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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Of Bar Mitzvah Boys And Beer

I was at a Bar Mitzvah a few months ago where there was a minor brouhaha over a case of suspected underage drinking. Apparently. somone had spotted a group of the Bar Mitzvah boy's friends walking around with bottles of beer. Someone went to investigate, and it turned out that the bartender had been, at the kids' request, refilling the empties that he had poured out for the adults with the kids' choice of soda. When the father of the Bar Mitzvah boy was notified, ostensibly so he could put an end to the fun, he demurred, obviously thinking the whole thing was creative and hilarious. And so, tens of thirteen-year-olds continued to walk around a party swigging what appeared to be beer, with the host's approval.

However, that these kids would think it's terribly cool to walk around with alcoholic drinks in their hands doesn't surprise me. Since the days that I was a teenager, the dangerous and illegal practice of underage drinking has not been able to shake its image of being a really cool thing to do. What does surprise me is how the culture of drinking has gained more and more of a foothold in our communities. It's one thing to have a drink (or a couple) when eating dinner out with adults, and I'm not even against adults sharing a L'Chaim at a simcha. But the drinking has become constant. I have been at peoples' homes for meals on Shabbos, where hosts and guests alike have gotten raucously drunk polishing off bottle after bottle of booze - with their children sitting at the table. I was at a Bar Mitzvah recently where there was tray after tray of designer cocktails being passed around - and that was in addition to a full open bar, with 6 different types of designer beer. It was no wonder that the kids present had figured out how to beat the system and score for themselves some of the funky-looking flourescent drinks that barely taste alcoholic at all. I was actually recently at a Bar Mitzvah where there was no alcohol served at all, due to the party's hosts having been at a Bar Mitzvah a few weeks before where a fourteen year-old guest ended up passed out on the bathroom floor of the shul, after sneaking far too many drinks from the bar. I have even heard of a disturbing trend of serving the adults mixed drinks at children's birthday parties and Upsherens (boy's first haircut). Is that really necessary? I certainly don't think it's appropriate to do a large amount of recreational drinking while supervising children.

A friend was telling me that she brought her son to a local school for his Upsheren, and when she asked the Rebbe performing the Upsheren what she should bring for the party, he gave her a list that included cake, honey for her child to lick off the hebrew letters (a tradiitonal part of the event) - and some alcohol for the Rebbes to make a L'Chaim. She said she was grateful for the receiving line of Rebbes coming in to say Mazel Tov to her and her family - but somewhat uncomfortable when they helped themselves to a shot in honor of her son's first haircut, with a passel of 4 year-olds looking on. Not that anyone imbibed inappropriately - no one had more than a shot apiece. But still, is it appropriate for Rebbes to be drinking even the tiniest drop of alcohol on the job? In front of their students? Do you think it's even legal? And I fully understand that the practice of drinking a L'Chaim has traditionally accompanied the marking of lifecycle events in the Orthodox world. But in today's day and age, when the drinking that goes on in out communities has progressed so far beyond a quick shot (or a few) of schnapps drunk out of a plastic shot glass to accompany herring and kichel, to wine, beer, mixed drinks, and hard liquor served everywhere from parlor meetings to Sunday Tzedakah brunches? Maybe the drinking of liquor at every event has to be reassessed. Perhaps the quick drinking of L'Chaims that used to acceptable at every Simcha has now, due the increase of public drinking in the Orthodox community, become no longer appropriate.

I am aware that many shuls have instituted alcohol-free kiddushim. And while I applaud that move, I am not even sure that I think that would have been necessary - had the drinking just remained a the simple making of a L'Chaim with friends and family to commemorate a special event. But it hasn't. It has become a part of life. I always remember my father pouring a small shot glass for his guests on Shabbos between the fish and the soup course, as his father used to do. And it certainly never seemed to me, as a child, like anything I wanted to partake in. But change the scene to men laughing wildly while pouring shot after shot throughout the Shabbos meal - and suddenly it seems a whole lot more attractive of a habit.

Now don't get me wrong. I love a good glass of red wine or a well-made appletini as much as the next girl. I just question whether our kids' birthday parties and Upsherens, Shabbos meals, and Bar Mitzvahs are the appropriate place to imbibe.

