Saving the World… Together!

In my last blog post (if you haven’t read it yet click here) I spoke of the struggles that I face, that we as a community face, in the battle against drug and alcohol addiction. As well as the importance of fighting the disease of addiction in any and all ways possible. The responses I received were amazing, several people contacted me to discuss implementing new and exciting strategies in their individual communities. Others calls were from addicts and their families reaching out for help and support. I am grateful to say that just the other day I was contacted by the family of an individual who overdosed, they were able to act quickly and correctly and their child is now in a treatment facility getting the help he needs.

Just today I got a phone call from an individual sharing with me his achievement of one year of continuous sobriety! Tears came to my eyes as I remembered this individual walking into my office over a year ago.  He was a mess and saw no light at the end of the tunnel. Today he told me that he is living a life beyond his wildest imagination. He has a job, a healthy relationship with his family but most importantly, a future. Not only does he see the light, he is the light.

When I say he is the light I mean it in the very literal sense. When I first got sober 13+ years ago, I was so grateful for all of the help that I had received, without any expectation of returning the favor. I remember turning to the man that had been instrumental in saving my life and asked him how I could ever repay him. His response was simple and something I hold with me till this day “Pay it forward”. That that simple statement has been my driving force since that day.

Let me tell you a story that illustrates just how powerful this message really is. A mentor of mine who used to run a rehab, we’ll call him ‘Jack’, once attended a Jewish Recovery retreat in the United States, and at the end of the retreat the other participants wanted to present him with a coin to mark an accomplishment in his length of sobriety. As a testament to the work he does, an announcement was made “will anyone in this room who is sober today because of something that Jack said or did, please stand up”, a quarter of the room stood up. Then a second announcement, “anyone in this room who is sober today because of the help of someone who is currently standing, please stand up” another half of the room stood up. When it says in Mishnayos “Whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world” this is what it means to me.

When we save a life, when we get someone the help they need, we aren’t just saving them, we are saving their families, we are saving their entire future, on through the generations.  I remember standing under the Chuppa at the wedding of a former client and thinking back on the conversations we had had. Back then neither of us could have ever foreseen this moment in his life. At that moment everything that I had worked for, that I had given to him came full circle, but in reality it was only the beginning. Today he is sober, happily married with two kids and a wonderful profession.

One day at time, one child at a time, we can literally save worlds.

The real beauty here is, the more that we help others, the more they will go on to help others. Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you, I am always talking about the power of love and its importance. The results speak for themselves. Today, I am grateful to those that taught me this way of living and for setting me on this path. By following their direction, I have been truly blessed to be able to see the amazing results from around the globe.

If you or someone you know needs help, don’t hesitate. Email Mike at: Together we will make a difference.

About the Author
Michael “Big Mike” Gondelman is the Founder and Director of the Jerusalem Sober House. After a long battle with Drug and Alcohol addiction Big Mike turned his life around and has made it his life’s work to help others struggling with addiction. Mike holds a Certified Addictions and Substance Abuse Professional (CASAP) international certification from the IC&RC and a Bachelors Degree in Judaic Studies from Ohr Somaech Yeshiva. To find out more about the Jerusalem Sober House, visit us online at: To contact Mike, please email
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