Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Houston, We Have a Problem!

Rabbi Tip: Ezzie

Funny, I was just hearing a news report about (irresponsible) parents who are holding post-prom parties, complete with drinking, under their supervision with the reasoning that " [isn't] it better that they should drink under supervision?"

Perhaps these parents aren't suffering from a "goyish kop," rather they are unknowingly following "da'as Torah!"

Yes, Rabbi Landesman, we do have a problem. And, no, you are not the first to witness this problem. Nor are you the first to bring it to the attention of a "higher authority" only to be told you really shouldn't be so alarmed.

Read Rabbi Landesman's observations for yourself.


Ariella's blog said...

We don't have any hard liquor or beer in my house. But I have allowed my children (at ages 11 and 14) to taste it when offered in a home where we are guest. A taste is enough to convince them that this is not something they want to drink. They do not seem in any danger of acquiring a taste for expensive liquor. I would imagine those who have such taste are given access to it (though it may be without clear permission) by their parents.

JLan said...

"They do not seem in any danger of acquiring a taste for expensive liquor."

Actually, this is not a problem when they're a older, IF they have a concept of (and actually are) keeping a budget. In fact, it could potentially keep drinking down, since it's a lot cheaper to binge drink on vodka or Jack Daniels than it is on 18 year scotch.

Miami Al said...

Forgive me, but other than "Kids today and their loud music," and disgusting racial slur, and being annoyed at what was clearly responsible (if illegal) behavior?

Is the problem that someone getting married is under the drinking age? Or is the problem that in his day, the drinking age was 18 and the men getting married were over 18 (and probably over 21), and now the drinking age is 21 and the men getting married are under?

Seriously, the kids are drinking in a public venue, with adults around, and they had designated drivers. Is the behavior illegal if they are under 21, sure, and there is an issue from that.

This is NOT an example of irresponsible drinking. Kids getting drunk and driving, a he-said/she-said rape charge, a public drunkenness arrest, an altercation, those are all examples of dangers with the bottle.

High school and college age children drinking at a wedding and dancing? These are HUGE problems in the Yeshiva world, including with drugs and alcohol, this story however, does not cover one of them.

ora said...

I think it's much better that teens that age (17+) should drink under supervision. The teens with the worst drunken behavior are those who've never had a chance to drink until college/year in Israel and who then go completely wild. I'd much rather see older teens drink at home, or at a wedding, with responsible adults around, than not. Because they are going to get drunk for the first time someday (OK, in 90% of cases, anyway), the only question is under what circumstances.

Letting kids drink at weddings is similar to letting younger kids drink a little bit at home. It shows trust and also lets them realize for themselves, in a safe space, that drinking really isn't such a cool thing.

I don't think the post-prom parties are irresponsible either, unless there's dangerous behavior going on and/or parents are unable to adequately supervise.

Ariella's blog said...

The essential difference of opinion here is whether you say "they are going to do it anyway, so let's try to minimize the damage" or if your position is "zero-tolerance" for certain forms of behavior. These two polar positions define policies in religious groups and schools.

Thinking said...

Crossing the street is dangerous
Driving a car is dangerous
Relationships can be dangerous
Skiing is dangerous
Sending children to school and camp has dangers that we have become all too familiar with lately

This is not just a discussion about alcohol or parties.
Every parent has a responsibility to educate their children about all of the dangers in the world and teach them how to behave, act and react accordingly.

I grew up in a home where alcohol was enjoyed on shabbos and yom tov. Wine, scotch and beer were always available. I never became an aclocholic, nor did any of the other members of my family. My friends were the same way. If you had seen us at a wedding drinking you may have thought we had a problem, however, we never acted innapropriately and never drove drunk. We were responsible because that's how we were raised.

The issue here is not alcohol, dancing or parties. The issue is are we raising responsible, healthy children? It is very parents responsibility, not just the yeshivas and not the rabbeim.

JS said...

First of all, I did not appreciate the rabbi's vague racial slur. I thought it was wholly inappropriate and just took away from his point.

I'm also not quite sure what the rabbi's point was with the music. I've been to weddings and, maybe I'm just younger, but I don't see a real problem. Who cares about the beat when the words are pesukim and other talmudic lines? Also, "effects on the lower torso"? Last I checked boys dance alone, girls dance alone. The rabbi's problem almost seemed to delve into some kind of homoerotic complaint.

