Rabbi Mitch In The News

If you’ve met Rabbi Mitch, you know – he’s an energetic, passionate, caring man, in his work as a rabbi as well as his work as an addiction (and family!) counselor. And he’s darn good at what he does. Now, the media is starting to take notice, as well!

He’s been the subject of several articles over the past few months, in addition to several press releases.

And here they are…

 

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Rabbi Gets Notice as Unorthodox Advisor on Addiction

Nicole Brochu, Staff writer

3:47 p.m. EST, January 24, 2013

Mitch Feld was an addict on many levels when he topped speeds of 100 mph down A1A in Boca Raton one fall morning, plowing down roadside fences, totaling his car and putting himself in a two-week coma.

No one else was injured on that normally busy stretch of beachside road, a fact Feld attributes to divine intervention. Twenty-five years later, the Coral Springs rabbi credits that spiritual connection with giving him the strength and resources to kick his addictions — and help others do the same.

Earlier this month, Feld’s non-traditional, faith-based style of addiction counseling earned him recognition when an online degree program directory named his blog, AddictionCounselingWithRabbiMitch.com, among the “Top 100 Best Web Resources for Addiction.”

“I was deeply touched and deeply humbled,” Feld said of the designation by Masters in Counseling, a website that directs aspiring counselors to online degree programs that offer a master’s degree in counseling. “It’s an affirmation for the approach I take and the work I do.”

It’s work that Feld has been doing since 2007, when he took his religious beliefs to the next step by becoming a rabbi. After spending decades as an executive in the corporate and nonprofit world, Feld is now doing specialized counseling work out of his Coral Springs home, armed with a master’s degree in social work he received in 1976.

He is not licensed with the state as an addiction counselor, since he sees himself more as a “spritual” advisor, which does not require state licensing.

His best asset, he said, is life experience, after growing up obese and addicted to food, then adding alcohol and drugs to the list of abuses from the age of 12. At 40 years old, he was headed for disaster when that October 1988 accident drove his life in a new direction.

Feld did not drink any alcohol that morning. But he said his doctors told him that when he set out in his car at about 9 a.m., the residual effects of years of drug and alcohol abuse, triggered by a cup of coffee or soda, spiked the toxicity in his blood.

After seeing the wreckage on the roadside and Feld’s body, doctors told him it was a miracle he was alive. He believed them, and used that faith to get clean. He never drank or did drugs again, he said, and he’s lost nearly 200 pounds since 2005.

Tapping into those experiences, and his training as an independent rabbi and a social worker, Feld said he helps patients overcome their addictions with advice, guidance, self-affirmations and a heavy dose of spirituality.

“If an alcoholic or a drug addict doesn’t find a spiritual connection, they will have a very difficult time staying sober,” because the stresses that trigger their substance abuse will never go away, he said. “Spiritually, if you can find that place inside you, that emptiness, you can begin to fill it with new ways of acting and feeling.”

Feld’s set-up is as unorthodox as his approach: He has patients come to his home, or he counsels them at their home or office, even staying overnight with them to help them adjust, if necessary. He has helped 35 to 50 people since opening shop, he estimated.

His rabbi services are offered in similar fashion. Although he doesn’t have his own synagogue and doesn’t hold regular services, Feld said he has 150 to 200 congregants who keep up with him on his blog and attend his periodic services at rented hotel rooms around South Florida.

“I’ve been blessed with sobriety,” Feld said. “I’m a motivator, I’m inspiring, and I don’t say that arrogantly. Everyone has certain skills and gifts, and these are my gifts.”

nbrochu@tribune.com

 

 The Coral Springs Forum

Former Addict Turned Counselor and Rabbi is Awarded for his Work

January 25, 2013|Arun Sivasankaran asivasankaran@tribune.com

Garbage can. It is not the most complimentary way to describe oneself, but Rabbi Mitch Feld says nothing explains better how he felt during his days as an addict.

“Alcohol and cocaine were the primary drugs I used, but I also smoked pot and hash,” he said. “I popped pills periodically as well. I was a garbage can.”

He was young and had a successful career, but as he soared high on the wings of drugs and alcohol, the Coral Springs resident knew his life was careening out of control. He also realized he was powerless to stop the downward spiral.

It was then, Feld said, that God decided to intervene.

“On Oct. 6, 1988, I had a car accident that left me in a coma for two weeks,” Feld recalled. “I had not consumed alcohol that day, but my body was toxic from the volume of alcohol and cocaine that was in my body from months of abuse. When I woke up, doctors told me that they couldn’t explain why I was still alive. ‘Medically, you should be dead,’ they said.”

