Thursday, May 29, 2008

God: The anti-drug

[A good start, but not enough.]

I am now in the middle of reading a fascinating book Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction by David Sheff. The author is a professional writer whose son Nicolas became a methamphetamine addict in high school. It’s extremely well written and suspenseful and I can hardly put it down. Perhaps because I am a father myself, about the same age as Mr. Sheff, I find the book so absorbing. (Click here to see Nic and David.)

One interesting point in the book is that Mr. Sheff, although Jewish, is an atheist (at least at the beginning of the book). One of the problems his son Nic has with therapy is that the universally used 12 Step recovery program requires a belief in God - a personal, monotheistic God, whom we can speak to and who will involve Himself in our day-to-day lives. At one point, Nic is upset by this and brushes it off as “bullshit” and goes back to living on the street in drugged semi-consciousness.

Some historical statistics may be relevant. In 1956, there were estimated to be 35,000 drug addicts in the United States. In 2006, an estimated 20.4 million Americans were drug users. This would seem to correspond roughly to the rapid growth of secularism in the United States during those years. I can testify from my own experience that in the Orthodox Jewish community, the usage of illegal drugs is almost nil. Similarly, a higher level of religion seems to correspond to a lower rate of suicide.

My impression is that belief in God gives people greater satisfaction in life which means that they don’t need to escape to cope. God is the real anti-drug.


Freethinking Upstart said...

For those interested in real rational recovery please go to this website and check out the literature, studies and support there. There is a book called Rational Recovery that you can find at that website that is far better, IMHO, then the so called "Big Book" of the 12 step program or any holy literature for that matter.

Unmolested Altar Boy said...

I've always loved where people who go on about how they used drugs, had risky sex, voted libertarian ...etc before they found Jesus/God/Allah or another imaginary friend.

Not exactly the best spokesperson. I mean, why we are not to assume that finding religion is just not another mistake?

Baal Habos said...

I don't think I'll dis-agree with on this one, but two items. That's not to say that all Atheists/Agnostics need or rely on drugs, and I'm sure there are some pretty hard numbers around. Secondly, perhaps God is just another type of Drug/addiction. *And* there are plenty of God addicted people around who don't live very productive healthy lives. Just check out your co-religionists in Meah Shearim.

jewish philosopher said...

I’m not really an expert on addiction, however I can tell you that a center like Hazelten, perhaps the most prestigious rehab center in the world, still writes on their webpage “The Twelve Steps are a foundation and guideline for living and are fully integrated into the treatment process and care plan. The steps provide a framework to examine mental health, physical health, emotional well-being, relationships, spirituality and more.”

Is there any major rehab center which does not use the twelve steps?

I am not saying that most atheists are addicts, although many are. However I will say that apparently belief in God can significantly strengthen a person’s general mental health and wellbeing.

The term addiction is used to describe a recurring compulsion by an individual to engage in some specific activity, despite harmful consequences to the individual's health, mental state or social life. Being Jewish or even choosing to live in Meah Shearim is probably not included. If it would be, then anything could be called an addiction - playing baseball, listening to music, going fishing, whatever.

badrabbi said...

I reviewed the Torah and the Talmud. I did not find any reference to God's banning the use of drugs.

How did God come to be anti-drug?

jewish philosopher said...

Caring for one’s health is obligated by the Torah. This would seem to prohibit cocaine, heroin, meth, etc. More than that however, it seems to me that Orthodox Jews simply have little if any need for narcotics in the first place. They also don’t kill themselves so often. Rather than snorting drugs or shooting themselves, they cope by praying, doing charity work and studying Talmud.

DrJ said...

Notwithstanding the rancorous comments on this blog, I think that most people would not take issue the following tendencies amoung orthodox Jews, in relation to "secular" people:
1. Orthodox Jews TEND to be more cohesive in their communities and families
2. Tend to have more moderate lifestyles and be less materialistic
3. Tend to have low crime rates.
4. Tend to emphasize literacy and education
5. Tend to have lower divorce rates.

Of course they are not immune to these illnesses and I don't have statistics for the gap between them and non-orthodox. But like any group, their are good and bad people with differing personalities.

OJ is but one way to achieve a more wholesome life. But each way, including OJ, has its price. OJ's price is that in order to sign on to the system you have to believe in myths, and you have to be party to some degree of discrimination against women.

badrabbi said...

Dr J:

I agree with your enumeration of the tendencies. I do agree that there is a set of virtues that goes along with a given life style. The cohesive nature of orthodox Jews is indeed admirable. That they have lower divorce rates, and lower crime rate, etc. is praiseworthy. There is much that an insulated society like OJ can teach a larger community.

