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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

More on Purim and Underage Drinking

I touched on this topic here and here, but I've gotten more and more incensed about this since my earlier posts.

A Purim tradition that I'm sure many are familiar with is the one that has groups of Yeshiva boys traveling around in vans, trucks, and (sometimes) stretch luxury SUV's, collecting money house-to-house for one cause or another. I always found it to be a very nice practice. The boys who are collecting have fun, the people whose homes they visit enjoy the boys' dancing and singing and get a Mitzvah to boot, the Yeshivas or Tzedakahs get donations - everyone comes out ahead. Maybe it happens every year, and I never noticed it before. But this year, many of the boys who came around appeared to be tipsy, and some were out-and-out sloppy drunk. One group came in that absolutely reeked of alcohol. A few boys asked for drinks, which we flatly refused. Let me be clear. I don't think one boy who came through our home today was above the legal drinking age. Many were minors. Where the hell are they getting these drinks? Was I the only stickler for that pesky thing we call the law? Were they getting drinks in other homes they were visiting?

Another aspect of the underage drinking that goes on is one I touched upon earlier today. Many Yeshivas have parties, some on Purim eve after Megilla, some after the Purim Seudah. Apparently, underage drinking is shrugged off as "in the spirit of Purim". I am completely against this. If young boys feel so strongly that they must drink wine to fully celebrate Purim (I personally think that is a risky road to go down, however), they should do so at their own tables, under supervision of their parents. Not in Yeshiva, where from what I've been hearing, supervision at these parties is scant to nonexistent. Someone said to me "What should they do, tell the boys not to drink when their Rebbes are drinking right in front of them?". Um...yes. Not only should the Rebbes not allow their underage charges to drink just because they themselves are doing it, I don't personally think (and sorry if this sounds outlandish) that Purim is a good enough excuse for ostensible role models to get inebriated in front of their students in the name of religion. Call me crazy.

Listen, I think Purim is a blast. And I try not to be a spoilsport. Today was the first time I've seen Orthodad imbibe in ages, and he had just enough to be tipsy and fun. But hard liquor? And lots of it? And again, to minors???

Something has to change.

48 Comments:

Blogger SephardiLady said...

Great post.

What I cannot understand is why the yeshivot would take on all of the liability that comes from underage drinking and excessive drinking. It is inevitable in some Yeshivot that an ambulance is called in for an emergency.

One also must ask why any parent would let their children participate in the parties unsupervised.

Great post.

11:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my state, the liquor laws clearly allow "underage" drinking as part of a religious ritual. I'm sure the legislators had communion wine or Shabbos kiddush in mind, not Purim or Simchas Torah.

Our state also allows parents or guardians to serve their children in their own homes. In fact, my parents served me wine with dinner when I was a teenager. (Of course, they were careful to serve me only one glass with the meal).

So, first, it's possible no laws were actually broken, and second, as long as the drinking is supervised so the kids don't get out of hand, I see no problem. Drinking to get tipsy is one of the mitzvos of Purim, and the boys are bar mitzvah, so QED. That means not only should the yeshiva boys drink at the yeshiva se'udah, but the yeshiva has a responsibility to properly supervise it. If the rebbes can't do it, maybe they should hire a "Purim Goy," some good Baptist minister or even an atheist whose job it is to keep things under control.

(Unless, of course, there's any reason to believe in an individuals case that a health problem witll result, they should refrain. But the rebbes and the boys can arrange that ahead of time.)

I told my 14 year old daughter when she asked at the se'udah, "only if you want to, and you don't have to feel like you have to drink just becuase one is offered." (She decided she was going to wait, which was probably a good idea. Hopefully, if she starts moderate drinking, she'll learn to do it in my house, where at least she'll get a taste for quality wine in moderation, unlike the kids who go off int the woods and get drunk on all sorts of cheap rotgut.)

Oh, by the way, there's no difference between hard liquor and beer and wine in their ability to get you drunk. It's the same alcohol.

Sometimes I can't believe how puritantical (not to mention risk-averse) the Jewish community is becomming. A few simple precautions are all that is needed, not total prohibition.

11:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"So, first, it's possible no laws were actually broken, and second, as long as the drinking is supervised so the kids don't get out of hand, I see no problem."

