Volume 38 Number 81
                 Produced: Wed Mar 19  5:48:09 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Kiddush Clubs (3)
         [Yehonatan and Randy Chipman, <chips@...>, Michael
Kiddush Clubs - another twist (2)
         [Steve Albert, Rise Goldstein]
Loshon Hora and Chabad (3)
         [Shlomo Yaffe, Mordechai Horowitz, Avi Feldblum]


From: Yehonatan and Randy Chipman <yonarand@...>
Date: Fri, 07 Mar 2003 14:49:49 +0200
Subject: Re: Kiddush Clubs

In v38n76, Joseph Mosseri <joseph.mosseri@...> wrote about
kiddush clubs:

<< In the Sephardic world that I have been born and raised in, no such
concept exists.  The only thing we do have is that most permit having a
sucking candy or two during qeriat sefer hatorah, without having
qidoush, because it is considered te'imah and not akhilah.>>

This may be the case in America, but in a small Moroccan synagogue in a
moshav in the south of Israel I once saw something even more astounding:
the gabbai came around DURING PESUKEI DEZIMRA on Shabbat morning with a
cup of brandy for each of the dozen or so worshippers present,
presumably to "warm them up" for Shaharit.

    For people who really are strict about not eating a single morsel
before davening, the American style three-hour service, 9 - 12, really
is too much.  But I am an advocate of the old Hasidic saying, "Better
eat to daven, than daven to eat."  By the way, not only Habad, but
old-style Yekkes are in the habit of having cake and coffee before the
lengthy davening of Shabbat morning, and apparently did not worry overly
much about the strict letter of the Shulhan Arukh.  Although those who
are makpid are careful to recit the berakhot and Keriat Shema (which you
need to do anyway most times of yaer if davening begins at 9:00 or even
8:45 am) before eating anything.

     By the way, I recently saw that Rav Avraham Yitzhak Hakohen Kook
ztz"l used to say "Mizmor Shir Hanukat habayit leDavid" before eating
whatever he did on Shabbat morning before davening.  He explained that
the verse "Mah betza bedami" ("What profit is there in my blood...")
fulfills the minimum requirement of "praying for ones blood" before
eating.  (Hazal in Berakhot 10a base the rule about not eating before
davening on a midrashic reading of "lo tokhlu al hadam" ("Do not eat on
the blood") -- "do not eat until you have prayed for your blood. (i.e.,

     This practice of Rav Kook is reported in Siddur Olat Reiyah, p.

     Of course, I concur with those who say that this is not the
motivation of the Kiddush clubbers.
         Yehonatan Chipman, Yerushalayim

From: <chips@...>
Date: Tue, 4 Mar 2003 22:43:53 -0800
Subject: Re: Kiddush Clubs

> From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
> I have NEVER heard of a kiddush club at a minyan that does not feature a
> Rabbi's sermon. Have you? 

Umm, yes. Small shul in Balitmore during the 70s had no speeches or
sermons (or official rabbi). On Willis Ave , I think. I'm probably
spelling it wrong here - Hertzberg's.


From: Michael Rogovin <rogovin@...>
Date: Wed, 05 Mar 2003 09:52:02 -0500
Subject: Re: Kiddush Clubs

My own observation about drinking in synagogues has to do not with
kiddush clubs (I am opposed to them for all of the reasons cited by
other contributors who oppose them) but the use of/easy availability of
alcohol in general.

In my neighborhood, two of the major orthodox shuls are on the same
street, about 1.5 blocks apart. There is considerable mingling between
the 2 shuls (youth groups are run jointly). Due to observations about
teen drinking, the larger one decided to ban alcohol on simchat
torah. The other refused. People in the shul which opted out of going
dry simply could not comprehend what was wrong with drinking or the idea
that there could be simcha without enjoying a little schnapps. "It's up
to the parents and the shul should not tell us what we can do." Of
course, the parents in this shul do not supervise their children at
all. Case in point: at a regular mevorchim kiddush, where grape juice is
placed along side sweet wine and scotch at an unsupervised table, I
recently stopped a boy about 10 or 11 who poured himself a shot. He was
amazed that anyone would stop him. If anyone doubts that kiddush clubs,
casual drinking and easy availability of hard liquor lead to alcohol
abuse by children, this child got the message that the adults in the
shul were sending loud and clear. Salut!