I do not think that any one of us are arguing against close-knit society like OJ. Equally so, I do not have any qualms against quakers, nor of the Amish. Absent their possible child molestation, I even do not quibble with the branch Davidians or polygamist Mormons.
What people do with their lives is their own business.

What we are discussing though is the 'truth' of any one claim. For example, I would dispute Smith's claim that polygamy is God's preferred method of habitation, as some Mormons would claim. I would also dispute claims that God discourages the use of electricity as the Amish seem to claim. Or that God banishes electricity on Saturdays as OJ's claim.

I also would dispute any group's claim that theirs is the ideal and divinely accepted way of life. Any society, an atheistic society included, has a set of virtues and shortcomings. What we are saying is that none of these societies are divinely sanctioned or truly superior.

jewish philosopher said...

I do appreciate the positive comments. However, being the cranky old man I am, I still have some complaints.

Specifically, what about the myths that atheists must swallow in order to lead lives of guilt free debauchery?

- The universe needs no creator because it is an eternally existing perpetual motion machine.
- Life developed through a series of amazing accidents which would make a monkey typing Shakespeare on the first attempt seem completely unsurprising in comparison.
- Judaism began when King Josiah somehow tricked his subjects into believing, fanatically and unanimously, that they are not Canaanites. On the contrary, the Canaanites are cursed and completely foreign. Rather, the Jews are actually descended from Egyptian slaves who escaped thanks to a series of miracles and who were given a divine law at Mount Sinai, events which actually never happened.

If anyone thinks any of this makes any sense, I can only suggest testosterone poisoning is involved.

Unmolested Altar Boy said...

"The universe needs no creator because it is an eternally existing perpetual motion machine."

Uhh, science has shown that the universe had a starting point. Nobody believing that the universe will last forever either.

"Life developed through a series of amazing accidents which would make a monkey typing Shakespeare on the first attempt seem completely unsurprising in comparison."

Uhh, sciences evolved through a design process called natural selection. As for the monkey typing argument, Daniel Denett dispatches that in Darwin's Dangerous Idea.

"Judaism began when King Josiah somehow tricked his subjects into believing, fanatically and unanimously, that they are not Canaanites."

Or just never encounter Judaism. Seriously, for supposedly being the faith preferred by 4 out of 5 gods, Judaism isn't hard to miss.

DrJ said...

A myth refers to a specific assertion or belief(in the sense of faith).

Neither not believing, nor not knowing, are "myths" or beliefs in and of themselves. You simply don't know (or don't care). That's not a belief.

If I see a ball fall to the ground, and somebody explains to me the scientific explanation of gravity, and I accept it, that's not "belief". Its using reason and evidence to accept a conclusion. If somebody else tells me that the ball falls because an invisible gremlin grabbed it out of my hand and pulled it down, and I don't beleive him, that's not believing in a "myth".

So why invoke the supernatural when you don't have to? Just because we don't have all of the answers now, (as we didn't to many other problems in the past) there's no reason to invoke "God" as the explanation. Its the "god of the gaps".

jewish philosopher said...

“science has shown that the universe had a starting point”

Believing that the universe was created is called creationism and I think atheists aren't supposed to believe that.

“As for the monkey typing argument, Daniel Denett dispatches that in Darwin's Dangerous Idea.”

We don't know how improbable the spontaneous origin of and development life is, for one thing because we don't really know how complex life is. About the best Stephen Hawking is able to say is that life seems to be very unlikely, however it really must not be since after all we are here.

"Just because we don't have all of the answers now there's no reason to invoke "God" "

Then there is never a reason to invoke God.

In my humble opinion, to insist that there is no god and there must be some other explanation for all the evidence pointing in that direction is a little like an indicted criminal insisting that some other, as yet unknown, person must have committed the crime in spite of all the evidence that he did it (the well know SODDI defense). That’s not always a big success in criminal cases, unless you can afford OJ Simpson’s lawyers.

Unmolested Altar Boy said...

You know, the rise in drug addicts mirrors the decline in antisemitism in the United States. In the 1950s we forget, that gentiles only signs were common place, the US did not support Israel, and anti-Jew baiting was acceptable in politics.

Now, in 2008, gentiles only signs are forgotten, Israel is our best buddy, and using charges of antisemitism is acceptable in politics.

Geez, maybe I am on to something here. Or, more likely, Jacob needs to learn something about causation and correlation.

jewish philosopher said...

To the best of my knowledge every psychologist in the United States considers belief in God to be an essential part of recovery from addiction. They could all be wrong, however I would like to see some proof of that.

