Monday, August 04, 2008

Newsweek on Kiddush Clubs

Somehow our kiddush clubs have ended up on Newsweek's radar and the resulting article isn't pretty, managing to at once be condescending and hyper-critical. I think, for instance, that its high time professional writers and editors stopped expressing mock surprise that Jews drink something other than Manischewitz. Also, aside for one or two unfortunate public vomiting instances, I've never seen anyone return from kiddush "rowdy and indecorous," a phrase that suggest horseplay and cat-calls. By far the worst part of the article is that it manages to conflate kiddush clubs with at-risk-kids, when even the most elementary research would have revealed that our teenagers aren't getting drunk over herring and kichel in the back room of the shul.

The problem with kiddush clubs is one of degree. There's nothing wrong with a few guys going out for a drink during the boring parts of the service, if they do it quietly and privately. When it grows into an event, and dozens of men exit the shul en mass, its time for the Rabbi and the administration to intervene. The problem of at-risk kids is a serious one to be sure, and a dry shul might might interfere with their access to alcohol, but even shutting down every kiddush club in the world won't keep teenagers from drinking.

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