Even as he came out of the coma and began to gratefully wrap his mind and body around the second chance at life he had been given, Feld said, he realized something inside him had changed.

“I don’t know why, but I did not feel the need to drink or do drugs,” he said. “I know the accident was God’s way of saying to me that he could take me from this world in a moment’s notice. I hit rock bottom, and then he gave me another chance. I am grateful for it.”

Rabbi Bruce Warshal, who was Feld’s boss at the Jewish Community Center in Boca Raton at the time of the accident, remembers those days. “It was a hidden addiction,” he said. “Nobody knew anything until the day he nearly got killed. I forced him into rehab; like all addicts, he thought he could handle his addiction on his own.”

Feld has been sober since Oct, 6, 1988. These days, he works with addicts from all walks of life, helping them get back on the path of sobriety using non-traditional and spirituality-based techniques. His website was recently named among the “100 Best Web Resources for Addiction” by an organization called Masters in Counseling.

He was free from the vice-like grip of alcohol and drugs, but Feld, who has a master’s degree in social work, still had other addictions to put behind himself. “I was addicted to tobacco and caffeine as well, but I was ready this time. I was also addicted to food,” he said. “At one point, I weighed over 300 pounds. There came a time when I couldn’t walk or breathe properly.”

Feld now weighs 155 pounds. He says the only thing he doesn’t do in moderation these days is exercise.
“I began to lose weight in December 2007,” he said. “I have lost 200 pounds over time. ‘One day at a time’ – that is a principle I follow. There is never a cure for addiction; it is a progressive disease. I have to renew my commitment to sobriety and eating healthily every day. If I take my sobriety for granted, I will end up relapsing.”

Raised in an orthodox Jewish home, Feld’s life came full circle when he gave in to his wife’s persistence and became a rabbi about seven years ago. “I had a lot of religious knowledge inside me, but I did not have faith,” Feld said. “In recovery, I found faith. I have my own synagogue, Congregation Yom Chadash, but I don’t conduct religious services on a regular basis. I write my own prayer books; my services are about inclusion and acceptance.”

Feld works with many kinds of people: “alcoholics, crack addicts, cocaine addicts, food addicts, pill poppers, gamblers, shopping addicts and people addicted to pornography,” he said. “I speak in prisons, rehab facilities, basically anywhere I am asked to. I tell them my story. I tell them it is possible to recover from addiction. I don’t judge, lecture or hand out lists of self-help books.”

The former Lauderhill resident, who is married to Alice Reiter Feld, a past mayor of the city, says there is an increase in addiction in general, especially among baby boomers and seniors. “In our days, it took years of drinking and doing drugs to become an addict,” he said. “Today, with designer drugs like crack, you can start abusing drugs today and be near death’s door in a month.”

Carolina Robbins of Coconut Creek first met Feld four years ago when he visited her workplace as a motivational speaker. “I began to look at life differently since then,” she said. “I then invited him over to our house for spiritual guidance for myself and my husband. He recently performed a baby-naming ceremony for our daughter. Everyone should have an opportunity to know him; he is that good.”

John C. of North Carolina met Feld in 1992 at an Alcoholics Anonymous program. “I was trying to do something with my alcohol addiction and chose Mitch as my sponsor,” he said. “I had made up my mind that I was going to give up alcohol, and Mitch helped me through the hard times. He was a loving and caring person, but he was tough. It wasn’t always easy between us, but it was truthful. I am sober today because of it.”

Jeff N. of Coral Springs, who says he drank heavily for 25 years, also met Feld at an Alcoholics Anonymous program. “He has a positive, peaceful and friendly brightness about him, almost like an aura,” he said of Feld. “He exposed me to spirituality at a whole new level, a level that I could understand and live in. I have not had the desire to drink in four years. He helped me find my happy place.”

David Levin of Sunrise is the clinical director at The Recovery Place in Fort Lauderdale. “Rabbi Mitch has a very spiritual approach and is very good at teaching the importance of emotional sobriety,” he said. “He is compassionate and empathetic. His clients love him, because he is non-judgmental. They know he has been through what they are going though.”

Rabbi Warshal is another admirer of Feld. “I have so much respect for the internal fortitude Mitch had to turn his life around,” he said. “His strength in overcoming his addiction and helping other people I hold in awe.”

Feld remains humble. “I will always be a recovering addict, but I haven’t felt the desire to drink or do drugs in 25 years,” he said. “Recovery is a long, hard road, but it is possible. I was able to break the cycle, but I needed help. My mission now is to help others break the cycle.”

Feld said his practice includes interventions and assessments, primary therapy, recovery coaching, spiritual counseling for all religions and beliefs, and family therapy.

