MAILBAG: The Alcohol-Drinking At Yeshiva Camps Is Out of Control And Being Ignored

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Dear YWN readership.

I regret saying this, but my letter was sent to 4 Jewish publications before the summer, and unfortunately, it was ignored. I have since updated it to reflect new information (from as recent as last night), and humbly request it be published for the sake of saving lives.

Parents sending their boys to summer camps in the Catskills may think their boys are safe, but they aren’t.

No, I am not referring to pedophilia. That problem has Boruch Hashem been dealt with by organizations such as Amudim and the Gedolim behind them who devote their lives to helping the victims.

The topic I want to address is alcohol-drinking in camps. But not just any camps. I am referring to the elite “yeshiva / learning” camps. I have decided to leave the names of these camps out and hope that this letter alone will hopefully awaken the masses.

Please don’t start telling me that this is a minor percentage, because it’s not. This is a roaring problem that is largely being ignored and not being taken seriously by the people running these camps. I humbly question why the Roshei Yeshiva of these boys allow them to go to any of these camps as it’s no secret regarding the alcohol consumption at these camps. In fact, I have had many conversations with leading Roshei Yeshiva about this, and they just shrug their shoulders.

Just last night a bunch of these camps joined together to go to a well known amusement park. The day was capped off with a concert and a band with singing and dancing. I don’t think your readership needs to see the footage of the drunk boys staggering all over the place, so I’ll hold that for round two – If immediate action isn’t taken.

What are these camp owners waiting for? Do we need a few boys to die of alcohol poisoning before people boycott these camps? Why is the “zero tolerance for a smartphone” enforced but the drinking epidemic being ignored?

I should add (not that it makes any difference) that I am not referring to drinking beer. I am talking about bottles of hard liquor that the boys have stashed away.

I am demanding that the camps take action before I and others like myself take appropriate action to ensure the problem is dealt with another way. We will make sure your camps are (legally) exposed and blacklisted by every single family in America.

Thank you for publishing my letter, and I am sorry for being so harsh, but the reality demands this.

Have a wonderful and safe summer.

Yeshaya Dovid Braunstein – Lakewood

NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN.

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52 COMMENTS

  1. Dear Yeshaya Dovid Braunstein,
    I would like to address your concern about the drinking that is happening in these camps.

    It is true that there is a lot of drinking happening in these camps with our good mainstream Yeshiva Bochur and yes it is a problem, but there is one piece of information that you skipped over as wrote this letter.

    Here you are posting a letter to the public accusing the owners and leaders of these camps for the drinking problem that happens there.

    HOW STUPID CAN ONE BE?!?
    Let me give you a little detail in what happens:
    The rule in all of these camps are NO DRINKING.
    But what happens is, you have these bachurim who are so used to getting drunk in their homes, in their shuls, in their Yeshivas, that they go behind the camps back and drink in the bathroom, in the forest….etc.
    It is true that these camps know that “there is drinking happening” but what in the world do you want them to do?
    They do not see it…. they don’t know who is drunk…
    so please tell me how can you post a public letter blaming these Yeshiva Camps for the drinking when it is not them?
    Your letter should be to the PARENTS, ROSHEI YESHIVOS, MENAHALEM, and RABONIM OF THE SHILS WHICH IS WHERE THE DRINKING STARTS AND OVER THERE THEY ACTUALLY KNOW WHAT IS HAPPENIG BECAUSE IT IS HAPPENING IN THEIR HOME, IN THEIR YESHIVA, IN THEIR SHUL EVERY WEEK BY THE KIDDUSH!!!!!!

    THAT IS WHO YOH SHOULD HE MAD AT AND WRITING AGAINST.

    -SOMEONE WHO ACTUALLY KNOWS WHWT HES TALKING ABOUT!

  2. while I applaud your good intentions you are looking at the wrong spot to try and solve this….drinking is an issue of the soul and not something any camp can control… a kid who is not allowed to drink in camp or shul does not solve the problem, he will just find someplace else where they can drink or break the rules…..the problem is within the kids themselves and each person may be different but it involves introspective by themselves and people who groomed them…you mentioned amudim, these issues are the same ones amudim deals……i would suggest you get yourself educated on the subject if you want to be a real voice and be heard.