Hello. It is getting out of hand. Every Purim boys are taken to the hospital by ambulance. What part of this don't you get?


"Oh, by the way, there's no difference between hard liquor and beer and wine in their ability to get you drunk. It's the same alcohol."

Oh, by the way, either you don't drink, or your in denial. There is a huge difference in the effect of hard liquor vs. wine, glass for glass. Thease boys swig hard liquor no more moderately than they swig wine.

"Hopefully, if she starts moderate drinking, she'll learn to do it in my house, where at least she'll get a taste for quality wine in moderation"

Right. So how again do you think boys should be getting drunk away from parental supervision?

11:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This appeared in last week's Jewish Press


Purim; and The Search for Yossi



By: Rabbi Yakov Horowitz



· “The more often and earlier a child smokes, drinks and
uses marijuana, the likelier that child is to use harder
drugs like cocaine and heroin.”

· “It’s all about children. A child who gets through age 21 without smoking, using illegal drugs or abusing alcohol is virtually certain never to do so.”

· “Teens who smoke cigarettes are 12 times likelier to use marijuana and more than 19 times likelier to use cocaine”.

- Joseph A. Califano, Jr., CASA Chairman and President



I like Joseph Califano - although I never met him. I admire his dedication,
his courage, and his brutal confrontation of the facts on the ground.

He heads The Center for Alcohol and Substance Abuse (www.casa.com). The
Center, now celebrating its 11th year, has dedicated itself to the
prevention of substance abuse and its horrific consequences. The ubiquitous,
"Parents; the Anti-Drug" ads are a direct result of the research and public
advocacy of CASA, under the leadership of Joseph Califano.

And, during this Purim season, as hundreds, perhaps thousands, of our
precious children are being introduced for the first time - under the guise
of one of our most joyous Yomim Tovim, and under the direction of adults who
should be modeling more responsible behavior - to the deadly scourge of
cigarettes and alcohol that bring addiction and even death to our children; ask
yourself, "Where is Yossi Califano???" Where are the people in our community who will
step forward, call a spade a spade and address this issue? Who will break
through the denial and apathy and stop the exponential
growth of smoking and drinking among our dear children?

EIFOH YOSSI???

Truth be told, we do have 'Yossi Califanos' in our Orthodox world. They have
been speaking to us. We just have not been listening.

Their names are Rabbi Abraham Twersky, s'hlita, one of the most visionary
and courageous people of our times, David Mandel, CEO of Ohel, Dr. Bentzion
Twerski, among others.

For years, (and in the case of Rabbi Abraham Twerski, decades), they have
been acting as the prophets of our times - standing in the village squares
and begging us to listen to them. It is high time that we do. And for the
sake of our children, we need to get serious about curbing alcohol abuse and
cigarette use among our children.

IF YOU HAVE THE COURAGE

If you think I am an alarmist, or if you think that I am overstating the case, why don't you
be courageous and do some due diligence of your own? It is quite simple and
should take less than five minutes.

Just ask any local Hatzolah member any one or all of the following questions:

How many Hatzolah calls are there on Purim for alcohol overdoses?
(In Monsey, the Hatzolah members with whom I spoke tell me that there were 4 calls last year for alcohol overdoses just on Purim.)

When was the last time YOU personally went on a call (not only during Purim) to assist a
victim of drinking overdoses?

Do you know of any nearly fatal overdoses due to alcohol abuse? (I
personally know of one instance last year where Hatzolah rushed a yeshiva
bachur to a hospital after falling into A FULL COMA on a Monsey Bus. This young man drank nearly a full bottle of whiskey at a vort – not during the
Purim season!!)

If your local Hatzolah member says that that I am overreacting, please feel free
to ignore this column, or please write a letter to the editor next
week refuting what I am writing. But if he confirms what I am writing; I
suggest you take my warning seriously.

PURIM AND HALACHA

As for the ramifications of Purim and the concept 'ad d'lo yoda':

From a standpoint of halacha and minhagim, there is absolutely no basis for
smoking of any kind as it relates to Purim.

As far as alcohol consumption is concerned; I am not a posek, so I will not
offer my thoughts as to the mitzvas hayom of ad d'lo yoda. I am also aware
of the various minhagim among our diverse k'lal, and the importance of
maintaining our minhagim.

