Young haredi teens in Brooklyn go shul hopping to get access to free booze. But a series of emergency hospitalizations for alcohol poisoning has finally caused the haredi community to – slowly and very weakly – begin to deal with the problem.
The Brooklyn Daily reports that young haredi teens in the Flatbush and Midwood neighborhoods of Brooklyn often go shul hopping on Friday nights, dropping in to sholom zachors to get access to free booze. But a series of emergency hospitalizations for alcohol poisoning has finally caused the haredi community to – slowly, weakly and sporadically – begin to deal with the problem:
“This has been going on for years, unfortunately, but there’s more of it because there are more kids out there,” said a local emergency medical technician, who requested anonymity. “It’s a taboo topic, that’s always been swept under the rug for some reason.”
Agudath Israel Bais Binyomin on Avenue L banned hard liquor at sholom zachors after two children attending separate sholom zachors became so intoxicated that they passed out. According to the Brooklyn Daily, both children were hospitalized. Agudath Israel Bais Binyomin also tightened its supervision of beer and wine consumption at sholom zachors.
Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, a psychologist who is a former Executive VP of the Orthodox Union (OU), is a long time opponent of alcohol-drenched religious celebrations. Writing in the Jewish Press, Weinreb explained why he dreds Purim, a Jewish holiday that traditionally includes a significant amount of alcohol consumption:
“It was on a very recent Purim that I was called to counsel an emotionally traumatized Hatzolah ambulance driver who had spent the day delivering a number of teenagers to the local hospital, and who had to break the news of the death of one of them to the boy’s parents.…The most troubling aspect of the phenomenon of alcohol abuse throughout our community, but especially among the youth, is that alcohol consumption is condoned within the context of our religious celebrations and on the premises of our religious institutions. Even more troubling is that alcohol use is sanctioned, and in some cases encouraged and even idealized, by many of the leaders of our community.”
[Hat Tip: Ed Weintrob.]