The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of davening, yom tov seudos and preparations, and as we get ready to tackle the next set of tasks on our to do lists, most of us are thinking about lulavim, esrogim and getting our succahs ready to roll.  Despite the hectic nature of this time of year, a proactive group of forward thinking schools took the time to put together a joint letter to their respective parent bodies that also appeared in the Philadelphia Jewish Link’s pre-Succos edition, tackling a serious issue.

Signed by five rabbonim representing four Philadelphia day schools, the letter was about Simchas Torah, a yom tov that may not be on the radar for most us just yet.  But having seen our Kiddush Club PSA video, these yeshivas appreciate that alcohol consumption by teens must be addressed and that Simchas Torah brings with it lots of merriment, some of which isn’t Torah based at all.  Alcohol and drugs have become real issues within our community, with many kids getting their first taste of wine and liquor at kiddushim, on Simchas Torah or even at a rebbe’s tish, with some developing habits that can have extremely serious or even fatal consequences.

Crediting Amudim for addressing the serious issue, these five schools decided to seize the opportunity and to head off dangerous habits before they are even formed, issuing a set of parent guidelines that are intended to ensure that our yomim tovim and our simchos be true celebrations that are in keeping with Torah values.  We applaud the Caskey Torah Academy, Cheder Chabad of Philadelphia, Kosloff Torah Academy, Kohelet Yeshiva and Mesivta of Greater Philadelphia for taking the initiative on this important issue and hope that other schools follow in their footsteps.

Wishing everyone a very happy and healthy yom tov and may this new year bring more resolve, more prevention and education so together we can change lives and build futures.

Gmar Tov,