17 August 2017

“Drug Use is a Response to a Lot of Pain. . .”

After reading the below article about the children dying of drug overdose in the Brooklyn Community of Boro Park, I returned to the Mishpacha article (read previously) to find glaring instances of “moments of crisis” reflecting a community in crisis, that could/should have been flashpoints of hypocrisy that gave way to pain. 
The golus is taking its toll on our Jewish Communities (worldwide). A sure sign of the proverbial "End of Days Scenario”. History reflects the “wandering Jew” who goes from country to country seeking rest from hatred, violence and anti-semitism, only to meet it once again. The wandering Jew from the ashes of the First Beit HaMikdash, finally reaches the shores of the last anticipated resting place in the ¶Southern Hemisphere, America. And there they rebuild the nation of Jews who survived the Shoah. 
After tremendous growth came affluence and abundance. The freedom found on this stop on the Galut Train has taken its toll on the remnants of thousands of years of wandering. Freedom is not free; there are ramifications, a loss of spiritual balance.
The final test of Returning to Hashem is being played out, with devastating results. Teshuva is not just a religious experience of ‘returning’ or ‘coming closer to Hashem', but the realization that our History has a purpose. We see that purpose unfolding in the Neshomas making Aliyah to **Eretz Yisrael. 
From that fateful day when the Sages returned with a slanderous report, after scouting out Eretz Yisrael, that frightened the people, fast forward to 2017, the people are finally entering our Promised Land. History is not over yet, there remains many Jewish neshomas in Chutz L’Aretz that need to awaken to the Promise of Hashem,  that our Land is a good and fruitful Land waiting for its children to return, to return to Hashem, and the Jewish way of living in our Promised Homeland. 

Below is one of the articles I read, and a selection from the second article. 

“Drug use is a response to a lot of pain,”
The following is an article (full) from JewishWeek–TimesofIsrael, about the Drug problem that is claiming young Jewish lives. And after that another article in Mishpacha Magazineabout a  the young woman, who is also one of the several women discussed below:

Five months ago, Chana Gibber, a 20-year-old recovering opioid addict, woke up in a hospital bed attached to a ventilator.

She had been hospitalized the night before after overdosing on heroin.

“I was homeless and panhandling [at the time],” recalled the Midwood native, speaking to The Jewish Week in an exclusive interview. She grew up in the Brooklyn ultra-Orthodox enclave and attended a high school for troubled girls; she has since broken with the insular community. “I overdosed and flatlined for like 13 seconds. … They Narcanned [administered Naloxone, an opioid antidote] me like six times.”

“Addiction wants us dead,” said Gibber. 

“It wants to torture our lives.”

Despite her unstable condition, she texted a friend from her hospital bed, asking for more heroin. Her friend smuggled the drugs past security and the nurse station and up to her room. Propped up on the sanitized pillows, she injected herself again.

“Addiction wants us dead,” said Gibber, today in recovery. “It wants to torture our lives. … The battle of fighting against it is so crazy.”

Gibber — today over 100 days clean, newly employed and living in Los Angeles — lost five friends to overdose in the past year. Most recently was a close high school friend, Malky Klein, who, like Gibber, had left her chasidic community. She died in Brooklyn in June. She was 20.

The national opioid crisis — a combination of doctor over-prescription and patient misuse that has contributed to an epidemic of addiction and overdose — has not spared Orthodox communities, despite strict guidelines that attempt to shelter youth from outside influences. The crisis seems to be hitting home particularly hard for those who leave the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, self-identified as “off the derech,” or path. Since the beginning of June, 13 people have died of overdoses among Orthodox and formerly Orthodox Jews under the age of 35; since January of this year, that number is over 100, experts say. While 2016 saw an alarming spike in the number of ultra-Orthodox deaths by overdose — 65 in the past Jewish calendar year, according to Zvi Gluck, director of Orthodox social service organization Amudim — this year’s death toll quickly surpassed those numbers.

While prominent members of the ultra-Orthodox community have started to weigh in on potential causes and solutions, those even closer to the tragedies — friends, family members, and individuals like Gibber who have themselves narrowly escaped tragic deaths — are starting to talk.

Since the beginning of June, 
13 people have died of overdoses 
among Orthodox and formerly Orthodox Jews 
under the age of 35 — since January of this year, 
that number is over 100

“People are dying — this is not about religion anymore,” said Mushky Zulauf, a 23-year-old college student living in Crown Heights. She was close friends with many of the young adults who recently succumbed to opioid addiction. Though she grew up in the Chabad chasidic community, today she no longer considers herself part of it.