Michael Rogovin


From: <Salbertjewish@...> (Steve Albert)
Date: Wed, 5 Mar 2003 05:20:24 EST
Subject: Re: Kiddush Clubs - another twist

I'd have a few suggestions for dealing with this problem:
1.  Chabad does have a hierarchical structure; find out who is in charge
of Chabad Houses for this region of the country and contact him.
2.  What about the non-Chabad rabbis in town?  Does the town have a beis
din, or an Orthodox rabbinical council?  They may be able to have more
3.  Take it to Chabad national leadership.
4.  Do you have a good relationship with one of your local Chabad rabbis?
 If so, ask him for advice.  (This may supersede the earlier
5.  Consult your own rabbi for advice.  (Ditto.)
6.  In all cases, point out that (1) dina d'malchusa dina applies, and
this is a clear violation; (2) they're courting a public scandal (chillul
Hashem) if the legal authorities get involved, or the press; (3) they're
teaching young people, in the name of kiruv, that it's OK to break the
law -- not a good way to train frum Yidden; and (4) if this leads to
students becoming alcoholics, they're causing major harm, and possibly
putting people's lives at risk.  (What happens when one of these drunk
students gets hit by a car on the way home -- or *drives* a car and kills
someone else?  My, what a lovely story in the paper!)

Kol tuv,
Steve Albert

From: Rise Goldstein <rbgoldstein@...>
Date: Wed, 5 Mar 2003 07:29:02 -0800
Subject: Kiddush Clubs - another twist

Anonymous wrote:  

> {...snip...} I just came back from a "family Shabbaton" at my son's college,
>  run by the college's Hillel. On Friday night, Hillel has a communal Shabbat
>  dinner, {...snip...}   Chabad also has a Shabbat dinner, where, unfortunately,
> the wine/beer/other spirits flow all too freely. {...snip...}  My "roommate" at
>  this Shabbaton told me that a relative of hers had {...snip...} developed into
> a full-blown alcoholic, requiring detox and rehab.
> My question is, what can be done about this?? It's obviously a serious
> problem. 

In my line of work (mental illness and addictions researcher), I can't
disagree.  I would, however, pose the question more broadly, in terms of
the need to address the fact that substance abuse may *not* be as rare
as "our ranks" would like to believe.  The shock and dismay with which
rabbanim and other influential voices have greeted the dramatically
increased *visibility* of addictive disorders, and other behavioral and
emotional problems, especially in young folks, over the past decade or
so, belies the best evidence available about their prevalence.

I've said before and I'll say again that IMHO it would be next to
impossible to get valid epidemiologic data about the prevalence of these
problems within the "Torah-observant" population, however we wish to
define it.  Even if an epidemiologist could design and implement a
methodologically valid study, and even if the boundaries of the target
population could be defined in a way not hopelessly messy, there might
or might not be meaningful differences identified between "FFBs" (people
"frum" from birth) and ba'alei teshuvah, between Ashkenazim and
Sefaradim and other ethnically defined communities, along the various
continua defined by hashqafah and humrot embraced or not embraced, and
by other demographic factors, including country of current residence.
Having said that, and even allowing that some of "our" social norms,
including *general* lack of tolerance for intoxication (other than on
Purim and maybe Simhat Torah), as well as certain genetic factors, might
be somewhat protective for at least some subgroups among "us," I think
we have to assume that the prevalence of these disorders within the
"Torah-observant" ranks is probably not drastically lower, though it may
be somewhat lower, than it is in the general populations surrounding us.

Based on what I've seen, in what admittedly may not be a scientifically
valid sample of observations, I *don't* think that most of the observant
world does badly, most of the time, in the way it handles the use of
alcohol, including responses when people clearly do not wish to imbibe.
I would also point out that the availability of alcohol at Shabbat
dinners, qiddush clubs, etc., does not *cause* individuals to become
addicted.  IMHO it is not appropriate simply to bar alcohol from Shabbat
dinners, qiddushim, etc.; we are not and should not become a
prohibitionist society.

