Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Alcohol Be Gone

Readers here certainly know my views about getting drunk on Purim, or any other time as well. A commenter on one of the alcohol-related Purim posts mentioned that Simchas Torah in her area is as bad as Purim is when it comes to the drinking.

Posted below you are going to see a letter that was sent out to all residents from the mayor of the Incorporated Village of Lawrence, Nassau County, NY.

Dear Resident:

Over the past several years, our Village has become a desired destination for large numbers of teens duering the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah, which falls this year on September 29-30. We are concerned with the health and welfare of the children and their guests, the safety of residents and the protection of private property.

The Police Department has advised that they will be actively patrolling our Village during the holiday period.

Underage drinking, vandalism, congregating in streets impeding the flow of traffic and dangerous behavior will not be tolerated. The police can and will make arrests if the need arises.

Furthermore, you will be liable for criminal prosecution under the Social Host Law if an underage drinker is served alcohol in your house. A copy of the law is included with this letter.

We have reached out to our local synagogues, schools and social organizations with the hope that they will initiate activities for teens during the holiday period.

We expect all government personnel to enforce compliance with the laws of our County and we appreciate your doing so as well. Please communicate our message to the teens and guests staying your home so that their well-being is ensured.

Apparently Nassau County has a Social Host Law that went into affect in July of 2007, and the County is serious about upholding it.

Reading the letter I have to wonder just how much Sinchas Torah has changed since I last lived in the Far Rockaway area many decades ago. But whatever is the case, at least in Lawrence (and all other parts of Nassau County) getting drunk and wandering the streets could land you in a whole lot of trouble, and land your host in that trouble as well.

Plenty of food for thought in the letter.


Zev said...

To be fair to both sides here, there is a lot of friction between the frum Jews in the 5T area and those who aren't frum or aren't Jewish. A lot of those living in the area resent what they see as a takeover by frum Jews. So just maybe the type of stringency they are talking about in the letter is a 'legal' way of cracking down on the frum Jews under the banner of a law but being more about resentment.

On the other hand, the law forbidding drinking my those under 21 and also going after the hosts who give these underagers the liquor is real. Why have those laws if you never enforce them?

I think the host law is a good idea and maybe all that drinking will get under some control. The question is going to be just how far are they going to go in enforcing the law.

JS said...


I have no idea what goes on in the five towns or what friction, if any, exists. But, I am really sick of frum Jews always pointing to anti-Semitism or anti-religiousness as the prime motivation behind anything that even remotely affects the religious Jewish community. This isn't pre-war Nazi Germany. Maybe we should take a look inward and see if there's anything we need to correct or rectify. Maybe we should ask ourselves how we would feel and how we would react if a sizable number of our neighbors had a holiday and got plastered late at night and staggered home while singing loudly.

Rivi said...

You mean like they do on halloween and July 4 and New Years JS? I agree with your point that not everything is about anti-semitism and we need to look inward, but your last example already happens, and I want to know where all the police are then, and where the letters to the residents are before those holidays.

JS said...

No idea about letters to residents, but it's well-known that the cops are out in full-force on those holidays (I'd add Saint Patrick's day as well). I see cops all over my neighborhood and on the highways on those holidays. The TV news and radio report on this as well saying extra cops are on duty looking for drunk drivers and others causing problems. If you ever drive on any of these holidays you have certainly seen more than the normal amount of police cars as well as people being pulled over. Some areas even have traffic stops set up to check for drunk drivers. Don't tell me you've never noticed this. It's not anti-Christian or anti-Irish or what have you then, and it's not anti-Semitic here - it's just plain common sense.

Abba's Rantings said...

it's anti-semitism plain and simple.

(i meant the people who cause this chillul hashem, not those trzing to reign it in)

Masha said...

Good for Lawrence that the village is at least trying to make sure there is no craziness over yom tov, but tell me why the members of the frum community weren't doing this internally in the community a long time ago. The drinking should never have gotten to the point it has gotten and the bad behavior should have been stopped before it got so that a government group had to try and stop it. Where were the schools and rabbeim a long time ago? And where were the parents of these kids?

Miami Al said...


Are you really that isolated? New Years, the summer holidays, particularly July 4th and all the holidays that JS mentioned have an increased police presence. We have random checks, road blocks, etc.