Update: Here are a couple of links on the subject of modeling the proper behavior for our children from the always wise and well-written Rabbi Yakov Horowitz: I, II

80 Comments:

Anonymous shanna said...

It is, in my mind, most certainly appropriate for adults to drink at these events...but to do so responsibly so as to set the proper example for children. I'd rather have my (not-yet-existent) children see me enjoying a couple of glasses of wine at Shabbat dinner or sharing my best Scotches with guests a simcha, as opposed to drinking the same items at special "adult parties" where it becomes the forbidden fruit.

However, I would never get drunk in the presence of children, nor would I permit anyone to do so in my home.

12:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The beer bottle story gave me the willies. The hosts should have told the bartender to stop, and the boys to throw the bottles away. Were the boys rabbis or principal at the bat mitzvha? Were any of their parents there as guests?

12:08 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

shanna said...

It is, in my mind, most certainly appropriate for adults to drink at these events...but to do so responsibly so as to set the proper example for children.


That's just my point, Shanna. If the adults can't seem to drink responsibly at these events or at the Shabbos table, - and especially if underage drinking is occuring - maybe the hosts shouldn't be taking that risk.

12:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am glad you were so responsible in this post and did not mention specific shuls or parties.

12:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post OM.

12:13 PM  
Blogger The Town Crier said...

The only problem I had with the unilateral band was that it was a band aid on the bigger problem. All it did was make the boozing relocate to Ploni's living room - it didnt address the real problem those shul/shuls had of weekend alcoholics, ie why did the 40 year old daddies have to binge shabbos morning in the first place?
This is one of the most hyppocritical things about modern american orthodox culture, it runs the gamut from the most "modernish" orthodox jews all the way to the most chassidic.
They communal leaders don't get it. We keep seeing more and more of these "at risk" youth yeshivas and orgaznizaions without educating adults that they are really setting a poor example.
Sure, theres some (?) religious significance to taking a little shot and saying lchaim at a happy occasion. But 7th grade boys who just put on teffilin for the first time should be running door to door in yeshiva with a choice of chivas or jack offering the rebbeim a swig at 9am, and the rebbes should be partaking.

12:32 PM  
Blogger SephardiLady said...

I too like to enjoy a glass of wine with a seudah or even an occassional mixed drink.

But, some of the drinking I see resembles a frat party more than an enhancement of a seudah or the enhancement of a simcha.

When the drinking becomes so central, it is probably time to re-evaluate. When children are imitating the adults to such a degree of putting their soda in beer cans, a re-evaluation is probably way overdue!

12:35 PM  
Blogger BLOPPYHS said...

I too brought in the requisite shnaps for my sons' upsherins and did not give it a second thought at the time except for the logistics of bringing in the huge glass bottle, and pondering the choice of a simple Johnny Walker Black as opposed to some of the really good stuff that might spur an additional onslaught of solicitations before the next school dinner! I do think you make an excellent point about the impropriety of drinking on the job AND in front of the kids - and not just 3 and 4 year olds - the rebbe's entire first grade class was present as well. On the other hand, isn't it true that measured, appropriate drinking at special occasions, as well as ritual drinking at kiddush and the Pesach sedarim (even by children) has resulted in an overall REDUCED rate of alcholholism in the Jewish community?

12:47 PM  
Blogger Halfnutcase said...

(note: i don't drink very much, and when i do, i don't drink more than a couple mL at a single sitting)

if they're drinking is out of hand then i don't think that they should be doing this at simchas anymore, so i guess i agree with orthomom.

a quick lechiam with a good friend in honor of a life cycle event is a little bit diffrent though. as long as it just one lechaim, at special occasions.

(kinda like the cases at the yeshivas of old when a bochur would get engaged and he'd bring ONE med size bottle of mashke and 1 cake to seder to give a little to each of his friends and his rebbi, and noone got drunk. that's ok.

out of control drinking is never ok. we don't want to teach our kids to be alcoholics

12:48 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

On the other hand, isn't it true that measured, appropriate drinking at special occasions, as well as ritual drinking at kiddush and the Pesach sedarim (even by children) has resulted in an overall REDUCED rate of alcholholism in the Jewish community?