Additionally, I can testify that in my own very theistic community, drug abuse is almost completely non-existent. Based upon this, I am guessing that belief in God has not merely a therapeutic but also a preventative effect. I don’t think this is at all farfetched.

blank said...

I must correct one thing you said,
“I can testify from my own experience that in the Orthodox Jewish community, the usage of illegal drugs is almost nil.”
That is completely incorrect. I was very popular growing up and between that and the fact that I was friends with the entire spectrum of Jews in my community; I had insight into every division of Orthodox Judaism there.
The usage of illegal drugs in Yeshiva, running the gammet of modern orthodox mixed schools to ultra orthodox, from Beit Yaakov’s to Lubavitch private schools, drugs were just as prevalent. There was no "major" difference in drug usage in my public schools, NCSY trips or time spent learning in Israel in a Yeshiva. The usage of both legal and illegal drugs is just as much a problem in the frum community with kids and even some parents (the later being very, very, very minimal.) Furthermore, just about every drug user or seller I ever met had a strong belief in G-d’s existence, whether they are Jewish or not.

I know what you’re thinking. Maybe it’s the crowd I hung out with right? Well I am proud of the fact that I can say I am one of the very few people I know that has never taken a single illegal drug! I associated with everyone and never shunned an individual. I tried to be friends with everyone which is why I knew many drug users.

Granted, these statements are about as statistically proven as yours so it is really your word verses mine. I am just here to attest that I, first hand, have seen that your comment is incorrect. And having moved to 3-4 Jewish communities in my life, the problem was far from an isolated one.

As for the rest of your blog, I have no comments for now. But as for that ONE claim about orthodox drug use being almost nil, it is completely incorrect.

jewish philosopher said...

raz, that's very interesting, however if that is true, then could you please direct me to some documentation about Orthodox Jews being arrested for possession and\or dealing. We know that illegal drugs attract the attention of law enforcement. We should therefore see just about as many arrests among yeshiva students as among public school students.

Another question is – what about deaths? Obviously, Orthodox Jews who are involved with hard drugs would be as likely to die from overdose as everyone else. I personally have never heard of a funeral being conducted for an Orthodox teen that overdosed. Can you provide any information?

blank said...

As for law enforcement statistics, you are correct that they would probably show a very minimal amount of arrests for drug usage among the orthodox community.
Being that I work on a daily basis with statistics I can say that the reason for this may be that there is no study, at least that I am aware of that centers on the drug use in the Jewish community. Any statistic on drug arrests on the population at large would show a huge minority being religious Jews because
a)religion is typically not used as a defining factor due to various IRB policies that tend to want to avoid religious bias
b)if we were to find a statistic, you or I, would then have to run our own calculations to properly adjust the numbers to correspond to our already low ratio in the population
c)we would also have to define further instruments to address inherent bias do to the fact that because of our lower numbers in the population we would thus be a smaller target on law enforcements radar
d)and address what drugs our community is using and how that drug choice factors into the law enforcements current concern. In other words, the police typically care less about the high school kid, yeshiva bucher or not, who lights a blunt up with his friends. They would rather catch the seller.

Or in other words, what you ask of me to provide takes a lot of work, calculations, time, peer reviewing and money if you want an accurate number. All of which I, and I assume you, do not have the time or money to invest into an internet blog entry.

Furthermore, as for arrests and your funeral remark I can address why you do not see those. Because the drugs I mention above are typically the drugs of choice amongst youth, namely marijuana, alcohol, cough syrups etc. All of which have a negligible death rate attached. You are thinking more on the lines of heroin, cocaine etc which you may be correct about stating we have a lesser problem with in the frum community. But as I stated before, you said “illegal drugs” and the ones I listed are illegal and are the main drug of choice amongst kids. Maybe due your age, that is not an insult just an observation, you are unaware of how wide spread these kind of recreational drugs have spread amongst ALL kids, frum or non. Last, I have presented about as much valid statistics as you in my argument. I am testifying to what I have seen, to what I know. Pay me and I’ll give you some proof but until then, this is just a blog.

But just for fun I did google it and found

Not proof that it is a huge epidemic, but something that shows that it exists. Belief in G-d is not the anti-drug. Work in rehab, go to counseling services, understand the genetic and psychological affects and predispositions to abuse and you will see that your topic is more complex then you allude to.

The problem is there, you can choose to ignore it or address it.

jewish philosopher said...

I found that article also. They found 11 Orthodox drug users.

I was in Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan two years ago. It's near the Hassidic neighborhood in Brooklyn - Williamsburg. The nurses told me they had one Hassidic Jew coming in regularly for drug related problems. One.

What about media reports on this alleged problem? Obituaries? Nothing?

blank said...

