Posted to Op-Ed on

Op-Ed: In Response to Tragedy, Lifting Up the Dusty Carpet

Authors Name Withheld Upon Request

Within the last few weeks, there have been three unfortunate incidents. Two had fatal outcomes. One, miraculously, did not. These episodes, their causes, and the ensuing response (or lack thereof), have prompted me to write this.

On Thursday, the 6th of Av, a daughter of a Crown Heights family died in her sleep. She overdosed on heroin. On Friday, the 7th of Av, a young man from a frum family in Baltimore was killed in a car accident. Both he and the driver were drunk. On Shabbos, the 23rd of Tammuz, a young man crashed into a bungalow colony and, thank G-d, escaped with minor injuries. He was drunk. The two boys were 16; the girl in her 20s.

Each of these incidents could have, and should have, been avoided. But they weren’t. Sadly, incidents like these will happen again, and again, and again. Unless we do something about it.

Over the last couple of years, the frum community has started to realize that they are not immune to the sicknesses which had previously only plagued the secular world. Diseases such as alcohol abuse, drug addiction, and depression, amongst others, are rearing their ugly heads among our own. The reaction from the majority of our community was (and is) to turn the other cheek, to chalk it up as a random occurrence, to believe that these issues will never affect them, their families, or their loved ones. There are those who are vocal, but unfortunately, they are far and few between.

I cannot make up statistics, and I will not even venture guesses, no matter how educated they may be, so I will speak from personal experience. My friends encompass a wide variety of people, each with different backgrounds and levels of yiddishkeit, from frum from birth to ba’alei teshuva, from very chassidish to not religious at all. I personally know of at least 50 people who suffer from various drug addictions and mental illnesses. The drug addictions include a wide variety of substances and prescription pills. All of these people are a part of our community. With the exception of very few, their parents and relatives do not know about these addictions. They probably never will, until it is too late. Unless we change our approach in how we deal with them.

The first step is prevention. As far as I know (again, no guessing or assuming), there is absolutely zero education in our community about these issues. It’s not a comfortable topic. There will be those who will say not to talk about it at all, lest we give are children ideas. Let me tell you all a little secret. 90% of our teenagers know someone who suffers from drug abuse, whether it’s a friend, a relative, a former classmate, a friend’s sibling, or someone on their block. You’re not introducing them to a world they don’t know. Where this education should be coming from (schools or parents) and at what age it is given –that is for the community to decide. But it must be done. Our youth have to be taught the dangers of these drugs. They have to be taught to speak out against these drugs. They have to be taught that it’s okay to report the use and abuse of these drugs, whether to parents, teachers, or authorities. There is nothing more important than saving a Jewish life.

The second step is changing our reaction. Many drug abusers want help, but don’t know where to turn to. They feel that their families and community will shun them and cast them out. Children need to know that they can talk to their parents. Parents need to be able to deal with these problems without scaring away their children. The community as a whole needs to know that getting the authorities involved (when necessary) is not the wrong thing to do. Better to sit in jail for a little while then to be killed, R”L.

This is not an issue that can just be discussed, like our tuition, or the cost of cholov yisroel milk. It’s a problem that must be dealt with. If that means creating seminars for parents and teachers, then it’s the community’s responsibility to make sure that happens. If you are in the medical profession, be it mental or physical, make your services available. If you are a community leader, utilize your position to make sure this happens. If you are a community member, do everything in your power to educate yourself and those around you. It’s time to stop sweeping our problems under the carpet. Every person can save a life.

This Op-Ed reflects the views of its author. It does not necessarily reflect the views of nor of its Editors.

A reader that wishes to make his or her voice heard on any topic of their desire is welcome to submit his or her Op-Ed to

Related Resources: ~~~~~~~~~~

Operation Survival
Michoel Behrman, C.S.A.C., C.P.P.

Dena Gorkin, C.P.P.

Shlomo Mahana, M.S.P.D.

Rabbi Shea Hecht

Moshe Borowski
SSTART School + Synagogue Trauma And Resilience Training

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
(212) 870-3400

Gateway Rehabilitation Center

(212) 397-4197

by Merkos L’inyonei Chinuch


  • 1. SUV wrote:

    I would think that emotional emptiness is what drives a person to abuse substances so it would seem important to teach young people better ways to handle a feeling of emptiness. There is also the peer pressure, once a kid with emotional emptiness finds other like minded individuals, to soothe their psyches with drugs or alcohol.
    Frum life is also a stressful pressure cooker to many young people. They have to do more than grow up to make a living or achieve academically. They have to fit into a society that isn’t always accepting of those who do not measure up.

  • 2. Sister of a drug user wrote:

    Bravo! Kol Hakavod!

    Finally an honest speaker amongst us.

    Please note: It is unfortunate that most of the ppl willing to help their family or friends are in their late teens-to mid 20’s.

    They are the ones facing reality DAILY with the situation and either their parents or reps of community must take a step forward or at least provide us the funds to start our own organization to reach out before we lose another one.

    May those families of lost ones to drugs and alcohol merit to see thir loved ones with moshiach now!

  • 3. Thanks for calling attention to this wrote:

    Thank you for bringing this to light for everyone. One thing that I heard from a CH high school child who wanted to help a friend was that ‘you cannot get the school involved’, that once that happens they treat the troubled child differently, and that even letting one ‘trusted’ person in the school know ends with everyone knowing, which leads to the troubled person to stay away from school thereby increasing the chances to get worse. Also, I overheard a conversation between a girl who I KNOW to be “a cutter” and a family member of hers. who did NOT know about her cutting. The family member was so horrified by the idea and saying ‘what can be wrong with someone that they would do that….’ making the girl feel like it was a crazy thing THAT SHE COULD NOT DISCUSS OR GET HELP FOR lest other people look at her in the same way. We need to be very careful NOT to be judgemental, EVEN of people we think are not into ‘any bad things’.
    Yasher Koach for this article, and please keep posting with advice on how plain individuals in the community, such as myself, can help.

  • 4. you write: ensuing response (or lack th wrote:

    you write:
    “ensuing response (or lack thereof)”

    Dear writer,
    The issues you bring are valid and critical. This though does not give you the right to write inaccurate information:

    you write:
    “ensuing response (or lack thereof)”

    Did it ever occur to you that there are those that have never even herad of these incidents. Personally, your article is the first time I am hearing of them myself. I am sure that there are others who are in a similar situation. Additionally, there are others who will not read this op-ed and not know about these stories.

