On Purim, the National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY) hosted a Purim party in Los Angeles that four security guards could not control. Two police squad cars had to be called in around midnight and a police helicopter to control drunken and rioting NCSY teens who were setting off firecrackers up and down Pico Blvd and blocking traffic.
The teens smuggled in massive quantities of hard alcohol into the Orthodox synagogue that was hosting their party. Much of this was consumed inside the shul and some of this was eventually confiscated around 1 a.m. by the overwhelmed Gentile security guards who’d never seen such raucous behavior inside a shul.
None of this surprises me. Most of the times I’ve been around an NCSY event, the kids behaved like hooligans. Only this night many of the kids were drunk hooligans and a threat not just to a particular shul but to neighbors, drivers, and public safety in general.
The neighbors to these events were furious and threatened massive retaliation.
Sober; but Joyous, Purim for L.A. Teens (print edition headline)
Purim is fun and sober for L.A. teens (online headline)
More than 600 Los Angeles teens attended Purim parties this year thrown by an Orthodox youth group intent on showing the kids a festive holiday while keeping them sober and off the streets.
Because drinking alcohol is a ritual part of celebrating Purim, teens often find easy access to liquor and wine on the holiday, which in the past has led to some dangerous and illegal activities. This year, the National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY) of the Orthodox Union sponsored Purim parties.
"Teens are out there looking for ways to celebrate Purim. We needed to create a responsible venue to compete against unsupervised and potentially harmful experiences," said Rabbi Effie Goldberg, West Coast director of NCSY.
About 100 teens gathered for an NCSY bash, complete with live band, at Golan Restaurant in North Hollywood. …on Pico Boulevard, about 500 teens celebrated with a costume contest, dancing, arcade games and a Wii competition. No alcohol was allowed in, and inebriated teens were turned away.
Aleinu Family Resource Center, a program of Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles that serves primarily the Orthodox community, launched an "Absolut Choice" campaign. The organization sent out 7,000 postcards offering parents pointers for talking to their teens about celebrating Purim responsibly and the dangers of binge drinking. At synagogues on Purim, Aleinu distributed 3,500 water bottles with an "Absolut Choice" label that included information on the dangers of rapid drinking and drinking and driving.
In addition, Hatzolah emergency first response service put up posters around synagogues and other venues warning of the dangers of binge drinking, and rabbis urged people not to serve minors drinks as they went door to door delivering Purim baskets or collecting money for charity.
"I believe Purim was a safer Purim in Los Angeles this year," said Debbie Fox, Aleinu director. "When the community works together, we have a safer community."
If NCSY Purim parties get any safer, people will die.
I cruised over to the NCSY website March 27 and noticed their self-description at the top of the page: "NCSY is the premier organization dedicated to connect, inspire and empower Jewish teens and encourage passionate Judaism through Torah and Tradition."
If NCSY inspires its kids any more on Purim, we’re going to have the LA Riots II.