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Saturday, February 20, 2010


Again, really? Let the jury hear the evidence. But it is disturbing just how often some names seem to reappear. [Updated: Those with the patience can read through the case here. I've done some work in fraud. This one is really different imo].

.459 Blood Alcohol Level (for the math impaired, .08 and you can be arrested on a DUI in many states). And it isn't even Purim yet. The Rabbi has been charged with a misdemeanor. The Rabbi's lawyer says the number isn't accurate. Furthermore, the Rabbi and his wife claim they didn't know the kid was drinking until he threw up. Thankfully someone called EMS since this all happened on a Friday night. Just be glad he is alive. VIN commentors don't like the VIN headline: Child Drank To Unconsciousness At Rabbi's Friday Night Party. Perhaps you have to be a parent to understand.

Commentor #1 thinks "the man" is out to get the Rabbi. Commentor #2 recognizes that the readily available alcohol in campus Chabad houses is problematic. And commentor #8 says, hey that isn't a problem, no one would show up if there wasn't alcohol. I can think of at least one student from my alma mater who came to the Chabad House of Purim, saw the drinking going on by the teenagers in the community, and never returned. There are many campus outreach programs reaching students without the booze.

Meanwhile, Cross-Currents has Rabbi Shafran's response on the Martin Grossman campaign. I don't know if my comment will be published, but I think that the leaders at the Agudah should read every single comment on YWN, VIN, and Matzav. Perhaps they expressed the greatest sympathy for the Park family, but they need to educate themselves on what transpired due to this campaign because it is seriously shameful.


Anonymous said...

Well how do you know that what they are claiming is a fact? Just because that is what the authorities are claiming does not make it true. If and when he is convicted then we can discuss. Don't jump to the conclusion that he is a criminal. Maybe he is the victim.

Orthonomics said...

Maybe so. But there are a number of names that reappear every few years.

Mordechai Y. Scher said...

'Shameful' is mild. And I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt and think that the Chabadnik was simply neglectful of making it clear that anyone underage is forbidden to drink at his table. Could be.

BUT, it is no secret at all that unsupervised alcohol is a problem at Chabad houses in many places. Drinking to excess and embarrassment is endemic in these places. It has become part of the culture expected by many participants when they go there. Ask any yeshiva high school teacher (myself, for one) how their students compare notes and brag about who got sickest and drunkest at Chabad on Purim or Simhat Torah. When I have discussed this with Chabadniks in different places, they have all insisted that mashkeh/alcohol is a deep and important part of avodah/worship. I'm serious.

By comparison, when we had some YU students in our community to help out for Rosh Hashanah, I noted how one of them refused alcohol because he was underage. He might have done so anyway; but we had announced before serving l'chaims at the meal that we do not approve of underage drinking and will not serve anyone underage in our home or at the beit midrash. The word gets out easily, and we therefore avoid abuse problems to a very large degree.

Compare that to the Chabad shaliah who told me a few years ago that he couldn't believe what simha I had on Simhat Torah WITHOUT any alcohol. Never mind that we still had to daven musaf, and it is forbidden to daven while drunk...

I'm glad Shabbos House has removed the alcohol. I hope that sticks! Meanwhile we need to get the word out much more vigorously that the embarrassments and violations of halacha and civil law associated with alcohol in our institutions is intolerable and forbidden. Every parent and rav should be pushing that message. None of us are exempt from this problem.

Dave said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave said...

I suspect the "we didn't serve him alcohol, he served himself" defense doesn't fly.

Anonymous said...


The names reappear every few years, but are not convicted every few years. It just might be that he is in a public and fairly high profile position. Hence he has enemies that are willing to do anything to drag him through the mud. It always happens that people in public and high profile positions make enemies, even the best and the brightest. There will always be people who accuse and go after people they don't like. I personally know of people who are very careful in their dealings both politically and legally and accusations were made against them. So just because he is coming up again could just be that he has another enemy wishing him bad.

Dave said...

A Rabbi with a history of fraud (yes, he did fraudulently misuse Federal funds, yes, he admitted it, and yes, his political connections meant he got off with a deferred prosecution and paying back the money) is arrested on extortion charges, backed with recordings of conversations.