    Be careful before you write statement such as:
    “ensuing response (or lack thereof)”

    Remember, just because you heard about something does not mean everyone else did.

  • 5. sad one wrote:

    sad one:
    yes, infortunetly, it does reflects and
    effects the viewes of Crown heights people. Moshiach now!!!!!!!!

  • 6. agree wrote:

    you are 100 percent correct!!!
    i pray to G-D people will not only read this and AGREE but actually DO something about it!!
    Thank You to whom ever wrote this.

  • 7. Concerned mother wrote:

    Thank you for the article. Now if someone can suggest what exactly I’m suppose to say to my 13 yr old son…I’d really appreciate it. I see classmates of his who actually become shiker at simchas. I point it out to him that I’m not impressed. Or that, that behavior is unacceptable to me. But, besides that what am I suppose to say to him to warn him of these dangers? From what I see, drinking(making l’chayims) is acceptable even at this age.

  • 8. tired of being shteched wrote:

    yasher koyach. i believe that implementing r. shea hecht’s guidelines for building self steem (in last week’s editorial), is one way of preventing tragedies like these. people with healthy self images don’t get involved in these situations. it would also be extremely helpful if the adults would prioritize building self esteem in each other, so that these neshamalach have a bright future to look forward to.

  • 9. Great points!... wrote:

    Still found it funny that they write:
    “I cannot make up statistics, and I will not even venture guesses, no matter how educated they may be”

    and then

    “Let me tell you all a little secret. 90% of our teenagers know someone who suffers from drug abuse”

  • 10. Eli wrote:

    The first step in confronting this issue is realizing how inadequate most in the rabbinic community are at dealing with the most basic and NORMAL social issues with ahavas Yisroel.This applies to dealing with all age groups. If you dont fit the mold, as a child , teen , young adult or adult the average Rabbi does not have the intellectual or emotional resources to respond properly. In fact most of the time the Rabbi’s response will create a greater sense of dysfunction within the individual. This applies to Rabbis in Yeshiva , and Rabbi’s/shluchim within communities. They are so focused on headline success and $$$$ – the true fabric of our communities are ignored and injured. Im not saying it is completely intentional nor am I saying this applies to everyone , but it is very prevalant.
    We have to realize how broken things are and start making new institutions and and even new communities to address this. It is the only choice we have until Moshiach will be revealed.

  • 11. moshe der g wrote:


    that is the road to succes, self esteem amd all the other issues are 100% correct. but the bottom line is that almost every one of these people went through “the system” meaning our yeshivois and they fell through the cracks (today they not cracks they are canyons that alot of kids fall through. so we need to focus on our childrens education.

    if we would teach them. they would have something to hold on to. that is part of the prevention.

    then we need big nets to catch the ones that fall through. make them feel wanted etc. and all the other great ideas.

    just remember all these are someones child they have a mother and a father.

  • 14. resident wrote:

    I have to point out that I agree with Eli on Rabbi’s not being able to handle dealing with social issues.
    As a Balt Shuva, I remember speaking with either shluchim or rabbonim on real life issues I faced and the real difficulties and challenges, temptations, etc.

    In every case, these rabbis would say, “Open up to me, I wont judged.” However, the minute I discussed the issue…their eyes would roll and they would openly show emotions of anger, disapproval, or personal rejection.

    This is inappropriate and made me LESS comfortable in speaking with our “trusted leaders” and now I am confused on how to view rabbis

    Rabbis and Rebbetzins and others leaders. it is important to undestand that when someone comes to you for help they really do want you to NOT JUDGE THEM OR THEIR ISSUE. If someone says they are thinking about leaving Yiddishkeit, G-D forbid, as tough as it is, try not to get mad at them, listen to them compassionetly. ALSO, when someone is speaking to you, try keeping a smile with them or non judgemental face. Sometimes the silence and the look on your faces does more damage than any words.

    If someoneone admits to a certain avera, dont be mean….that is not being a “Chasid” at all. After all it is a mitzvah to confess sins. Even if they are not ready to stop the sin, it is a step in the right direction that they are confessing to someone about it.

    When someone wants to speak to someone, it is because they trust them. DONT VIOLATE THAT TRUST by letting your own personal emotions take over the scene.

  • 15. DON T FEAR IMAGE! wrote:

    For anyone who needs help, and is afraid to confront this issue, for fear of ”bad image,“ this is a BIG error!

    The behavior of someone with any kind of problem like this is already a give-away. So, whether you confront or, R”L, ignore it, your image will suffer either way.

    Please, get the help you need; Seek treatment. Once you have solved the problem and are functioning better, your image, reputation, etc. will greatly improve. You’ll be much happier,desireable, and a bensfit to your family, friends and community. You’ll make a Kiddush Hashem.

  • 16. Personally affected by a drunk driver wrote:

    I wonder if it would help for those of us who have been affected by these horrible things to share our stories. I once spoke to a man in AA and told him that my father had recently been murdered by a drunk driver. He told me that of course he always heard about these things, and know these things, but meeting someone who had actually, personally been affected made the whole thing so much more real to him than anything had before.
    B”H in our case the drunk was a goy, but how would ANYONE have lived with that had it been someone from our chevra?!?

  • 17. pained semi ex chabadnik wrote:

    WHEN is Chabad, it’s leaders, educators, and most of all it’s people, gonna take their heads out of the sand that they insist on burying them in and realize that it’s not the “outside world” they should be afraid that is bringing kids to be involved in self destructive activity,rather it is they, their hurtful and degrading rabbis, leaders concerned w rotten politics and ego wars, and rotten self esteem-eroding education systems, and communities that are driving their kids to look to the needle, the bottle, etc. etc. etc.