I would however, encourage each of my readers to ask their Rov for guidance
and direction on this matter - just as they would ask any other halachic
question. And when we do ask the question, let us ask:

. Should we be drinking?
. How much?
. How about our children? At what age should they be drinking?
. Is there another way to fulfill the obligation of ad d'lo yada?

Regardless of your thoughts on the 'Indian shaitel' issue that surfaced more
than a year ago, it was inspiring to see thousands of women humbly following
the Da'as Torah of their Rabbonim. Now it is time for the men to step
forward and ask our rabbonim and gedolim how Purim should be conducted
according to the letter - and spirit (no pun intended) of our Torah.

11:39 PM  
Blogger MDmom said...

excellent post. one year during my late high school years, my then college attending boyfriend got so drunk on purim, he was found passed out on the coatroom floor. his friends told me about it since he was too emabarrassed to. i was so disgusted with him i wouldn't talk to him for a week (after confronting him about the incident and about the fact that i needed to hear this second hand). needless to say, that bit of displayed immaturity was a big eye-opener for me and today, this man is NOT my husband. drinking to that point of inebriation is not funny, not cool, and dangerous -- not only to the drinker but to those around him/her. by the way, who's driving the yeshiva boys around?

2:37 AM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

Just a few weeks ago, I was having a conversation with ChessDude in which I said: "When I have kids, I'm going to have an drunkenness-free se`udo with them in the morning, and then have a babysitter take care of them as I go to a se`udo full of inebriation."

ChessDude replied: "Is that really necessary? Shouldn't it be OK for kids to see their father drunk once a year?"

I said: "Well, for one thing, it can be frightening for kids to see their role-models very drunk. [I remember feeling this way one Simchas Tôro as a kid.] And second of all-- if they see me drink, doesn't this increase the chance that they could become alcohol-abusers?"

8:23 AM  
Blogger MUST Gum Addict said...

I've been fighting this battle for years. Not just on Purim mind you, but at Shalom Zachors, kiddushim, simchas -- unfortunately, the lists goes on.

Don't get me wrong. I strongly believe that just the right amount, in the name of a simcha, to be more leibedik (singing, divrei torah, etc.) is a wonderful thing. But all to often it leads to lewd behavior, or, chas v'shalom, physical harm.

But evne more so, from a responsiblity standpoint, don't people realize they have families? And that other people (wife, kids) rely on them? OM, I share your feelings on this. I just hope that others take your post to heart and act upon it.

9:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If these people actually followed the halacha as rendered by the poskim this wouldn't be such a big problem. You must drink only wine (no other kinds of alcohol) and only at the seudah, and not in such a way as you become frivilous and/or sick. This is black on white in the poskim. The problem is that these people are taking a mitzvah and using it for thier own perverted physical desires. Don't make new rules- just follow the ones that are already there!

9:50 AM  
Blogger Pragmatician said...

What a chillul H'Ashem, kids drinking and vomiting all over the places.
I once saw mechanech lying on the floor all drunk and digusting, never again had any of his lectures in school any effect on me.

11:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Echoing other posters, let's get back to the basic halachot:

- Drinking is meant to be part of the daytime seuda (meal)

Adhering to this will minimize the quantity drunk, because one won't start drinking as early in the day (or the night before!) and because a drinker will be sitting at a table socializing and may pace himself better. Additionally, balancing the alcohol with food consumption will somewhat blunt the effect of alcohol on one's system.

- Drinking on Purim refers to wine - not beer, not scotch, not whiskey...

A good quality wine does not lend itself to the guzzling that some of the other alcholic stuff does. Also, many "successful" Purim drinkers find that it is the sweet wines that make them ill.

Regarding whether or not to serve underage drinkers: Parents should be the only ones to serve an underage drinker, if the parents think it appropriate. I am not a posek, but known halachic alternatives to getting plastered include drinking a bit more than normal or taking a nap. Teenagers can be unpredictable in their immaturity, and parents must discuss drinking options before Purim - any of which should preferably to be experienced at home, under parental supervision. On that note, dormitory yeshivot might be better off sending the high school boys home for Purim, where they can be under parental supervision.

Regarding the poster describing whether or not his daughter should drink: There is no basis in halacha for women to get drunk on Purim, or any time of year. Sorry for the double standard, but women who drink are frowned upon (see commentaries on the connections between sotah and nazir).