Once again, you have yet to prove your point.

Q: What about media reports?
A: Well, how often are there media reports about the frum community? Or let me put it plainly, the orthodox community is not large enough for the media spotlight which is one reason why no article about drugs in the frum Jewish community exist. Not unless the community itself wants to publicly illuminate its own dirty laundry which from my experience, we typically do not. i.e. the case of molestation done by Rabbi Lanner in which I and my friends were specifically contacted not to speak of, that the community would handle it. We also did it in the case of a husband murdering his wife in Texas (sorry, I am not comfortable divulging the name.) We are not in the public’s eye and when our behavior is bad enough to warrant public attention, we have great PR to keep the lid on things.

Two, most drug related interventions focus on any drug user and could care less about their community.

Q: Obituaries?
A: I addressed that. The drugs I am talking about are not life threatening. They are what are typically called recreational drugs.

Yes, I am ware that the link I posted is just about interviewing a small group of 11 frum drug users but they comment on themselves and their friends. It was just a snapshot, a glimpse that it is existent.

To remind you, you stated:
“I can testify from my own experience that in the Orthodox Jewish community, the usage of illegal drugs is almost nil.”

I am stating:
“I can testify from my own experience that in the Orthodox Jewish community, the usage of illegal drugs amongst the youth is present and a problem.”

Both comments are correct. You informed your readers you have not seen a drug problem. I am telling your readers, I have.

Feel free to keep developing your hypothesis that “My impression is that belief in God gives people greater satisfaction in life which means that they don’t need to escape to cope.” You’re just going to have to do a little more work if you think that ascertation can stand up alone on the weight of your observation of the frum community not using drugs, at least in their youth.

Oh by the way, even if you argue that 55% of public school kids try drugs at least once while frum students only number around 40%. Is that really something to be proud of? I may give you that there is less of a problem but there is a problem none the less and it is not nil. Lastly, you have ignored alcohol use amongst kids and probably rightfully so because neither of us have to present a statistic to prove it, an illegal mind altering drug, is used and many times abused by frum kids.

jewish philosopher said...

It's interesting that the Internet is full of articles about Rabbi Baruch Lanner, one modern Orthodox rabbi whose major crime was touching the breasts of two high school girls through their clothing, but has almost not a word about the Orthodox Jewish drug problem. No arrests, convictions, deaths, nothing.

jewish philosopher said...

I will agree with you, however, that people who drop out of Orthodoxy may be at a high risk for drug abuse. I have heard something about that. There is sometimes a mentality of “Well, I use electricity on the Sabbath, so I may as well use cocaine also.” This post is referring to people who are currently members of the Orthodox community.

blank said...

You are correct that this post refers to currently frum people but your original thesis regarding G-d being the anti-drug stepped onto an expanded plain. Because stating that G-d is the anti-drug would indicate the frum people should, theoretically, never begin to use drugs. And if you simply subtract the formerly frum yet currently drug abusing population from your statistical analysis, then you are tailoring the population to suite your needs. Furthermore, you are undermining your own logic that G-d equates to low drug usage and the growing secularization of the U.S. is cause for the increase in the drug problem; because even if I give you the premise that many abusers leave the orthodox lifestyle, under your hypothesis, they should have never started.

Now your astute observation of lack of articles is not proof of lack of a problem, just lack of addressing it. You have yet to show any statistical evidence of your own, any single article heralding the low drug usage in the frum community. You have not brought a single authoritative source to backup your claim. You, without a single iota of proof, seem to demand that anyone, whose observation differs from yours, must provide proof when you have not done the same in respect to drug usage.

Your only rebuttals keep stemming from death (issue addressed) or news reports (issue addressed) but if you need an article then fine, take them. I still don’t think my providing them was necessary but you claimed “media reports on this alleged problem? Obituaries? Nothing?” yet this is what I find in less then five minutes searching on google. If I spent more time, I could probably find more, better written, substantial and respected publications; but the fact that a simple google search popped up numerous pages of articles is telling enough that yes, there has been coverage.

As for Boruch Lanar (I should not have referred to him as Rabbi), he did much, MUCH more then touch a few breasts. Your comment
“one modern Orthodox rabbi whose major crime was touching the breasts of two high school girls through their clothing” seems to woefully understate his crime. Even if we do not agree to the extent of his criminal activity, your choice of words seems to indicate that his crimes were a bit overblown. I will give you the benefit of the doubt that you never intended to downplay the molestation of young women, especially when that individual was the head of numerous youth organizations. For a young woman to have her breasts touched, even over her shirt, against her will by a person she trusts and respects is a highly traumatizing experience. Of course that is only the tip of the iceberg of his numerous acts of child abuse for it doesn’t even address the many young boys he molested and mentally abused. Or maybe we should save this discussion for your next blog post,

“G-d, the reason why abuse does not exist in the Orthodox community.”