Obviously, if individuals are predisposed, whether by genetics or other
factors, they will have at least potential opportunities to get
themselves into trouble, especially if there are not responsible adults
monitoring consumption patterns and limiting availability to those they
see getting "tipsy," or worse.  For university students, Hillel or
Haba"D house staff are plausible choices for monitors, though they would
need training in what to look for and how to take appropriate action.
In the community, parents should be charged with monitoring their
children but probably batei knesset should also appoint, and train or
have trained, volunteers to oversee these matters more generally, just
as increasingly many congregations now appoint and train volunteers to
deal with security issues.  (By the way, there are several responsible
alcoholic beverage service training programs available; please e-mail me
privately if I can be of assistance in tracking down contact people for

The best scientific evidence is that most of the major mental disorders,
including addictions, are genetically driven to a substantial degree,
albeit less than 100%.  Given the large contributions of biological
factors, it is very ill-considered to brush off cases of these
conditions as simply reflecting a lack of "proper hashqafah" or other
religious deficiencies.  I respectfully suggest that at least the
following three issues need to be tackled seriously: (a) the denial,
which I still find very powerful, that substance abuse and other
behavioral and emotional problems are prevalent in the "Torah-committed"
world; (b) the need, given the prevalence of these problems, for parents
and other responsible adults to monitor children (and, indeed, their
fellow adults) carefully and take action if there is any hint that
something might be wrong; and (c) the need for treatment programs and
facilities that are both rigorously scientifically grounded in
evidence-based therapies and "user friendly" to members of the fold who
need help.

Rise Goldstein (<rbgoldstein@...>)
Los Angeles, CA


From: Shlomo Yaffe <hyuli@...>
Date: Tue, 4 Mar 2003 23:41:53 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Loshon Hora and Chabad

Please be aware that these types of stories and their "extensions" like
a kid becoming an alcoholic because he had a le'chayim at a chabd house
are often spread by people involved with "establishment" orgnizations on
campuses who resent Chabad's success with the students on much smaller
budgets with far less staff. The comparison of large, expensive empty
buildings and small (physically) but packed Chabad houses has driven
some people into "Motzei Shem Ra" lo aleinu.

The comparison with the Lanner affair is totally inappropiate and
misusing it as a metaphor degrades the seriousness of that episode and
is a profound insult top the women abused by him as they see their
suffering trvialized.

Shlomo Yaffe
West Hartford, CT

From: Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...>
Date: Wed, 05 Mar 2003 08:28:26 -0500
Subject: Loshon Hora and Chabad

Let's be clear on a few things.  

No student at a secular college needs to go to a Shabbat dinner at
Chabad to drink.  Every week their are parties with large sums of
alcohol where underage students are free to drink.  The fraternities
will provide the alcohol free of charge, paid for with money raised from
the mandatory fees paid for by parents.

No one is going to become an alcoholic by going to a Fabrengin.  To
believe this we have to believe this secular student

1) Did not drink in high school
2) Did not drink in the college dorm
3) Did not drink at Fraternity parties
4) Did not go to bars catering to underage college students
5) only drank at Chabad sponsored events.

If you actually believe this you are showing your illogical hatred of

If the poster also believed that this dangerous illegal behavior was
occurring, I would wonder why they didn't call the police.  Nor is this
person stating they contacted a Beit Din to have the Rabbi ordered not
to endanger the children.  Certainly any halachic Jew would be concerned
enough to do something practical to stop a practice they believe are
endangering underage children.

Halachically we are obligated to disbelieve this loshon hora.  If the 
poster really has viewed this behavior they have an obligation to 
consult with their Rav, rather than blast posting the internet, about if 
they should just file a complaint in Beit Din or, in addition go to the 
police, regarding this behavior.

From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>
Date: Wed, 19 Mar 2003 05:44:27 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Loshon Hora and Chabad

While I would not argue that there are a segment of people who are
anti-Chabad for whatever the reasons may be, and that it is true that on
most campuses there are plenty of opportunities for a teen / young adult
to drink, at the same time I think it is either naive or deliberately
ignoring the issue to protest that the Chabad presences on campus are not
an issue in the alcohol and teens discussion.

I consider myself fairly neutral on the Chabad issue, having some fairly
long term relationships with the Chabad movement. Nevertheless, I can saw
that I have both observed the problem on more than one campus, where the
level of alchohol use between Chabad and say Hillel is very markedly
different, as well as from speaking to a number of what we might call
teens at risk or teens on the fringe about their interactions with Chabad
on campus.

I have also seen a more significant abuse of alchohol at mainline Chabad
weddings among the chabad youngerleit then I have seen at either litvish
yeshivish weddings or modern Orthodox weddings. I know that alchohol abuse
is a significant problem in Russia, and I wonder if that may be one factor
in the problem. Whatever the source, with the rise in Jewish teen alcohol
abuse, I think it is critical that Chabad actively do something about any
potential alchohol abuse at Chabad houses on campus.

 Avi Feldblum


End of Volume 38 Issue 81