Under its “Safe Shuls, Safe Schools, Safe Homes” initiative, the Orthodox Union (OU) is deeply involved in efforts to increase awareness and to develop solutions to the problem of substance and alcohol abuse in the Orthodox Community.
Rabbi Judah Isaacs, OU Director of Community Engagement, participated in a roundtable discussion held at the invitation of the Orthodox Union and New York State Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz of Brooklyn, to brief Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez of the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services about abuse problems in the Jewish community. Drug and alcoholism experts from the community, including rabbis and professionals in the field, attended the meeting.
Rabbi Isaacs said, “This roundtable meeting provided a unique opportunity for members to educate Commissioner González-Sánchez about the unique cultural sensitivities of the Orthodox community, the services being provided to address those needs, and the unmet needs.” He noted that the OU is planning a major event on the issue to be held in the fall. OU Executive Vice President, Emeritus Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, who has led the way in confronting alcohol and substance abuse in the Orthodox community, declared, “The Orthodox Union is glad to be working along with Assemblyman Cymbrowitz on the problem of addictions in the Orthodox Jewish community. Our Department of Community Engagement is planning a major event in Brooklyn, which is designed to educate parents as to the dangers of substance abuse and to what they can do about them. This round table with the Commissioner is another such event, and is designed to bring together interested parties to help define the nature and scope of the problem, and to help design effective interventions for the community.”