  • 18. Eli to resident wrote:

    Thanks for your comment and personal experience. Unfortunately I dont believe “advice” to Rabbinic figures will have any effect.
    To deal with difficult but normal (as your case is) or even abnormal behavioral issues properly and with sincere concern a Rabbi needs either an essential understanding about how to deal with people (which unfortunately is not common sense) or to have gone through specialized training.
    Lets face it, anyone can become a Rabbi or Shliach today without any social qualities or specialized social/behavioral training. This is just at a time when communities need quality leadership the most.There is absolutely no mechanism to get it to them, and in fact the mechanism that exists delivers the opposite!
    I believe we need to find people that believe in creating communities and institutions based on internal considerations, pnimious and not chitzonios. Individuals who can see beyond their bank account and headline acheivements.

  • 19. Boruch ben Tzvi (A H)HaKohaine Hoffinger wrote:

    Real tragedy about the girl dying.
    You said: Each of these incidents could have, and should have, been avoided.
    Why could they have been avoided?
    People have free will. If they want to do crazy and mean things NOBODY can stop them. We can only try.
    Perhaps these 3 children were well taken care of and persisted in their evil ways? Perhaps everyone tried?
    Once, in Russia, a Jewish traitor who turned children into the Russian army was approached and appealed to. He wouldn’t listen to the rabbis. They killed him.
    I once heard a story about a young boy who was beaten by his rabbi and father. Strangely he remained frum.
    He thought to himself: ”My rabbi is crazy, my father is crazy, so why blame Hashem?”
    Somewhere we have free will and sense. We don’t always blame the parents, or their busy lifestyle.
    Look at Jewish history.
    Ishmael had bad parents? Esav had bad parents? Absholom had bad parents? Chezkiyahu didn’t want children when he saw they would be very bad. There are many examples.
    People have free will and are responsible for their deeds.

  • 20. to resident wrote:

    Hi. I just want to point something out to you, and hopefully you won’t take it wrong. The word is Baal Teshuva, not Balt Shuva. The word teshuva means repentance or returning so if you are a such person, then you are a Baal Teshuva.
    I mean this with full Ahavas Yisroel, not to make fun or anything but i thought you might appreciate to know the correct wording.

  • 21. Affected wrote:

    To Mr Hoffinger, HaKohaine:

    The author doesn’t say they WOULD have been avoided. It says the could have. If there is more alcohol and drug awareness and steps taken to try to help those that are in trouble, many potential disasters could be avoided.

    And FYI, the girl started using drugs at age 15, while a student at Bais Rivkah. Her friends and family knew about it, but didn’t know how to respond.

  • 22. awacs wrote:

    “Perhaps these 3 children were well taken care of and persisted in their evil ways? Perhaps everyone tried?”

    I recall readng in Tanya that no effort in the line of Ahavat Yisrael is ever wasted.Just because *you* can’t see the results doesn’t mean that they don’t exist …”

  • 23. A concerned community member wrote:

    For all your informatoin, their are people and organizations in the community that are activly and successfully working with young men that are abusing substances like the Yam and Aliya. They are both doing phenominal work each focussing on a different age group (Yam till 17, Aliya 18 and up). Unfortunately they dont have enough support and manpower to do the job the way it should be done but I’m sure Rabbi Kanofsky and Rabbi Feiglin will welcome help from anyone that is truely concerned about this issue.

  • 24. RE:you write: ensuing response (or lack wrote:

    Wow, you sound so defensive! The author’s point about the lack of response is very well taken. If you haven’t heard about these tragedies, it’s because they’re being pushed under the rug by many people, including, and most importantly, community leaders.
    At this stage in the game, when so many are at risk, isn’t it time that the community leaders, school administrators and rabbis take a public stand? Shouldn’t they be openly agonized that our children are in danger? Shouldn’t they be begging parents to open their eyes and ears? Shouldn’t those who DO KNOW about these tragic events RESPOND vehemently and publicly against the silence?
    It is THEIR silence and lack of response to which the author refers.

  • 25. Resident wrote:

    To Boruch Ben Tzvi:

    This is exactly what I am talking when I say people who claim to be Chassidim do more damage with their attitude.

    There are times to sit and learn a sicha, there are times to say L’Chaim, there are times to have fabrengens.

    THEN THERE ARE TIMES to aknowledge that people out their dont need to be insulted with these deep words, but rather be encouraged to get help, and not be ashame.

    I would think instead of giving me this deep chasidic fabrengen talk, one would act like a Chosid and try NOT to act holier than thou and aknowledge that our community and the frum world at large needs to take these issues seriously.

    By the way as someone who grew up in the SECULAR world, I can tell that it makes me sad when a GOYISH psycologist takes our kids well being than the leaders who claim to run Crown Heights and claim to be working on behalf of the Rebbe.

  • 26. anonymous wrote:


    Just send them off to yatzkan. that’s where they sent me. I’ve been sober for 3.5 years b’h. I’m really glad you wrote this article. I used to go to yeshiva in CH and used a lot of drugs there. I have a message for the CH community. The ratio of addicts/alcoholics to the total population is the same ratio as anywhere else.So the bottom line is that CH is loaded with dope fiends and alcoholics and I know this very personally.

  • 27. Help Them! wrote:

    TO: Boruch ben Tzvi (A H)HaKohaine Hoffinger
    you are right about the fact that people are responsible for their deeds, but that does not mean we should not help addicted people. Addicted people DONT want to do crazy things. They obviously had some life experiences that they feel they could not handle, so they turn to drugs to help them escape their problems. These people NEED other peoples help!! (and you wont help them by telling them that what they’re doing is their fault.

  • 28. ISAAC wrote:


  • 29. a happly married 25 year old wrote:

    this makes me really sad you don’t know regarding the concerned mother my mother was and still is like u well, i was the one who turned out more normal than my friends i might have been a little nerdy(i still have many friends and real ones to) but i am the one who shadchunim loved cuz i was a polite young man i am happily married for 3 years and i am almost 25 while some of my friends who’s mothers didn’t make boundaries are just getting settled with marriage or engaged by the way do u know if those boys were chabad boys

  • 30. CH neighbor wrote:

    another point is that pple in these sad situations are weak and not able to rationalize that they are doing something “crazy” (as hoffinger rudely wrote) or unhealthy! this is a sickness just like yenne machla. emotional/mental health is just as important as physical health. We need to view these friends/kids differently in order to be able to approach them lovingly to offer help!
    unfortunately there is alot of pressure in the system to “fit into the box” and if kids have other views and opinions they’re automatically different or unaccepted (can’t get into yeshivas etc)which can set a person off who is already struggling.

