Op-Ed By Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz: How Many More Will We Bury?


tearAn orphan is someone who buries a parent.

An orphaned generation buries its children.

We are rapidly becoming an orphaned generation as we are losing more and more of our beautiful children, young adults, and adults to overdoses and suicides.

I don’t have any hard numbers, but it most certainly seems that these tragedies have been rapidly increasing over the past months. In fact, earlier this week, a thirty-something young man who works in this space shared with me that he buried four friends in the past two weeks.

From the depths of my shattered soul, I beg each and every member of our community to support those who are struggling with these challenges and to keep a watchful eye and ear to the subtle cues they often share about their pain and struggles. All too often, they blow right past us until we remember them at a funeral or memorial commemoration.

Several months ago at a funeral of this nature, a dozen friends of the deceased gathered to share their memories of his all-too-short life. One of the people who spoke was a middle-aged, chassidic person. He softly stated that his son was struggling with addiction and said, “I am terrified that I might be here one day burying my own son.”

He said that his family is following the advice they received from rabbonim and professionals who are knowledgeable in these matters [to give their son the “space” and the love/support he needs] even though, “it is very, very difficult for us to do that.”

My message to parents, siblings, friends and loved ones of abuse victims and people struggling with addiction is that you please listen to the wise words of that father and offer support in every way possible. And to all members of our community, always keep in mind that you never really know what pain and suffering people are contending with.

To my brothers and sisters who are battling the demons of addiction, mental illness and the searing effects of childhood abuse; please, please reach out for help today and may Hashem grant you healing, comfort, support and courage.

Yakov Horowitz


Rabbi Yakov Horowitz is the founder and dean of Yeshiva Darchei Noam of Monsey, and founder and Director of Project Y.E.S. (Youth Enrichment Services). He is recognized throughout the Jewish community as an authority on raising children in these troubled times. His bold and insightful presentations, workshops, CD’s, and articles have helped to mold a generation of parents and educators. He is the author of two books, Growing with the Parsha and Living and Parenting, and has produced a whole host of best-selling parenting audio-visual materials. He is a regular contributor on Torah, educational, and parenting topics to The Jewish Observer, The Jewish Press, Mishpacha, and Hamodia periodicals.

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  1. There are medical & psychcological professionals who are good at dealing with these issues. Unfortunately, people are scared about their reputation, more than getting the person help!

  2. If you’re not going to accept peoples honest opinions/comments then why bother to even have a comment section? This is not communist Russia. If you publish articles/stories and you want to have an honest dialogue, so leave your viewers comments untouched. You cant keep sanitizing your viewers comments to fit your agenda. If you feel the particular article is too “controversial” so don’t publish it. If you want to be a professional website, you cant have it both ways.

    Moderators Note: Your right this is not communist Russia, but when you write something completely and grossly inaccurate and cause pain to the family who just lost a young loved one, we choose to protect their feelings. So feel free to post your comments elsewhere. It’s a big Internet out there. We want no part of causing additional pain to the family that recently lost a young family member.

    This is probably too difficult for you to comprehend.

  3. I was shocked to learn that deaths from drug overdoses far exceed deaths from vehicle accidents. This is for the U.S. as a whole, not necessarily for the Jewish community.