Silly me, I rather suspect he's guilty.

Dave said...

Details on the earlier case:

LeahGG said...

Interestingly, the fact that the "kid" was 19 does come into play. If it were anything else, the 19-year-old should be responsible for himself...

Leading me back to what I decided years ago (the first time I served alcohol to guests - when I bought one bottle of wine cooler for 6 guests) -if you're serving alcohol, you have a responsibility to keep an eye on the bottle and on your guests no matter what age your guests are.

In general, people in my circle of friends/family bring out one bottle at a time, and someone serves the alcohol, meaning that it is awkward to take very much and everyone would be aware if any one person were drinking more than a little bit.

Since alcohol is a stumbling-block for many people, it's very important to be very cautious with it. Obviously, if this student passed out, someone wasn't being cautious enough - even if they're good people and have helped many people, they failed this time.

ProfK said...

At least in NY the law is very clear. If someone is over the legal age to drink and becomes intoxicated and then goes out and is involved in an accident then the person who did not stop serving him when it was obvious he was drunk is also culpable under law. More so for underage drinkers. Whether in a public bar or private setting, if something happens to someone underage as a result of being served or taking alcohol, the "host" is culpable for the act. You can't claim "I didn't know" because you are supposed to know, supposed to check.

Shoshana Z. said...

We received this link from our rabbi, who is also a Chabad shliach.
I highly suggest everyone watch it.

For the record, our shliach is very careful about mashka at his shul, especially on Purim. Bottles are kept in the hand of men (age 40+) at all times who are *very* careful to check the ages and sobriety of the people they are pouring for. In fact, it is now known in our city the Chabad is the *last* place to go for a good time because the booze is under lock and key.

I don't see any point in pointing fingers at any one group. According to my observations over the years, alcohol abuse and disregard for the law seems evenly applied throughout my community.

Shoshana Z. said...

This comment was left on the nydailynews website in relation to the first link in this post. It is so true and so painful and I don't know what to do about it as a frum Jew (who is not on welfare, etc.)

Comment posted by "Divine":
"Why report this story ,They have been stealing for years ,that why they get so many food stamp and having as many babies they want ,they are the only ones that can let their husbands live at home far as the city concern never had a job and work everyday and receive welfare and the city never say anything about birth control ,the city gives them whatever they want ,So they can buy up building by blocks and no one can live in them but their family .you go to welfare 8am and sit until almost close before they take care of you ,they come whatever time they want and stay the most 30mins and get what they want and leave you still sitting there waiting and get talked to very nasty like you don't have the right for help.So this isn't NEWS"

Anonymous said...

Shoshana Z - wow, what a comment by "Divine". I'm guessing white skin has something to do with the special treatment.

Orthonomics said...

Shoshana--Thanks for the link. Here is the direct link to the video:

While the acting wasn't super professional, the protrayal of people who push alcohol, from baalei batim, to peers, to older peers was very good and, I'm afraid, accurate.

The testimony by the young man who spoke after Rav Shmuel Kaminesky is worthy of viewing. Here is a young man who you would never guess faced alcoholism at an age many of us had never had more than a thimbul full of Manichevitz.

Orthonomics said...

I should say push and enable.

dvorak613 said...

I happen to be one of those people who believes in changing the drinking age back to 18, but then again, until that happens, 19 is underage and therefore against the law and those breaking the law must suffer the consequences.

That being said, many comments on VIN raised the possibility that this kid had been drinking beforehand, possibly at other parties, and had shown up to the Chabad already falling-down drunk. I don't know how recently anyone here was in college, but this is an EXTREMELY plausible theory, not just VIN readers grasping at dan lekaf zechut straws. If that is the case, the question becomes did he help himself to more at the Chabad house (in which case someone should have been supervising the alcohol and noticed) or did he throw up on the Rebbitzen's carpet before even making it that far (in which case the shlichim should be absolved of all responsibility)?

Also I don't know about Albany, but at Binghamton they have a contract with the college, something to the effect of no alcohol to minors or we throw you off.