Am I being Puritanical? I don't think so. The wine flowed freely at our Purim seuda, and the adult men were certifiably, happily drunk. Adhering to halachic guidelines (and assuming one's parental responsibility for underage drinkers) goes a long way to keeping Purim a festive (and safe) holiday.

11:48 AM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

"What a chillul H'Ashem, kids drinking and vomiting all over the places."

OM, as far as the drinking goes, 90% of your post is an old story. As far as I'm concerned, if Rebbeim and yeshivas want to teach the students at their overpriced institutions that drinking to the point of hospitalization is a mitzvah, then let's just add that to the long list of misguided messages orthodox kids receive in yeshiva. The list is pretty long, so I imagine it will be quite some time before that pickle is sliced.

As far as I'm concerned, the bigger issue is that widespread public drunkenness is a boosha gedola.

I had the misfortune of visiting Brooklyn yesterday and was mortified to see drunken idiots dancing in pathetic circles on sidewalks, rocking and banging into each other, carrying on and making a pathetic spectacle of themselves to all who could see and know better. I was embarrassed.

12:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, whassabigdeal bout aviunbg a drink or two oncinawhile. It dont even affectme atakl, relaly!
Us teens haveta blwo off some stema a klilbit. I can hodl my liuqor as wlel as teh netx guy. Yuo think adulst are all repsonble when they drikn? Then wy so much DUI?

1:10 PM  
Blogger Air Time said...

The yeshiva I went to in Detroit had a huge fire on Purim when i was a sophomore. They went in and pulled one guy out who had been passed out, and no one was hurt.

For a few years after that, the boys were sent home on Purim, a few years after that it seemed they could stay in Detroit, but needed some kind of parental permission. From what I saw yesterday, though, the boys are free to do as they please.

There were plenty of packs of Yeshiva kids roaming the streets with bottles of hard liquor sticking out from their pockets.

As a parent, it makes me sick. As a former yeshiva student, I don't know. I remember drinking until I passed out in Yeshiva, and in the long run, it isn't that big a deal.

2:22 PM  
Blogger Daniel Q Blog said...

I think an halachic discussion of what it means about not knowing the difference between Haman and Mordecai should be discussed in the Yeshiva prior to Purim (probably does in many places).

I also note that extreme drunkness can lead to problems as stated immediately after the drinking on Purim is introduced in Talmud (so Jewish tradition is not blind to the effects of alcohol by any means)... nonetheless, the idea of not drinking to follow the US law is not applicable in this situation if no other laws are involved (driving, damaging property). Its religious and supervisied by either family or family chosen representatives.

As weird as it is, Purim is supposed to be a holiday (as directly opposed to Yom Kippurim) where one is at their most spiritually vulnerable state. This obviously has to be treated with care, but not pushed out by PC standards.

DQB

3:12 PM  
Anonymous Fox said...

My son, who is in 7th grade, is not yet certain what mesivta he'll be attending, but made me *promise* that he can come home for Purim.

Apparently he's heard many stories about excesses in yeshivas and witnessed Purim drunkenness in his friends' fathers, and the whole thing just mortifies him. He's found the stories and encounters very disconcerting and embarrassing. I just worry about the effect of peer pressure as he becomes older.

Since all the posters seem to agree that supervision of youthful drinking or abstinence is critical, all us anti-excess parents can do a couple of things:

1. Only allow appropriate drinking in our own homes and inform potential miscreants of the policy before Purim.

2. Speak with our sons' yeshivas and Rebbeim prior to Purim and make it clear that we refuse to allow our sons to attend mesibas, etc., if excessive drinking or the presence of intoxicated individuals is permitted.

Of course, this is hard to pull off, but in my experience, most Roshei Yeshiva will find it difficult to pooh-pooh concerns expressed by even four or five sets of parents, especially if they enlist a few major donors to also make the case.

It's a shame we have to go to such lengths to get bnei Torah to admit, let alone follow, the halacha, but as one Rosh Yeshiva put it, "It's been a long galus." And once we get everyone sober, we can start on derech eretz, business ethics . . . the mind boggles.

3:23 PM  
Anonymous Fox said...

My son, who is in 7th grade, is not yet certain what mesivta he'll be attending, but made me *promise* that he can come home for Purim.

