Leibish “Big Mike” Gondelman, CASAP, Founder and Director
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.
This path to sobriety led him to Israel in 2001 where he started learning at Yeshiva Ohr Samaech and became shomer mitzvot.
As a religious Jew working with the addict culture, both in Israel and abroad, Big Mike quickly saw that there was a distinct lack in recovery programs suitable for the religious population. Many times he would have to recommend a treatment facility to a patient that compromised the individuals beliefs and traditions. Sobriety is, and always will be, the most important aspect of recovery for any addict, and Big Mike has always based his referrals on the “Sobriety First” mentality. But being able to facilitate lasting recovery in a religious atmosphere was always an aspiration of his.
The Jerusalem Sober House is the fulfillment of his dream to open a “12-step based recovery program” in Israel which is appropriate for the religious as well as secular population. In his extensive successful work with street youth as well as private clients Big Mike has, time and again, seen many people achieve long term sobriety using the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 step model.
Currently Big Mike is actively involved in the Jerusalem AA as well as NA fellowship scene. When he is not working with the residents of the Jerusalem Sober House, Big Mike spends his time helping other addicts. He maintains a private practice with over 10 years experience in counseling, specializing in all types of addictions. Click here to visit Big Mike’s website, RecoveryRenaissance.com.
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. His experience includes running group therapy sessions, individual counseling, drug testing, assessments and crisis intervention at some of the most well known Yeshivas in Jerusalem. He was also trained as a Kiruv Professional by Ohr LaGola Institute and holds a teaching certificate from the Israeli Ministry of Education.
Big Mike came to Israel from New York in 2001 and currently lives in Jerusalem with his wife and four children.
For more information on his continuing work as well as inspiration for sobriety, follow Big Mike on Facebook.
Tatiana Factor Gondelman, Chief Operations Officer
Tatiana was born and grew up in Chicago. After high school she was drawn onto a path of spirituality which led her to move to Israel. She met her husband “Big Mike” while studying in Jerusalem and made a commitment to him to stay in Israel and support him in his quest to “save the world, one addict at a time.” After a decade dedicated to her family Tatiana has joined our team at the JSH and continues to tirelessly coordinate both the administrative and therapeutic sides of the JSH. She has extensive familiarity with the 12 Step programs and has been actively involved in various therapeutic environments due to her husband’s career.
She lives in Jerusalem with her husband Leibish “Big Mike” Gondelman and their 4 children.
Sanford Landa, DCSW, MPH, CASAC, CPP, Clinical Director
Sanford is a substance abuse specialist as well as a Certified Prevention Professional (CPP) who has been a practitioner and educator in the fields of mental health and substance abuse for more than 30 years. He was the director of clinical training at The Solution Center and a social work supervisor at Student Assistance Services of Westchester County, an early intervention and prevention program, recognized by the Federal Government as one of the top 10 programs in the U.S. and duplicated in 34 states. Sanford was also the coordinator of the Addictions Counseling Training Program at The Family Institute of Neve Yerushalayim.
He earned an M.S.W. from Columbia University School of Social Work, as well as a master’s degree in public health from New York University. Sanford is a member of the Academy of Addictions Studies and a licensed training professional for the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse. He co-authored “Brief Therapy with Alcohol and Other Drug Abusing Clients” and “Motivational Interviewing with the Substance Abusing Client.”
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