I do think it's ridiculous that we have to hold others responsible for the actions of a 19-year-old, who in any other regard would be responsible for himself. The drinking age should be 18, which is the legal age for everything else and is the drinking age everywhere else. But until the law is changed, we have to follow it even if we think it's a stupid law.

Miami Al said...

If the alcohol is REALLY a .459 BAC, that isn't fall down drunk, that's severe and possibly lethal alcohol poisoning. The "drinking shots" culture leads to dangerous drinking, and I say this as someone that does drink straight liquor, and leads to people pointing down a dangerous amount of booze then proceeding to imbibe it.

With a BAC of .28 - .35, I'd find it plausible that he pounded a few drinks, "pre partying" and showed it. At a .459, even if he had a few more drinks about to enter his system, he'd be unable to transport himself TO the Chabad house, because even with a few drinks to process he's be in the .2 - .35 range...

This is dangerous, forced drinking levels of alcohol poisoning, not too many l'chaims.

dvorak613 said...

Miami Al- Thanks for clearing that up. I had no idea about the different levels of BAC, though I figured .459 had to be pretty high considering the legal limit for driving is .08. In that case, the Chabad house must be held responsible, but then again, so should any previous parties he attended that night. Like I said before, I may disagree with the law, but it most certainly was broken.

Anon1 said...

I don't know what bothers me more, the public criminal charges or the public Jewish media allegations of a government conspiracy. Yeah, the law enforcement authorities have the chutzpah to conspire to enforce the law! Don't they know that some people are above the law? Once in a while, the government actually does overstep its bounds, but the constant crying of wolf will make people skeptical.

Even when the victims are Jewish, we find excuses being made for the Jewish perpetrators.

Miami Al said...


I'm sorry it bothers you, but it shouldn't shock you, this is how perpetually poor underclasses operate in the US.
In the Sunbelt, they can't get a count of Hispanics for the Census, because the Latino community has decided that everything is a government plot to deport people. As a result, they stick to themselves, hide in the shadows, don't learn English, and have recreate poor Mexican shanty towns throughout the southern United States.
Black communities have been unable to deal with drug and gang problems, because people have decided that everything is a government conspiracy. AIDS isn't caused by HIV transmission from unprotected sex and sharing needles, it's a CIA plot to kill black people. The government is out to keep them down so they shouldn't apply for jobs, just engage in crime, etc. Don't use banks, they'll rob you, so pay 4% to check cashing stores and use pay day loans instead of credit.
The Italian Mafia came to power from Italian immigrants who didn't trust the government, so they created their own little criminal mini-state. Instead of working with the police, pay extortionist "collection rackets."
Jim Crow was popular with poor whites, who rather than building up their station, wanted a black community to look down upon. The Dixiecrats built their entire power base on the backs of poor Southern whites whose lives weren't about improving themselves, but rather blaming the Federal Government for giving their jobs to black people.
Why is it shocking that the Brooklyn Jewish community has created a similar delusional, self defeating, and paranoid world. Everyone is an anti-semite despite most middle-class and wealthier Americans working in diverse companies with people off all races and creeds. The found the writings of the poorest Jews of Europe and decided that this was "authentic Judaism" and declared our Democratic Government with Jews all over the place as a reincarnation of Czarist Russia. The behavior of the Jewish media is NO different from how Al Sharpton and other Charlatans create a permanent underclass power base.
Have you noticed HOW pronounced Al Sharpton's "black dialect" is? It's how he maintains his "street cred."
The only thing different here is that upper middle class Jews pay serious money to send their kids to a Yeshiva where these paranoid delusional people are hired as teachers and spout this rhetoric as "Torah True Judaism," and then get shipping off to a Yeshiva in Israel for a year before college where officially they are there to do serious Torah learning, but really get indoctrinated in this negative, delusional viewpoint.
This isn't Torah, it's poor, urban, underclass paranoia.

Anon1 said...

I hope we have the strength of purpose needed to root out our internal exploiters. Just because they treat us like kids doesn't mean we should be like kids. I don't accept Miami Al's idea that all Yeshiva people have bought into the lie. I've seen way too many counterexamples.