TEL AVIV (JTA) – It’sÂ midnight here and two balding men inÂ blue vests areÂ on the move. Someone has sprayed tear gas at aÂ club two blocks away.
Outside aÂ club known as The Mossad, located in a warehouse in the dilapidated Tel Aviv neighborhood of Florentin, groups of high-school students mill aboutÂ sporting stylish haircuts, revealing clothes and dazed expressions.
A boy in a blackÂ shirt and jeans lies passed out on the sidewalk as a woman in a blue vest makes sure he has not suffocated on his own vomit. Nearby, two girls in black tank tops sit on the curb drinking water from plastic cups.
“How old are you?” another blue-vested woman asks one of the girls. “Where are you from? How are you getting home?”
Fifteen. From Modiin.Â She would be going home on the same bus that brought her here.
It’s the middle of a long night for the blue vests, members of a group of Tel Aviv parents who patrol clubs looking for kids who need help – anything from a cup of water to a call to emergency services.
Known as Parents Awake (Horim Erim in Hebrew), the group was founded in 2009 after four teens died in a drunk driving accident on Tel Aviv’s Ayalon Freeway. In the Tel Aviv area alone, some 200 volunteers split into six patrols each weekend.Â There are 150 such squads across the country.
TheÂ squads typically patrol areas where they are likely to findÂ groups of inebriated teens. But on nights like this one, when two clubs in the same neighborhood are holdingÂ massive parties for teens at the end of the school year, the volunteers converge on one spot.
“Stay in pairs,” Tzvika KoretzÂ instructs aÂ team of 18 parents, most of themÂ middle-aged and graying. “We don’t want anyone alone in a dark alley. We’ve had someone stuck alone with a vomiting girl. That’s not healthy.”
Koretz, 50, is the founder of Parents Awake. By day he’s a north Tel Aviv lawyer. But wearing hisÂ vest,Â pepper crew-cut and aÂ no-nonsense expression, he looks like a beat cop about to break up a house party.
After Koretz’s pep talk,Â the parents split into two groups, each heading to one of the two clubs hosting parties that night.
OutsideÂ The Artist, a club housed in a gray brick building with steel beams and no outside marking,Â Koretz’s wife, Einat, cordons off a rectangular area with police tape and sets down her supplies. Next to her, three 16-year-old boys wearing matching T-shirts and identical haircuts with the sides shaved stumble around arm in arm.
“This is a banging party!” yells a boyÂ named David, insisting he didn’t drink.
Why did they come here?
“To f***!” David says.
Soon, one calls the other a son of a whore and they begin fighting.
NoÂ alcohol is served in the club – most of the crowd is under Israel’s drinking age of 18 – but Koretz says manyÂ of them drink en route to the party on buses organized by the clubs’ publicists. If they want a couple more drinks, they’ll step into an alley to polish off a bottle before headingÂ inside.