Profiles in Recovery

Rabbi Mark Borovitz

Rabbi Borovitz invokes his past as a convicted felon and alcoholic to bring people back to God.

Once a mobster, thief and con artist, Borovitz has spent nearly two decades as a changed man in recovery. After a spiritual awakening in prison, he studied to become a rabbi like his brother Neal. Today, Borovitz uses his life journey to mentor Jewish ex-cons and addicts at his southern California treatment center and synagogue, Beit T’Shuvah.

“Without purpose, life is meaningless and addiction is a response to the hopelessness,” he says. “My responsibility is to help each individual soul find their purpose — what makes their soul fill up with spirit and light.”

Day Job:
Senior Rabbi and Spiritual Leader of Beit T’Shuvah; author of “The Holy Thief: A Con Man’s Journey from Darkness to Light” and “Finding Recovery and Yourself in Torah: A Daily Spiritual Path to Wholeness”

What I lost to addiction:
I lost my family for a long period of time. I lost being able to be a father to my daughter in her most formative years. I lost a lot of money and opportunities for growing as a human being. I lost my spirit and moral compass and I dishonored my father’s memory.

My rock bottom moment:
When my daughter wrote me a letter while I was in Prison: “Dear Daddy, I hate you, I am a part of you and when you are in prison, a part of me is in prison and I didn’t do anything to be in Prison.”

Stigma I faced:
Ex-Con and Recovering Alcoholic in getting into Rabbinical School and even now, being accepted as a “real Rabbi”

What worked for me:
At my last arrest (Dec. 1986), I had a Spiritual Awakening. I realized that God was trying to tell me something and I had to sit here until I could figure it out. I also began to study the Torah and pray again as well as studying with the Jewish Prison Chaplain . . . I had to change my ways, follow God’s Path and live a life of Truth, Transparency Love, Kindness and Compassion towards others and myself. I have had a Rabbi/Mentor/Sponsor since Prison and I follow their direction.

Favorite recovery quote:
“Are you sure you are not turning a bad 10 minutes into a whole day?” ~ Clancy Ismuland

Advice to my younger self:
Don’t let your feelings seem like facts. Investigate your feelings before acting on them. Find a mentor and follow their guidance. See each person as a Spark of the Divine, not an object for your use.

Rules I live by:
Care for others, make the interests of others my concerns. Honor the gift of life that God has provided me with. Live in Covenant with God and others.

When cravings come:
I have been blessed by being struck sober. When I get upset, I go to the books and principles I have made my foundation. I call my mentor and gain wisdom and insight from them and put this wisdom into practice.

Best advice for newbies:
Listen, take direction, surrender by allowing yourself to be defeated by a Higher Power/Higher Truth

What I learned about myself:
I am capable, I am a good soul, I have a purpose and God needs me as well as others need me. I am good at what I do and I bring a unique viewpoint to life that can and does serve others.

Thoughts on relapse:
I have been blessed in that I have not had a relapse. I say to people that they have a choice to “fail forward” — learn from their/my mistakes and have a new strategy to respond differently to the stressors that cause relapse.

Proudest moment:
Celebrating my daughter’s birthdays sober and being ordained as a Rabbi

What saves me from myself:
I keep myself “right-sized” and work my program each day. I work with others, I have forgiven myself, I keep studying and praying.

What I value most in recovery:
Connection with God, my soul and others — especially family, friends, wife and daughter.

Shed the Stigma:
If you’re a person in long-term recovery who wants to share your
insights, please contact us at [email protected].