It's absolutely possible. My point is, however, if the drinking hadn't gotten out of hand, then maybe the little shots here and there would remain harmless. But when a child sees his parents and their friends drink to drunkenness - and then he even sees his Rebbe imbibing during class hours, maybe it's time to reevaluate.

12:49 PM  
Blogger The Town Crier said...

nevermind the fact that this all against the freggin law.

1:00 PM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

This all comes back to the old question: Whatever happened to common sense?

Personally, the weddings of both myself and my siblings were completely liquor-free. People don't need to get smashed or even drink at all to partake in a simcha - and if they do, they probably shouldn't be there. On some occasions, a l'chaim can be appropriate: A kid's upsherin should be obvious that it isn't one of them.

1:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isaiah 28:7-8
This is nothing new.
Unfortunately no one learns anything. (Double meaning).

1:06 PM  
Blogger BLOPPYHS said...

It's absolutely possible. My point is, however, if the drinking hadn't gotten out of hand, then maybe the little shots here and there would remain harmless. But when a child sees his parents and their friends drink to drunkenness - and then he even sees his Rebbe imbibing during class hours, maybe it's time to reevaluate.

I'm not sure that it's gotten out of hand. Inappropriate drunkeness has certainly gone on since before the days of the shtetl. Chronic alcholholism is different than just liking to party. Parents should use better judgment in front of their kids, and sometimes there's a lag in the time that young parents realize their children are no longer infants, but thinking individuals who learn from their parents' example, but I do believe most of what you've discussed is truly harmless. Poor judgment, no doubt (particularly the parent who allowed beer bottles to be filled with soda), but ultimately far more harmless than the malicious gossip that certainly followed.

1:11 PM  
Blogger The Town Crier said...

Inappropriate drunkeness has certainly gone on since before the days of the shtetl.

They didnt have cars in the days of the shtetl. they didnt have streets that tipsy people could stumble into...

In any event, this is a dumb argument used all over the sphere no matter what the topic is. why is that the thical barometer? maybe their behavior wasnt perfect?

1:19 PM  
Blogger SephardiLady said...

bloppyhs-Wow, what a resort, accusing those of us who want to have a discussion about something that is a problem in our communities of malicious gossip. Unfortunately, it is a common resort, which is probably why the web is one of the only "safe" places to discuss such things.

1:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They had wagons in the shtetl and then they had cars, all of which could inflict considerable damage. And they had roads and streets as well. What have you been drinking, crier?

1:23 PM  
Blogger Classmate-Wearing-Yarmulka said...

Well at least I now know that kids by Bar Mitzvahs act the same way my friends and I did a decade ago.

Except that usually the bartenders wouldn't give us anything and we resorted to swiping some booze when he wasn't looking or getting an adult to get us drinks.

1:38 PM  
Blogger The Town Crier said...

ok.
let me know when you find the stastistics of alcohol related injuries or fatalities in people under age of 20 in the small towns of eastern europe 20's and 30's.

1:58 PM  
Blogger The Town Crier said...

autmobile related

1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haha. First orthomom tries to solve the problem of bullying now she tackles on the problem of underage drinking. Both of which are nothing new and are NOT at a higher level than they were during orthomom's shletered upbringing.

You have quite the level of self importance. Whats next, solving world hunger or curing cancer?

I think youd be better off taking on the kind of things you do best- spending your husbands money and making sure your nanny isnt stealing anything from your home.

2:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haha. First orthomom tries to solve the problem of bullying now she tackles on the problem of underage drinking. Both of which are nothing new and are NOT at a higher level than they were during orthomom's shletered upbringing.

You have quite the level of self importance. Whats next, solving world hunger or curing cancer?

I think youd be better off taking on the kind of things you do best- spending your husbands money and making sure your nanny isnt stealing anything from your home.

2:09 PM  
Blogger BLOPPYHS said...

