While there are many people and organizations that issue pre-Purim warnings about excessive alcohol consumption, the sad reality is that drinking is a concern in our community 52 weeks out of the year. We have all heard the horror stories of kids who drink too much at kiddushim and yeshiva bochurim for whom getting plastered on Shabbos is a weekly activity, but we rarely discuss the problem of adults for whom drinking is a sport and a l’chaim is just a warmup for many more shots to follow.
Personally, I believe that there is nothing wrong with those who are of age drinking alcohol at an appropriate time and place, in moderation, but as with anything else in life, responsibility is the key. That means understanding that you are a role model, and appreciating that your children are always watching you and taking their cues from your actions, even more than your words.
Take a step back and look at things through their eyes. When you walk out of shul for kiddush club, your kids learn that you value drinking over the haftora, the rov’s drasha and possibly even davening. When you make the kiddush rounds on the way home, they see that downing a really good bottle with your buddies is more important than your family members who are waiting for you to start the Shabbos seuda. And when you come home drunk even though you know it isn’t fair to your wife, you are teaching your kids that getting a buzz is a higher priority than your shalom bayis.
Much of our time at Amudim is devoted to issues of abuse, but we need to remember that there are other core issues plaguing our community, including alcoholism which has been brushed under the rug for way too long. Whether or not Purim is a time when people get hooked on alcohol is a topic for another discussion, but it is important to understand that while you may be looking forward to a socially acceptable opportunity to get bombed, creating an environment where the booze is flowing freely and available to kids is a major problem, one with far reaching implications, as depicted in our soon to be released The Kiddush Club video (check out the trailer above).
So to all the fathers out there, and all the rabbeim as well, we urge you to please be responsible, both on Purim and on the other 364 days of the year. Go ahead. Be b’simcha. Have plenty of good, kosher fun, and if that includes alcoholic beverages, enjoy them in moderation. But remember that you are teachers in every sense of the word and that the behaviors you model for your kids shape their lives far more than you can ever imagine.