In which you can discuss how, in your experience, you can attest to there being nearly no physical or mental abuse in the Jewish community towards one’s spouse or kid’s. And that child molestation does not exist in the frum community because we have a fear of G-d (Mr. Lanar being the one exception.)

Honestly, I respect your idea and it is probably true for some people but the problem at large is much more complex then you present. Blanket statements hardly ever work in the real world because individual psychology and genetic predisposition make every case unique in some way.

Thanks for listening to my lecture.

Now, for your reading pleasure I present some, supposedly non-existent, articles about the Orthodox Jewish drug problem complete with a few deaths from heroine overdoses. The New York Times article is my personal favorite.

A Push to Curb Drug Abuse Among Orthodox Youths

“The clubs have bothered Orthodox rabbis for years, but with the recent death of a yeshiva student in Israel from a heroin overdose and arrests last year of 42 teenagers, including many yeshiva students in Livingston, N.J., on charges of under-age drinking and drug abuse at a party, Rabbi Weinreb said it seemed like time to act against substance abuse.”


Secular temptations lure Orthodox youth

“The Orthodox Jewish community was jolted into action when some of its elders and rabbis walked into a party off Broadway recently where young Orthodox men and women were drinking booze, doing drugs and mingling romantically.”

“Secular Israelis read about the growing number of American students who are arrested for marijuana possession at their yeshivot, or the even more horrible story, last year, of a yeshiva student dying of a drug overdose, and it hardens their opinion that the Orthodox are hypocrites.”

jewish philosopher said...

"Because stating that G-d is the anti-drug would indicate the frum people should, theoretically, never begin to use drugs."

Think of God as being like an antibiotic. Stop taking it and you get sick.

And thank you for researching all those articles. However, as far as I can tell, from all of them the only clear fact cited about Orthodox abuse is one young man dying from an heroin OD. That's it. Beyond that, it's all very vague "several arrests for drinking or drugs". And the London thing is about dealers, not users.

jewish philosopher said...

Actually, the one “ yeshiva student” who overdosed on heroin apparently wasn’t Orthodox.

jewish philosopher said...

I still stick by my story - other than a very small fringe, probably no more than 1%, of teenagers using marijuana, and a few really rare individuals using other drugs, there is no usage of illegal drugs in the Orthodox Jewish community.

Jessica said...

My mother is a nurse on a detox unit in a hospital. Without the 12 step program, these addicts would always be addicts and never recovering addicts. No matter which higher power they choose to believe in, they do need to choose one. They need to know that there is someone watching them and that they have someone to answer to.

blank said...

By your own profile it seems as though you were not involved with the Jewish community in high school which probably explains your lack of understanding about the usage of marijuana. And for you readers sake, I hope they do not take your word for the current drug problem amongst the frum youth because it is clear you either have no idea of the current climate or refuse to accept the problem is a little greater then 1%. Furthermore, I still ask one question, why are you refraining from addressing the widespread alcohol abuse problem? It is an illegal drug if the user is under 21. It also has mind altering effects and is a form of escape? Something the anti-drug of G-d should alleviate the desire for. If anyone doubts the abuse of alcohol you need not look further then your local shuls or chabad during Simchat Torah or Purim to see the facts before you. Of course there are no articles or major media coverage about those problems in the orthodox community so I suppose they do not exist. Isn’t the right JP? Would it be that detrimental to your thesis to acknowledge drug usage in the Jewish community? And even if I gave you the huge underestimation of 1%, reasonable by your own admission; with a world orthodox population of 1.6-1.8 million, that equals 10,000 Orthodox Jews who have or have had a drug problem. Where is your answer to that? Listen the fact is you can believe in the Torah, have absolute faith in G-d and his mitzvot and still be addicted to drugs. The time and energy you spend trying to erase that fact would be better spent reaching out and helping those individuals.

badrabbi said...


Your points are very educational. I learned much from your comments - thank you.

You have managed to eviscerate JP's argument. Rest assured that he will never admit to it, and will continue to perseverate.

As for the rest of us, we have witnessed your utter knock-out of JP in the third round. JP is on the canvass, with birds dancing about his eyes, trying to gain some wits about him. He will never admit defeat though, but plainly he has lost the match.

Unmolested Altar Boy said...

"Without the 12 step program, these addicts would always be addicts and never recovering addicts. No matter which higher power they choose to believe in, they do need to choose one."

