Combatting Drug Use and Molestation in the Orthodox Community

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Zvi Gluck, who was born and raised chasidic in Brooklyn, grew up in an environment where helping people in need, starting new initiatives, and sitting on organizational boards was part of his parents’ everyday life. He always knew he’d do the same, and “kids at risk” was the first place he started.

While working with this community, Gluck realized that many people who begin to abuse drugs and alcohol do so as a way of coping with past trauma and sexual abuse. At the time there was not much assistance for individuals like this in the Orthodox world so he began to help people on his own as they came to him.

Though he was making a difference on a small scale, it was pointed out that he had the potential to do even more if he had the resources to expand his one man operation, thus Amudim was born. Amudim’s primary service is crisis intervention, as well as comprehensive case management for victims of sexual abuse and those struggling with addiction.

Amudim has recently gotten into the business of making shocking online videos on the subject of drug abuse (like this) and child abuse (like this) because these topics are still taboo in many parts of the Orthodox world, and people are suffering due to lack of awareness. The response has been overwhelming.

Hundreds of people reached out to get help after their video showing an Orthodox girl using drugs and overdosing came out. Other organizations working in the same space praised Amudim for bringing awareness where others have failed.

After the drug abuse video did so well, Gluck knew they needed to tackle child molestation too. Many Jewish organizations handle awareness and prevention of child abuse these days, but no one talks about incest because it is so uncomfortable a subject. Most parents don’t see it happening in their families because the idea of it seems too far-fetched.

It was a controversial topic to cover, but they went to the rabbi they consult with on matters of Jewish law (a chasidic rabbi – Rav Elya Brudny) and explained the harm being done to kids. He told them that they must use the tools available for bringing awareness in this day and age (i.e. social media), so they went back to the drawing board and released “Shattered” – a video like you’ve never seen before.

 

Not only have they heard from countless field professionals thanking them for taking on such an important topic, in the first twenty-four hours after the video was released, they got fifty anonymous calls from people who wanted to follow up and learn more about the possible signs of abuse they might be seeing in their families.

Some have criticized Amudim, accusing them of causing a chillul Hashem (descretion of God’s name) by airing dirty laundry, but Gluck doesn’t care. “There have been sixty-five deaths in the Orthodox Jewish community since Rosh Hashana – twenty of them suicides, the rest drug and alcohol related. I’m more worried about the chillul Hashem I’ll face up in heaven for not doing more to stop these deaths families that are being destroyed by this.”

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  1. I believe this video about child sexual abuse is very well done. I am a child and family social worker and have worked with child sexual abuse victims and their families. “Shattered” does a very good job of portraying a number of pertinent things: the way in which this can happen in “nice” families, the way in which on some level sometimes parents “know but don’t want to know” because the thought is so distressing and overwhelming, the way in which the child has sometimes tried unsuccessfully to tell over time, the way in which the relationship of abuser with the child involves many mixed feelings (love and family closeness but also betrayal.) I hope this helps many children and families.

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