  3. Wow. Thank You for letting people know. Please send this letter to as many organizations as possible. Possible places are: the Agudah, the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation, ( drinking is dangerous, try anything) the OU, The National Council Of Young Israel. Any place that has dealings with parents. They have to be educated. Try Publicizing in the Yated to make parents aware. Write a letter to the editor. Drinking, smoking and drugs are all Assur. It’s funny how parents are COMPLETELY oblivious to the their children. Shame on parents

  4. SF9008:

    I am appalled at your comment. You make a valid point that the enforcement regarding alcohol everywhere else is poor, you are also either defensive, have a guilty conscience, or are in simple denial of the truth.

    When I send my children to sleep away camp, I expect the supervision to substitute for all the parental supervision that occurs year round. If kids are sneaking around the bunk and imbibing, it is on the camp’s watch. If this were a lawsuit against the camp for damages, the case would be open-shut that it’s the camp’s responsibility. Meanwhile, you are, as a reader who is in the know, being informed of a problem. And your reaction is that elsewhere it is also a problem, you don’t know what to do, and therefore are doing nothing except for lobbing the problem onto someone else’s lap. That is irresponsible, and unprofessional.

    If your authority cap was on, you would give a different reaction to this. It would sound like, “OMG, is that what’s happening? We hoped that kids would follow the direction we give them, knowing that there is enough fun without need to resort to alcohol. We better buckle down on this. As long as we do that, we would hope that this response be similar to actions taken everywhere else.”

    The writer makes a powerful impact with the “zero tolerance for smartphones”, which would prompt searches while campers are away from their bunks, while there is no actively enforced “zero tolerance for alcohol”.

    In contrast to this first comment, can others weigh in with constructive criticism, not old school denial and blame shifting?

  5. Agreed with the author. The camps do nothing to enforce the rules and the more lenient the camp is the more geshmak and popular it is

    I overheard this “he’s down your back the whole day and goes crazy when he busts smoking or drinking it’s not nogea cause of the lachatz”

    Sf9008 I have a 2 questions for you

    1. This is a going on in certain camps as the author singled out, how can you blame the parents if there are same age kids that do not drink in other camps

    2. How can they not see it? How can they not know who is drunk? These are kids that they are responsible for

  6. The author has a very vaild point. A good CEO owns up and takes achrayos for his company. People are dismissed if corrective measures fail. Here too, either they shape up or ship out.

  7. Sad reality!
    תזכה למצוות for bringing it to light!
    The problem likewise exists at weddings, regular shabbos and kiddushim etc.
    And these teen and young 20 year olds are experts on the qualities of the various brands and labels.
    Sad reality!

  8. @common sense person
    Drinking is not assur. Things that are assur are not appropriate in moderation and endorsed by numerous maamarei chazal.

    @yaakovtzvi well said

  9. @Sf9008 Sorry to say, but you seem to be plain ignorant! or just in denial of the truth. perhaps you have a drinking problem and trying to cover up. we all know that it’s a very serious problem, and we also know that the situation is only getting worse every year.

    Part of the solution might be… If only ALL camp owners/directors/head counselors, camp staff, etc. would send home every single boy or girl (yes, girls have this problem too) who are found drunk, or any amount of alcohol found in their possession, it would stop immediately. This drinking problem would then have to stop at once much sooner than you think because of the harsh consequences. The real problem is that they get away with it…

    As of today all camps must adopt a “zero tolerance for drinking/drugs” policy, Just ONE strike and YOU are OUT for good, you may NEVER come back to this camp, not as a camper and not as a staff member. You are blacklisted for life because of your own actions.

    To Reb Yeshaya Dovid Braunstein – Lakewood, I applaud you for your wonderful letter and it should be taken seriously by camp owners and all parents alike. Thank you for speaking the truth, but the truth, and the truth only. Remember- you probably saved many lives with this post. Perhaps you next letter should be about the drug problem.

    HATZLOCHA
    Thanks again.

  10. Rabbosai, any yeshiva, camp or leader who doesn’t take a stand against an issue like this in their machaneh has blood of their hands. End of discussion. The solution will need to involve parents and broader social issues, but we cannot let the institutions or leaders off easy.

