Friday, August 1, 2008

Adar in August

This is an open call to all bloggers and readers to become part of the solution to the lack of any truly open information about the problems that beset Jews.

No one has their mind on Purim right now. But I'd like you to think about Purim and Adar anyway. As I posted before, alcoholism, binge drinking and other related problems with alcohol usage are far too visible to be ignored. What I am proposing is that we make Adar Alcohol Awareness Month.

I'm asking all bloggers, regardless of the type of blog that they have, to promise that during Adar they will post at least once on alcoholism and related alcohol problems. I'd like to see some postings listing the warning signs of alcoholism. I'd like to see facts and figures. I'd like to see some real discussion.

And readers without blogs? You can help as well. Notify everyone you know that Adar is Alcohol Awareness Month. Send letters to organizations and let them know that the blogosphere will be pushing this issue in Adar and you'd like them to participate by printing articles in their newsletters.

If you are reading this and agree that it is a good idea, then please publicize it all over the Jblogosphere. Maybe together we can make a dent in the alcohol problems that exist, even if we don't like to think they do.

Why begin this early? Why not? It's going to take time to get the word out and there is no time like the present. Adar in August? Not weirder then a lot of other things we do. And yes, I will keep reminding you about this as we move on to Adar.


Anonymous said...

I'm all for the idea of an Alcoholism Awareness Month aimed at the frum community, and Adar would be a perfect time for it, but please, remind me later! I haven't figured out yet how to have a week's worth of dairy meals for my non dairy liking family, I refuse to think about Rosh Hashana and Sukkos and you've skipped me straight to Purim.

Orthonomics said...

Did you see the terrible story of some Jewish teen who extremely intoxicated and crashed a car at a bungalow colony on Shabbos no less?

Anonymous said...

SL, that terrible story happened more than once over 20 years ago when I was a teenager in the mountains. It was just covered up better because we didn't have the Internet. This isn't new stuff. Prof, I'm sorry, but I think what we need is going to be a complete shift in thought by the Rabanim at the top with regard to schooling and the demands placed on Yeshiva kids, especially boys. No awareness month--no matter how well-intentioned--is going to save those kids until the grown-ups who run the Yeshivos change course. Parents too, of course. I have one of those teens coming for Shabbos. While we won't be plugging him with liquor at Kiddush, we also will not be controlling what he does on Saturday night when he leaves here. His parents are trying so hard, but he just doesn't fit into the mold that the Yeshiva system has set for him. He is a nice kid and we will do our best this Shabbos to show him a joyful observation of Mitzvos, but--man--the whole system is screwed up and many of the parents who actually mean well don't know what to do.

Anonymous said...

I guess this is related to your previous post on (unacknowledged) problems in the community, so anyway

Last night I went to the house of a friend who had tried to organize a small tehillim group. My friend was telling me that she got inspired to start the group because of a young woman in the community who has been diagnosed with cancer. "Oh, sorry," she said. "I guess I should have said yenne machla."

I told her that I use the word cancer and that she could say it to me. After your original post my husband and I agreed that if any of the folks who do not name the dread disease were told by a doctor that "Your tests have come back, I'm sorry, it's yenne machla", they would immediately take off in search of a better doctor.

And can you imagine The Sloan Kettering Yenne Machla Center?

ProfK said...

Anonymous mom,
Re "No awareness month--no matter how well-intentioned--is going to save those kids until the grown-ups who run the Yeshivos change course" there are two elements of the problem of alcohol and our yeshiva boys. One, as you mention in your comment, is the pressure brought to bear on the boys to conform. When the pressure gets too rough they may turn to alcohol to numb themselves. But they aren't, as far as I have seen, the biggest of the two sides of the problem. The bigger side is those boys who are looking at alcohol as something "fun," as something "adult," as something condoned by the community at large. They see adult males gravitating to the liquor at kiddushim and simchas. They look at alcohol as a necessary element of any celebration. They like the "buzz." Their friends don't condemn them for "tying one on." Their rebbis offer them alcohol when they go for a Purim visit. Many, in their own homes, have been introduced to hard liquor for shabbos day kiddush from fairly young ages. Their dads don't see the problem in giving a 14 year old a shot or two.

There are already a few yeshivas that ban their rebbis from giving any talmid hard liquor on Purim. I'd like to see that extended to any alcohol, wine or beer. It will happen in actuality one day, but I'd like yeshivas to understand that the law in NY is that the person giving a drink to someone else who just might be drunk already is legally responsible if that drunk person endangers someone else or destroys property, and that parents have the right to sue rebbis/yeshivas who have offered alcohol to their children.
(Lawyer wearing Yarmulka--if you are out there, the exact statute would be a help to any parents writing or calling a yeshiva requesting a ban on alcohol.)

Saying that the problem is a big one, saying that no change is possible unless it comes from the top down, does not leave the rest of us with nothing to do. Putting pressure on the top is one place to start, even if one day, such as Purim, at a time.

Orthonomics said...

Check my blog for my latest post and you will see why we have a big uphill battle on our hands.

Anonymous said...

ProfK I'm all for it but will definitely need to be reminded closer to Adar.

A Living Nadneyda said...

prok, and anonymous mom:

You're both right. The boys are feeling all the pressure -- peer pressure, role model issues, school pressure, pressure from rebbes and from the community. The community is not doing enough to create more flexible models for these kids -- and by "flexible" I certainly do not mean "lacking boundaries,' but rather flexibility in educational style and attitude, and room for more creative thought within the community.

We adults - women! - who see the problems and feel motivated to do something, are in a wonderful position to help motivate others. Alcohol awareness month is one option. What about the carnival / resource list idea? Are we still on for getting that started?

Keep it up, profk! Make noise until they hear you!