I do agree with the dancing though. Boys are in their own world (probably because they're so young). I don't know why yeshivas don't teach more kavod, not just for the elderly, but for everyone. I've seen many weddings where it's almost a fight to get a grandfather or parent into the "inner circle" without the elder relative getting trampled. Even worse, perhaps, is the "dancers for hire" where they bring in yeshiva bochurs to be misame'ach and they treat their hosts and the families like garbage.

Finally, drinking. The "fine, aged, single malt scotch" is a trick used by frum Jews to show they're SOOOOO much better than the goyim. It's almost like "Look at what the schkutz goyim, drink! We have class!" Then of course you have the "Look at how the goyim just drink anything cheap just to get drunk! We use alcohol for a mitzvah!" What a joke. Of course, when older people get married, the stuff is right on all the tables, no hiding anything.

In my experience, those who drink young continue drinking. It becomes a habit, something that one associates with certain occasions, times, and events. Every high school kid I know who partied and drank, continued to do so with the same verve in college. This is true regardless of whether or not it was supervised. The danger isn't kids who never drank before, it's kids who never drank before but were DYING to and were only prevented by lack of opportunity, not because the parents instilled in them proper values. These 18-20 year olds drinking now are going to become 21+ year olds who drink with the same intensity and frequency. I see it at all the weddings I go to - far too many former bochurs, now 24-25, married, 1 or 2 kids and COMPLETELY soused as the wife sits on the side watching the kids and will be forced later to drive home.

And, of course, all in the name of a mitzvah.

Orthonomics said...

I do not believe that responsible parents put on drinking parties for their children "because they are going to drink anyways."

Put on the party! But don't add in drinks. Make the party a destination and leave the drinking out of it. At least that is the way my (public) high school handeled a very sucessful post-prom event.

Interesting how only one type of behavior is allowed under "supervision," but other activities are pas nisht. Would the RY say "it isn't so bad" if one of the boys asked a young lady out on a date at the wedding?

Orthonomics said...

JS-I also thought the comment was unnecessary.

Ariella sees my point clearly. This is about an educational philosophy. In my own home I do not take the attitude "they are going to do it anyways" whether it regards teenage issues or pre-school issues.

JS said...

Consider this: What if there were girls there who are friends of the bride and they started drinking like this because it "loosens them up," "makes them less self-conscious," and "lowers their inhibitions" about dancing and makes it easier to be misame'ach chatan v'KALLAH?

Who thinks the rabbis would allow that?

IMO, there would be a riot. Why the double standard?

Miami Al said...

JS, SL, I think that the racial slur was NOT vague, was wholly inappropriate, and an illustration of how messed up the values in the Yeshiva world is.

Instilling Racism and comments that will get someone fired/sued in the workforce: acceptable
Responsible drinking with a designated driver: unacceptable goyish behavior

I don't think it was vague, or inadvertent, anymore that I routinely here Yeshiva boys making racist comments all the time, it's frankly disgusting. I have a friend who put his kids in public school in part because of that behavior in the MO school they were at... he would have guys from work over and the kids would make statements that they CLEARLY learned from school and he was mortified, those were NOT values he wanted instilled.

The comments of the kids from the RW Yeshiva make me nauseous, WAY worse, and done in public in front of people of other ethnicities.

Plenty of wealthy gentiles drink nice whiskeys, who do you think they market to. I never saw people pounding down shots of 18-21 year old whiskeys until I went Frum... the classless way people consume expensive liquors is pretty pathetic. A 18 year old whiskey is to be sipped with a splash of water, not pounded down. Shots of cheap tequila is a fun party think, but not a respectful l'chaim with 21 year old whiskeys.

JS said...

Miami Al,

Let me clarify. I'm just as appalled as you are at the comment. I only said "vague" because he didn't out and out use the "n word" or specifically call out a particular race. Nonetheless, I'm aghast and as I mentioned it takes away from his point and makes it easy to dismiss him as he's trying to present himself as a moral authority. This "vagueness" is what qualifies as discretion and appropriateness in the yeshiva world. Pretty sad.