    This needs to end. Now.

  11. yaakovtzvi – you are falling for the propaganda about smartphones. Excess drinking certainly harms your guf. Smartphones can harm your neshama. Everyone needs to start taking personal responsibility seriously. If you drink to excess you may come to physical harm; if you misuse a smartphone you may come to spiritual harm. If you make a lechaim at a simcha no harm will come to you. If you use a smartphone to keep in touch with family overseas or check out a Rambam, no harm will come to you.

  12. -THEO you sound completely ignorant. You are clearly not up to date in the smartphone age. There is no reason why A bachur in yeshiva needs an iPhone …The amount of tuma on these things one can see in 1 hr our grandparents couldn’t have seen in a lifetime. A little lchayim never killed anyone…. Nothing wrong with drinking a little bit at a chasuna to get leibidig or in camp to pump up your camp staff team. My friend get your priorities straight.

  13. Yes there may be a drinking problem in yeshiva, shul gome etc, however, in camp these drunk bochurim are responsible for kids. That is a major problem that campa need to address.
    Chas v’shalom a kid could get hurt by a drunk counselor. And if that happens the lawsuit will be huge and the chilul Hashem even bigger.

  14. Yasher koach. There is no conceivable reason to be against this post. The problem exists in homes and yeshivos? Therefore allow it in camp as well? It is a problem. First of all, it’s illegal, unless the boys in question are above 21. That gives the camps significant civil and possibly criminal exposure if Chas veshalom something happens.
    We live in a generation where it has become the norm for boys and young men to drink. This did not exist as recently as 15 years ago. It is an additional symptom of the general attitude of the Hollywood generation. The attitude is that everything must be available to me as soon as I want it and the way I want it. If it’s not a perfect situation as I imagine it, then I dispose of it. This is why divorce is so prevalent. Life is not the movies. You can’t just flip channels. Why do boys drink? Is their reality so miserable that there is a need for an altered reality by virtue of an outside stimulant? How sad. These boys are a victim of their own false picture of life created by Hollywood. In the movies, the naughty boy gets the beautiful girl in the fast car, all in under 2 hours (including commercials.) Real life doesnt work that way. But real life is beautiful, if one takes the time and makes the effort to contribute to society and appreciate all that hashem has given us.
    Life is a long term project, as is marriage, relationships, and avodas hashem. Yiddishkeit has no shortcuts and no substitute for hard work. Neither does life. Pathetically, that’s why they drink. Do we need to change the root of the problem. Absolutely. However it is above my pay grade to produce a solution. Nonetheless, the symptom, specifically the drinking must be treated as well. Zero tolerance is not unreasonable. Save the boys from themselves. 1 fatality is too much. Don’t let it happen. That fatality will be someones child and sibling. Consider that it might be yours. Zero tolerance.

  15. yakovtzvi:

    You seem to know so much about the dangers of smartphones and alcohol. I challenge you. You claim one is definite while the other is a maybe. You are completely wrong, and you are outside the domain of your range of knowledge.

    While there is much to say about the alcohol thing, it is certainly something that has no business existing in camp altogether. Whether there is place at simchos, kiddushim, etc. is another discussion. But there needs to be zero tolerance for alcohol in camps, and this extends for all, counselors, staff, and kal vachomer campers. While all rules occasionally get broken, we do need to have rules in place that are kept, at least most of the time.

  16. KESEF YAANE ES HAKOL I.E. MONEY TALKS

    Camp owners are afraid that if they send home & kick out drunken campers or staff they will be forced to return the money for camp & lose future years of camping with these families & their other children in the future what they are not realizing is that the bad name they get will lose many more campers from going to their camp in future years & their camp will be blackmailed in regards to the refund of money for kicking out drunk campers they can write on the contact of each camper “ABSOLUTELY NO SMOKING, DRINKING OR DRUGS ETC… ALLOWED anywhere on camp grounds & if found camper will be kicked & YOU WILL NOT RECEIVE ANY REFUND FOR THE REMAINDER OF CAMP etc…

    now with this in mind no camp owners should have any worries of losing money the gelt that we all love like avoda zara…..

