Rabbi Schmerling Responds
Rabbi Hoffman (see article in this week’s 5TJT, page 92) refers to the Rebbe’s sichah on ShabbosVayeishev 5747 where the Rebbe asked that an announcement should be made at the public lightings that no one is yotzei with these lightings. He then claims that nowhere did the Rebbe compare these lightings to the lightings in the shuls. If he had looked at the footnote printed on the same page, he would have seen that the Rebbe clearly quotes as the reason for not being yotzei the halachah that one is not yotzei with the lighting in shul, thus clearly comparing the two.
His suggestion that the Rebbe was against reciting berachos on the public menorahs is false, as I explained at length in my article last week.
While there are numerous gedoleiha’poskim against reciting berachos on such lightings, numerous other gedoleiha’poskim, including the Lubavitcher Rebbe, clearly allowed it, and obviously did not consider them to be chas v’shalom berachos l’vatalah.
Different communities in KlalYisrael follow differing piskeihalachah on countless issues, and each community respects the other. Why this universal principle should not be applied here is anyone’s guess. There is no one halachic authority that the entire KlalYisrael must follow. This is how it will remain until the coming of Mashiach when the Sanhedrin will be reinstated. May it be speedily in our days!
Rabbi Pesach Schmerling
Change Of Focus
I think that Rabbi Schmerling (“Miracles for All,” December 18) has sufficiently dealt with the lomdus of Rabbi Hoffman’s article. I just want to point out that especially in today’s times where there are so many issues facing the frum community, like drugs, child sexual abuse, going off the derech as a result of that or other trauma, spousal abuse, rising tuition, and others, I think you should focus your efforts on productive matters; I believe bashing Chabad, whether blatantly or latently, is an avocation of a different era. Where so many groups castigated Chabad for kiruv, who does not engage in kiruv today? Sometimes after living a number of decades one has to grow and change his perspective. I yield to what it says in PirkeiAvos as, since I turned 50 a few months ago, I try to avoid becoming enmeshed in issues which are already established or of no consequence.
Trusting you will take these words to heart as they are being communicated to you with the best of intentions.
Rabbi Ahron Fishbein
Clarification On Amudim
Kudos to you for profiling a great man and askan like Rabbi Zvi Gluck (“Heard in the Bagel Store: Dealing With Addiction,” December 11). His tireless work for the community over the years is both honorable and inspirational. I have had a few occasions to see his work firsthand, and have been impressed with his energy and dedication for the good of his fellow brothers and sisters. Whether he is helping with a meismitzvah situation or being involved with teens-at-risk with organizations like Our Place, Zvi has one goal in mind, and that is to help however he can.
I was excited to see him on the front cover of last week’s 5TJT in the hopes of reading all about his latest project, Amudim. So you can imagine my disappointment after reading the well written article when I was left with more questions than answers. I hope that Zvi can have a follow-up appearance in the future to clear up some of the confusion surrounding his newest endeavor.
Firstly, we know that the unfortunate events of the past couple of weeks have affected our community. At least three of the victims from the latest cases of overdoses either lived in or had connections to the Five Towns area. So my first question would be, if we already have a great organization like Madraigos that deals with addiction problems in our area, is Rabbi Gluck suggesting that it is inadequate to deal with these issues and Amudim would be better equipped? And if so, can he explain to us how he would fill in the gaps in services to prevent or curtail future tragedies? And if he believes that Madraigos is doing a fine job, does our community really need another organization splitting our resources?
Secondly, Zvi explained that the current epidemic of heroin use has increased due to the fact that now it can be used in forms other than injection. As I am sure your readers know, heroin has been used in many different forms for hundreds of years. The Opium Wars were fought due to the fact that an entire country was addicted to smoking the drug. Perhaps Rabbi Gluck can elaborate on how the current heroin epidemic is any different from the meth problem in the west, or the cocaine problems of the 1980s and ’90s.
