Flatbush Event Aims to Eradicate Stigma of Addiction in Jewish Community


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 sandyeller1@gmail.com.


  1. I think the concept of promoting awareness about these problems is very important and I support Zvi Gluck’s efforts to help people whether they be victims of abuse or are suffering from addiction. However the language of “removing stigma” is troubling. This is a particular usage of language which has been deployed in other arenas of non profit and government social welfare programming particularly in the realms of poverty, gender and related issues. You will find that “removal of stigma” of “poverty”, and “hunger” is an item that ranks high on the agenda of organizations and agencies that deal with these issues. Similarly we are presented with “pride parades” every year around the world and even in Yerushalaim Ir Hakodesh. Have you not noticed how in the last few years Transgenderism has been destigmatized as well to the extent that if one criticizes these things one is labeled a “bully” or a “phobic”. Similarly the death with dignity/suicide/Euthanasia movement which has been glorified and promoted of late. There is a dark side to de-stigmatization. Getting rid of stigma about previously taboo subjects is part of a deliberate strategy to weaken traditional family values especially the concept of personal responsibility and self control and self regulation and traditional concepts of masculinity and femininity. It is part of the game plan of the left, and should not be employed by organizations in the Frum community. It is also possible that de-stigmatization contributes to the problem by making it more socially acceptable. Busha/shame can be a powerful deterrent.
    We should also be asking why all of a sudden do we have a Heroin epidemic in the country in general and in our community in particular to the extent that Naloxone training is being promoted everywhere. The question has to be asked where did this start, who started it, and who is profiting from it? I don’t know the answer myself, but I suspect if we “follow the money” we will be led to some uncomfortable answers. It should be pointed out that in the past it has been alleged that the CIA introduced LSD to the counter culture in the 1960s. It has also been alleged that Federal covert operations sparked the crack cocaine epidemic in the 1980s. Something is rotten in Denmark and I don’t think it is the stigma.

  2. Kudos to number one we need to have recognition of what it means when we use certain terminology. Not judging is not the same as removing stigma and unfortunately a lot of the problems are because people have been told it’s OK to be who you are no matter where it leads

  3. Three of my kids went to Yeshiva are potheads.it has ruined their lives and our families life.this ad seems to overlook the other problem of marijuana. Some people say that marijuana is a gateway drug and it leads to other things. Now I see that at this talk there will be nalaxoron training. Too Little too late. When I read on other sites that from people are investing in marijuana dispensaries etc. I am sickened. If the movement is to legalize marijuana and they might as will legalize every other drug. When the OU gives a hechsher on marijana baked goods then all these talks are for nothing.

  4. Real Deal, thank you for reinforcing my point with the marijuana example. By constantly repeating that it should legalized and decriminalized, the stigma that once surrounded “weed” has basically been completely removed in this country. So now you have states where you have it legalized for recreational use. This de- stigmatization of “Weed” is a deliberate campaign being financed by powerful non profit organizations such as those controlled by George Soros, as well as by glorification of drug use by celebrities and Hollywood. While I think it is totally acceptable for the use of Marijuana for medicinal purposes such as for someone suffering from cancer, I do not think we should be removing the stigma of its use by the general population for recreational purposes.

  5. there is no stigma , there is a lack of good solutions, this ad makes it sound as if we dont go for help,no ones head is in the sand blame the shmutz not klal yisroel .i know first hand that almost every suicide WENT FOR HELP ( to psychs, out patient and many even in patient) or at least offered help. so many of these families mortgaged and were makriv everything to pay for rehab. yiddishe mothres & fathers keep on trying unfortunately the results are nothing to write home about hashem yerachem aleinu

  6. As I contemplate this more, I notice that the ad for this event exactly mirrors an ad in the popular media for a hunger relief organization known as The Food Bank. In that ad various people say the words I am your Neighbor, I am your mothers friend, I am your cashier, and so on. I do not want to minimize the pain and real need for help that families struggling with this problem have.However I do think there is a deeper agenda at play with this whole issue. Ruby you are quite right. I do not know first hand but I have heard what you are saying second and third hand. The question then becomes, are the “treatments” being offered, worse then the disease? Is it possible that despite the good intentions behind the treatment industry, that nevertheless, as an industry it has a certain goal of self preservation which contradicts the goal of eliminating the problem? This is a phenomenon seen across the board in the non profit world and in the for profit world as well. In the for profit world the cancer industry comes to mind. There are companies that produce chemicals for industry that are carcinogenic.The same companies will produce chemicals used in cancer treatment. Do they really want to eliminate cancer while they are profiting from cancer at the same time? The same industry that produces the Naloxone for treatment of Heroin and opiate overdose is the same industry that has been blamed in part for causing the opiate epidemic. Some have blamed the government for restricting pain killers which forces addicts to seek out more hard core opiates such as Heroin. The same government provides funding and grants to non profit organizations that are involved in fighting the scourge. It makes me wonder. There is also a vested interest on the left, to destroy traditional values communities like the frum commuity and the evangelical community. What better way to do that then to introduce this awful plague of drugs, and all the accoutrements of the drug culture and all the other various addictions that we find ourselves plagued with of late. As I said previously I support, the push for awareness and the efforts of Tzvi Gluck to help these unfortunate people and their families. I do think though that there is a bigger conversation that has to happen beyond treatment, and removing stigma.

  7. You would be shocked how many people are smoking weed these days. If chas vishalom in ten years people wake up it will be to little to late. It is a problem and the time to solve it is NOW! Last year on simchas tora a married man was smoking weed by shul!! THAT IS NOT OK!! I know of way to many regular bochurim who have tried it, and to many people who messed their lives up because of it!It does not stop with weed it goes to xaniax and gets worse and worse! Its probally worse than drinking.


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