OU Once Again Issues Warning Against Purim Drinking

23 Feb 2009

As part of the OU’s Safe Schools, Safe Shuls, Safe Homes Initiative, OU Executive Vice President Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb once again has issued the annual call for parents to alert their children to the dangers of drinking on Purim.

Rabbi Weinreb declared, “As in past years, I again urge every member of the Jewish community to be especially cautious about alcohol consumption this coming Purim day. Previously, I have pointed to the variety of halachic sources which warn against drunkenness, even on Purim. In our time, when alcohol abuse in our community, especially among our youth, has reached troublesome proportions, and when we hear so many stories of the tragic results of Purim drinking, it is important to reiterate strong words of caution. Although the message is out, there are still many who resist hearing it. Purim is a time for fun and celebration, not for drunkenness and its tragic consequences.”

Rabbi Weinreb noted further, “The fundamental rationale of our opposition to alcohol consumption by teenagers on Purim is the fact that drinking often leads, especially among youngsters, to serious medical consequences. These considerations of health and pikuach nefesh (the saving of lives) easily transcend whatever mitzvah might be involved in drinking on Purim. Secondly, and very important, is the fact that it is against the law for an adult to knowingly provide alcohol to individuals who are under age.”

Just as with the holiday of Simchat Torah, Purim can allow some people – especially teenagers – the license to drink alcohol with abandon. Not so for many NCSY members.

Josh Halpern, for example, an NCSY member from the Atlantic Seaboard Region and student at Stern Hebrew High School, in Bala Cynwyd, PA, commented, “Teenage drinking inevitably yields tragedy, and must therefore come to an end.”

Rabbi Steven Burg, International Director of NCSY, declared, “Thankfully, many of our NCSY members and other teens have heeded warnings against the dangers of drinking. They agree with us that zero tolerance will still permit an enjoyable Purim. However, too many still remain either unaware or unconvinced of the great risk alcohol intake on Purim poses. Once again, NCSY firmly upholds its campaign and maintains its commitment against teen drinking on Purim.”