  • 31. shmuel Y wrote:

    you write: ensuing response (or lack th wrote:

    not everything is about you.

  • 32. Been there Done that wrote:

    I want to mention a couple of things.
    -I think the most accurate statement is the first one. The judgement and out look on theses ideas: Cutting, eating disorders, alcohol, drugs is absolutely astounding. The only people who don’t judge them are those who do it themselves.
    -Building self esteem is not the only thing that will help. Many of these substance abusers have a relatively healthy self esteem. They also tend to have heavy emotional problems with no escape route-no outlet. That is not to say that self esteem is not involved at all.
    -To Concerned mother: I don’t think showing disapproval of such things will necessarily help. Teens tend to like to do things wrong to spite. Or even not to spite. Explaining what is wrong with alcohol/drugs etc and it’s affects long and short term… may help.Have proof to back yourself up. At the same time show your son that what his friends do may be wrong but that doesn’t change them as a person. They may be going through s/t tough or feel low. As a good friend it is almost an obligation to stay sober and be there.
    -With regard to educating the teens about all this, I agree that 90% already know. I don’t think we need so much to discuss these concepts as much as we need to address how they can be fixed and correct the underlying cause.

  • 33. Once again - It-s a Tznius Problem wrote:

    This would be another ‘opportune time’ for someone to jump in and say that these problems all stem from the tznius problems we face today. And once again, we’d be missing the point.

  • 34. ViewPoint wrote:

    Honestly, I dont know were to get drugs and I dont have a friend that I think knows.
    My point: being in the right atmosphere (yeshiva, work along with significant ruchniyus like learning and davening) you are on the most part extremely far from drugs. If you are open to going anywhere and seeing/hearing anything then… remember if having an open wound can occasional bring infection – so can having an “open” mind…
    The alcohol problem I must admit is deeply entrenched even amongst the above and is therefore EVERYONE needs to be involved in solving it.

  • 35. a bochur wrote:

    it’s very easy too say, that one should seek help. but how many of our Bochurim and kids again and again hint out to their mashpiem, teachers and parents that they want to be helped. arent these warning continuesly being ignored?

    2. instead of making nets, so the kids that fail yeshiva have a plsce to go to, wha about making sure that the acedemic level of the yeshivos is on a level that bochurim actually feel that gemora and chassidus is something they could relate too, and at the same time find it an intilectual challenge.

  • 36. Worried Mother wrote:

    What about the innocent, chassidishe 13-15 year olds who, by peer pressure brought onto them by their own Rebbe’s and Mashpi’im, are introduced to “mashka” by the almost nightly Farbrengens and are told that this is the “Chassidishe” way to act. By the time they are 16, they are full-fledged drunks!

  • 37. Susan, loving mom of all kinds of kids wrote:

    I think the original poster had a valid point about teaching our kids in school about the dangers of drugs and alcohol like they do with the DARE program and things like that in a secular school.

    It is high time the Hanholas realized that this is not “their” problem, but a serious problem with “OUR” kids. I have a 20 year old son who is friends with most of these kids, I know he drinks, but not to oblivion, and I believe he doesn’t take drugs, but if he knew the dangers well enough, he could help to stop his friends going overboard, or at least know what to do in the case of an overdose of alcohol or drugs.

    “It doesn’t happen in our circles” is a thing of the waaaaay past. Everything happens in our circles and our children are not learning how to deal with it. I think we should teach the beauty of abstinence, not just tznius and yichud, the ma’alos of staying off drugs and over doing alcohol, etc. This way even if our kids are on shlichus, they know how to deal with these kinds of issues.

    There is a terrible “head in the sand” issue with these things. The more we bury the issues, the worse its going to become.

    As a BT parent, I really was not equipped with how to tell my child who is “wandering” what not to do or why. It never occurred to me that I may have eto address these issues. I had never spoken to him about safe s.x and NO s.x until marriage, I have never spoken to him about overdoing alcohol, and about drug use/abuse. All I could say, when I had the opportunity was a silly comment like “don’t do anything you would regret later in life”. Like a 17 year old thinks he’s going to regret anything?

    The problem is rampant and we have to educate our children. Loving them is not enough, teaching chassidis is not enough — if only it were — teaching in the schools about the BEAUTY of taking care of yourself is a beginning, but not enough.

    We have to look at strong ways to teach our children. These are our kids, in Chabad, who we send on shlichus at a very young age, we send on mivtsoyim, etc.

    Lets teach them not to be judgemental, but to be HELPFUL if someone wants help.

    There is work to be done, and we MUST get our heads out of the sand, out from under that dusty carpet and DO SOMETHING NOW.

    The next generation is in bigger trouble.

  • 38. TALK TO YOUR KIDS, its the best anti d.. wrote:

    to: Concerned mother,

    almost every day on the radio, i hear these briliant ads… (why hasent the jewish world addressed this yet duno)

    they say

    “Talk to your kids”, its the anti DRUG.

    others the same play over and over…

    its not only what you say to your kids its the fact that you talk comunicate know what really goin on, know then on their level have a great relationship and keep a keen eye…

    also i must say
    MASK also is a great place

  • 39. Yudell wrote:

    Why is it that many OP-EDs on are anonymous? If what you are trying to communicate to the public is true and worthy of everyone’s attention, then why can’t you put your name on it?! This is not only regarding this OP-ED, but many of them. Besides the logical impression that an anonymous OP-ED produces (that is, that the author has some sort of comlex about their own point), the Rebbe spoke many times about the importance of publicizing things in the name of the person responsible for it. This acts as a silent validation. (Note: On rare occasion, the Rebbe instructed people to do things anonymously -this was done only when the Rebbe knew that this would help the situation; which isn’t the case here…)
    What if a reader wants to contact you to exchange ideas about what to do? How can their be any positive advances if you have cut yourself off from your readers?

  • 40. to awaccs wrote:

    r u tryin to say we have signifigant resourses and people dont put things under the rug

    i think your in dream world

  • 41. Casual observer wrote:

    Apparently the author of the article isn’t willing to do anything just pass the buck to others by 1) not writing his name (if you are convinced of your position what are you embarrassed of?) and 2) not proposing anything of value.I am going to walk away and forget about it because you didn’t propose something concrete for everyone.