  17. Thank you so much for your concern your letter. I applaud you for taking action and writing letters. However, I believe the root of the problem is the parents and not the kids or the camps. The amount of alcohol consumed at kiddushim these days is mind boggling. You think the kids don’t see this? They see their parents doing it and they want to do the same! Just last night there were numerous bungalow colonies who had a BAR at their Nachamu concerts! They couldn’t go an hour without some alcohol! What do you expect from the parents??

  18. One thing you all seem to have forgotten…. if these boys go to a concert & get drunk, how do they get back to the camp?

    Driving drunk on unlit country roads is pashut insane; it’s hard enough to drive at night sober. I highly doubt every group of bachurim appoints a designated driver, and they are risking their own and others’ lives. Obviously, I’m not talking about 14 year old campers here, but the counselors. It is the camps’ responsibility and should be discussed in the strongest terms at pre-camp meetings. Parents too should be watching how much their kids drink at Purim, ST or at the Shabbos tisch. Even a barbecue seems to be the place to get hammered on beer.

    Mr. Braunstein is right to publicize this behavior; those of you who minimize it may well be leading friends and family to serious injury, even death. Just think about it.

  19. The author is correct
    BUT, this problem started in the Yeshiva, Shul and home!!!!!

    There should be no alcohol beverages by any simcheh!!!! Until people learn to drink L’chaim and not La’moves! R”L

  20. yaakovtzvi
    > Smartphones FORSURE destroy your neshama…. drinking CAN harm your guf…. pick your poison

    How dare you obfuscates such a topic that is clear sakanas nefoshos. How dare you ignore the lessons of NOAH and LOT in the chumash. The topic is not “drinking” as you put. The topic is clearly about being DRUNK. That is certainly harm in and of itself to both the body and the neshama.

  21. We have to admit that: the bottom line is that we have known about the drinking problem for many YEARS and nothing has been done about it. Nobody seems to care, not Rabbonim at a Kiddish not Camp owners not PARENTS not Grand parents or Uncles etc. it’s a real shame that in our communities we allow this to go on ignoring a life and death r”l problem. (and it seems that nothing will be done till something will C”V happen) Boruch Hahsem in our home we don’t have any alcohol,(besides wine for Kiddish) I don’t have any alcohol at any occasion, and my children see it and follow my example. It’s that simple.

    Thank You Rabbi Yeshaya Dovid Braunstein – Lakewood NJ
    Lakewood – NJ – The town of Torah and Midos Tovos.

  22. I see you people just dont get it.
    The phony letter writer is just another Torah hater. He clearly says he’s NOT talking about stam, regular camps. Those are all kodesh kadashim. No problems whatsoever. He states, he’s specifically talking about Yeshiva/learning camps. Only those evil Yeshiva bachurim who dedicate their lives for Torah, are the problem. Of course, the letter writer doesn’t name a single camp. He doesn’t name a single Rosh Yeshiva. All his accusations are anonymous. The hypocrite is all of a sudden so “concerned” about lashan hora. All this letter writer did was, once again, bash Bnei Torah in a public forum. Great. He had an ax to grind and YWN fell hook line and sinker for it. Haven’t we had enough of these sinners already?

  23. I know a lot of you enjoy drinking, it’s a fun activity, you do it to be social.

    I want to beg something of all of you. I know a lot of you enjoy drinking, it’s a fun activity, you do it to be social. But- it’s something you need to be responsible about, not just for yourself, but for whoever’s doing it with you. I want to tell you about a boy I know. He went to his friends for shabbos, and Friday night they headed over to the house of a gevir who’s known to have an open bar, fully stocked, as much as you want. 

    This boy drank- nothing crazy, not too much. He went downstairs pretty early to go to sleep. His friends saw him later that night, flat on his back, snoring away. They left him alone, and a little while on, woke up again to see that something was seriously wrong. I don’t  know exactly what- was he gagging? Choking? Throwing up? I don’t know. 

