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Purim, and The Search for Yossi - Part 2 -- Published 3/03 -- "A
by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

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11/10/06
Last week, I asked several rhetorical questions:
"Where is Yossi Califano?"
"Where is the Jewish leader who will step forward, call a spade a spade and address this issue?"
"Who will break through the denial and apathy and stop this insanity of the exponential growth of smoking and drinking among our dear children?"

The first steps necessary to address any issue are honest reflection and brutal candor. Let us ask ourselves some honest questions:

  • Are we comfortable with the level of drinking and smoking among our teenagers?
  • What is, in fact, the level of drinking and smoking among our teens?
  • What are the costs of teen drinking and smoking to our children and families in terms of addiction, heath-related illnesses, and the dramatically increased risk of co-dependency?
  • Are these issues on the radar of our collective consciousness?
  • Are we willing to address these issues and do whatever it takes to improve them?

    HONESTY ABOVE ALL

    Several weeks ago, I noted in this space that the opinion of the vast majority of kids with whom I spoke was that their parents are 'clueless' as to the extent of the magnitude of teen drinking and smoking.

    In the spirit of Purim, please allow me to share with you a true story that happened to me several weeks ago. I was approached by a group of teenagers who wanted to discuss these columns and the impact they may have on their lives. They were very respectful, but quite upset. They were concerned that their parents would get 'bent out of shape' and 'crack down' on them after reading my observations about teen drinking and smoking. They also felt that their parents may not allow them to go to Eretz Yisroel as a result of what I had written.

    I asked them to share with me the particular segments of my columns that upset them. One of them asked me, "How can you write that 20-50% of teens are smoking?"
    I smiled and asked him if he agreed with my assessment. He told me that he thinks the number is higher than 50%, but he shared with me several reasons why he felt it was a 'bad idea' to publicize this information.

    Then, one of his friends, a charming 17-year old delivered an off-the-cuff one-liner that spoke volumes. He told his friend, "What are you so worried about? None of our parents will do anything; each of the parents who read that article will think that their son is from the other 50% [who are not smoking]!!

    Your honor, I rest my case.

    Best wishes for a safe and meaningful Purim.

    © 2007 Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, all rights reserved

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