  • 42. yo wassup wrote:

    To be honest, i didn’t have the time to read this whole article nor the comments. BUT i do know one thing: BORDEM LEADS TO TROUBLE!! Teenagers talents should be chaneled into productivity. In this way they will (a) feel good about themselves and (b) stay out of trouble. When there’s no healthy channel it will come out in a UNhealthy and sometimes fatal way

  • 43. Who to blame wrote:

    to To Mr Hoffinger, HaKohaine:
    I can’t speak for everyone, but I don’t think this article was about blaming the parents etc. I think it was about making US all realize that WE have to pay attention to what is going on and take responsibility for our own community. Also, I think it gives troubled people and their families a place to turn to.
    Yasher Koach for a timely and important article!

  • 45. Ex-CH Teen wrote:

    I think %100 of teenagers in CH know someone their age taking drugs. I’m now 25 and when I was a teenager in CH I knew over 500 people my age, I think about 50 of them tried illegal drugs. I think the problem only got bigger. Not everyone knew what their friends where doing but I find it hard to believe that any social person growing up in CH did not know anyone on drugs.
    There are those who try to help, Aliya, Yam, Pennsylvania Yeshiva and random people who care. But there is not enough. We need people to support them fanatically and by volunteering. I was involved with Yam, I went to learn with some of the boys one on one. I remember Rabbi Yossi Jacbson stopping by to talk to some boys. Don’t get me wrong not all boys who go to Yam or Aliya are on drugs. But many teens on drug attend these Mosdos.
    The point is, those who have kids need to take proactive measures. Speak to the experts to find out what you could do. Don’t wait till you find out. Parents sometimes find out years after their kids begin. I’ve seen this happened to FFB and BT’s kids. I’ve seen it happen to really good parents. It’s the risk of having kids in our generation but like all risks we can take precautions.

  • 46. Just a thought wrote:

    “I personally know of at least 50 people who suffer from various drug addictions and mental illnesses.”

    Wow, where do you hang out? Why not envite them to a party with all their friends and get a addiction specialist to speak to them?

    Unless they could help, keep the our kids away from your education. Thanks.

  • 47. shmuli wrote:

    what about Gambling? It is also a huge problem in the community but unlike drugs or alchohol the destruction is less obvious.

  • 48. Weed is good wrote:

    You really think alittle weed killed anyone? you should be talking about smoking! and especially spoking in 770!

  • 49. Ahavas Yisrael wrote:

    Mr. Hoffinger

    That is like saying why bother sending out shluchim and try to mekarev other yidden.

    Some people just like to eat pork and drive on shabbos.

    Most (if not all) people who turn to things like drugs and alcohol are suffering terribly inside for various reasons. Personality, circumstances, experiences….

    Providing the proper help is simply Ahavas Yisroel.

    May Hashem just send us Moshiach already.

  • 50. Very concerned wrote:

    Great article.

    Of all the comments, the one poking fun at the issue of statistics is the most concerning – the subject of the article is fine – picking holes in the wording suggests an avoidance of or involvement in a drugs problem!

    I am not an educationalist, nor involved with the treatment of abusers. I am involved in medical matters and am familiar with drugs and their risks.

    Actually, the issue of drugs is an ever increasing problem affecting younger and younger ages. It is very probable that at the younger ages the risks are totally unknown or misunderstood.

    The difficulty is that drug abuse is an addiction. With respects to the quoter of Tanya, with all the ahavas Yisroel possible, the abuser may find it difficult or even impossible to stop their habbit.

    I daven in a minyan where one member, a really nice guy – frum – a baal chessed – davens with us nearly every day. He smokes like a chimney, coughs his lungs out and is an alcoholic. He explains that he just cannot stop.

    However distasteful, and this is really unfortunate, the education about drug abuse has to start early.

    Putting this on a par with Torah and Mitzvos – we do not avoid mentioning aveiros to children because they’re too young (they may not appreciate the significance or meaning of some of what is taught – for example, the issur of eishes ish – but there will be some understanding and it will be understood as they grow in knowledge and understanding. I cannot believe for one moment anyone would want to try doing the aveira for kicks.

    I firmly believe, that education about drugs will have to be handled in the same way. Once abuse has begun it’s (almost) too late.

    Once again – ya shakoach for the article.

  • 51. try untill you succeed wrote:

    Thanks for writing and opening up the coversation.
    It’s true everyone has free will and blaming parents, teachers…is wrong. You’re right that there are many times that families get involved and are unsuccesful. The point isn’t who is to blame. BUT saying after all “they have free will”? A baby playing with a knife, an autistic child playing with matches, a handicapped child sitting in the drivers seat…do they have free will? No one in their RIGHT mind would allow such things to happen. AND no one in their RIGHT mind would take drugs, abuse alchool, or cut themselves….
    If you hit(c’v)someone do you say: “ It wasn’t me, it was my hand.” We are ALL one body, a part of Klal Yisroel. We NEED to look out for each other and help heal, protect, and encourage one another in good things. Unfortunately, people really don’t know what’s going on arround them, so here we are informing them. Now everyone(reading or hearing) can take a step to reach out to their neighbour, friend, brother, sister or child…see if you were a little “blindfolded”; see if you can make a difference in their life.
    It’s true there is a REASON children and young adults are turning to bad things. Sometimes it’s an unhappy home, an abusive home, some forn of abuse outside the home, sometimes it’s a harsh word from a teacher or Rebbi. Sometimes it’s a tragedy in their lives. And yes sometimes it’s just the child who has a “bad” attitude or inclanation. Whatever the REASON, we need to help and of course PREVENT. There are things we can do as parents, siblings, friends…
    Try to DO something. Each of you CAN call on advice individually to help SOMEONE you know or worry about.
    I’m no expert, but I’m a believer in TRUE LOVE. The Rebbe has told us so many times and in so many ways that TRUE AHAVAS YISROEL is sometimes Mesiras Nefesh. Don’t look the other way when you see or hear something that you don’t beleive is ok. Call an expert to get advice on how and what to do. I’ve been reading N’shei newsletters for years, gone to shiurim, heard great speakers…many times I come home “inspired”. The question is: Am I any different? Is my behavior changed? Where does the insperation lead?
    I hope and pray for all the children (and adults) of our special nation to be nurtured with love and devotion. That they should be safe from all bad things; physically, spiritualy and emotionaly.
    May we merit to SEE G-DLINESSS with our own eyes with the complete revelation of Moshiach NOW!!! AMEN!!