    They called Hatzalah, but by the time they came it was too late- this 26-year-old guy, single, his whole life ahead of him, was dead. Because he choked to death on his back. Tonight, his family is sobbing their eyes out. They’re brokenhearted. His 7 brothers, his 3 sisters, they can’t believe it’s true and they’re just beginning to grasp the fact that they’ll never be a whole family again. And his mother- she’s practically collapsing. She can’t understand how this is happening. Why his friends let this happen. How they left him alone when one little thing would have saved him.
    How do I know this story? Because it’s my brother. Ari Levin. I’m the one watching my brothers fall apart as they try to grasp that they’re never going to hug Ari again. They’re crying about how they regret they didn’t get to say goodbye, they’re wishing they could tell him how much they love him, they’re sobbing it to each other and holding on to each other desperately.

    I know my dear brother Ari died for a reason, even if I don’t know what that reason was. I know it was Hashem’s plan and that if it happened, this is what He meant to happen. But- I also know that right now, his friends are feeling overwhelming guilt. They’re feeling that if they had just watched over him a little better, turned him on his side, he wouldn’t have died this way. They wouldn’t have to face my parents at the levaya tomorrow, knowing that they could have done something about his death. And my parents are wishing they’d known about Ari’s plans for the night, they would have begged him not to go. Go know that you could drink the same amount you always do but this time it’s going to go wrong.

    So I’m begging you guys, as a brokenhearted sister, as a future wife and mother- if you’re going to drink, please be more responsible. Know your limits, but know your friends’ as well. Watch over them and try to make sure they’re as safe as possible. Know what’s safe and what’s not. Please. The life you save could be your own.

  24. Disease in disguise- Silence is not an option- Li’Chaim
    Communities in crisis
    לחיים
    Sholom Zuchors- Beer only
    Kidushim- limited to 2 bottles of up to $20.00 @
    Chasunahs- No open bars-Choson tisch /Head table limited  to 2 bottles up to $20.00@
    Chasunah wines- up to $12.00 @

    Dinners / parlor meetings- limited to 2 bottles of up to $20.00 @
    No Ruv should sell w/ chometz-no more than 1 bottle per household.

    I’m not that familiar with all of the pratim; what I do know is that more and more people, especially the under 40 chevra are becoming addicts…they are seen in big numbers at AA meetings, and Rabbonim admit to me that it has become a major issue in their kehillas

    Drinking in ModerationBy Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb
    The use of alcoholic beverages is a primary example of something that our Torah permits, yet prescribes definite limitations. In fact, there are Scriptural references, which are reinforced by Chazal in numerous ways, concerning the need for moderation in drinking alcohol. Indeed, the Talmud (Yoma 76b) relates the very word yayin (wine) to the word yelala (woe).

    The rise of substance abuse, including alcohol, among adults and teenagers in our community is very troubling. Children who witness adults engaging in alcohol consumption—beyond what is reasonable or necessary for halachic purposes—learn that alcohol is a substance to which one can resort when looking for fun or when trying to alleviate feelings of anxiety or depression. Using alcohol this way can lead to addiction, with all of its serious consequences.

    Then there is all the all-too-common phenomenon known as the “Kiddush Club.” These clubs consist of those who leave shul during the Haftarah reading on Shabbat morning to drink single-malt scotches and other liquors, often to excess. This practice disgraces the holy words and messages of the prophets found in the Haftarot; ironically, it is these very messages that these individuals would be wise to learn. I have personally witnessed how the effects of practices such as Kiddush Clubs can sometimes be literally lethal.

    An Orthodox Jew cannot limit his concern to the kashrut of ingredients but must also consider the kashrut of his personal demeanor and the example he sets for others, especially children.

  25. To Not getting involved August 6, 2017 11:30 am at 11:30 am:

    The only sinner and tipish is people like you.

    I work in one of these camps. I am off on visiting day and have access to post this comment. Not only is this letter on the mark that this problem is in the most yeshivish camps possible, but the camp I work in has two parts. The regular camp and the “mesivta” (yeshiva) part.

    The regular camp is unheard of to know about alchohol. The Yeshiva part is flooded in booze, and the boys drink freely not only on Friday night, but at all times of the week.

    Its disgusting that they don’t stop this behavior. They know exactly who they are.

    I have complained in the past, and nothing happens. Last summer a boy got so drunk on vodka on Friday night, it was dangerous. Nothing happened.

