But What About Kiddush?

My name is Barbara and I’m an addict. Well, a recovering addict. I have over two years clean from all mood and mind altering substances.

I also consider myself to be an observant Jew. Which means, at minimum, twice a week I am faced with Kiddush. If I am with a family I know or with friends, it’s okay because we just use grape juice. But when I’m around new people, it can become complicated.

Suddenly, it becomes of an intricate game. Does it look like they’re going to use wine? Is there grape juice on the table? Do I tell them that I don’t drink? Do I just take the cup and leave it on the table?

I’ve been in this situation hundreds of times and it still makes me just as awkward and, well, different. Like I don’t actually belong there or like EVERYONE is going to just know about my past because I pass on wine.

But, in reality, what I’ve learned through this is that my brain is wrong. Lots of people don’t drink for lots of reasons. Addiction, mental health, medication, etc. and they’re all just as valid. Which means that I can pass on Kiddush or ask for grape juice and not feel like I have to explain myself.

Because I don’t and neither does anyone else. And when people push alcohol on me at tables (which did happen the other week and I had to get a new cup), I get to politely say that I don’t drink for personal reasons and leave it there.

My sobriety doesn’t take breaks for Kiddush or Purim or Pesach or anything. Regardless of what others may think. Alcohol and drugs are alcohol and drugs.

Addiction exists in the Jewish community and the sooner we speak up about it, the sooner asking for grape juice won’t feel like such a big deal.

About the Author
Originally from Baltimore, Barbara resides in Jerusalem, Israel where she works in education.
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