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Jewish Leaders Unite On Alcohol

Jewish Leaders Unite On Alcohol

13 June 2012

Jewish Community leaders have joined together to show their united support for Drug Action Week (DAW) 2012 to be held between the 17th to 23rd June 2012. DAW 2012 is a week of activities held nationally to raise awareness about alcohol and other drugs (AOD) issues in Australia. The Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV), Rabbinical Council of Victoria (RCV), David Southwick MP and Chevra Hatzolah have all spoken out in support of this initiative of the Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia (AODCA).

Debbie Zauder, JCCV Youth Alcohol Project (YAP) Manager explained that DAW 2012 has an overarching theme, Look after YOUR Mind. This theme fits perfectly with the YAP Education Programs designed specifically for the Jewish Schools. Students and parents alike are invited to hear experts in the alcohol and drug field discuss the short and long term effects alcohol has on the adolescent brain. Zauder stated strongly “Recent research absolutely proves that alcohol, especially binge drinking which is popular with Jewish teenagers, does permanently affect the development and condition of the adolescent brain.”

Nina Bassat, president of the JCCV, stressed the recent media attention focused on Jewish youth drinking alcohol at a Purim party earlier this year.

“Regrettably there were parents who had no idea what their children were doing on that particular evening. The JCCV, as does the AODCA, strongly encourages parents to model appropriate drinking behaviour and to fully discuss with their children their family’s values and expectations in relation to alcohol, she said.

Rabbi Glasman, president of the RCV commented that "Excellent work has been done in educating school students through the YAP program but clearly the message hasn't got through to many older teens and adolescents.

David Southwick, Member for Caulfield said that “Drug Action Week is a timely reminder of the responsibility parents have to educate their kids about behaving responsibly. Thanks to the State Government’s leadership here in Victoria we have legislation which makes it crystal clear that parents are responsible for ensuring young people do not engage in unsafe drinking practices. Parents can now face fines up to $7,167 for allowing their kid’s friends to drink in their homes without parental consent, an act that was legal under previous laws.”

Danny Elbaum, Operations Manager for Chevra Hatzolah stated that “because alcohol is now proven to be bad for the adolescent brain, adults must also assess their own drinking patterns and behavior, including the effect alcohol has on their brains and their bodies. Positive role modeling by parents and community leaders is vital, if this means no alcohol served at Jewish functions, ceremonies or events then so be it”

Alcohol is deeply entrenched in Australian society, including the Jewish community, and a seemingly constant companion whenever individuals choose to celebrate, commiserate, relax or socialise. Alcohol is considered an intrinsic part of our social fabric and many people admit that there is pressure to drink and that choosing not to drink can be confronting for those who do drink. The dangers and damaging effects of alcohol need to be more widely and continuously discussed in an attempt to minimise the significantly damaging impact it places on the individual and the community.

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