Anon, you are clearly mistaking lively disagreement with baseless, ad hominem attacks. This is offensive to everyone - especially those who disagree with the subtleties of certain points OM has made on this issue, but not with her/our right to debate it in a non-violent forum. Have a beer, relax and maybe try quail shooting as an outlet for your bizarre aggression.

2:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon 2:09

i disagreed with OM on the bullying matter, but i'm not as sure as you are here that the problem is not worse than it was before.

but her solution is wrong and just plain silly if for no other reason than it is simply an impractical solution that will never happen

(i too cannot stand suggestions that are akin to "there's too much fighting in the world, it is time to ban and destroy all weapons").

2:32 PM  
Blogger LkwdGuy said...

My father would always drink a l'chaim after the fish friday night and then all us kids would line up to get a piece of challah dipped into the shnapps. And we all grew up to be fathers that drink a l'chaim after the fish and give a piece of challah dipped in schnapps to our kids.

2:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

CHAZAL never made a bracha for hard liquor, vodka, spirits, gin or anything like that.

CHAZAL made a bracha for WINE ONLY SO WHY DO WE HAVE THIS DISGUSTING PEASANT HABIT, PICKED UP ON A BAD DAY IN EASTERN EUROPE, UGH, of drinking hard liquor AT ALL?????

Just say, "No thank you. Is there any wine?".

We drink WINE WINE WINE WINE - and with FOOD. And not too much.

Gee whiz. This l'Chaim stuff is for wine. FORGET the other stuff.

I am still not over Purim, you should excuse me.

YUCK!!!!! ARGH!!!! HORRORS!

2:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My mother was killed by a drunk driver many years ago. I would've like to have danced with her at my wedding and to have her see grandchildren. The driver claimed he "just had one drink". Yeah, right.

3:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My mother was killed by a drunk driver many years ago. I would've like to have danced with her at my wedding and to have her see grandchildren. The driver claimed he "just had one drink". Yeah, right.

3:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I just question whether our kids' birthday parties and Upsherens, Shabbos meals, and Bar Mitzvahs are the appropriate place to imbibe."

Don't forget Sholom Zecharim!

3:07 PM  
Anonymous i hate the taste said...

If this needs a tikkun (sorry for the choice of words) it needs to start at the adults. The adults need to stop the unnecessary drinking even if its "only" a l'chaim.

3:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Loosen up!

Bad enough there are almost no outlets for the Ultra Orthodox.

3:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Torah Torah Torah! We're supposed to put all our heart and soul into Torah. Not liquor! Not sex! Not sports! Not any other nonsense. Torah Torah Torah. How long will it take us to figure that out???!!!

3:15 PM  
Blogger SephardiLady said...

Loosen up!

Bad enough there are almost no outlets for the Ultra Orthodox.


Why do alcohol and cigarettes need to be the outlets? Why not go jogging, play ball, or lift weights? I'm sure that many other outlets can be found outside of the drinking which is becoming quite de rigeur.

3:29 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...


LkwdGuy said...

My father would always drink a l'chaim after the fish friday night and then all us kids would line up to get a piece of challah dipped into the shnapps. And we all grew up to be fathers that drink a l'chaim after the fish and give a piece of challah dipped in schnapps to our kids.


Exactly my point. We are the same way. But I don't harbor any illusions as to how the kids whose fathers get drunk with their freinds at the Shabbos table will act in 30 years. Do you?

3:30 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...


but her solution is wrong and just plain silly if for no other reason than it is simply an impractical solution that will never happen


What's my solution? I didn't put one forward. I simply raised the issue of whether the drinking has gotten out of hands. If there was a way to prevent people from overimbibing, while still serving alcohol at every event, I would love to hear.

3:32 PM  
Anonymous deemer said...

OM, you bring up good points, but I think they're a little misguided. I think alchohol in moderation is a healthy thing. My grandfather drinks a shot a day, in the morning, on the advice of his doctor years ago. He has poor circulation, and rather than take drugs that have dangerous side effects, one swig of schnapps seems to do the trick.