Apparently he's heard many stories about excesses in yeshivas and witnessed Purim drunkenness in his friends' fathers, and the whole thing just mortifies him. He's found the stories and encounters very disconcerting and embarrassing. I just worry about the effect of peer pressure as he becomes older.

Since all the posters seem to agree that supervision of youthful drinking or abstinence is critical, all us anti-excess parents can do a couple of things:

1. Only allow appropriate drinking in our own homes and inform potential miscreants of the policy before Purim.

2. Speak with our sons' yeshivas and Rebbeim prior to Purim and make it clear that we refuse to allow our sons to attend mesibas, etc., if excessive drinking or the presence of intoxicated individuals is permitted.

Of course, this is hard to pull off, but in my experience, most Roshei Yeshiva will find it difficult to pooh-pooh concerns expressed by even four or five sets of parents, especially if they enlist a few major donors to also make the case.

It's a shame we have to go to such lengths to get bnei Torah to admit, let alone follow, the halacha, but as one Rosh Yeshiva put it, "It's been a long galus." And once we get everyone sober, we can start on derech eretz, business ethics . . . the mind boggles.

3:23 PM  
Anonymous Fox said...

My son, who is in 7th grade, is not yet certain what mesivta he'll be attending, but made me *promise* that he can come home for Purim.

Apparently he's heard many stories about excesses in yeshivas and witnessed Purim drunkenness in his friends' fathers, and the whole thing just mortifies him. He's found the stories and encounters very disconcerting and embarrassing. I just worry about the effect of peer pressure as he becomes older.

Since all the posters seem to agree that supervision of youthful drinking or abstinence is critical, all us anti-excess parents can do a couple of things:

1. Only allow appropriate drinking in our own homes and inform potential miscreants of the policy before Purim.

2. Speak with our sons' yeshivas and Rebbeim prior to Purim and make it clear that we refuse to allow our sons to attend mesibas, etc., if excessive drinking or the presence of intoxicated individuals is permitted.

Of course, this is hard to pull off, but in my experience, most Roshei Yeshiva will find it difficult to pooh-pooh concerns expressed by even four or five sets of parents, especially if they enlist a few major donors to also make the case.

It's a shame we have to go to such lengths to get bnei Torah to admit, let alone follow, the halacha, but as one Rosh Yeshiva put it, "It's been a long galus." And once we get everyone sober, we can start on derech eretz, business ethics . . . the mind boggles.

3:23 PM  
Anonymous Fox said...

My son, who is in 7th grade, is not yet certain what mesivta he'll be attending, but made me *promise* that he can come home for Purim.

Apparently he's heard many stories about excesses in yeshivas and witnessed Purim drunkenness in his friends' fathers, and the whole thing just mortifies him. He's found the stories and encounters very disconcerting and embarrassing. I just worry about the effect of peer pressure as he becomes older.

Since all the posters seem to agree that supervision of youthful drinking or abstinence is critical, all us anti-excess parents can do a couple of things:

1. Only allow appropriate drinking in our own homes and inform potential miscreants of the policy before Purim.

2. Speak with our sons' yeshivas and Rebbeim prior to Purim and make it clear that we refuse to allow our sons to attend mesibas, etc., if excessive drinking or the presence of intoxicated individuals is permitted.

Of course, this is hard to pull off, but in my experience, most Roshei Yeshiva will find it difficult to pooh-pooh concerns expressed by even four or five sets of parents, especially if they enlist a few major donors to also make the case.

It's a shame we have to go to such lengths to get bnei Torah to admit, let alone follow, the halacha, but as one Rosh Yeshiva put it, "It's been a long galus." And once we get everyone sober, we can start on derech eretz, business ethics . . . the mind boggles.

3:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i must still be hung over. i'm seeing things in quadruplicate

3:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello. It is getting out of hand. Every Purim boys are taken to the hospital by ambulance. What part of this don't you get?

Did these boys really need to go to the hospital? I suspect that the vast majority of them, once they threw up, could very easily sleep it off without medical intervention. I base this on my experience in college, the details of which make Frum purim look like tea at the vicars.

5:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, by the way, either you don't drink, or your in denial. There is a huge difference in the effect of hard liquor vs. wine, glass for glass. Thease boys swig hard liquor no more moderately than they swig wine.

