Once Again, A Final Goodbye: 60th Frum Overdose Since Rosh Hashanah

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By Zvi Gluck

Her name was Faygee.  She was 20 years old and she had a smile that could light up a room.   Faygee was one of my wife Aviva’s students and she was full of life, full of love, and full of hope.  She always knew what to say to make everyone around her feel good, how to give them chizuk so that they could carry on even when they faced trials and tribulations.

We lost Faygee Monday night to an accidental heroin overdose.  My wife, my children and I are all mourning the loss of this beautiful neshama.  Unlike so many other cases you hear about, Faygee had the full support of her family who did all that they could to help her through the difficulties she faced.  And yet, we still lost her and we find ourselves in shock, grieving the loss of this promising young woman.

For those of you who are counting, Faygee is the 60th person in the Jewish community to die of a drug overdose since this past Rosh Hashana.  I have gotten yelled at many a time for counting these deaths and have been told I am sensationalizing these tragic events, but nothing could be farther from the truth.  Keeping track of this terrible, heartbreaking statistic makes it real, forces us to face facts.  We are not immune.  Every single one of those deaths have happened on our watch and WE are responsible.

I get many phone calls from people who tell me that they want to open up treatment centers or sober houses after hearing about these terrible losses.  I always ask if their intention is to do this as a chesed or as a business and the response is always the latter.  Have we lost our minds that we are looking to turn a profit from this horrific trend?  Have we no compassion?  Why are we willing to do everything in our power for those with cancer and couples who struggle with infertility, but when it comes to those who suffer from a drug addiction we see it as a good business opportunity?  We are rachmanim bnei rachmanim – so why is it that when it comes to kids on the street or those with addictions, we aren’t opening our hearts and our wallets to help those who are struggling?

I write this as Faygee’s family is preparing for her funeral and I can’t stop thinking about how it wasn’t that long ago that I attended Faigy’s high school graduation.    She spoke so sweetly and with such sincerity.  The message she delivered was a powerful one and today, I hope to be able to share one more powerful message on behalf of an amazing young woman who left us all too soon.

Let each and every one of us reach out to those who are struggling.  Pretend that they are your brother, your sister, your child or your parent and do whatever it takes to get them the help they need.  We need to band together as a group to fight this epidemic with every ounce of strength so that no more parents have to plan funerals for their daughters like Faygee’s parents are today.  May our renewed efforts to help those in need be a zechus for Faygee’s neshama and for the neshamos of the other 59 we have lost this year and may they be a source of strength for those who are still struggling.

Faygee, I beg you to penetrate the heavens on behalf of those who are suffering.  Seek out the others and go together with them to storm the kisei hakavod with tears and with heartfelt tefilos so that we can, once and for all, bring an end to these senseless tragedies.

Zvi Gluck is the director of Amudim Community Resources, an organization dedicated to helping abuse victims and those suffering with addiction within the Jewish community and has been heavily involved in crisis intervention and management for the past 15 years.  For more information go to www.amudim.org.

{Matzav.com}

13 COMMENTS

  1. To the writer of this article. While your intentions are very pure; it can be felt in your words. You must understand that setting up a rehab for addiction is a major major feat. There is one amazing amazing rehab specifically designed for addiction in Israel called Retourno; I have witnessed some of my acquaintances come out very clean and even closer to god than they were before.. It is a very expensive place especially for non israelis. But its one that really has a high success rate. If you ever visit a rehab or get to know the ins and outs of it you will realize that therapists, shrinks, counselors and who not; dont just check in and out like at a business. Their life goes into it; making it a full time job for them.. The resources and everything provided for the patients are extremely expensive. Getting hold of a building for a rehab is nearly nothing to what needs to be provided from within those walls of that building. In a day and age when everything is so expensive; schooling, living etc… it is highly unlikely and impossible to make a rehab where everybody would volunteer; that being said. Being part of a few fundraising attempts for big organizations and great causes in the past few years; I have seen clearly how baalei batim give but very much by specific guidlines to causes they are close to or to causes that rabbanim tell them to give to. If you would perhaps approach one of the gedolei hador and they issue a kol korei then you’ll gain ground on this. Otherwise, many important organizations or smaller causes that dont have the audience or manpower behind it like the bigger organizations have been really neglegted in the past few years… I do believe this is an important issue. I’ve heard of faigy a few years ago and it was clear from the first minute just like her grandfather has so lovingly stated that she was a “neshama kedosha” a “holy soul”…..

  2. People seem to have money to waste on lavish chasunas, complete with choirs and huge orchestras, so why don’t they have money to help these kids? A wedding lasts 4-5 hours. Saving these kids saves generations. Let’s get our priorities straight and start using the money Hashem gives us to help others instead of wasting it on showing off.

  3. This is a life and death issue and the more rehab and treatment centers available, the better, regardless of the intention of those that open them. Not sure why Rabbi Gluck would discourage anyone from opening one, just because the motivation is for the wrong reason. If you found out that a doctor became so for the money, would you hesitate to encourage him to heal people because he wasn’t altruistic enough?

  4. Your message is that people have to be aware and involved in order to help–but if there is a business angle, it’s not good? Realistically, though, a center staffed by volunteers, or even by paid staff but that is entirely free, will not be accepted as a serious venture. It won’t be respected. (“You get what you pay for.”) Even if people want to do it for business reasons–lo lishma bo lishma. Schools charge tuition so that some students can go on scholarship; hospitals charge so that associated clinics can charge less or be free; counseling centers have sliding scales. So could a treatment center. People could still donate to it so that they could charge less to more patients (hoping of course their services eventually aren’t needed) and once the center is established as reputable and effective, they will be better able to get charitable donations.

  5. There is no easy solution to drugs but there is a solution to opioid overdose. The antidote to heroin should be available to patients themselves. People who see someone overdosing hesitate to call emergency or bring the person to a hospital, as they may have sold the substance and face criminal prosecution. This is not a magic bullet, will not solve the problem, but it saves lives.

  6. you are surprised that many of those who want to set up such a center want to do so for business purposes?
    Some of our most famous personalities have made a business out of the Holocaust

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