Thirdly, the article mentions a case involving an abuser coming to grips with his problem because he was worried about his children’s shidduchim. We all know the great work Rabbi Gluck does as liaison to the police on behalf of the Jewish community; I can’t imagine him suggesting the police should not be notified immediately when such acts become known, or that community money should go to providing services to such a person. What exactly did he mean?
And lastly, Rabbi Gluck mentioned that therapy for these young people can cost $10,000 a month. Two questions: 1) Shouldn’t these young people be going to rehab for their addiction, which costs upwards of $30,000 a month? 2) Even if a person needs therapy, not rehab, how does that come to $10,000 a month? I have never heard of a therapist charging more than $375 an hour, and that’s for the top people in their field. But let’s say you find an expert that charges $500 an hour; at twice a week that would only equal $4,000 a month, and even if the person needs to see a therapist four times a week, that would only be $8,000 a month. (And that therapist would probably be really bad at their job anyway, because at four times a week their methods are clearly not working.) Even if it truly costs $10,000 a month for therapy, couldn’t this person just go to another wonderful organization in our neighborhood, Achiezer, for help signing up for a Platinum Health Insurance Plan on the Exchange for $1,000 a month, at most? Then all these expenses would be covered and no additional moneys would have to come out of the community.
I look forward to seeing Rabbi Gluck’s clarification on these matters to help bolster what I am sure will be a great organization for the entire New York Jewish community.
R’ Zvi Gluck Responds:
Sadly, the recent victims of drug addiction are from all over the New York metropolitan area, and beyond. Amudim staff dealt directly with quite a few of the recent victims, in the Five Towns and beyond. Nowhere in the article was it indicated that Madraigos is not doing amazing and crucial work. Amudim and Madraigos often work together on individual cases as well as community programs. Moreover, one of the goals of Amudim is to centralize the sector in order to avoid duplication of services and expenses, and to provide any Jew in crisis with the fastest access to the lifesaving help they need. One of the first official steps that Amudim took was to organize and host an industry forum uniting the many incredible organizations and individuals that are working lev v’nefesh to help Jews in crisis. Chashuve representatives of Madraigos attended the conference. A cornerstone of the conference was the compilation of a community directory of organizations and individuals that are involved in the at-risk and abuse field. One of Amudim’s core beliefs is that it’s not about who gets the credit, it’s about ensuring that Jews in crisis are getting the assistance they need.
There is no question that there has been a significant increase in heroin use over the past decade. According to the Centers for Disease Control, deaths from heroin overdoses have quadrupled in the past decade. Law enforcement and addiction specialists attribute this increase, in large part, to the fact that heroin can now be more easily obtained and used without injecting it–something that previously served as a barrier to experimentation. The average user of heroin has changed drastically in the last decade. In 2000, the highest incidence of death by heroin overdose was found among African-Americans age 45—64. Presently, white people ages 18—44 have the highest rate. Heroin has, to quote US News & World Report, “taken hold of the white suburbs.” Additionally, we have also seen a huge increase in overall drug addiction, sex addiction, gambling, and other addictions. There is no productive point in comparing the current heroin epidemic with drug trends in other areas or during other time periods. We are currently facing an unprecedented addiction epidemic in our communities, right now.
Therapy and rehab come in all shapes and sizes. Amudim prides itself on the fact that it tailors a program for each case in order to ensure the best possible outcome. When a person is eligible for an insurance plan or their plan has adequate coverage, we will go that route first. But many clients require specialty inpatient care, which is where the figure of $10,000 a month comes into play. Those patients also require significant expert aftercare, often twice a week, at $250 a session, in addition to group therapy and, at times, specialized trauma therapy such as EMDR is needed, and that number can go even higher. In some severe trauma cases where a higher level of intervention is needed, we have sent clients to programs that charge as much as $45,000 for a four-to-six-week program.
As far as drug rehab is concerned, the costs can vary depending on the need of the individual client. There are some programs that accept insurance, and that is always option one, but if not, the price can range from $3,000 a month to $8,000 for three to six months, although there are places that charge closer to $15,000 a month and up. The primary goal is to get the individual the best care for their specific case.