Again, based on my extensive experience, it is much more difficult to "swill" distilled spirits straight than it is to drink an equal volume of beer or wine. If you dilute the distilled spirits (as in a cocktail, think margarita or rum & coke), the alcohol concentration drops to the equivalent of wine, and, againm there's no actual difference.)

5:33 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

I base this on my experience in college, the details of which make Frum purim look like tea at the vicars.

I can't imagine that tea at the vicars looked anything like the way some local mesibot were cescribed. Also, I'm not sure if you are aware of this, but cases of severe alcohol poisoning - some fatal - are on the rise in colleges across America. As a parent, I can't imagine that it would be worth mistaking a kid who is just "sleeping it off" with a kid who has depressed breathing and is at risk for aspirating his own vomit. Just a thought.

5:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right. So how again do you think boys should be getting drunk away from parental supervision?

Well, I can only speak to my experience-- I was 18 working at a summer camp and went out for my first legal drink (this was back in the 1970's). The rum and cokes were OK, I really shouldn't have switched to tequilla. The only think I regret was driving home at 100 mph on a curving mountain road in a car driven by someone who had had more to drink than me. How we avoided learning about irresistable forces and immovable objects is beyond me.

The experience did teach me to pay attnetion to how much I've been drinking and to stop before it became unpleasant.

Learning this from direct experience is a much better way to internalize the lesson than simply accepting the word of authority figure, most of whom have demonstrated that their word isn't to be trusted in any case.

5:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding the poster describing whether or not his daughter should drink: There is no basis in halacha for women to get drunk on Purim, or any time of year. Sorry for the double standard, but women who drink are frowned upon (see commentaries on the connections between sotah and nazir).

Well, I'm egalitarian Conservative, and I don't know whether our poskim have ruled on this issue of whether women are equally obligated, but it seems to me that if they want to be elegible for a minyan and be able to lead services, then they should also be obligated on this mitzva.

5:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, I'm not sure if you are aware of this, but cases of severe alcohol poisoning - some fatal - are on the rise in colleges across America.

You know, I wonder about such statistics. After all, the drinking age has been raised to 21 and colleges are much more strict about even alcohol posessesion than they were back in my time.

I was in school circa 1971 in a state with an 18-year old drinking age at the time, and no official prohibitions against alcohol. The school ran a taproom on campus, in fact.

Now stuff like property damage and vomiting, and obnoxious behavior from drunken students was always an issue, but I never remember anyone talking about actual cases of alcohol poisoning or even where people, God forbid, died.

Also, remember, that alcohol was only one of a range of intoxicating substances, although I only had experience with pot, there was a minority of people who used harder drugs.

But given that everyone I know who drank, smoked, and used pot back then doesn't know makes me think that Mr.Califano is not 100% accurate about the "slippery slope" argument.

5:55 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

First of all, did you not notice the point I made that this is not simply about college age kids - but about minors?? The boys that are getting drunk at their high school aprties are well below the age of majority. We are not talking about young adults here, in many cases. We are talking about children. And children should not have the opportunity to drink away from parental supervision with those that are entrusted with theior care turining a blind eye.

6:02 PM  
Blogger frumNconfused said...

hi orthomom, im new here! great post. too many stories about minors having to go to the emergency room to get a "detox". underage drinking is against the law, therefore against halacha!

6:49 PM  
Blogger The Town Crier said...

one word, its called sense.
The parents of these kids dont have it, the idiots who dole out alcohol to the kids dont have it, and the kids themselves dont have it.

The first year i made the rounds at various yeshivish purim chagigahs during high school around brooklyn was also my last. (way back in 10th grade) I was horrified by my classmates when they arrived purim night at the principals house. I was horrified by the hoodlems and lost souls i encountered walking home. I was equally disturbed at my rebbe the next evening when i arrived at his house after his seuda and was stunned at the illnesses plaguing his living room - an tho im sure a few were inebriated before they arrived, he supplied plenty. I then stupidly went along with them (rebbes wife drove) the torah vodaas purim chagigah. I can tell you that harlem at 2 am is less frightening. I was certainly no goody goody at age 16 but i still ran 2 blocks away to find a payfone and beg for someone to get me the hell out of there. A couple of years later, (12th) I attempted to deliver shalach manos (for myself and a friend as a shaliach) to a teacher (rabbi) who lived in queens. I wasnt sure which house and apartment washis, and one stupid wrong turn had me trapped in a circle drunkards, (they were all really young boys with what i could only assume was their rebbe - who seemed euqally out of control) it took a couple of minutes of horror before i took advantage of an uncoordinated opening to escape. When i arrived in the correct apt it was laguhable how i honestly shaking from fear.

