, Levenson and the Lichtmans, and others in the community, were successful in recruiting 12 synagogues to underwrite the local performances. In addition to the major donation by The Eric Eliezer Levenson Foundation for Hope, each synagogue contributed $500 to the performances. The hope is that both performances will attract large audiences and that from within these audiences many will be inspired to seek help for themselves or members of their families struggling with addictions.

To register, please contact Valerie Samuel at [email protected] or call 973-929-3107. You can also visit https://form.jotform.com/72814370858161.

By Pearl Markovitz

 

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