You can't punish the many for the few. There are a few people who have drinking problems. And the fault of underage drinking, such as the bar mitzvah scenarios that you described, are the fault of the bartenders and the parents. ID's are required by law. Not manning your post and allowing a child to become inebriated is not the child's fault, nor is it the fault of the Rabbi in the corner drinking a glass of schnapps. And a shabbos meal that's degenerating into a wild alchohol-fueled party is the fault of the host, who should pass one glass, and put away the rest.

Alchohol is a part of society. Taking it away only leads to the fiasco experienced during the Prohibition. Better to make a good example of it's proper usage. And yes, I think that any simcha is an opportunity for a single drink. Just be sure not to drive, and keep the lines of communication open with your teenager about the effects of drugs, smoking, and alchohol.

3:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kudos on another well written piece. It is amazing that you have such a full social schedule, and still have time to publish an almost daily dose of reality.

Drinking, or substance abuse of any sort by children is rampent and under discussed topic. Some institutions have started to deal with it. YI Of Woodmere was the 1st shul with a non hard alochol in shul rule. HAFTR has mandatory random substance abuse testing in its HS.

Kol Hakavod.

These thype of progressive programs need to be community wide, non-deminotional and universally applied, to whomever the child is no matter the parents stature.

3:45 PM  
Blogger Halfnutcase said...

hand the alcohol to the one person who doesn't drink at the party? (and looks at people who drink to much as the scum of the earth?)

3:48 PM  
Blogger Halfnutcase said...

anyone who thinks this isn't a problem of alot of people, even a majority, should think again. ever watch purim antics? they're sickening.

3:50 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

You can't punish the many for the few. There are a few people who have drinking problems.

I wish we were talking about the few. I have witnessed many people getting drunk too many times for it to be a matter of "the few".

3:55 PM  
Anonymous deemer said...

Purim antics -

That's a whole other post. But the Jewish community at large is addressing the problem to help the misguided realize that falling-down-drunk is not a halachik requirement. Much of what you see is not the behavior of malicious drunkards, but of teens and young adults taking what they perceive as the law to an extreme.

Completely different than what OM was discussing.

3:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have friends that allow their young kids to make a l'chaim on shabbos or at a simcha as long as it is in their presence. I have to agree with them. If a child is constantly told no and he sees adults doing it he will eventually do it behind their back. But if he knows he can try it they don't have the same desire. And even if they do at least it is in the presence of an adult were the damage can be limited. As someone who deals with children "At Risk" the main problem is that they cannot relate to their parents and have to sneak out to get their thrills.

3:59 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...



I have friends that allow their young kids to make a l'chaim on shabbos or at a simcha as long as it is in their presence. I have to agree with them. If a child is constantly told no and he sees adults doing it he will eventually do it behind their back.


All well and good. But the people who are drinking to extreme tipsiness in front of their children, at every opportunity, are not teaching their children anything but that drinking is a pasttime to be enjoyed at every opportunity. And I can't espouse that.

4:03 PM  
Blogger DAG said...

I once saved the life of a 16 Year old High school kid who got drunk at his rebbe's house on Purim...These are serious issues. Some people are scareed for life because of drinking habits they picked up in yeshiva...I recall going to an NHL hockey game wiht some friends in our h/s days. We thought it funny when 1 boy with a beard ordered and recieved a beer even though he was 17....not funny anymore as he has been in alcohol recovery for YEARS

4:05 PM  
Blogger Halfnutcase said...

i don't see the difference between over drinking on purim and alcoholism.

if your overdrinking on purim, chances are you overdrink at any other excuse as well.

honestly i just don't see what's different.

5:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Purim or everyday, underage drinking of any sort is unacceptable. Any attempt to justify it is wrong.

5:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Drinking is less of a problem now than it has even been before.

Just google underage drinking, or drinking in general and you will find many different studies showing that overall drinking is down over 20% since the 80s and even more so among teens. There is no reason to beleive that for some reason the jewish community has gone in the reverse direction.



http://www.yalealumnimagazine.com/issues/01_05/alcohol.html

http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/BingeDrinking.html

5:23 PM  
Blogger DAG said...

I always asked kids who got drunk on Purim why it was THAT Mitzvah that they were most makpid on

5:25 PM  
Anonymous Fox said...

