Dealing with his demons

Sexual abuse led to addiction, and eventually to redemption.

By RIVKAH LAMBERT ADLER
August 11, 2017 01:36
''Big Mike'' Gondelman

"Big Mike'' Gondelman. (photo credit: PR)

 
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The only thing that stopped the repeated sexual abuse by an educator in “Big Mike” Gondelman’s elementary school was him moving on to junior high. About the man who sexually molested him between the ages of eight and 12, Gondelman said, “This guy ruined me.”

Like many victims of child sexual abuse, Gondelman, now 40, developed a serious substance abuse issue as a result of his trauma. Once he was clean and sober, he came on a Taglit-Birthright trip and experienced Israel in a powerful way. For eight years, he lived in Israel on a student visa, studying at Jerusalem’s Ohr Somayach yeshiva and beginning his career as an addictions counselor.

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