The ongoing problems of substance abuse and addiction will be in the spotlight on Thursday as Amudim and Hatzolah of Mill Basin partner in an informational evening dedicated to dealing with these difficult issues which have already taken the lives of nine members of the Jewish community since January.
Taking place on March 15th at 8:15 at the Flatbush Park Jewish Center located at 6363 Avenue U, the free event will be dedicated to discussing prevention, raising awareness and understanding how to respond to those who are struggling with these problems. The evening will feature Rabbi Yisroel Perelson, rabbi and principal of the Flatbush Park Jewish Center, Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein, founder of the Ohr Naava Women’s Institute, Dr. Akiva Perlman, director of clinical supervision at Amudim and Rabbi Zvi Gluck. The evening will also include the firsthand story of a recovered drug user as well as a Narcan training session and distribution which will teach participants how to administer this life-saving drug which can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
“Unfortunately, the drug epidemic continues to plague our community in record numbers but Baruch Hashem we are noticing community after community waking up and doing what they can to try to do to help,” said Rabbi Zvi Gluck, founder and director of Amudim, which has hosted more than 20 such awareness events over the past several years. “We are grateful to the Mill Basin community for doing its part to publicize this issue and to become part of the solution to this widespread and deadly problem.”
The event is hosted by Moish Simkin, Naami Davis and Chesky Stern. Stern, a long term member of Flatbush’s chevra kadisha, stressed the importance of educating people about substance abuse, saying that he has seen far too many drug-related deaths in recent years.
“I have seen more and more people becoming resigned to the fact and thinking that this is nothing new,” said Stern. “People think that someone wakes up one day deciding they want to be a drug addict, which just isn’t true, and then they just write them off. We need to educate our community because so many people are completely clueless about the realities of drug abuse.”
Seeing substance abuse’s far reaching collateral damage was an eye opener for Stern.
“I have been doing this for 23 years and what really got to me was not the dead bodies and not hearing the scream when someone finds out that their loved one is dead, which is not pretty,” said Stern. “It wasn’t even having to explain to a parent what an autopsy is, something you never want to experience. It was realizing that it isn’t just the dead person who has suffered but the whole family who has been suffering all along with them and the terrible impact that it has on them.”