  26. i was once a asst. head counsler in one of those yeshiva camps let me tell you that its a major problem that has to be taken care of. When i was in yeshiva camp a short 6 years ago the thing to drink was beer, no one got drunk but ppl had a bottle or two. when i was the head counsler over these boys 6 years later i was wishing they were drinking beer. These boys on a avg night were drinking vodka and other hard stuff. I took away plenty of bottles and was disliked by many but i knew i had to do it. these boys came to other intercamp games drunk and was an embarrassment to the name of the yeshiva, it was really horrrible. Its also not just a camp thing, its in the yeshivas dorms also, trust me ive seen it. Im not invloved anymore but as ppl are saying there must be a zero tolerance rule. but these zero tolerance rules usually end up in “one more chance and your out” either bec that persons family gives a lot of money to the yeshiva or for other reasons. This needs to stop if you would like the point to get to these boys! In all areas not just drinking in smoking and smartphones also!!

  27. Awareness gets you nowhere! There’s more then enough awareness about smartphones and its gotten nowhere with bachurim! You cannot stop someone from drinking it is very easily obtainable and will always be, in this letter you have harsh words for drinking bachurim, rabbi; any bachur that drinks has not failed you, you have failed them!! It is an easy fix to lock up all the Band-Aids, but there will still be wounds, go after the selfish parents and mechanchim for the wounds they inflict not the healment they don’t take away. (Signed, A drinking bachur in yeshivah.)

  28. Crown Heights, Flatbush, L.A., Cleveland, Memphis, Lakewood, Borough Park, Flatbush, Monsey, etc.
    Every community must eradicate this spreading disease……….

    Shalom Zochurs,

    Shul Kiddush,

    Bar-Mitzvahs,

    Parlor meetings,

    Weddings,

    Organizational affairs,

    Open bars,

    At home get together w/ friends.

  29. Not getting involved:

    The chip on your shoulder is problematic. It is probably chutzpah to accuse the writer of being a Torah hater. It is certainly a baseless accusation.

    The entire frum community has a problem, not just camps, but yeshivos, shuls, simchos, fund raising events, etc. Regular camps have one feature that “learning” camps may lack – more intense supervision. It is assumed that those who dedicate themselves to learning will behave during their leisure time. Pointing out this fallacy is beneficial to all. The greatest danger is where there is perceived protection and safety.

    It is your repressed rage. Not the writer’s.

  30. Hi Yeshaya,

    Thank you for the article. Unfortunately you spent more time writing your passionate letter thank researching the issue. You painted the entire mesivta camp industry with a broad brush which is unfair to the many many responsible camp owners and menahalim.

    Some background: I have been involved in the camping industry for some time, and my brother is a menahel in one of the largest camps in Vermont filled with wonderful binei torah. As the leaders of young bochurim it is our responsibility to give them a wholesome a torahdike summer without losing the geshmak. The best way to do this is by setting expectations between the bochurim and the staff. We have rules that can be broken i.e. late night BBQs and which rules cannot be broken and are grounds for immediate dismissal from the camp i.e. smoking, drinking and renting cars (even if not done simultaneously).

    This past motzai shabbos we had the typical Shabbos Nachamu melava malka with singing dancing etc. and were proud that not one of our 300+ boys smoked a cigarette or drank an ounce of alcohol. The health and well being of our guys is paramount and we painstaking research the boys who we except and draw clear lines as to what is allowable in camp.

    My point is this: If you want to scare parents speak to them about properly researching the camps that they send there precious children. They should make sure that the menahalim are seasoned mechanchim who care about their bochurim. The stories from this past shabbos are horrible but isolated.

    Another point: The issue of pedophilia in our camps and yeshivos is far from solved. There are children from our community suffering RM”L. Please don’t speak to things you know nothing about.

    Much hatzlocha!

  31. Mr. Braunstein: While I understand why you wrote this letter, I am wondering why you think it will change? After all, every year, Hatzaloh and the leading Roshei Yeshiva take out big ads in the Yated and other publications about minors not drinking on Purim and it is totally ignored.