Now Jessica, Jacob and you may need constant supervision, but I found with a little self discipline, I easily avoided becoming addicted to drugs.

jewish philosopher said...

I believe that the lack of documentation of it on the Internet is fairly good evidence of a lack of drug abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community. The Internet includes many websites that are anti-religious, anti-Jewish and anti-Orthodox. If there would be some shred of evidence of drug abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community, I have no doubt that it would be widely broadcast.

Instead, these seem to be the only specific facts on the web at the moment:

- In 1998, three Orthodox Jews were arrested for heroin dealing.
- In 2000, “several” Orthodox Jews were convicted of smuggling ecstasy.
- In 2003, 15 Hassidic Jews were arrested for laundering money for drug dealers.
- In 2005, four Orthodox Jews were arrested for selling marijuana.

This is approximately equivalent to a city the size of Houston, Texas having a total of about 30 drug related arrests in the past 15 years. Therefore, let me repeat, that in the Orthodox Jewish community, the usage of illegal drugs is almost nil.

This post is not about alcoholism, however I would say that the level of alcoholism in the Orthodox community is similarly very small.

blank said...

Now you are either completely delusional or just lying. This post is about alcoholism based off of your own criteria. Alcohol is a drug, it is illegal at some point and it is a form of mind altering escape. You are making me repeat myself and trying to sway the conversation because mixing in alcohol into this conversation is the nail in your arguments coffin. It is a widely known fact that Jewish communities have alcohol problems, we invented the Kiddish club and you knew that before my bringing it into this forum just now! No other religion has a widespread problem of people slipping out the back of services for Lechaims during their spiritual leader’s speech, a problem so big even the O.U. has made an official statement.

I came to your site because I believed you were an intellectual, someone who would use the basic logical skills of philosophy in tandem with sound halachic knowledge. Instead it is painfully obvious that you backtrack on your own words, avoid topics that shake your perfect vision of Judaism, ignore all valid arguments opposed to your beliefs and completely brush off any opinion that isn’t inline with your own. You do not grapple with the spiritual and philosophical questions that have bothered mankind for centuries. No, you have pre-decided the conclusion to all of life’s complicated issues and simply tailor every discussion to suite your needs. Instead of tackling an issue, admitting possible err and revising your initial hypothesis to create a stronger, more valid belief (as any self respecting intellectual does); instead you unwaveringly hold on to your original incorrect proposition regardless of its consequences.

I get it, you love G-d and hate atheists, shakoach. But that’s no excuse for what you attempted to do in this blog. You may be Jewish but you are far from a philosopher and I will be back to point out when you make another comment that is blatantly false.

I appreciate people’s time in reading these comments and am glad they took something away from it.

Yours truly,
Your new conscience

- You pointed out the guy who OD was raised conservative but ignore that he was in an orthodox Yeshiva.
- You also ignore that the article mentions four other Yeshiva boys arrested for marijuana.
- You ignored the fact that under your own admission 1% equals 10,000. Let’s cut that number in half and simply make 5,000 Jews or half of that down to 2,500 Jews. Are two thousand five hundred Jews not important enough for you to address?


1) Yeshiva University even admits it grapples with the issue.

“Dean Nulman stressed that every case of drug and alcohol abuse is a big deal at Yeshiva. "There is no question that every college has substance abuse problems. An average college has 40-60% of its student body [involved in an illegal substance related activity], ours is less. These numbers include alcohol and marijuana."

2) This summarizes your denial
“I recently asked a student in one of the more prestigious Yeshivot catering to Americans in Israel whether the school would know if a given student were involved in drugs. His response was “if a kid had spent the last week in an opium den in Thailand, they wouldn’t figure it out.” When I asked a Madrich at one of the Yeshivot Hesder whether the faculty discussed the recent arrest of American programs’ students for dealing drugs, he said that they denied that the problem could possibly exist in their Yeshiva. When he told them that in his years as a student some of his peers not only smoked marijuana, but actually grew it on the Yeshiva’s campus, they were in a state of shock.”

3) “….I mentioned my reluctance to air these matters in the public arena…. Boys from ALL types of yeshivos openly smoking marijuana – not only in the Ben Yehudah vicinity, but in charedi neighborhoods as well.”

4) One last source

I look forward to your next blog as I am done with this post.

jewish philosopher said...

raz, besides just ranting about how dishonest I am, I don't see what you're adding.

What documented facts and figures do you have to support your views about drug use in the Orthodox community?

You claim from personal experience that "There was no "major" difference in drug usage in my public schools, NCSY trips or time spent learning in Israel in a Yeshiva. The usage of both legal and illegal drugs is just as much a problem in the frum community with kids and even some parents (the later being very, very, very minimal.)"