  • 52. anon wrote:

    To mr hoffinger,
    No disrespect intended but it is the attitude you express above that often causes a child to feel alone and unable to seek assistance or guidance from adults/rabbis/teachers. As a young adult in this community, i have seen this attitude many, many times, and while i bh have not fallen victim to any of the above mentioned illnesses or others ( and that is what it is – an ILLNESS, not EVIL WAYS), i know of countless friends and others who have. Many of them come from stable loving families with open communication. It is natural for a teenager to experiment and be curious about the world he lives in; what is important is the guidance and approach used with him during that time. Calling a child evil, or their actions evil, does nothing to build the child’s self esteem, trust or resilience to overcome their disease. Most children that experiment move on from the substances or whatever ‘evil’ it is they are doing. It is those who are treated negatively by their family, community or others and/or become addicted, or have some underlying cause/mental illness or the like that lead to that addiction, that face the most serious of consequences. As a community and as individuals we need to rise to the occasion and deal with these issues because they WILL NOT GO AWAY.

    I often hear the claim that we should not educate our youth about these things because we want to protect them from the ‘evil’ in the world. Unfortunately, this viewpoint is outdated as most young people today know what’s going on and probably know of someone who has experienced at least one of the above mentioned illnesses. Many of these cases where the experimentation has led to an addiction is as result of some other mental anguish, situation or illness that the person has either consciously or unconsciously needed assistance to deal with, and the bottle, drug etc has ‘helped’ them. It is often BECAUSE they have felt sidelined and unwanted/ a disappointment / looked down upon that they resort to substances to deal with whatever is bothering them. As such, it is vital that the community make changes to our attitudes and embrace these people- get them help, show them that no matter what they do we care and love them, and that they remain treasured members of our community. By educating our young on appropriate drinking habits, the dangers of addiction and the issues around mental/eating disorders, we can prevent many of our youth slipping through the cracks for we are giving them the tools to know what the dangers are, know how to respond to them, and know who/where to get help if any situations or issues arise.

    To the writer of the first comment- I have friends with similar circumstances; many of whom felt it was completely impossible to tell anyone, let alone a teacher or someone from the school, because they felt that it is well known in many of our community schools that ‘confidential’ rarely means confidential.

  • 53. meaning no disrespect wrote:

    like it was already mentioned somewhere above, i think the problem is that people with the addictions feel they have no one to talk and turn to. their parents won’t understand, the rabbis make them feel unjustly judged, etc. even if the person wants to find a therapist for treatment, they may be categorized. we need to get people to understand that it’s ok to have a therapist or to be in therapy. truth is, everybody needs a therapist for one thing or another. and i don’t mean to be negative, but how can we change the judgemental and not-understanding mindset of many elders/parents in our community??
    another point: being a considerably young girl, what if a friend approaches me with these issues? what should we say? we, the younger generation as well, need to be taught how to react, not just the parents and elders.

  • 54. what ever wrote:

    Yay some one finaly open there mouth about a real but tuff situation.

    i have a few stories from a therepist that works with MASK… OHEL… and many others… they are all funny but really sad too…
    Moishie – grew up in CH large fam went to OT and hs gone off the derech is not shomer shabbos and doesnt even eat kosher.

    he also becomes a regular user of ICE WEED and other drugs, he also becomes a drug dealler making lots of money

    fnally thank g-d after 2 years he ends up in a jewish rehab center where this lubavicher therepist works…

    after meeting with moishe a few times, he calls the father to tupdate him on the sichuation…

    the fathers first question is…

    “did my son start to were a yarmulkah yet?”

    after explaining to the father in the nicest way possoble that it sould not be hs biggest consern the thereoist continued to give his update about his sone and the rehab center, and out of the blue… the father asks

    what type of shchita does the center have…
    need i say more

    story 2

    a group therpy session held in a lubavich school, all partisipating parents are asked to talk about there family at home, when to the astonishmint of the therepist a few parents explain they dont want to talk about their kids due to shiduchim, yes they are ages 10-13 years old but still they dont want to say anything bc it may cause harm to their kids and siblings if talk about the family

    yeh as the header of this great op ed says

    shove it under the rug

    as long as he has a hat and jacket when he walks through crown heights or ea badatz hashgacha im good

    oh and also as long as we keep whats goin on a secret so they can stil get married

  • 55. girl who knows some substance abusers wrote:

    Obviously there are many steps our community can take to improve in this, but what is the point of bashing the rabbis, teachers and shluchim. Obviously there are those who are worried about headlines and money, but they don’t make up the majority of the ones I know! There are many who are very active in helping these kinds of problems, and there are still more that would be if they knew how to deal with them. Instead of bashing the people who give themselves over to our community why don’t YOU get involved with helping to fix this problem?

  • 56. CSC wrote:

    [I] They have to fit into a society that isn’t always accepting of those who do not measure up.[/I]

    I wanted to add to SUV’s final comment.

    Unfortunately, in a society that equates everything with sin & punishment, failing to “measure up” can result in more than feelings of inadequacy. There may be feelings of worthlessness — that the person is evil, damaged, or defective, the product of bad genes or bad parenting.

    When I came to Yiddishkeit over 20 years ago, I often wondered if it was partly out of avoidance of a competitive secular world. I have later found the frum world far worse. Besides the natural pressures to find a decent job or shidduch, there is the need to present oneself a certain way. Showing any kind of flaw or vulnerability leaves the person open to condemnation.

    I understand the importance of standards, especially regarding Torah conduct. And I still love the religion. But unless more avenues & alternatives are allowed for those who are not easy to mold, I do foresee more alienation at best, self-destructive behavior at worse.

  • 57. The Author wrote:

    To Yudell and Casual Observer: I didn’t post my name because, as I mentioned, I have at least 50 friends who suffer from these issues. While they know my opinion on the matter, if I posted my name, they would feel like I was airing their dirty laundry. I have absolutely no intention of alienating people I care about. Should you feel the need to contact me, leave your email address with CrownHeights.Info and they will pass it on.