 

The Jewish Journal 

After Overcoming Addictions, Man Helps Others

Rabbi Mitch Feld

By David A. Schwartz, Staff Writer

2:31 p.m. EST, February 20, 2013

Mitch Feld had a great job as director of the Levis JCC, an apartment on the ocean in Boca Raton and an expensive sports car. But he also had a substance abuse problem.

Feld crashed his car into a concrete wall in October 1988 and was in a coma at Boca Raton Community Hospital for two weeks.

“That was the beginning of my life,” Feld, 65, said recently as he sat on a couch in the den of the Coral Springs home he shares with wife Alice Feld, an attorney. “Drugs and alcohol were the focus of my life for the better part of 25 years. Oct. 6, 1988 is my sobriety day.”

Feld said he knew he would not return to his job at the Levis JCC. With no job and no money, he reluctantly accepted an offer from Rabbi Bruce Warshal, then executive director of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, which oversaw the JCC.

“He was a very good director of the JCC,” Warshal said recently. “But at the same time, he had a hidden life.” The Federation gave Feld six months of severance pay on the condition that he attend a 30-day rehabilitation program.

“When he came out, he thanked me and he said I saved his life,” Warshal said. “He saved his own life. He really did turn his life around and he’s an inspiration to people.”

Feld returned to the JCC to speak to children about substance addiction, Warshal said. “To his credit, he used his own history of weakness to tell others.”

Feld, who has a Master’s degree in social work, uses his experiences of addiction and sobriety to help other addicts and their families. “When I have somebody come to me as an addict, I know what they are feeling,” he said. “There’s a real identification that makes a difference to build a bridge with someone.”

The traditional recovery model is predicated on taking a spiritual path, said Feld, who attended 12-step meetings several times a day in the months after he became sober and still attends meetings.

A graduate of a yeshiva high school in New York, he put his Orthodox Jewish education and upbringing aside until about 12 years ago when he began working with Rabbi Loring Frank to become a rabbi.

Feld refers to himself as a “modern and independent, sober rabbi.” And he brings spirituality into his counseling. “The experience that got me to change was divine,” Feld said. “There is a lot of pain in the world; a lot of pain in the baby boomers. The focus of my mission is really about healing all people.”

Kelly Kettle, a recovering addict who became sober in 2003 and founded the online directory yourtreatmentsolutions.com in Newport Beach, Calif., said he heard from people who received counseling from Feld.

“I love his openness that he’s a 12-step member and at the same time that he is a rabbi,” said Kettle, who wants people to be alcohol and drug free and to develop “a relationship with a higher power.”

Feld uses a web site to get important information about prospective patients’ addictions to alcohol, drugs, food, and sex or pornography.

Sexual addictions, including an addiction to pornography, are difficult to treat because they are socially acceptable behavior, Feld said. But they are just like any addiction, he added. “The moment you’re engaged in that kind of secretive behavior, you’ve lost touch with you. It’s another symptom of a person removing themselves from themselves.”

He said he believes in daily affirmations. “Every day I affirm me,” Feld said. “If at the end of my day I haven’t had a drink or a drug, I’ve had a great day.”

Copyright © 2013, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

 

South Florida Addiction Counselor Makes List of Top 100 Websites

Coral Springs, FL – January 9, 2013: Mitch Feld, a South Florida Addiction Counselor, was just named to a list of the top 100 addiction counseling websites.

Feld (www.addictioncounselingwithrabbimitch.com) is an ordained rabbi with a Master’s in Social Work. He received the award for his work with people in all walks of life, all religious and ethnic groups, and all types of addictions. And he’s able to help them as a peer, rather than through traditional therapy – because he’s a recovering addict himself.

I was addicted to alcohol,” he says. “I was addicted to drugs. I was addicted to food {once weighing over 300 pounds, he now weighs 155}. I had – and still have – an addictive personality. But, with the help of others who cared, I’ve learned it’s possible to control it.”

Like many addicts, Feld finally hit bottom. But he was able to climb back out. He took his last drink nearly 25 years ago. He started eating healthier. He confronted his fears and his weaknesses and developed strategies to counteract them. He earned his M.S.W. He married Alice Reiter Feld, a well-known South Florida Elder Law attorney. And he decided to dedicate his life to helping other addicts.

I can relate to the self-destructive, downward spiral of addiction – because I’ve experienced it,” Feld says. “I don’t use traditional approaches – I don’t judge; I don’t lecture; and I don’t hand out lists of self-help books. Instead, I use a spiritually-based approach. It can be prayer, self-reflection, support groups, meditation, visualization…or just-plain-talking. Often, if you can hear your own words coming back at you, you can learn to help yourself.”