“They rejected me,” she said, recalling that she was “kicked out” of her all-girls elementary school because the school staff did not know how to deal with her complicated problems. Though Zulauf did not use drugs, she struggled with alcohol addiction and a complicated family life. “When someone is acting out and going against the rules, people [in the religious community] step away — they are scared, they don’t want to deal with it.” The problem is that these “bad behaviors” — partying, drug use, alcohol use — are a “desperate cry for help.”

“By pushing these people away, 
the suffering only gets worse,” 
 “Open your eyes. Realize you can help someone.”

Alhough she has seen many friends struggle — and succumb — to addiction over the years, something has changed in recent months, she said.

“We’re not hiding it anymore,” said Zulauf, referring to an increasingly active — and angry — group of young people who are leaving (or have left) the Orthodox community — either by choice or systematic exclusion. “We used to hide everything we did — not keeping religious rules, partying, doing drugs — we hid that from the community, because we were ashamed, or because of negative feedback. Now, we’re showing our faces. We’re done hiding who we are.”

‘The religious community only started caring 
once we started dying.”

Perry D., a 22-year-old formerly Orthodox young woman (who requested her full name not be used for privacy reasons), recently posted on her Facebook wall: “‘The religious community only started caring once we started dying.” Her post received a flurry of comments and responses, most affirming the sentiment. (Their comment was reprinted here with permission.)

Demo M., 24, a friend of Meyer Green — an ex-Orthodox man in his early 20s who died in early June (sources close to Green requested that the circumstances surrounding his death remain private) — recalled being cast out of the upstate Monsey religious community before struggling with drug addiction.

“Many of us were cast out — [we] didn’t have family support, or community support,” Demo said. “Maybe it’s the fact that we’re addicts. There are a lot of factors [that contribute to addiction]. One of them is losing community.”

Integrating more sports and creative outlets — like art and drama — into Orthodox schools could steer frustrated youth away from drugs, Demo suggested.

Though few studies compare the rate of mental health disorders in the Jewish community to rates in the general population, there is reason to suspect that those who leave the Orthodox fold have an increased risk of mental health disorders, said Dr. Isaac Schechter, clinical psychologist and director of the Center for Applied Psychology at a 1,000-patient mental health clinic in Rockland County.

“Many of us were cast out"

“When someone disconnects from a community, [the person’s] identity is lost,” said Schechter. Though the data is not “clear enough” at this point to draw conclusions, “falling out of hope” can lead to depression, overdose, and suicide.

Yaacov Behrman, a program director in the Chabad-Lubavitch community in Crown Heights, directs the drug prevention group Operation Survival. He said the Orthodox community is not unique in its struggle against opioids.

“We’re not angels,” he said. “We’re affected by the outside world.” Religious communities, no matter how insular, are not immune to this national epidemic, he said.

“It’s hard for any parent to imagine that their kid is capable of overdosing,” Behrman said.

A challenge that is unique to the Orthodox community, he said, is an absence of awareness, exposure and education about these issues. The “mindset of protection” that pervades many Orthodox homes and schools is actually doing a disservice to its youth, he added.

“Parents don’t want their kids to be exposed to these ugly realities, but it is worth the exposure,” he said. Under Behrman’s leadership, Operation Survival has become the first Jewish program in New York State to register as an Opioid Overdose Prevention Training program; the program aims to provide the Jewish community of Crown Heights with prevention education and overdose response training.

“Awareness is important. It’s hard for parents to have a conversation with their kids about drugs. It’s harder not to,” he said.

Zvi Gluck, founder and director of Amudim, an organization that provides support and mental health services to those in Orthodox community, pointed to a 2016 survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse that found that drug use among high school students is on the decline. He attributes the shift to early education and intervention programs. Orthodox schools are slowly beginning to follow suit, he said.

“I am quite pleased overall with the way our Yeshiva systems are making subtle changes in different areas such as training and education,” Gluck told The Jewish Week. “But sadly it is still lacking tremendously in the fields of addiction and abuse,” he added.

Lou Abrams, a social worker specializing in drug addiction in the Orthodox community, said the gratuitous presence of alcohol at Jewish celebrations — bar mitzvahs, “kiddush clubs,” Purim parties — and a general lack of adult supervision increases the risk of addiction, particularly for young people.

“Alcohol is still a big gateway. Rarely does someone start taking opiates before they started experimenting with alcohol or marijuana.”

“Drug use is a response to a lot of pain,”

Still, for individuals like Gibber, the problem is deeper than one too many drinks, or one too many joints.

“Drug use is a response to a lot of pain,” she said. “If you leave religion, you are branded as an outcast and a rebel…you become a ‘bad person.’ [You] ask yourself ‘Why shouldn’t I do drugs if people already assume there’s something wrong with me?’”

