13 Adar 5780
March 9 2020
Our community is on edge because of concerns regarding COVID-19. I assure you that we continue to consult with our local Department of Health, and we urge everyone to follow CDC guidelines, available here. This morning, I also spoke to our students and reminded them that if G-d forbid they are ill, to please stay at home and not risk transmitting any illness to others.
However, with Purim just a few hours away, I want to draw your attention to another equally important section of the CDC’s website. There, the CDC notes that among teens and young adults in the United States, there have been approximately 4,300 deaths and 119,000 Emergency Room visits per year due to alcohol-related causes. And that number doesn’t begin to account for the thousands of teens who develop lifelong alcohol dependence and addiction as a direct result of starting with a few drinks when they were young.
So, while we can and must continue to take precautions this Purim to prevent the spread of COVID-19, I ask that you be just as cautious when it comes to protecting our children from alcohol use and abuse, which, for them, remains a far deadlier disease.
- Both Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz and Rabbi Yona Reiss, among many others, have ruled that halachically, underage drinking even on Purim is forbidden.
- Adults are forbidden from drinking on Purim if their behavior, while under the influence, could lead to a chillul Hashem or merely missing a minyan (Shulchan Aruch Orech Chaim 795:2, Biur Halacha), and
- Keep your children safe by knowing where they are on Purim, and if they are gathering for a “mesiba,” make sure that there is adequate adult supervision.
Finally, Purim is an opportunity to model so many positive behaviors, from communal tefillah and celebration to family togetherness and joy. Please don’t miss those opportunities to create a real kiddush Hashem!
Wishing you a happy and healthy Purim, I remain,
Rabbi Leonard A. Matanky, Ph.D.
Dean, Ida Crown Jewish Academy