Feld’s website was named “100 Best Web Resources for Addiction” by an organization called Masters in Counseling. His practice encompasses interventions and assessments, primary therapy, recovery coaching, spiritual counseling (for any religion or belief), and family therapy. 

I have first-hand knowledge of the power of addiction,” Mitch Feld says. “I was able to break the cycle…but not without help. And my mission now is to help others break the cycle. Recovery is a long, hard road. But I think it’s easier if you can learn with someone who’s been there.”

 

Broward County Addiction Counselor Wins His Second Award This Month

FEBRUARY 13, 2013: Coral Springs, FL – Mitch Feld, a South Florida Addiction Counselor, was just named “Counselor of the Year” by a website called yourtreamentsolutions.com.

Feld (www.addictioncounselingwithrabbimitch.com) is an ordained rabbi with a Master’s in Social Work. But his background is different than most counselors – he’s a recovering addict.

I was addicted to alcohol,” he says. “I was addicted to drugs. I was addicted to food {once weighing over 300 pounds, he now weighs 155}. I had – and still have – an addictive personality. But I was lucky enough to find help from people who cared.”

Feld had to hit bottom before he could climb out. A near-fatal automobile accident in 1988 changed his life. He never took another drink. He lost the weight. He confronted his weaknesses head-on. He earned his M.S.W. He married Alice Reiter Feld, a well-known South Florida Elder Law attorney. And he decided to devote his life to helping others trapped in the web of addiction.

Feld’s naming as “Counselor of the Year” by yourtreatmentsolutions.com comes a month after his website was named to the list of “100 Best Web Resources for Addiction” by an organization called Masters in Counseling. His practice encompasses interventions and assessments, primary therapy, recovery coaching, spiritual counseling (for any religion or belief), and family therapy.

With the good he’s done – and the recognition he’s gained – we didn’t have to think hard about our Counselor of the year,” says Kelly Kettle, founder of yourtreatmentsolutions.com. “It’s no wonder he’s so sought after as a private life coach nationwide. I believe we’ll see Rabbi Mitch on every major talk show in the country in the next few years.”

I can relate to the self-destructive, downward spiral of addiction,” Feld says. “So my approach is non-traditional. I don’t judge. I don’t lecture. I don’t recommend books. Instead, I use a spiritually-based approach…prayer, self-reflection, support groups, meditation, visualization, or just-plain-talking. It’s easier to break the cycle if you can learn from someone who’s been there.”

 

Award-Winning Addiction Counselor to Appear at Seminar on Aging 

Coral Springs, FL – January 10, 2013: Mitch Feld, a South Florida resident whose website was just named as one the top 100 addiction-counseling sites on the Web, will appear at a Boca Raton seminar on positive aging.

Feld’s addiction website is www.addictioncounselingwithrabbimitch.com. However, he’s also an ordained rabbi (www.rabbimitch.com) with a Master’s in Social Work, and a spiritual-counseling practice in which he helps people find their own personal paths to fulfillment. He’s a guest speaker at a Jan. 23 seminar called “Great Expectations for Positive Aging,” which will show how seniors can adapt to the changes in their lives. And few people in South Florida can speak about adapting to change as well as Mitch Feld – because he’s a recovering addict.

I was addicted to alcohol,” he says. “I was addicted to drugs. I was addicted to food {once weighing over 300 pounds, he now weighs 155}. I had – and still have – an addictive personality. But, with the help of others who cared, I learned it’s possible to control it.”

Like many addicts, Feld finally hit bottom. But with the help of others, he was able to climb back out. He took his last drink nearly 25 years ago. He started eating healthier. He confronted his fears and his weaknesses and developed strategies to counteract them. He earned his M.S.W. He married Alice Reiter Feld, a well-known South Florida Elder Law attorney. And he decided to dedicate his life to helping other people fight addictions…whether physical or psychological.

As we age, there’s another addiction that often crops up,” Feld says. “It’s the addiction to fear. Fear about our health. About where we’re going to live. About becoming incapacitated mentally or physically. About our finances. About our children. And this addiction to fear can be every bit as debilitating as addiction to alcohol or drugs.”

Feld will be speaking on the topic of “When Your Life As You Know It Changes,” about aging in a positive manner, and learning coping skills for the inevitable changes in our lives. It will take place at 1 p.m. on Weds, Jan. 23, at the Phyllis & Harvey Sandler Center, at the Jewish Community Center, 9801 Donna Klein Blvd. in Boca Raton.

Aging can be a time of great change,” Mitch Feld says. “And if my own personal story about adapting to change can help someone, I’m happy to tell it.”

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