Friends of Bill W.A Proposal for Meetings at CCAR Conventions and Regional Over Night Kallot From the CCAR Taskforce on Addictions and Recovery


Resolution Adopted by the CCAR



Adopted by the Board of Trustees
Central Conference of American Rabbis


Introduction: Addiction, either to substances or behaviors, is a disease that knows few boundaries. Addicts and substance abusers can be found in all ethnic and religious groups, all educational levels, all professions and all segments of society. Addicts and those with substance abuse problems belong to our congregations, to many of our families and, indeed, to every region of our Conference.

As rabbis, some of us work with addictions and addicts/substance abusers professionally. Some have been dealing with addictions – our own or those of people close to us – for many years. Others do not or cannot recognize substance abuse or addictions in ourselves or in others. As rabbis, all of us need to know more about addictions.

Meetings of Friends of Bill W.: Bill W. was the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous and, with the help of Dr. Bob S., developed the 12-step program that brought him into recovery. Those 12 steps, which are entirely compatible with Jewish belief, are now used by most addictions programs and by programs such as Al-Anon and Families Anonymous for families of addicts. In recent decades numbers of 12-step meetings, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Gamblers Anonymous (GA), Overeaters Anonymous (OA), have been hosted by synagogues and other Jewish institutions.

A meeting of Friends of Bill W. is a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, and it may be open or closed. An open meeting is one that any member of the community, alcoholic or nonalcoholic, may attend. The only obligation is that of not disclosing the names of AA members outside the meeting. A closed meeting is limited to members of a local AA group or visiting members from other groups.

12-step meetings begin with first names only introductions. A “speaker meeting” follows the introduction with a speaker, a “discussion meeting” with a topic. Individuals in the group are encouraged to stay with their own experience, strength, and hope. Meetings typically avoid “cross-talk,” and members of the group understand their comments are in the first person, generally about an individual’s wrestle with alcohol and drug abuse.

Meetings at CCAR Gatherings: Meetings of Friends of Bill W. at CCAR Conventions and at Regional overnight Kallot would serve a number of purposes:


  • The meetings will serve as an important source of support by the CCAR for its members who struggle with addictions and substance abuse.




  • The meetings would make it easier for rabbis in recovery to attend AA meetings while away from home.




  • The meetings would demonstrate our recognition that addiction and substance abuse is a disease that respects no ethnic, religious, educational, economic or professional boundaries.




  • The meetings would demonstrate that the CCAR and its regions want to be part of the solution to addictions and substance abuse, and not part of the problem.




  • Open meetings would introduce non-addicted rabbis to the functioning of 12-step programs.


Therefore, be it resolved that the CCAR schedule Meetings of Friends of Bill W. at each annual convention, and

Be it further resolved that the CCAR urge all of its regions to schedule Meetings of Friends of Bill W. at their overnight kallot, and

Be it further resolved that the CCAR urge the ACC, NATE, NATA, and URJ to also schedule Meetings of Friends of Bill W. at their over night gatherings.