Photo Credit: courtesy, Ya'acov Behrman / Operation Survival
Members of the Crown Heights community at Operation Survival event.

More than 600 residents of the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn — all of them Jewish — gathered recently for a drug awareness and prevention event organized by Operation Survival, a division of the National Committee for Furtherance of Jewish Education (NCFJE). The organization operates independently, albeit as a part of the Chabad-Lubavitch community in Crown Heights.

“They came out in the cold and the snow, after a fast day,” said Operation Survival program director Ya’acov Behrman. “This is an important issue.”

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The event served as a means to highlight the need for prevention strategies and an increased awareness and understanding of the drug problem in the community.

Among the speakers was Yehuda Benjamin, a Crown Heights resident who spoke about the deep tragedy of losing his son Kazi to an overdose. He emphasized the importance of assisting those struggling with addiction and eliminating the shame and stigma that so often accompanies families experiencing any form of addiction.

Other guest speakers were Dr. Brad Reedy, a nationally renowned expert on parenting teens who discussed how to talk about drugs with your children; Lewis J. Abrams, an addictions counselor who spoke about the signs and symptoms of addiction; and in a visually memorable presentation, local family doctor, Dr. Eli Rosen, depicted the dangers of opioid overdose and how it is affecting the community.

NYPD Inspector Joseph M. Gulotta, Commanding Officer 67th Precinct, also spoke about the importance of local policing and immediate reporting of suspected drug dealers.

NCFJE Board chairman Rabbi Shea Hecht moderated the question and answer session that followed the presentations. A number of local organizations were on hand as well.

“This was a local event but it addresses an issue that has become a national epidemic,” Behrman said.

“The more knowledge we have, the better equipped we are to defeat it.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.