  32. unfortunately this has nothing to do with the camps or the shuls or the yeshivas … it has more to do with the reluctance of the frum community to address substance abuse (or any of our addictions) as a specific issue over anything else ….. we can learn much from the non Jewish world regarding this …. who had tremendous success instituting the public supported AA program in their churches and youth programs for more than a half century … we are sadly light years away from admitting this in our community …. and the fact that AA was originally created by goyim and made it’s early rounds in Christian churches further limits it’s acceptance in our community ….. however it really works ….. the anonymous programs really work ….. it is time to get off our of frum horses and use what works ….. we don’t go to our rabbis when we have pneumonia ….. or are in labor …… we need to address each problem with it’s specific cure ….. and be willing to take what works even if it is outside our limited orb …..

  33. To @Madrich who wrote that his brother is a menahel at a camp in Vermont.

    “The issue of pedophilia in our camps and yeshivos is far from solved. There are children from our community suffering RM”L. Please don’t speak to things you know nothing about”

    I can speak about this because I dealt with over 150 victims myself in the past 2 years (I doubt you have).

    #1 I’m just wondering why you needed to mention the pedophilia issue in yeshivas when this letter writer clearly only mentioned summer camps. The issue in camps has been dealt with on an unprecedented scale thanks to Amudim, Torah Umesorah and Rav Elya Brudny who truly feels the pain of every Yid. By the way, did your brothers camp show every counselor the video about pedophilia and warn them? I didn’t notice that camp in the list. So please clean your own trash before spewing it in public.

    #2 “The stories from this past shabbos are horrible but isolated”

    Your an uninformed fool and sound pathetic. Boys were smashed in every single learning camp this past Shabbos. YOU are the one who (to quote you) “spent more time writing your passionate letter thank researching the issue”.

    And #3 “You painted the entire mesivta camp industry with a broad brush which is unfair to the many many responsible camp owners and menahalim”

    That’s the only solution to educate the masses and to warn the camps that don’t care. Blast them all in public and let them feel the heat while the parents will start doing some good homework.

  34. I would like to propose a different outlook on the matter. I think both of these problems are connected (smartphones and drinking) and they both stem from the same problem. Unfortunately there has been a decline in the ahavas Hashem and yiras Hashem among young bochurim and teens in general. For various reasons, bochurim today more than ever, struggle to feel a connection to Hashem and they have a hard time relating to what they hear from their rebbeim regarding closeness to hashem. Many times this leads to these same bochurims’ disregard of their rebbeims opinions on other matters as well such as drinking, smoking, and smartphones. Now the problem is that this works in a cycle. Chazal tell us that ones aveiros cause a certain seperation that makes us feel more distant from Hakadosh Baruch Hu (Although in truth we ALWAYS are connected our aveiros cause that we dont FEEL the connection). It is no new news that the smartphone era was a big factor in causing this tremendous decline with all of its outcomes.
    Solution: Chazal tell us that if we stick to Torah we can merit to clean our aveiros and feel that connection again but we must PRAY as well for ourselves and for Am Yisroel 1. to overcome the smartphone problem 2. TO MERIT TO FEEL THE CLOSENESS TO HASHEM. and bezrat hashem we will be Zoche to feel closer to Hashem and ” mi’meileh ” we will have the strength to overcome these urges and we will therefore appreciate and listen to our rebbeim Amen.

  35. Moderation is the ultimate goal here but cant be the process. The “minhag” is so entrenched with normal acceptable kids that no camp or yeshiva can be the one going cold turkey and remain mainstream. As a community we need to be willing to say that the repercussions safety, chilul hashem, and middos severe enough that for now the “value” of moderate drinking is not worth the damage. Adults, yeshivas, shuls, at chasunas, simchas torah and friday night oneg across the board need to be machrim drinking as unacceptable. The only way for that to happen in our community is through the gedolim. It will happen the question is just whether we will initiate it or whether a terrible and prominent tragedy, chas veshalom, will. Derech agav, women before marriage are generally oblivious to it and it is often a source of terrible shalom bayis issues when a new wife realizes that her good yeshiva guy husband is a drinker.

  36. The one point no one has made so far is why are so many people in our frum community having to use escapism whether it is drinking or other extreme pursuits? Why are they so unhappy with life generally that they have to find a means to detach themselves? What are we doing wrong?