The anonymous poster who urged us to "loosen up" has an important point, albeit not one connected to alcohol.

Depending on one's kehilla, it *does* seem as if more and more interests, hobbies, or even relatively harmless guilty pleasures are denounced as "goyish" and are either banned outright or driven into hiding. One of my employees used to sneak time at work to read the Harry Potter series as well as a few news weeklies -- he loved fiction and was interested in current events, but his wife wouldn't allow any secular books in the house.

I wonder if the increased acceptability of excessive or inappropriate alcohol consumption is really a reflection of the need many people have for self-medication. It's true that there have always been those who abuse alcohol, but maybe it would be less prevalent if people had a wider variety of "outlets" through which to have plain old unadulterated fun.

5:51 PM  
Anonymous trn said...

My father became very tipsy at shul one Simchat Torah morning when I was young. His behavior caused me to feel embarrassed, confused, awkward, and perhaps a bit insecure.

6:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is no bracha for hard liquor. Only for wine.

Meaning: hard liquor is not for us.

A glass of red wine a day is indeed good for some. With food. Fine.

WHY do we think we need anything stronger? WHAT do we say before drinking it? Thank you, Yosky? There is no bracha for it. Get the message? It cannot be made holy. IT'S NOT KOSHER!!!

START A MOVEMENT: we don't drink anything that there is no bracha for!!!

7:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Soda, coffe and tea are types of water. Say the bracha for water.

If there is alcohol, it has got to be the fruit of the VINE. Not John Barleycorn, etc.

7:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alas, we hung around too many mujiks.... ask your grandma what a mujik is.

7:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

THIS is what makes apikorsim!!

It is a chilul Hashem.

7:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank god for rabbi heshie billett of woodmere - a true revoltionary

7:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe orthomom has a point. I've seen way too many men get very drunk at a regular shabbos meal. I've heard too many stories about guys who stayed at shalom zachors till all hours throwing back shot after shot. quite frankly, i find it frightening. i don't think a blanket ban is the way to go, i think individuals need to stop and think about what they are doing and what effect it has on them ,their children, their wives, their community.

7:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forget the men, what about the women in this neighborhood who get trashed at kiddushim and shabbos meals.It's disgusting and a poor example for your children.

8:07 PM  
Anonymous voice of reason said...

I agree with 7:27 anon. We need individual responsibility, not bans. Like with anything else potentially harmful, too much is no good.

Drinking is like blogging. If you let it take over your life, it can ruin you. Both are addictive, and both can have negative impacts on relationships. Be careful.

9:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Women drunk at a kiddush? this i have yet to see (anon of 7:27)

11:04 PM  
Blogger grumpygirl said...

but wait, (said facetiously), my mother told me that jews don't become alcoholics, and that they have full liquor cabinets that nobody drinks from.

me, i'm a lightweight. more than 2 drinks and i'm wearing a lampshade on my head. on family holidays, i'm generally fast asleep on the guest bed before the food is served (talk about avoidance...)

i guess what i'm saying is that i grew about around tons of alcohol that nobody ever drank, and because it was there and nobody cared about it i didn't care much either.

12:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

momof4:

"But still, is it appropriate for Rebbes to be drinking even the tiniest drop of alcohol on the job? In front of their students?"

If you do not mean to imply that we should find a way to end any rabbis drinking at any religious occassion where their students are found then it is a useless opinion. If you mean to imply this should be stopped then you've offered what i said to be a completely impractical solution.

"Maybe the drinking of liquor at every event has to be reassessed. Perhaps the quick drinking of L'Chaims that used to acceptable at every Simcha has now, due the increase of public drinking in the Orthodox community, become no longer appropriate."

see above.

1:01 AM  
Blogger Jak Black said...

I agree with the very first post on this thread. Responsible drinking is almost certainly a better example than either drunkenness or abstinence.

Personally, I deal with the issue in my own house by serving only wine. The rowdier the bochrim, the better the wine I serve; they have no appreciation for a good wine :) And you have to drink an aweful lot before you get more than a slight buzz.

