With Rosh Hashana just days away, I find myself oddly at a loss for words. Those of you who know me well understand how rarely I find myself speechless, but reflecting upon the highs and lows of the year 5776 leaves me full of conflicting emotions.
On the positive side, we have Baruch Hashem been blessed with accomplishments that have surpassed our wildest expectations. Our three a groundbreaking awareness events in Queens, Springfield and Lakewood attracted more than 2,000 participants, with another 35,000 tuning in to our live streams. Close to 500 people have reached out for help or guidance because of these events, with numerous cases opened from these callers. We have also brought training programs to five schools and trained over 40 pulpit rabbis on dealing with abuse and addiction.
Our staff at Amudim has doubled in size, with over 800 people referred to therapy and various other services, and we are actively involved in over 750 cases, a 163 percent increase in case load and referrals since last year this time. Additionally, we have provided guidance and support to the families of more than 45 children who were abused and have interacted with the legal system, and felt that had nowhere to turn. While it is troubling to realize just how many people have been suffering, at the same time we are proud of those numbers which indicate that people are reaching out for the help they so desperately need.
But clearly all those accomplishments come at great cost and the year has been extremely bittersweet. Over 65 young people were buried due to addictions, with dozens more dead of unnatural causes. Every death hurts and we take each one personally, yet the awareness raised and the services and programming implemented this past year makes me wonder if we should be feeling sad or happy. The truth is probably a little of both.
While we have taken a lot of heat for counting this year’s untimely deaths, we stand our ground on this approach because we have hard proof that raising awareness IS making a difference. Every radio show, every newspaper and magazine article and every website post has brought a flood of new calls from those needing help as well as the realization that the Jewish community is ready and willing to step up for the cause and we are counting on you to help bring this epidemic to an end. And that is another thing we learned this year. We can’t do it alone. With the number of incoming cases expected to triple next year we have no choice but to keep on growing and shouting from the rooftops. We know that we can’t win every case but we will keep on giving 110 percent because we just can’t afford to lose any more young lives.
My heartfelt tefilla as I daven this Rosh Hashana will be that Amudim closes its doors permanently due to a lack of need for its services. I dream of that day, but until that time comes, we are going to keep on fighting and doing everything humanly possibly to help those in need.
Wishing you and yours and all of klal yisroel a year of bracha, simcha, gezunt and yiddishe nachas,
Zvi Gluck is the director of Amudim Community Resources, an organization dedicated to helping abuse victims and those suffering with addiction within the Jewish community and has been heavily involved in crisis intervention and management for the past 15 years. For more information go to www.amudim.org.
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