  37. Most of what I would like to say has already been hashed, rehashed, and rehashed again. However, the truth is that blame also lies with parents and shuls. I daven in a pretty mixed shul, where we run the gamut between modern, heimish, chasidish, and even a couple of sfradim. We have a collection of married men and teens who feel that davening and krias hatorah is a tremendous inconvenience for them. Instead, they show up late, schmooze a bit, then head straight into another room and booze it up. For the most part, the fathers don’t care, even though, legally, most of these kids are not allowed to drink. The same applies to yom tov and smoking. The fathers just don’t care. The bottom line is that, G-d forbid, is someone gets really sick, the shul is responsible. As far as smoking, this I know is a yeshivishe krenk. All the boys think its cool to smoke. In yeshivas in Israel, smoking is an epidemic. And guess what, all you who preach that we need gedolim to say something, face it, the gedolim either don’t care or just don’t know how to cope with these issues.

  38. One more thing – to “not getting involved”. Please spare us the nonsense. This behavior does not exist in the more modern yeshivas because they are stricter about this. I have spent shabbosim in more modern communities and you just don’t see this kind of drinking going on. Nobody says it happens in ALL yeshivas or yeshivish camps but it certainly happens more there.

  39. Why don’t we address the elephant in the room. It’s not drinking, drugs, gambling, or smartphones. It’s the lack of self-control. We are not training our children properly. Learning all day does not train a person in self-control. How can we fix this?

    Adults are just as guilty. Everyone pushes the limits a little more. It’s happening all over. Lavish affairs, luxury homes, expensive cars, multiple vacations, exotic trips, and way more. Many people are feeling unfulfilled with Yiddishkeit, or too much pressure from life or something else, causing them to pushing their limits. Others feel pressure to follow suit. Pretty soon, the standard becomes yesterday’s luxury. We have a problem. It’s name is “self-control”.

  40. there is a lot of blaming parents and others on this thread – as well as feeling that self control is lacking in our young people – all of these ideas are going to get us nowhere – self control isn’t as important as being involved and feeling productive which can replace the desire to drink or escape – while the emphasis on learning is meritorious, most of these young people have little to do and what they do do might not interest them personally – we have to get to the point that it is alright to let someone explore their own interests, even if it falls outside of the realm of what we want for them …. my father in law a”h prevented his own decent into drinking (all his friends heavily drank) by pursuing an interest in woodworking – it then became his profession – there are so many things people can be involved in and interested in – to try to channel this into only learning or some other ‘acceptable’ frum-based activity will only cause young people to gravitate towards destructive outlets instead of their own individual and unique creative pursuits …..

  41. let’s compile and publicize a list of camps, mesivtas, shuls, etc. that have these issues.

    Let’s not shove it under the carpet, like other abuse has been shoved under the carpet for many years.

    Shadachinim should ask questions re; drinking, in camps, mesivtas, friends, kidushim, etc. Married women before marriage are generally oblivious to it and it is often a source of terrible shalom bayis issues when a new wife realizes that her good yeshiva guy husband is a drinker.

    Parents should realize it may hurt them (rightfully) for shiduchim.
    No camp or mesivta should accept anyone that has these issues.

  42. yoheved – I agree. However, most yeshiva boys are not drinking out of frustration, they are drinking because it’s “cool” and the older boys are doing it. Later on it becomes an escape. I humbly believe that discussing, understanding and dealing with self-control issues is the key here.

  43. Yudel:

    An alternative idea, maybe attend the fund raisers, but do not donate a dime. Money may eventually talk. It should say good bye. This appearance will draw attention to the drying up of the financial well when drinking is glorified.

  44. Yaakov Tzvi, i am not understanding what your point is, just because something is worse does not mean we don’t need to take achrayus for what is going on in these camps, also just to point out that Theo’s argument is most definately not in line with what the gedoilim of our generation are saying, to call the battle against smartphones – propoganda is an affront to their kavod and wrong, and hml i don’t know where you’ve been but none of the bochurim in the six flags were driving back, there are buses from each camp… keep in mind the amount of koichos bochurim use to refrain from using smartphones and other pursuits as well as to sit and learn especially in the summer, there are patches that must be fixed but lets acknowledge what these boys work to do