A collaboration of local Jewish day schools has issued a joint statement regarding the need for parents to be vigilant vis-à-vis alcoholic consumption by their children on Simchat Torah and throughout the remainder of the year.
As we head into the joyous period of Sukkos and Simchas Torah, we, the Heads of the Lower Merion Area Yeshiva Day Schools, wanted to ask for your help in ensuring the health and safety of our community’s children.
According to the Center for Disease Control, teens who drink alcohol are more likely to experience problems in school, problems with their social lives, legal problems, psychological problems and physical problems such as injury, illness, or even, r”ltz, death.
Research has also clearly shown that the earlier a child starts drinking, smoking, or using any addictive substance, the more likely he or she is to develop dependency and / or addiction later in life.
While we would like to think we are immune to such problems in our community, we all know that we are not. We also know that for many of our children their first exposure to the allure of drinking comes at some of our most sacred and treasured times: a Friday night tisch or a Shabbos kiddush, a wedding or a l’chaim, Purim, or Simchas Torah.
Last year, Amudim, an organization dedicated to addressing abuse in the Orthodox community, created this video on the all-too-real dangers of drinking in our community which they entitled “The Kiddush Club.” If you have not yet done so, we urge you to please watch it. (Click to see the video).
As a result of these dangers and out of an unabiding concern for the welfare of all of our community’s children, we urge our parent body to abide by the following guidelines:
Other than the requisite amount of wine for kiddush, children and teens should never be allowed to drink an alcoholic beverage, even under adult supervision.
Alcoholic beverages in one’s home should be stored in a locked cabinet.
Alcoholic beverages at communal events and in communal institutions must be monitored by adults at all times.
Groups of teens should never be allowed to gather in a home for extended periods of time when parents are not present or when parents are sleeping. It is a parent’s responsibility to monitor the activities of all of the children in all areas inside and outside their home to ensure their safety and security.
Parents who see, hear, or know of children who are using illegal substances including alcohol, vapes, and drugs, must say something to the child’s parent or to their school. Reports to a school will be kept confidential and will be used to get the child the help he or she needs.
Perhaps most importantly, we urge the adults of our community to model for our children over the upcoming yamim tovim of Sukkos and Simchas Torah the many other ways in which we can achieve true simchas ha-chaim and simchas ha-Torah. With your commitment to these guidelines, we are confident that the upcoming Yom Tov and all the days that follow, will indeed be yimei simcha for our entire community.
Rabbi Isaac Entin, Caskey Torah Academy
Rabbi Mendy Levin, Cheder Chabad of Philadelphia
Rabbi Baruch Lichtenstein, Kosloff Torah Academy
Rabbi Gil Perl, Kohelet Yeshiva
Rabbi Avraham Steinberg, Mesivta of Greater Philadelphia