Alcohol Abuse In Chabad

A Chabad-Lubavitch yeshiva student is found face down, sleeping in the street. He reeks of alcohol. A farbrengen (a hasidic gathering prominently featuring alcohol consumption) is in progress nearby. An ambulance is called. The boy has no visible injuries. He is coherent. The boy is brought back to the yeshiva. He leaves the ambulance under his own power, opens the locked door by punching the correct numbers on a key pad, and stumbles inside. The next morning is found stumbling about the yeshiva, incoherent. He has a black eye and a bloody nose. An hatzoloh ambulance is called. The boy is taken to a hospital and operated on for pressure on his brain. The yeshiva claims the boy was attacked by thugs. The boy remembers nothing. Police scoff at the yeshiva’s claims, noting three nearly empty bottles of scotch were found in the boy’s room, that he reeked of alcohol, that he did not claim to have been assaulted, that his injuries as observed by the EMTs were what one would expect from a fall caused by alcohol abuse. Yet the yeshiva and Chabad of Melbourne won’t leave well enough alone:

A furious Rabbi Alon Hazi, who runs the Israeli Chabad house where Zerach volunteered, said he had no doubt it was an assault.

He said Zerach’s bag had been found at Anzac Bridge and that the student was not an alcohol drinker. “We know 99 per cent he was hit by somebody. In fact it wasn’t by hand — he was hit by something stronger.”

Mendy Litzman, of Hatzolah Sydney, arrived at Yeshiva on Thursday lunchtime when the alarm was first raised.

“The first thing that entered our mind was an assault because he had a black eye and blood on his nose,” he said.

Paramedics treated it as a “serious assault”, he added.

Litzman said there was a fabrengen, a Lubavitch customary l’chaim where everybody has a drink, last Wednesday night, but Zerach did not attend.

Rabbi Sholom Feldman, also of the Yeshivah Centre, told the AJN he believed Zerach was injured by the time he entered the Orthodox centre.

“He’s lucky to be alive — it’s a miracle. If he didn’t stand up and wander around [on Thursday morning], he may have died.”

He also disputed allegations of alcoholism. “Which bochur wearing a [black] hat and jacket would walk into a bar? I think he was beaten to a pulp.”

As to the whisky bottles in his room, he said that police don’t understand the Chabad custom of saying a l’chaim at every special gathering, including Shabbat. “A bochur has alcohol from the many farbrengens,” he said.

“The empty ones that were found were consumed prior to that day. He did not drink from those bottles.”

Anyone who has participated in Chabad yeshiva farbrengens has seen passed out students, passed out rabbis, and passed out neighbors. Alcohol abuse is a chronic Chabad problem. But, just as with other haredim, Chabad covers up inconvenient facts. It’s bad for fundraising.

It’s time Chabad got a grip and stopped this insanity before one of these kids gets killed.

[Here’s an earlier example of this craziness.]



Filed under Chabad Theology

25 responses to “Alcohol Abuse In Chabad

  1. By the grace of G-d
    Shalom Shmaryah!
    I have mixed feelings reading this.
    On one hand you are right this is a problem and it should be dealt with as the Rebbe wrote in various letters on this subject starting many years ago.
    On the other hand I’m sure you know of these letters and could have quoted them if you’d really care about Chabadniks stopping drinking too much at farbrengens.
    Also I saw Modern Orthodox, Conservative Reform non affiliated etc. students in Boston and other places getting drunk in bars or even their own dorms not as part of any Chabad farbrengen. So it’s not really a Chabad specific problem, but a human one in general ever since Noah planted the vineyard and got drunk.:-)
    With blessing.
    Rabbi Ariel Sokolovsky

  2. Yochanan Lavie

    While alchoholism is not exclusively a Chabad problem, whenever I have had encounters with Chabad rabbis (positive or negative, it doesn’t matter), they seemed eager to press “mashka” on me. “Yatze yayin, niknas sod,” they explained. It is only after firmly insisting repeatedly did they back down. MO and non-Orthos drink, too, of course, but it is not elevated to the level of ideology. Back in my college days, me and my fellow MO’s just wanted to get drunk, not reach a higher madragah (I am sorry to say). If Rabbi Sokolovsky is correct, then many Chabad rabbis are misreading the Rebbe, z”l’s opinions.

  3. Anonymous

    It seems not all is as simple as you would like to think:
    Shame on you for pronouncing this poor bochur guilty before knowing the facts. No alcohol found in his blood, yet he “reeked of alcohol”
    Honest police work right there!

  4. Ben Qor'ha (Baldwin)

    To: Rachmana Litzlan!
    Quotes from the Councils of Nicea and Constantinople:
    “We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
    And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father [the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God], Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father;
    (complete mahus and atzmus).
    …from thence he shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead;
    (mechoyei meissim bemoomoro)
    And in the Holy Ghost, (ruach qoydesh) the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spake by the prophets. In one holy catholic and apostolic Church; we acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.”
    Quite evocative, don’t you think ? Getting there ? R’L
    Choyteem Umochtieem.

  5. No reason to apologize. The story you quote was published after I posted. Further, it only presents Chabad’s side. That no alcohol was (“reportedly” with no attribution) found in the boy’s blood 10 to 12 hours (if not more) after he stopped drinking is proof of nothing, especially because he vomited at leat 10 hours before being tested. Anyway, even if it turns out to have been an assault, and if no drinking was involved, that does not change the fact that many Chaabd shluichim misuse alcohol, push heavy drinking and that alcohol abuse is a serious problem in Chabad.

  6. Scam Alert

    go to hell. Period

  7. Anonymous

    So how old was this so called Bochur??? Where the F were his parents???