    To address points 1 1/2 and 2 in Casual Observer’s comment: I don’t hold any position to be sure of. My position is one of a concerned friend. I also don’t post any concrete solutions because I am not qualified. I am neither in the medical profession nor a community leader. I lack the knowledge and resources to lead the charge on this issue. However, I do propose a solution to everyone, including yourself, which is to educate yourself and those around you about this topic. Personally, I educate my siblings, friends, and even my parents to the best of my ability. I am also doing what I feel I can, which is calling attention to an issue which has been ignored for too long.

    To “Just a Thought”: I didn’t understand half of what you wrote. But with regards to your statement of keeping MY education away from YOUR kids, chances are I hang out with a relative of yours. Sweeping “My education” under the rug by keeping it away from “your children” is exactly why we have this problem to begin with.

    For all those organizations which ARE doing something (YAM, Aliya, ect), my apologies for not commending your great work for our community. In no way did I intend to belittle your work, and, again, I apologize if that was what was taken from this post.

  • 58. Yisroel wrote:

    “Just send them off to yatzkan. that’s where they sent me. I’ve been sober for 3.5 years b’h.”

    I am an ex-counselor of Yatzkan. DO NOT SEND YOUR CHILDREN THERE!!! After they became FEGS there whole agenda is to make money. THEY DONT GIVE A CRAP ABOUT YOUR CHILDREN!!! Send them to Mike Pasternaks place in Pittsburg or Chabad in California. Contact Our Place in Brooklyn (718)692-4058!

  • 59. Yisroel wrote:

    Reb Yid. Yes that’s you. The one right above. I hang out in your living room. You know what I see there?! One big elephant that you don’t want to notice!

  • 60. ashamed wrote:

    Reading this dialogue is almost as sad as reading the news about these kids and their accidents. TO watch know it all adults nit pick wording or lanuage or just pretend its someone elses problem. Keep pointing fingers, folks….

  • 61. balt guy wrote:

    Correction: I would just point out that the 16 yr old boy in baltimore that died was NOT drunk. The boy that was driving the car was under the influence and speeding – he did not get hurt. The passenger was the one that died and, again he was not drunk.

    Be careful what you post – verify your sources. this is pure Lashon harah, of which you can never get mechila

  • 62. benny wrote:

    Who is there for her sister and brother right now ? her sister flew in from Illinois on a one way ticket with no clue as to how to get back. This is the second dauhter her mother has burried.
    Rivka and her older sister are the onlytwo girls known to have been blessed privatly by the rebbe on erev yom kipur. At there sisters levaya. The rebbe thought they were special.

  • 63. awacs wrote:

    To awaccs wrote:

    “r u tryin to say we have signifigant resourses and people dont put things under the rug

    ”i think your in dream world”

    I’m not saying that (although I’m not 100% sure what you’re saying).

    I’m saying that it’s always worthwhile to demonstrate ahavas yisroel, no matter how ‘hopeless’ it looks (in our discussion: ‘he’s so hooked on drugs, what’s the point?’) – your peulah will have results. Maybe you won’t see the results, but they are there.

    Another point: it might very well be that some people are *destined* to spend their their lives as drug abusers, for reasons best known to G-d. (Analogy: a person who becomes paralyzed, and spends his life in a wheelchair). That doesn’t relieve us of our obligation to help him/her in any way possible, for instance by encouraging them to go to drug rehab (just as we don’t stop trying to cure paralysis, so that the man in the wheelchair can walk again).Even if it doesn’t work one time, two times, three times or more, it’s our mitzvah to keep trying.

    IOW, the drug user *may* not have had true free choice, as Yehuda didn’t when he approached Tamar. But that’s G-d’s calculation. Our job is to rectify the world in every way possible.

  • 64. Distressed Mother wrote:

    Maybe we should listen to the kids. I mean REALLY LISTEN. Let’s start by listening to the success stories where kids have been helped if they feel they can “out” themselves. (I understand the author’s need for anonymity.)

    Secondly, we need to listen, REALLY LISTEN to the kids who are suffering. WHY are they? Even though I’m sure some start drinking or taking drugs just to see what it’s like, I’d bet the majority have other issues: communication problems with parents, bulltying, peer pressures, a sense of not fitting in anywhere, and my all time favorite, miserable at school (boys & girls.)

    If I had my time all over again I wouldn’t have gone into education, I’d have become a social worker. And I’m one of the “lucky” ones….I think. Who really knows? If kids want to hide this behavior they’re smart enough. I pray every day that my kids are on the straight & narrow & stay there. We talk. That’s a start!

  • 65. not so naive wrote:

    I’m a non smoker-drinker-drug user-cutter who has smicha, wears a hat and jacket and doesn’t touch his beard. I am close with all the big stars in Lubavitch. And i know where drugs are being sold in CH. At least some places. 770 is one of them. As long as you show that you are also jewish – frum -chassidish you can’t be thrown out of that place because that is not ahavas yisroel! There will always be some idiot to start screaming that you have to love those people.
    Ahavas Yisroel means to lock up those people and save the entire community.
    1414 used to employ one of the most notorious dealers who was only recently warned not to step foot in 770 ever again because he had stolen too many Tefillin. For a while he hung out on lincoln place and in williamsburgh. Now he can be seen on kingston the whole day.
    One of his new friends still roams 770 freely.
    The guy who was kicked out of several places around the world for selling drugs to kids is a tzaddik in 770.
    When someone asked me about a ‘chassidishe bochur’ for his sister I revealed to him that this bochur had been seen in a car drunk with a drunk girl on his lap on the way back from the casions in the week of slichos. He had been seen by someone else in that same car to make things clear.
    A few days later i was approached by a friend of his asking me why I was ruining his shidduchim. The next day he was back in 770 being mr chassidish of course. (married now. to someone who didn’t ask me or doesn’t care to know)

    Mr naive.. wake up and smell the coffee. It’s all right there under your nose. In 770, in the basements on eastern parkway and if you really want to walk far try the ally between union and president.

  • 66. taking drugs is a nerdy thing to do. wrote:

    this is the message that everyone has to get out.