The Sheriff's post messages on boater forums announcing an increased presence on the water. Forget residential neighborhoods, they announced an on the water crack down, where there were ZERO neighbors being disruptive. Look at all the states permitting suspicionless checkpoints -- i.e. random stops to check for drugs/alcohol. Or in Hialeah Gardens, A Labor Day weekend sobriety checkpoint in Hialeah Gardens involved 30 police officers and resulted in three arrested for DUI.

After Hurricane Wilma, there was a curfew because power was out, which didn't stop the Jews from dancing in the streets with the Torah. The police were very understanding and kept an eye on things, but didn't interfere.

OTOH, from coworkers living in the black/hispanic towns, the curfew was MUCH more rigorously enforced.

I'm not anti-alcohol in the least, and have ZERO problems with celebrations and merriment. However, public intoxication is a crime, and people planning to get very drunk should stay close to home and make sure that they can get home quickly.

Disrupting the peace is NOT a Mitzvah.

Abba's Rantings said...


"Where were the schools and rabbeim a long time ago?"

are you kidding? i don't know about simchas torah, but it's not uncommon on purim for rebbeim to help their underage students fulfill the mitzvah of getting drunk

leahle said...

Seems like if a frum community won't police itself, the real police will step in. Sad really that such a letter even needs to be written. Getting drunk as a mitzvah on Simchas Torah? Since when?!

Chag Sameach.

Anonymous said...

Rvi: Apart from the points mentioned by others - namely that the police do crack down on drinking on the 3 secular holidays you describe, no one who drinks or parties or causes havoc in celebration of July 4, Halloween or New Year's purports to be doing something holy or that they are special. I would also note that standards of behavior for July 4, Halloween and New Years have changed dramatically over the years. These are now largely family events, with Halloween just for very young children who are accompained to a few neighbors and relatives well before dark. Granted I live in a quiet middle class area, but so is the town that is the subject of the letter.

Miami Al said...


It is increasingly clear that the true Gadol of the Yeshiva world is Peter Pan, not the Rosh Yeshiva. While all of America has been suffering with an extended adolescence (in the secular world, you are expected to spend your 20s drifting and being out partying, not settling down and being serious until your 30s), the Yeshiva world has one-upped them.

We have men, with children, often many children, in theirs 30s and 40s still receiving financial support from their parents.

The Rebbes are getting alcohol for their students, in a desire to be "young and hip" instead of adult role models.

It seems like if you never want to grow up and become an adult, you can be a perpetual teenager by becoming a Yeshiva Rebbe, where you can be "cool" supplying alcohol to minors, etc.

This is absolutely unacceptable. The responsible adults need to take back control of Frum society, instead of getting sheepish as people sneer "balabasim" at them while cashing paychecks from their work.

Libertarian said...

If I want to provide alcohol to my 18 year old son in my home (as is customary in every country besides the puritanical USA), I'll darn well do that. If the police want to do something about that, they'd better have a warrant.

Anonymous said...

Lib, You can provide a reasonable amount of alcohol to your OWN child, but not to other people's children. Thats why its call a Social HOST Law

Libertarian said...

Anon, I feel the same about providing alcohol to other 18 year old "children" who may be in my house.

Zach Kessin said...

I feel the same about providing alcohol to other 18 year old "children" who may be in my house.

OK if you want to, as long as they stay in your house and act responsible you may be OK. OF course if they go out and get hit by a car or try to drive one then you bear legal responsibility.

Mind you IANAL.

Libertarian said...

Fascinating. Do I have that liability because they are younger than 21, or am I generally responsible for the behavior of anyone who drinks in my house?

ProfK said...


Not a lawyer here but as I understand the law in NY if a bartender or other host serving alcohol 1)continues to serve alcohol to someone who is clearly over the legal limit and 2)allows them to leave and get in a car to drive, they are liable if that drinker does damage to property or injures someone with the car, themselves included. So yes, if a guest in your home gets drunk and has an accident while using his car after leaving your home you would be liable on two counts: first, serving alcohol to a legal minor under the drinking age and second, having contributed to a vehicular accident.

I believe the law applies to when drinks are being poured by someone else. A liquor store owner is not liable if someone buys a bottle of alcohol and then drinks the whole thing by himself and then causes an accident, just as a supermarket here is not liable if someone over 21 buys a 6-pack of beer and then drinks it all and then has a car accident.