The thought process is cyclical and self-fulfilling, she said. It is hard to fight off the despair.

Despite losing several close friends to overdose — and despite her own volatile journey, from relapse to recovery to relapse — she plans to fight for life.

“Hope is everything,” she said.


Source Article: JewishWeek-TimesofIsrael

* * * * *
Definition of Opiods (drugs):
What are Opioids? Opioids are drugs that act on the nervous system to relieve pain. Continued use and abuse can lead to physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms. They come in tablets, capsules or liquid. DrugFreeWorld

This is the second article that appeared in the Mishpacha Magazine, entitled “Always My Malky.”

"A sparkling child growing up in Boro Park. But then difficulty in school. Shattered self-esteem. Rehab. All along Malky’s parents were with her — until it was all over. “I learned,” […] “how readily accessible the most dangerous narcotics are right here in Boro Park, how simple it is to obtain them, how there are dealers all over this neighborhood. We couldn’t do very much, because to cut off the money would have forced Malky to come up with money on her own. We knew we didn’t want that”

“It was the day of Malky’s eighth grade graduation when the message came from the one high school that had actually accepted her. Yeah, well, so that acceptance? Not really. Sorry. [Her mother] decided to take her on a trip to Europe . . . ." Also, Malky’s mother said about Malky, she “loved to dress well, Miss Fashion . . . .”

While in second grade, Malki blurted out during a Shabbos meal, “My teacher says that I really belong in the first grade.”

“… we didn’t realize then that Malky had a learning disability”

During the intervening years’ of after-school tutoring, by the sixth grade, Malky blurted out “Thats it. I’m done with tutors. I can’t anymore.”

After eighth grade the hunt for a high school endured. Finally accepted to a high school, Malky’s mother bought her a brand new brief case . . . The Principal accused Malky of “trying to buy off friends”. Malky was expelled from high school. [because of a fancy briefcase, gifts to her friends, which was a product of her upbringing, family life and her own good hearted graciousness?]

All her life, although with a ‘learning disability’ Malky was a “brilliant girl,” so said the result of a Bd of Ed evaluation. [This girl suffered all through her "growing–up” years, and was left damaged, hurt, and defeated. A clash of principles learned at home vs the community’s educational rigidity – a clash of mores.]


My comments in brackets. Does anyone see a pattern in these brief selected quotes from the article? To me It’s an indictment on the mores of the social fabric of the Brooklyn Jewish Community, one of affluence that keeps parents overly busy with evening weddings, shul kiddishes, away from the home, while children suffer with personal issues growing up. The dichotomy is glaring and shouting from the pages of the Mishpacha Magazine article. [Nothing is wrong with attending Smachot, but to be out almost every evening and not at home with the children is tearing apart the families. The “Heim” was the center of Jewish live throughout the many years of wandering; there was nothing else to drag parents away from their children.

Beware that you do not forget the Lord, your G–d, by not keeping His commandments, His ordinances, and His statutes, which I command you this day, lest you eat and be sated, and build good houses and dwell therein,and your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold increase, and all that you have increases, and your heart grows haughty, and you forget the Lord, your G–d, Who has brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. [Devarim 8:10-14]

‘despair' ‘alienation’ 
'non–acceptance' ‘shunning’
these are symptoms of the crisis

These children, while in their elementary years, were (are) the “Canaries in the Coal Mine,” victims of affluence, a life of entitlement expectations, and rigid codes of behavior that have lost compassion on the weakest among them. This is an existential affect of protecting from the “outside influences” that are strangling many youth. While these articles focus on the young girls, the same is happening with many young men. [Some Israeli Yeshivos are where many lost and lonely alienated youth end up, where they find acceptance, (their) self-esteem, and (their) heritage.]

Hasidic News: A Spate of Suicides Hits the OTD Community
Heroin has infiltrated the Hasidic Community

Southern Hemisphere: In Chassidic thought, America is referred to with the expression, the lower hemisphere.‘ It is stated that the Torah was not given in the lower half of the earth. Coming to the lower half of the earth‘ was one further step in a series of exiles

 **For the Lord your G–d is bringing you to a good land, a land with brooks of water, fountains and depths, that emerge in valleys and mountains, a land of wheat and barley, vines and figs and pomegranates, a land of oil producing olives and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, you will lack nothing in it, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose mountains you will hew copper.

Rabbi YY Jacobson: Jewish Community Tackles Drug Abuse Problem

Rabbi YY Jacobson: The Journey of a Young Woman from School Expulsion to Overdose

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