Kiddush Club: Neta's Story
I found out about Chabad Lifeline from my Rabbi.
Before I share my story, you need to understand that I'm a religious Jewish woman. Addiction is a taboo subject in my community. I've never heard anyone talk openly about it.
My husband always enjoyed going out to drink with his friends on Friday nights. I'm not talking about going to bars or clubs. Their hangout was our Shul (Synagogue).
Every Friday night, I would usher in Shabbat (the Jewish day of rest) by lighting candles, and he would leave for prayer services. They lasted about an hour and he always returned home smelling of alcohol. I thought this was normal. Perhaps it is. He wasn't drinking alone.
Part of the Shabbat experience is dining together as a family Friday night at a meal that opens with the reciting of a blessing over a goblet of wine. We usually had guests, and he'd always pull out a fancy bottle to "celebrate" with them.
In the beginning, it was fun. The alcohol loosened him up, and added lively singing and laughter to our table. But as our children grew, his drinking worsened. He would get loud and embarrassing. He started falling asleep in his chair. Over time, his behaviour at the Shabbat table got more and more aggressive.
He also disappeared Shabbat day. Most husbands leave for Shul in the morning and return home following the services for another family meal. He kept arriving later and later in the afternoon. At some point, he stopped coming home altogether. We wouldn't see him until Saturday night. Typically, he would walk in, make his way to his bed, and fall asleep.
Our kids suffered during this period. They were embarrassed. They picked up his slack and it became the norm for my oldest son to lead the Shabbat meals.
During one of the important Jewish holidays, our entire family was in the Synagogue. Most of the community was present. Just before the Rabbi's sermon, my husband left to drink with his friends (they call themselves the "Kiddush Club.")
We were listening to the sermon when we heard slurred screaming. My husband burst in, shouting obscenities at a member of our community. I was mortified. My kids were horrified.
After Shabbat, I called my Rabbi to apologize. We spoke for a bit and he referred me to Chabad Lifeline.
To be honest, I had reservations about Chabad Lifeline. Some of their staff are members of the religious Jewish community. I was worried about my anonymity. I met with Karen and was quickly comforted. I learned that I had nothing to fear. More importantly, I learned about boundaries.
I discovered that I wasn't making a big deal out of nothing, and that my husband's behaviour is not my fault. My path to healing started at that meeting. I didn't even realize how much pain I had been living with.
I learned to put my foot down, and my husband came to Chabad Lifeline for help. This week, he celebrated 10 years of sobriety.
Chabad Lifeline saved my husband, they saved me, and they saved my family. I am forever grateful to them. Please reach out to them if this story sounds familiar. There's no shame in doing so.
One of the heroes of this story is the Rabbi who referred the author to Chabad Lifeline. She reached out to him for a lifeline, and he knew what to do.
On May 13, we will be holding a half-day symposium for educators and leaders of the religious Jewish community, funded by a Jewish Community of Montreal's Nova Grant. If you would like to help or to find out more information about the symposium, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that names and certain identifying details in this account have been altered to protect the anonymity of those involved in this story.