1:26 AM  
Blogger The Town Crier said...

why do so many jews have no problem openly dicussing how they happily pour drinks to people underage who are not their own children?

2:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a news flash: Excessive eating has caused many men and women in the neighborhood to become overweight leading to severe health problems such as diabetes and severe heart conditions. Let's ban all food while we are at it.

Please!

Of course there is no mitzvah to excessively drink and with everything in life, there of course has to be some moderating factor. I agree that people who consistently binge drink, probably have an unspoken alcohol problem. however, look at the positive aspects for most people who are not like that. Alcohol is a way to increase social interaction, pull the wall flowers on to the dance floor and leads to communications and positive outlook on life (B'seder panim yofos, anyone?).

I recently attended an upsherin party, mixed drinks were served, no one got drunk and everyone had a great time. Alcohol is a central part of our lives and our religion (as it is with many religions). Anyone here ever attended a "L'chaim"?

There is a famous saying in chazal "That there is no happiness without wine and meat". We can argue until today until tomorrow whether booze is or is not under the category of wine but with so many rabanim allowing the making of kiddush on booze, there is no real argument. If it is allowed for kiddush (unlike beer) then it is under the category of wine. So make a "sheHakol" and move on with life (pass the herring, please).

So drink and chill out. For the people who feel really strongly against this in these posts, I suggest you have a shot or two of Glenlivit 18, it may open your closed off mind a little bit.

10:46 AM  
Anonymous Esther said...

OM, your point, it seems to me, is that there are a number (minority or majority) of people who are demonstrating irresponsible drinking habits.

As the first poster said, (and I think most of us will agree, yourself included) it is necessary to demonstrate the appropriate behaviour with regards to alcohol and hard liquor.

So we're all saying the same thing. And I have to rmeind myself that this is a blog, it's where you record your thoughts. Fine. We all think the same thing. But thinking about something, or talking about it amongst ourselves(who presumably are of the same mindset), has no real effect on the situation. (Besides for reinforcing our personal decisions to drink appropriately or never at all etc.) Which is sort of why I tend to stay away from these heated discussions - it boils down to a lot of talk.

For some reason, today I can't resist.

I would say that the only way to affect any change is to speak to one person (if there is indeed someone of this irresponsible sort whom you are well aquainted with and could discuss this sort of thing). We don't need heated debates and large, sweeping pronouncements. I have NEVER seen those work. YOu need a direct conversation with one person, face to face, respectful and honest. This is how we change the world.

It may do well to look at the different communities and shuls and see how each and every one has made some sort of decision (whether active or passive) about how/whether to deal with this drinking issue.

I will also venture the concept that you cannot apply this (drinking) problem or any approach (to fix it) to any one sect or branch of orthodox judaism. (E.g. Those Breslavers really drink themselves under the table!(which I am not saying, just picked randomly)) Personally, I have seen a wide and varied response and manner of control in each family and each of the different shuls I have visited, all under the same umbrella (to use my example again, whether 3 breslav shuls or 3 'yeshivish' shuls). It really works on a shul-to-shul and house-to-house basis, depending on what policy/approach the Rabbi or parents have set, and more importantly, when he speaks up, how he speaks up, and whether he is willing to take the responsibility for being a leader/in charge.

I AM NOT blaming it all on the Rabbis for not leading (lets not go down that path again!) On the contrary, I have seen many situations where the Rabbi in my (current and previous) shul has put his foot down on what he will & will not tolerate, and the people who were receptive, changed. Those that couldn't deal with the standards set just left the shul. (This was two different Rabbis in two very different shuls.)

Uhm... so where does this leave me, after agreeing with what you said, but in a less sweeping sort of pronouncement sort of way? It ends with the fact that as always, the parents and ONLY the parents set the real tone of what the children learn. Because as parents, we choose the schools, and we choose the shuls, and we (to some extent) can choose the friends. So be the parents and choose responsibly.

Happy Wednesday.

10:48 AM  
Blogger Halfnutcase said...

i thought that to get drunk was prohibited on all days except purim and simchas torah, where you where allowed to get drunk and nothing more (and btw one drink will get you sufficantly drunk, but please don't get in a car to find out.)