  • 67. why op-ed is anonimos wrote:

    i agrea that the guy who wrote it should say who he is


  • 68. eli wrote:

    look at all these famous people who have every thing and are depressed they seem to think that taking drugs will get rid of it, trust me this is the worst thing possible it breaks up families ruins the person! ENOUGH!!!every one must stop this nonsence
    i wish all my condolenses to the family

  • 69. resident wrote:

    Another big part of the problem is that a lot of times kids come home from school or some other mosdos and some major problem happens where the kids feels abused or degraded. A lot of the parents will say though, “I dont want to mess, after all it is the Rebbe’s school and it cant possibly be bad. The Rebbe will take care of it…now let’s say L’Chaim and make fun of misnagdim”

    This has to stop. Just because these instutions are under the Rebbe’s brachos, doesnt mean that it is not prone to major human error. Parents need to put their kids first. If they do, that is how the brachos will be revealed.

  • 70. Zalman P wrote:

    I want to hope that half the stories here are not true.
    Unfortunately, it’s probably twice as bad.
    First thing is to realize we’ve got a problem on our hands…..
    Most kids learn about addictions when they are introduced to mashke at Farbrengens, it’s time to watch our alcohol intake.We can’t preach to kis when every shabbos they see drunks running around shul.

  • 71. Proactive wrote:

    Instead of posting what you did or did not know, do something productive. I see many worried parents on this board, who are unsure how to deal with this issue. Call your community leaders. Call your doctors. Arrange to meet with them, either privately or with a group. Talk about how to respond to the problems. Talk about how to educate your children. BE PROACTIVE!!!

  • 72. wondering wrote:

    Dear Resident: Please advice me. I have a child who was verbally attacked by someone in the school. It was completely unwarranted. What do I do? Complain? Won’t that make life for my child even worse? Parent looking for a suggestion.

  • 73. Mashke, Mashke, MASHKE! wrote:

    Oh yes, indeed! It’s like a MITZVAH, that you have to drink this so-called
    “panacea for the soul,” called MASHKE; otherwise, you just don’t fit in.
    So, of course you’re going to have lots of people who, nebach, go too far with it, in order to “satisfy” their peers. Any surprise we have this problem?!!!

  • 74. Resident wrote:

    To wondering:

    The first thing to do is take it seriously and actually do something. Keeping your mouth shut is worse than doing something, because the people who verbally attacked your child just realized they can get away with it.

    I know I only grew up in public school, but when I was physically attacked for being a “short Jew” my parents went above and beyond thretening to get the law involved if it wasnt stopped.

    I know in the Jewish world we have tough opinions about this, but if someone is threatening your child in any way, YOU MUST put their protection first.

  • 75. answer to wondering wrote:

    we had an incident like that, and we were matzliach by doing the following: we verified with a friend what actually happened, and then we met with the principal to discuss it. it goes without saying that we did not disclose the name of the friend.

  • 76. to wondering wrote:

    how about someone in the school , whose job it is to be an intermediary between the parents and the school? someone that is trusted by the parents and the teachers, and someone that the students trust to really be there for them.

  • 77. ATT: oblivious people! wrote:

    The problem is your all completely oblivious about drugs, alcohol, and any substance for that matter.

    you might think thats a good thing, but the fact is it hit home and now its time for all you ffb’s and sheltered folk to face the storm!

    you guys think weed is drugs, and alcohol is uhhh just lechaim, you think if you kid smokes weed he’s a soon to be homeless drug addict but if he show’s up every night plastered after a farbrengen he’s just a chasidishe bochur.

    I’m not saying weed is ok and alcohol’s the devil, but if your kid did happen to or does happen to smoke pot don’t go telling him he’s a drug addict and needs serious help, because thats just simply not true, it will put him down and make him feel like a complete hopeless crack head!
    just a simple sensible talk can sometimes solve the problem, yes weed is essentially bad and is most defiantly a step-latter to other dangerous harmful substances but you need to understand the fine line between weed and hard drugs.

    And the same goes for alcohol, yes a little lechaim at the occasional farbrengen is ok and sometimes even spiritually helpful, but just because your 14 year old son’s mashpia told him to say a (or a few) lechaim’s at a farbrengen does it make alcohol ok and not harmful for him, he should know that!
    and just because all the great chasidim of the community are swigging shots down every shabbos while farbrenging in shul that doesn’t make alcohol a “chasidish” thing, it is still a substance and should be done in moderation, and when abused should frowned upon in a manner no less then weed!!

  • 78. bt mom wrote:

    my kids know that they can discuss any topic they want with me. they know that i was a “hippie” in the “olden days”, and they asked me about marijuana and other drugs. i told them the truth, that marijuana is very highly OVERRATED. it produces a high that’s similar to mashka, the difference being that with mashka, your head feels heavier, and with marijuana it feels lighter. marijuana makes your mouth feel dry, and it blackens your lungs the same way that cigarettes do. about LSD, i emphasized that IT controls you totally, to the point that you could easily walk in front of traffic, and that it affects your chromosomes, which produces birth defects in the future. i also told them that i never used addictive drugs because i didn’t want to be addicted to pills. i believe that having this knowledge, took away the mystery and the taa’va from them.

    i think it would be very powerful and worth while, if young frum people who were previously on drugs, and have turned their lives around, would be brought in as speakers to the highschools. this is one way that we as community can acknowledge that there’s a problem, and we’re dealing with it proactively.

  • 79. parent wrote:

    the high schools and mesivtas should bring in frum people (recovered from drugs or alcoholisn), who can tell the students, on the basis of EXPERIENCE, why it’s terrible to get involved in these things. this is a powerful way to get a message across and is used successfully in many places. AIZEH HU CHOCHAM! it would also be a powerful tshuva for the speaker.

  • 80. A REAL SOLUTION wrote:

    His name is DR. Susskind from Monsey a real amazing lubavithcher therapist, who has helped change my life, though it cost me good money, I can’t imagine a better place to spend it. 845-304-5481 or 845-425-9531.
    But you not only still have to work on yourself in a way it’s even harder because you have to work on the real stuff.
    But people we have to invest more into this than it seems we do at this point. We have to realize and absorb what this is really all about and what’s happening here. We can do it we must do it, and it’s worth it.
    This is an oppurtunity for us not to be able to escape reality like we’re so good at but to deal with it.


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