This was all more than ten years ago - and nothing has changed.

Like every other hyprocitical inane problem in the orthodox community, we love to talk about it but we do nothing about. Where the hell is the moetzes takana insisting "Minors must consume alcohol" no exceptions - or at the very least, if theres a kid at your door, and you arent his parent or legal gaurdian, DONT FREGGIN GIVE HIM A DRINK!

This shushan purim I have heard the usual round of first and second hand accounts of young people passing out, etc. from a potentially lethal consumption of too much alcohol.

7:47 PM  
Blogger The Town Crier said...

Sorry, there's a word "NOT" missing from that rant.

7:50 PM  
Anonymous Helene said...

Thanks, OM for bringing up this topic. Even though it's cogent EVERY YEAR it needs to be said EVERY YEAR as well. Underage drinking is NOT OK legally. You do not need to be drunk to have fun on Purim. If we can get through to our kids and save maybe one young person, then it's worth it. Getting throw-up drunk is NOT Jewish.

7:52 PM  
Blogger The Town Crier said...

While im whining about chagigahs, I might add that a purim highlight of mine for past 9 years has been the sober alcohol free yu purim chagigah on the first night. A more festive and innocent way to celebrate purim does not exist in the NY area, as no one has a necessity to get inebriated. I have admired for years the scores of people from outside yu - young and old alumni, rabbis, yeshiva/day school teachers, etc who bring their students, or young children (something which i took note of alot more this year than before) to the YU chagigah, which had to move 3 years ago from the beis medrash to the gym to accomodate the number of revelers.

8:22 PM  
Blogger RR said...

I just hope the ones driving all the drunken kids around are sober!

6:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My mother was killed by a drunk driver. She was a young, healthy woman on her way to the supermarket. Drinking is not a harmless sport. I personally do not like to drive through heavily Orthodox neighborhoods on Purim for this reason.

8:39 AM  
Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

OM: Another aspect that has to be addressed next year is the use of terrorist-grade explosives by kids.

I cannot recall a Purim where the explosives were as loud as they were. Granted, this is probably (hopefully) limited to Israel only, but the amount of firepower/explosves that kids today have access to is downright scary.

At the Muqata, we have a zero-tolerance policy towards firecrackers (and above)...but my kids seem to know all about them from yeshiva.

My MDA beeper has going off non-stop the past few days from kids getting hurt by fireworks, and its high time that the school system start informing kids that fireworks really are dangerous.

11:35 AM  
Blogger Jewboy said...

town crier-I'm not from New York, but I'm having a hard time with what you wrote. I acknowledge that drinking on Purim can be a negative thing, but is it really as terrifying as you describe it? Were people trying to hurt you or soemthing? I've seen some not so great stuff on Purim, but nothing like what you describe. Please elaborate.

1:41 PM  
Blogger The Town Crier said...

which description?
I'd be glad to elaborate. Suffice to say that the yeshiva boys across the board were alot more frightening than the derelicts encounter in the nyc subways. and i unfortunately not exaggerating.

Shall i describe the guys who came to the rebbes basement to dance and within 10 seconds 3 guys were stuck under a falled wood closet door? Or about the guy who was flipped he just kept repeating the phrase "we went to rabbo frankel's shul"...
We were some where closed to avenu I and bedford, and there was a van going to boro park and I got kicked off the van and had to walk back to east 7th street and avenue j. I started walking with a cousin of mine who later decided to run off to another party. while we were walking we passed an older female aquaintence who was with a few other people, among them a young bochur who was so stoned he had no clue what his name was or where he leived. She desparately pleaded with us if we might recognize him so they can get him home cuz they surely did not want to just abandon the kid.
At some point during the walk we were joined by a semi intoxicated older bochur who decided that due to my extreme disgust with the entire bklyn purim scene that i must be drunk as well and insisted on overpowering me and being my soberoldermature escort all the way to my corner.

