Nearly everyone I spoke to felt that the awareness campaign and the publication of the Kol Korei to limit drinking excesses on Purim was a success. There was a heightened sense of balance and responsibility that was refreshing. Many, many Rabbonim included calls for moderation in their Shabbos drashos (lectures) and quite a number of shuls and yeshivas actually showed the video on the dangers of alcohol produced by the Yehuda Mond Foundation on Ta’anis Esther—with the rebbeim and even some Roshei Yeshiva in attendance.
Yesterday, a close friend of mine thanked me for writing about this matter and said that despite the fact that he had been drinking heavily for decades each Purim; he refrained this year after hearing Reb Shmuel’s words. And he mentioned how the 20+ people at his Purim seudah took notice and enjoyed their Purim in a lively and cheerful manner – but not drunk.
The most rewarding feedback I got on Purim day was from two different groups of yeshiva boys who were collecting tzedaka – both of the groups stopped to discuss what Reb Shmuel had said.
Bottom Line: The message got out loud and clear.
And it was actually quite funny when one of the bachurim who was rather tipsy but clearly in control asked me, “Nu, Rabbi Horowitz, would Reb Shmuel say I am drunk?” (I responded in the negative.)
Nonetheless; we have a very long way to go to eradicate the scourge of alcohol abuse and addiction on Purim and all year round. Hatzolah members were far too busy attending to members of our community whose lives were endangered by overdrinking, according to Professor Lazer Roseman.
Reb Lazar ought to know. He is one of the original members of Hatzolah, an active member for 40 years, senior coordinator of Boro Park Hatzolah, and he was kind enough to share his precious time with the listeners of our Project YES teleconference call before Purim.
In a recent phone conversation, Professor Roseman shared with me that his sense was that things were quieter this Purim, but that, “There were far too many calls on Purim afternoon and evening.” He was most disappointed that some of the calls were coming from shuls, meaning that those in leadership positions, who ought to know better, were allowing or encouraging the free flow of alcohol.
Does that mean that we failed in our awareness campaign? I emphatically say no! It just means that these things take time, and that we should continue to speak up when we see safety issues that impact on our children, and we should be empowered to realize that we can effect positive change.