I am so horrified by the editorial I just read that I believe I will be punch a wall if I don't put a Kick Boxing Video in before Shabbat starts. Larry Gordon, editor of the 5 Towns Jewish Times writes some of his thoughts about the self-destructive behavior far too many Orthodox youth are engaging in. He begins by referring to a terrible car accident that took place last Shabbat when an adolescent boy between 16 and 20, who was staying in a Catskills Bungalow got, got into a car drunk as drunk can be and crashed into his fence. Thankfully, Hashem did not put anyone in the path of this boy.
The report saddened me when I saw it earlier this week, but that is not what has send me over the edge. Read the following [emphasis mine]:
I was in a supermarket in Liberty, New York, last Friday afternoon about three hours before Shabbos. Two young yeshiva boys walked up to me in the store to ask if I could “help them out” with some beer. At first I genuinely thought they needed a few extra dollars so that they could purchase the beer. But then it quickly occurred to me that they were underage and the store would not sell them alcoholic beverages. I asked them their ages, and they said they were 16 and 17 years old. They told me what camp they were in and that they had hitched a ride to the store. I was inclined to buy the beer for them. After all, Shabbos was coming and they weren’t exactly babies. I don’t drink beer or much alcohol, but I can respect the next guy’s desire to get a little buzzed, especially over Shabbos. They asked again and I hemmed,hawed, and hesitated. I asked my wife if we should help them out and buy the beer. She said: “Absolutely not,” and added that we too have a 16-year-old in camp in the mountains for the summer. “I don’t want to think that anyone is buying him beer in any supermarkets,” she said. The line was drawn.
[Did he actually write this? Did he actually write this? Perhaps my eyes deceive me? I'm besides myself. He admits to having a 16 year old son in the mountains and claims to have hemmed, hawed, and hesitated. Unbelievable.]
Earlier Larry Gordon writes: "The episode contains within it a lot of things that need to be dealt with by parents, responsible adults in general, and our overall value and educational system charged with the growth and development of our young people. . . ."
Here is the problem(!) it seems that the responsible adults have left the ward and the insane, by virtue of teenage hood, are running the ward. Fortunately Mrs. Gordon can use the word NO! because if not, it is entirely possible that Mr. Gordon might have helped them out scumming to the pressure. (Side note: if the problem with buying alcohol was just financial, not age related, NO! would have also been a completely appropriate answer.).
Every parenting class I have been too and every book I have read dealing with the subject matter of parenting (most recently Rav Yaakov Weinberg Talks About Chinuch) likes to say "It Takes A Village to Raise a Child." Problem is. . . where the heck is this mythical village today?!?! When I read that he got the name of the camp the boys had hitched a ride from, I thoroughly expected a report of how he transported the boys back to camp, made sure to speak to the camp directors, and then followed up by calling their parents to let them know what is happening in their boys life while they are "gaining independence" which we all keep getting told is one of the reasons sleep away camp is not a luxury, but a necessity.
When I was younger, I remember accompanying my father to the grocery store where some middle school or high school boys asked my father to buy them a pack of cigarettes. He looked them straight in the eye and said "no." Simple as that. No hesitation at all. Then he let the manager inside the store know what was going on outside the store so he would be aware of the situation. If I recall correctly, the manager made the boys disperse on threat of calling the police.
And furthermore, the parents of the boy who drove drunk on Shabbos was released on bail. Just like low pay is not appropriate for a Bnot Yisrael or Bnai Torah, we all know stay "jail is no place for Jewish boy. "
If I was that drunk teenager in a car. . . .. I can assure you my parents would have allowed no one to bail me out.
And on that note: Shabbat Shalom, Good Shabbos. I need to burn some steam before candle lighting. My apologies for not sticking to less controversy during this time as planned.
Related: See ProfK.
Updated motzei Shabbat: My post at YWN (if it gets published). Please join me in leaving a message for Mr. Gordon at http://www.5tjt.com.
I posted on my own blog (Orthonomics) about this HORRIFYING article. How a man could publically admit to "hemming, hawing, and hestitating" when it comes to a request to buy alcohol from underage teenagers who has ever met is just downright horrifying. I ask all of you who are likewise horrified to join me by leaving your own comments at 5tjt.com. Let it be known that
other parents expect their fellow parents to exercise clarity and judgement when it comes to these issues, rather than "respect the next guy’s desire to get a little buzzed, especially over Shabbos" (perhaps the teenager who crashed his car last Shabbos also wanted to get buzzed).
Teenagers are not known for their judgement. That is why adults need to help guide them and take responsibility. I find it amazing that Mr. Gordon felt pressure from teenagers, teenagers he never met in his life? Has the word NO left the mouth of adults? Earlier in the article he calls upon the issues of self-destructive behavior to be addressed by "responsible adults" and yet demonstrates to the reader that he lacks much of the vision, clarity, and ability that a "responsible adult" should have. Fortunately, his wife had no issues with using the little two letter word so many parents have forgotton how to articulate.
Mr. Gordon should have been able to say no with no hesitation. A tzadik would have offered these boys who hitched to the store a ride back to camp, making sure to get their names. Then he would be able to speak with the directors and call their parents. If a boy/girl asks my husband or me to buy alcohol for him, we would do everything in our power to speak to his/her parents, as well as inform the schools (something we incidently have done before). And we hope other parents would have that consideration for us if chas v'shalom our children are ever trying to get someone else to buy alcohol for them.