I claim you're wrong. So? What do you want to do, meet me and fight it out or something? Why don't you just start you're own blog? Let me give you a head start.

"It is a widely known fact that Jewish communities have alcohol problems"

Fine. Probably 1% of what other communities have.

You know, I used to be a gentile. I am right now sitting in an office surrounded by gentiles. Perhaps for you, from your sheltered point of view, one Orthodox student smoking a joint or getting tipsy on a holiday is a "huge, horrific, major problem, just like everyone else has", but, pardon me, you have no idea what you are talking about.

blank said...

LOL. You are correct we both really aren’t adding anything to the debate anymore. But then again you assume I was trying to reach just you. We are both going around the same subjects, both not budging. And so we leave it at this, we agree to disagree; but at least in our verbal joust your readers have seen a different perspective, read some interesting facts and articles; and if it made them think twice about your comments, than that was the real point.

I like you and I have a feeling this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship. I don’t need to meet you and fight it out, that’s just silly when I am doing a perfectly fine job sparing with you from here. And I appreciate you helping me out to start my own blog but currently it seems as though I will have my hands full correcting you. Now move on to your next blog, I am anxious to learn more from you.

P.S.- I think it is quite humorous that you think I live a sheltered life. I’d tell you why but you do not deserve to know right now. Plus, it would do no good.

jewish philosopher said...

I think the Orthodox Jewish drug and alcohol problems are something like Scarlett Johansson’s weight problem. It depends what you call a problem.

realistic viewer said...

sorry if someone brought this up before (as I didn't go through all the comments). But the numbers of teens on drugs who grew up in religious homes are absolutely staggering. I personally know a lot of teens who are just completely out of control. Being a baal teshuva myself and seeing both side of the fence I would estimate that the numbers of teens doing drugs from religious and non religious homes is pretty even. There are simply less religious people so we don't hear about it as much.

Corey said...

altar boy - i did not say that because a person is atheist they have no self-control. i said that once a person is already an addict, they need to believe in a higher power. this higher power is not necessarily God, but just something/someone that these people can feel like they need to answer to.

jewish philosopher said...

RV, first of all, this post is referring to people who are now Orthodox. Obviously, it does not apply to people who once were Orthodox.

Also, there is a word for making very negative claims about Jews that have no basis in evidence.

blank said...

RV you are correct. See my previous discussion with JP if you want to see some sources, reasons for the low media coverage and frum Rabbi’s not too scared to address the issue. JP that “word” link to blood libel was a low blow and quite irresponsible coming from a Rabbi. You are refuting people’s eyewitness testimony on no basis, calling them liars and degrading their character in a public forum. Those are not the kind of actions that the Torah embodies. Those are not the kind of qualities your Yeshiva promotes.

jewish philosopher said...

I’m very sorry, however I don’t really see how accusing Orthodox Jews of being rampant drug addicts and alcoholics is really any different than calling them killers of Christian children. Both accusations are unsubstantiated by any evidence, other than claims of certain people who supposedly know “the real truth”. The idea of Jews snorting meth before they sit down to their Talmudic lectures is just as absurd as Jews cutting children’s throats as they prepare for Passover.

All the sources you have brought actually prove how wrong you are. They indicate how truly rare any drug or alcohol abuse are in the community and how Orthodox rabbis are prepared to take public action against any hint of it (not “cover it up”).

blank said...

He or She never said “ Orthodox Jews are rampant drug addicts and alcoholics.” And no one said “Jews are snorting meth before they sit down to their Talmudic lectures.”
You are lying and/or sensationalizing and should stop as it is in unbecoming of you.
I will not argue this issue with you any longer and I’m not even going to waste my time with addressing your latest rant. I will however continue to direct people to the above information found in our discussion so they can make up their own mind.
I will also return if you insist on degrading others and/or lying about them as you have just done. But as for going toe to toe with you, I have done so already and an intelligent reader will see the truth.

Now behave yourself and live up to your name and title.

jewish philosopher said...

And no one said “Jews are snorting meth before they sit down to their Talmudic lectures.”

Right. So there is no significant drug problem.

realistic viewer said...

JP - Unfortunately I am personally witness to dozens of "confused" children from orthodox homes who, "going off", would be a great option. Maybe up there in Monsey, im sorry Wesley Hills you don't see what is so apparent to everyone else. And I am not one of those people who blogs to and for the anti-orthodox. I am orthodox I just refuse to shut my eyes when there is such an apparent problem in our community. I am not blaming parents, rebbeim, or anyone. The problem isn't so simple that we can just blame a particular person or even the lifestyle. But the problem is there. I understand this problem is not called "drug addiction" its call "going off" but really come visit Brooklyn and take a walk along Coney Island Avenue after midnight.

