What was once unthinkable has now become a frightening reality. As addiction and abuse have continued to cut an alarming swath through all segments of the Jewish community, there is virtually no city, no neighborhood and no family that is untouched by this horrific plague, leaving each of us to wonder who will be next: My chavrusa? My child? My next door neighbor? The person sitting next to me in shul?
As terrifying as our reality has come to be, there is only one way to turn the tide, explained Rabbi Zvi Gluck, director of Amudim, which deals with crisis in the Jewish community.
“Addiction and abuse happen in the best of families,” said Rabbi Gluck. “And while so many of us are worried about the stigma of going for help, we are losing more and more promising lives. Instead, we need to embrace this challenge head on and realize that support, not shame, is the answer to the problem. We need to remove the stigma associated with these issues in order to be able to help those who are in the throes of crisis.”
In an effort to increase muster support for those who are suffering, Amudim has hosted numerous awareness events over the past year. The first, which took place at the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, was an unqualified success and since then similar events have been held in Lakewood, the Five Towns, West Hempstead and Springfield, New Jersey. Offering a wealth of information, positive strategies and words of chizuk from experts in the field as well as prominent rabbonim, participants have walked away invigorated, infused with small sparks of hope that offer the promise of a brighter tomorrow for those battling addiction and traumatized by abuse.
Amudim’s next event will be held in Flatbush at 7:30 PM on Monday, May 1st at Ateres Chynka, located at 129 Elmwood Avenue. A fascinating lineup of speakers will be led by Amudim’s posek and rabbinic advisor, Harav Elya Brudny shlita. Other lecturers will include Dr. Akiva Perlman, who will address how to treat both an addict and their family members, and Dr. Norman Blumenthal, who will discuss identifying and minimizing risk factors for addiction. The evening, hosted by United Task Force, OHEL, Our Place, Amudim, the SAFE Foundation, Relief Resources and the Flatbush Jewish Community Council, will include a presentation by Amudim’s director of opioid training, Naftaly Herskovic, in the administration of Naloxone, a lifesaving drug that can be obtained free at approved distribution centers and can reverse the effects of an opiate overdose.
David Mandel, CEO of OHEL, noted that the Jewish community has been deeply touched by the drug problem that has been sweeping the nation in recent years, and that, sadly, many are more concerned with the stigma of drug abuse than about getting help for their loved ones. Raising awareness through community wide events is the first step in guiding those affected towards the road to healing, noted Mandel.
“This evening will broaden our knowledge and have a direct impact on parents, educators and neighbors to enable them to recognize and respond,” said Mandel.
By Sandy Eller, a freelance writer who writes for websites, newspapers, magazines and private clients. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.