Also, you're right that this cuts across all sectors of frumkeit. I have been present at far too many shul kiddushes, weddings, shabbat meals, BBQ's, etc where I heard horrible things being said about other races. The worst irony is that Jews do many of the same things: don't work, have kids young, have tons of kids, take welfare, drink, etc.

In terms of the alcohol, my point was that these frummies THINK they're being classy and sophisticated and non-goyish when they drink 18 year old scotch (I've even been to shalom zachors where people refuse to drink anything younger than 25 - shalom zachors being the #1 modern occasion to drink like crazy as there are no women around). They don't appreciate, they throw it back, and if you put rubbing alcohol in the bottle instead of scotch they wouldn't know the difference, but hey, they're doing a mitzvah and are suave.

Anonymous said...

I've been to many non-frum weddings and have never seen this type of behaviour. Men are much better behaved in the mixed group seating (of course, the bride and groom's friends are usually at least 22 years old). It's so much nicer for families to get to sit together. I don't think these young men would behave this way if their mothers/wives/girlfriends were with them. There may be some wildness at a pre-wedding bachelor or bachelorette party, but that's usually in a safe environment and they are not inflicting their rowdiness on older guests.

Bob Miller said...

1. Parents cannot throw in the towel and hope that educators will work some magic to instill the core values the parents were too timid to instill.

2. Parents need to be responsible drinkers (or non-drinkers), too, at home and in public.

Anonymous said...

JS - or specifically call out a particular race[space]

Of course he did! There is no doubt that he was referring to black people and their reputation for good rhythm and dancing. However, I am not sure if what he said is really "racism", though it definitely is prejudice (and certainly stereotyping) of a sort. And I agree that he could have made his point just as well without the reference.


Miami Al said...


No, he used a reference to black people, and used it in a derogatory way.

The Rabbi wrote, "Frankly, the movements would have done the ‘bros’ in the ‘hood’ proud."

Now, was he using a stereotype of black people having good rhythm and dancing, in a positive manner? No, he was using it to criticize their dancing...

Prior paragraph he wrote, " why I saw certain types of music as being “kosher” and other types as being “undesirable” or “distasteful."

So undesirable/distateful music leads to "dancing like black people."

Combine that with the terms "bros" and "hood," derogatory references to black culture, and it was definitely racist. His description of "distateful" behavior was calling it "like black people."

How to you consider that not racism?

Zach Kessin said...

They don't appreciate, they throw it back, and if you put rubbing alcohol in the bottle instead of scotch they wouldn't know the difference, but hey, they're doing a mitzvah and are suave.

I actually know someone who did that, he took some expensive scotch bottles (empty) and put the cheep stuff in, and brought it to the kiddish. No one noticed the difference.

Personally I'm just as happy with Diet Coke.

I am amused by the idea that people think that only frum folk drink scotch. I mean who do they think makes the stuff? It is after all from Scotland.

Anonymous said...

I think the comment was on the line. I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt.
SL - I know this blog is about economics and maybe a public discussion is not a good idea, but I am so often troubled and embarassed by some of the comments I see some places (i.e on VIN)that definitely and intentinally are way over the line that I would love to see a thoughtful discussion about how to counter this trend. There are at least 3 reasons: 1. It's plain wrong and of all people, Jews should know better; 2. It presents Jews in a horrible and false light since this is not representative of the typical american jew ; and 3. If you want an economic hook - are these the attitudes people are paying so much tution for?

shanamaidel said...

It is such a huge problem because people are actually not educated in how to drink.

My father did allow me to drink only a sip of whiskey he used for kiddush (single malt Islay..occaisonally highland)

And then he would sit there and discuss with me what I tasted to develop a palate and develop an appreciation of what was being offered to me. It was expected that I would not over-drink. And that I would only drink on special occasions.

My brother had the offer to him. he declines.

Same with wine. Now I get a full glass or two when I am at home. I am expected not to over-drink at meals. And I am expected, even if I know zilch about areas, or types of wine, to have a sensitive enough palate to taste the wine and discover subtle flavor.

That's how you drink with a kid. If they can't tell why they are drinking it, then they are probably drinking it for the wrong reasons....