(and btw there are bochurim who appricite fine wine. ;-))

2:37 PM  
Blogger SephardiLady said...

Uhm... so where does this leave me, after agreeing with what you said, but in a less sweeping sort of pronouncement sort of way? It ends with the fact that as always, the parents and ONLY the parents set the real tone of what the children learn. Because as parents, we choose the schools, and we choose the shuls, and we (to some extent) can choose the friends. So be the parents and choose responsibly.

Unfortunately, it is getting darn hard to parent in this world and I appreciate Orthomom speaking up.

We were just recently sitting with a very sweet boy (either 8th or 9th grader) who was recounting the Purim Party at the local Yeshiva, and every adult at the table was disgusted by his rendition of how the Rebbes were behaving.

I think that parents should feel confident in sending their children to school functions (yes, even Purim), shul functions, and even smachot frequented by community members, without worrying so much about the influences that the kids could or are picking up.

I'm all for PARENTING, but I think it is time to re-evaluate our communal policies when parents need to worry about what will be going on at that upshern or that brit milah or that bar mitzvah or that school party.

As things stand right now, when the time comes, we won't be allowing our boys to go to the local Yeshiva's Purim Party. I personally would like to see a day when we can say, go and have a good time.

3:01 PM  
Blogger thekvetcher said...

I often wonder if Richie cunningham and Ralf Malf were in todays society would they be labled as at risk kids or just your every day normal teen ager?

7:30 PM  
Blogger YMedad said...

How can you be a Rebbe without a glass schnapps?

4:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the blogger who says "Drinking is less of a problem now than it has even been before."

1 at risk kid is one to many. Lets eradicate this problem.

To the blogger who says: "For the people who feel really strongly against this in these posts, I suggest you have a shot or two of Glenlivit 18, it may open your closed off mind a little bit."

How open is ones mind when it is full of unnatural stimuli

12:24 PM  
Anonymous George said...

If one thinks that alchohol or any other stimulant is what leads to at risk kids, or that abolishing them would solve the problem of at risk kids they are greatly mistaken. While these may be symtems of at risk kids they are most definitley not the cause of the disease.

2:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Abolishing ANYTHING only sweetens the taste for the forbidden fruit. Besides, attempting to get rid of something so itegrated into our society and culture is a losing cause if I've ever heard one. NOT realistic and NOT gonna happy lady.
It's great to have all these noble idealistic ideals and ideas but if there no relation to realism, what's the point really?
Alcohol has been banned before, on a much greater scale. It didn't work during prohibition because people enjoy having a drink once in a while and do NOT like being told what they can and can not eat or drink. A shul ban would fail for very much the same reason so it's just a bad, futile idea.
The bottom line is, unlike what some on this blog seem to think, alcohol is NOT the root of all evil. The people that abuse it are dumb, immature, addicts - call them whatever you want. The fact is, the VAST majority of people drink more or less responsibly.
OM, the rightous anger you display is misguided and misdirected. Instead of pointing your finger at the drink, keep it pointed at the DRINKER. He/She needs to be responsible enough to behave like an adult - especially in front of kids.
Oh, and to the blogger who addresses everyone as "to the blogger" (AKA Anon 12:24) - you CLEARLY haven't ever had some of these unnatural stimuli. Try some, it'll loosen you up a little!

5:39 PM  
Blogger SephardiLady said...

I don't think anyone who thinks that drinking is out of control thinks alcohol is "evil." They think that the drinking is out of control and needs controlled better at certain occassions.

6:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You act like it is weird to here of jewish kids drinking. Come to boropark during shabbes or purim and see how many drunk kids you can find.

8:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You act like it is weird to here of jewish kids drinking. Come to boropark during shabbes or purim and see how many drunk kids you can find.

8:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a great story. Waiting for more. »

8:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The parents of the Rebbes that insisted on a l'chaim at the Upsheren should realize that there is a definite kabbalistic reason for this to be done. With every bracha of major significance there should be a l'chaim with hard liquor to neutralize the power of the sitra achra. Ask your Rebbe about it. It's a fact.

7:50 PM  
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