  8. Ahavah bat Sarah

    My then-17 year old son was given Disarono to drink at a yeshiva in NY and told me about it freely when he came home. They give alcohol to underage children and it has nothing to do with any required religious rituals. They just drank to get high – even the rabbis.

  9. By the grace of G-d
    Shalom Ahavah bat Sarah!
    It has been a custom in previous generations to drink alot at Chassidic gatherings.
    About 60 years ago the Previous Rebbe asked for this to be changed for various reasons.
    There are letters of the Rebbe and the Previous Rebbe on this subject.
    Whoever in Chabad doesn’t follow this either feels that those reasons don’t apply in their particular community and situation or more likely is simply ignoring what the Rebbe teaches like they ignore his teachings regarding not smoking , Moshiach, territorial integrity of the land of Israel , normality of the idea of calling Moshiach by G-d’s name and various other subjects these same drunks often ignore.

  10. Ben Qor'ha (Baldwin)

    this rebbe said, the other rebbe confirmed.
    at different times they say a lot of things. davar vehippukho.
    what they say, is inconsequential. look @ what they do.
    alcohol is served very liberally in farbrengens and every seudah shlishit in chabad shuls. hospitable rabbis/waiters, become encouraging barmen.
    vodka is used as an instrument for “qeiruv” some queiruv, the underage are not spared. quite the contrary, it is hoped they get hooked. while national tv is no longer allowed to advertise alcohol directly or indirectly, chabad televised farbrengen show vodka bottles on the tables.
    back to the beaten up bochor. he was beaten up, he was abused and he was robbed, fine, he can be added to chabad’s martyrology list- from vladivostok to sidney. but he was also drunk.

  11. Dovid Lerner

    As Someone who lives across the hall from the man assaulted, let me confirm:

    No alcohol was involved!

    So while you are all “experts”, I live in the same building as him, it was an assualt not alcohol!

    [Though I still agree that alcohol is a problem in chabad, but it wasn’t this case]

  12. der yid

    Please say Tehillim for the full and speedy recovery of NITZAN BEN LEAH

    The report was wrong, so amend your post. It was not alcohol.

  13. So a bad JTA rewrite of an AJN story is evidence? Please. Dovid Lerner says the victim was not drinking. I believe Dovid Lerner. But I still want to know why he reeked of alcohol, why there were 3 almost empty scotch bottles in his room, and how Lerner knows the victim did not drink prior to his return to the yeshiva.

  14. chief doofis

    Kudos for your many recent exposes on problems in the “HAREDI” world. There is a lot more stuff they have to “sweep under the rug”!

    Indirectly, you exposed a new Mishagas. Now the Chabadniks (or at least some of them) are claiming the Rebbe is G-d!!

    Perhaps he is living on Mt. Olympus

  15. Scam Alert

    you louse with your loshon horo scotty you should be assaulted and beaten to an inch of yoru usless life. mido kneged mido for what you did.

  16. Dovid Lerner

    He collects empty bottles from farbrengens I guess, everyone needs a hobby… [I know a lot of my friends do…].

    I appreciate that you believe me, however I must point something out.

    I don’t deny that there is an alcohol problem in Lubavitch, but it is a bad idea to jump to conclusions based on one newspaper headline/article (Dewey defeats Truman anyone?). After this happened there was alot of confusion, so people jumped to conclusions, (believe me, the bottles in his room did’nt help things…).

  17. Dovid Lerner

    Shmarya, while not being a medical expert, I would think it as just as (perhaps even more) likely, that a man would vomit as a result of head trauma 10-12 hours later, then as a result of drinking.

  18. The article says he vomited on the way into the yeshiva, 10-12 hours before being taken to the hospital.

    BTW, how do you personally know the bachur was not drinking that night?

  19. Yochanan Lavie

    Once again, we get into a talmudic-style arguement over details. The main issue is whether or not drinking is a problem with Chabad. That is worth debating. Whether this or that particular bochur was drunk is almost besides the point.

  20. Young Sholom: Holy Mashpia, why are “we the Chasidim” constantly being fed alcohol at Farbreigens?

    Holy Mashpia: Because alcohol “softens the heart and the mind” and makes the individual receptive to change.

    Older Sholom: I read somewhere that the practice of giving individuals a consciousness-altering substance, in order to break down resistance to a religious ideology, is generally referred to as “brainwashing”.

    …And for the requisite shameless self-promotion: Don’t click here!

  21. Dovid Lerner

    I agree with Yochanan, it is irrelevant wether he was drinking.

    However, there is a drinking problem with Chabad, a problem the Rebbe spoke harshly about on a regular basis since 1963.

  22. Ben Qor'ha (Baldwin)

    r’ dovid lerner
    what did the rebbe say harshly and regularly?
    i want to know to pass it on.
    why in your opinion, chassidim follow their rebbes meticulously except in matters of drinking?
    do you know if anybody in chabad picked up the mantle of fighting drinking?

  23. Dovid Lerner

    Shabbos Parshas Shemini 1963, the Rebbe spoke about taking L’chaim’s at farbrengen’s, he said that under the age 40 the maximum one can take is 3-4 L’chaim’s amounting to a Revius Metzumtzum (about 4 fluid ounces) over the course of a farbrengen.

    As to Kiddush, the Rebbe said it may not be done on Mashke, even when making on wine the glass should not be drained. (The Rebbe said that it should be made on wine or Challah, NEVER on mashkeh).

    The Rebbe spoke about this many times about every year till the very end, (I know of one time in 1991).

    There have been booklets published on this subject, if I find one I’m considering doing a guest post on this subject.

    Furthermore, if a bochur drank more then that. The Rebbe said they should not go on Tahalucha, nor would he send them on shlichus unless they did harsh teshuvah (one man I know had to learn 12 chapters of Tanya by-heart).

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