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Jews Are Not Immune:

Exploring Addiction and Mental Health

February 12-15, 2018

on the ReplyAll Platform

Mental illness, trauma-related issues, and addiction are believed to be as common in the American Jewish community as in the rest of society, yet there are limited faith-based resources within a Jewish framework. Jewish faith centers are much less likely to host 12-Step and recovery based programming than their Christian counterparts​, and ​m​any Jews believe traditional substance abuse treatment programs, like the 12 Steps program, have overtly Christian tones​. Discomfort or alienation in those environments can serve as an impediment to treatment.​ How do we as a Jewish community support individuals and families impacted by substance abuse and mental health issues, and how do we increase dialogue around addiction and mental health issues within the Jewish community? Tune into JOFA's blogcast throughout the week of February 12th as we host Jory Hanselman of BaMidbar Wilderness Therapy, Marla Kaufman of the Jewish Addiction Awareness Network, Miriam Ament Forman of No Shame On U, and Efrem Epstein of Elijah's Journey to explore these important questions. Panelist bios below. Blogcast will be available at

Efrem Epstein

Efrem Epstein is the founder of Elijah's Journey, a 501c3 focused on Suicide Awareness/Prevention in the Jewish community and a member of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention's Faith Communities Task Force.  He lives in NYC and is the CMO of WalkThru, Inc.   His blood type is also his mantra: BE POSITIVE!!

Miriam Ament

Miriam Ament is the Founder and President of No Shame On U, a non-profit dedicated to eliminating the stigma associated with mental health conditions and raising mental health awareness in the Jewish community and beyond. She has a B.A. in American History from Barnard College, Columbia University and an M.A. in Organizational Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University. She was a recipient of the JCC PresenTense Chicago 2014 Fellowship and, in 2016, earned her Certificate in Jewish Leadership from Northwestern University and Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership. Miriam, with No Shame On U, is currently a member of Cohort 10 of the UpStart Accelerator. Miriam serves on the Young Women's Board of JUF and the Health and Human Services Commission of JUF.  Miriam is also a member of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention Faith Communities Task Force. She lives in Chicago with her husband, musician David Forman

Jory Hanselman

Jory Hanselman ​is the director of BaMidbar Wilderness Therapy, the nation's first Jewish wilderness therapy program.  Jory ​has dedicated her personal and professional career to engaging youth and emerging adults in meaningful outdoor experiences, and helping youth build personal resiliency and the skills necessary to grow and thrive in a complex world.   Jory has experienced wilderness programs from the client and staff perspective, from field and office formats, in Jewish and secular settings, and in the private industry and the nonprofit sectors.  She has over 400 professional “field days” managing youth from 13-26 through organizations focused on education, recreation, therapy, and workforce development.

Jory sees the wilderness therapy model as an extremely powerful environment and believes that BaMidbar Wilderness Therapy can help magnify that impact through Jewish learning, providing a foundational tapestry for clients that builds Jewish identity and provides the framework for youth to experience meaningful transitions to independent and healthy adult lives.  Jory holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Environmental Studies and Philosophy from Tufts University and is a Master of Public Administration degree candidate at University of Colorado – Denver’s School of Public Affairs.

Marla Kaufman

Marla Kaufman is the Executive Director and Founder of Jewish Addiction Awareness Network (JAAN), an organization focused on increasing the understanding of the disease of addiction and decreasing stigma within the Jewish Community. She also chairs the Orange County Jewish Substance Abuse Task Force of the Jewish Federation & Family Services, and serves on the Advisory Board of BaMidbar Wilderness Therapy, a wilderness-based recovery and treatment program for Jewish young adults in Colorado.

Marla began her career as Director of Communications and Recruitment for a financial services company in Los Angeles. After starting a family and moving to Orange County, California, she served as Director of Development for a Jewish day school, initiating a comprehensive fundraising plan to support annual and capital needs. Marla later worked creating marketing strategies and family support programs for a therapeutic wilderness program for adolescents.

Marla has a BA in sociology with a minor in American Studies from California State University, Fullerton.

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