That party in the rebbes house in tenth grade? It was my first time in room filled with 2 dozen drunk people, it was freaky. I dunno if it was the kisses, the barf, the incoherent speech patterns, the contorted facial expressions, or the total lack of control in general.

The party at torah vodaas? If i described it in simple english it could pass for physical assault by people under the legal drinking age whose judgement was severly impaired by consumption of lethal doses of alcohol.

That time in 1th grade when i made the wrong turn was entrapment. Imagine the horror movie when the girl is stuck trapped in a circle of overpowering zombies scaring the crap out of her.

NOne of the above is exaggerated, im actually being nice.

3:10 PM  
Blogger I'm Haaretz, Ph.D. said...

Alcohol will always be available: from the rebbi doling out vodka shots on Purim, to the kids with six packs of beer and pockets full of joints in 'the woods', to the mandatory year in Israel that is *full* of drinking and more...

It's up to parents to teach their kids when to drink and how to drink safely. Complaining about the powers that be who allow it to happen is not helpful. A lot of people just want to get drunk and act insane-Purim is their big shot at behavior that would otherwise be inexcusable. If a rebbi came out and said 'this is unacceptable', it would hardly stop them. The question is if your kid will be one of them.

[I wrote about a foolproof way to teach your kids about the consequences of alcohol consumption, but blogger (or at least my site) is down, so scrap that.]

10:39 PM  
Blogger SephardiLady said...

In response to the above: If the Rebbes would be sober themselves, at least they could notice when a student of theirs has had enough at a party and it is time to "take away the keys" and the drinks, so to speak.

1:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a young girl, and I've seen boys come to my house completely plastered. I've seen boys in the worst state possible, and it's hard for me to look past that, and I get disgusted when I pass them in the street. Boys don't realize what a danger drinking is. Many of them also smoke on Purim. They think, just today I'll have a few cigarettes, but I won't get addicted, but it's really not true. Many boys have their first cigarette on Purim, and can't stop smoking them after.

6:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the dark side of orthodoxy. I never saw it before. Maybe my grandparents were at least a little bit right to walk away. I have been for 11 years a Balat Teshuva but this Purim has damaged my heart very, very badly. Very.

Dignity, morality and common sense are in place, no matter what day it is.

It's the "holy, holy, holier than thou" thing. Trying to be holier than the next guy. That has caused this.

We are the people of the mind. So, to mess up your mind is the worst thing we can do. The mind is our most precious part.

Yeah, it's been a long galus. But I didn't check my brains at the door when I became BT, eleven years ago.

Where is derech eretz?

See what fancy terms I have learned?

What does the Chofetz Chaim say?

Getting drunk is NOT in the Megillah. It's just a minhag or something. Indeed, King Asuerhas is mocked for drinking too much, at the beginning of the Megillah.

Yes, you can breathe in a tiny piece of your own vomit, get pneumonia as a result, and die. That's why you have to the hospital. They prop you up and monitor your hydration. UGH.

No water in the house on Purim???

I am religious. I am not crazy.

I am also furious.

5:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is NOTHING on planet earth so RAPIDLY addicting as cigarettes.

Then, you are a slave forever. It is ferociously, monstrously, hard to quit.

UGHHHHHHHHHHHH

5:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Celebrating Purim correctly may be harder than learning to be shomer Shabbat. It may be the single hardest thing in Judaism.

Really.

It is very subtle, very mystical. Lots of masks.

We are tested hard. We do NOT have our usual crutches!!! We are on our own!

5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Women? Their livers are smaller. Their blood volume is smaller. They process sugars differently from men, and alchohol is a sugar among other things.

WOMEN! don't. A leeetle itty bitty glass of wine, just to relax a TINY bit, is all for you. Or nothing.

We can't handle it. And it looks worse on us.

But it looks terrible on everybody.

Gee whiz, why is imagination so scarce people have to find it in a bottle? I mean, try thinking. About the miracle.

5:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I notice the Golden Calf horror is in the Parsha right after Purim. Hmmm.

5:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If we lose EVEN ONE

what is the attitude, that we can spare a few?

When a Jew dies it is like a Torah scroll burns

We are LIFE AFFIRMING

OK what are you really, really going to do about it?

You folks may not be CHABAD, but somebody talk to the CHABAD people too.

5:39 PM  
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4:09 AM  

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