Jessica said...

Oh, I just realized that I was accidentally signed into my husband's account when I left that message to altar boy. So, altar boy, the message from "corey" is actually me.

jewish philosopher said...

RV, I realize that some people, young people and older people, who were once Orthodox may choose to leave the Orthodox community and join the general American society. Those people, even if still living with Orthodox relatives because they cannot afford their own homes, are naturally involved in everything which American society is involved with, including drugs.

I am saying that within the Orthodox community, drug usage is almost nonexistent, I think largely because belief in God gives people a way of coping rather than escaping.

jewish philosopher said...

To get some concept of the size of the drug\alcohol abuse problem within the Orthodox community, I did a little research. The only rehab center in the United States catering to Orthodox Jews is apparently Chabad Residential Treatment Center of Los Angeles CA. The facility has 35 beds and accepts patients who are not Jewish and not Orthodox, as well as Orthodox. The Orthodox population of North America is estimated to be about 600,000. So I am guessing that out of 600,000 American Orthodox Jews, about 10 or 20 are in rehab at any given time.

blank said...

Okay, time to crunch the numbers you have provided. This will be lengthy but thorough. You state 10-20 orthodox Jews are in rehab at any given moment. I’m going to use 20 for this calculation. If twenty people enroll in rehab on Jan. 1st 2008 & a program lasts 30 days, on Feb 1st a new 20 would enroll based off your comment “about 10 or 20 are in rehab at any given time.” By the end of the year that totals becomes 240 Orthodox Jews in Rehab. Wait there’s more!
Using national statistics gathered in 2003 we see that 3.3 million Americans entered rehabilitation centers that year. However, an estimated 21.6 mill. people had a drug &/or alcohol abuse problem but never sought help. See link below.

Now here is the math to determine the real number of users based off the ratio of people who seek help versus those that do not.

3.3/21.6= 240/X
where x is our full drug abusing population.
X = 1570.91

So, although only 20 Orthodox Jews are in rehab on any given day, that equals 240 a year & taking into consideration the statistical ratio of those who do not seek help, the real number is 1,570 in the U.S. alone (I rounded down for you.) Oh and calculated for the world Orthodox Jewish population, it brings it closer to 4,712.72 Orthodox Jews on drugs. Maybe a minimal amount to you, but when the Talmud says that each and every individual life is special that is quite a number. Not to mention your hypothesis stated the number should be zero and was approximately nil.

All this based on your extremely underestimated number of Orthodox Jews on drugs which you based on the fact that you found 1 Jewish rehabilitation center. Yet you must have missed Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski's Gateway Rehabilitation Center in Pittsburgh a 2nd rehabilitation center that helps the Jewish and non-Jewish community. If you guessed 20 Jews were on drugs b/c only 1 rehab center existed, it can be deduced that twice as many people are probably on drugs do to twice the rehab facilities being discovered; simple deductive logic used in the Talmud for halachic purposes all the time. This then double all the previous numbers listed above. And the best part is, I found more Jewish rehab centers but I think I got my point across sufficiently.

In all seriousness, I do appreciate that you are finally acknowledging that there is a number out there larger than 1 or 2 even if we do not agree to it’s degree or significance. I hope if any person, Jewish or not, who reads this blog and has a substance use problem does seeks help.

jewish philosopher said...

Raz, first of all you are assuming that people who go to Chabad Rehab continue using after rehab. Hopefully that is not the case. Also, you are assuming that Gateway Rehab has a substantial Orthodox Jewish clientèle because the founder was an Orthodox Jew. I also don’t know if this is the case. Also, you’re assuming my higher estimate for the number of Orthodox patients at Chabad.

I would say that considering the number of Orthodox Jews in rehab nationwide (maybe 20), the number of Orthodox Jews in prison on drug/alcohol related charges nationwide (few to none), the number of drug/alcohol related deaths in the Orthodox community in recent years (few to none), we can safely conclude that the drug/alcohol problem in the Orthodox community is almost nil. Most other segments of American society would call this a “miracle” not a “problem”.

Rebeljew said...

If you want to score some smack in Boro Park, just ask any of the bachurim in the nearest yeshivah. They should be able to guide you.

jewish philosopher said...

Sure, Boro Park is full of pushers, Williamsburg is full of crack houses and Monsey is full of meth labs. However the police seem to know nothing about it. I guess it's like the Christian babies we use to make our matzo; Jews are so clever and secretive we never get caught, unlike dumb gentile criminals who get arrested all the time.