The custom of drinking alcohol on Purim stems from a quotation in the Talmud attributed to a fourth-century rabbi, Rava: “One must drink on Purim until that person cannot distinguish between cursing Haman and blessing Mordechai” (Megillah 7). This custom has become a green light for people, especially students in Israel, to drink lots of alcohol on Purim. Unfortunately, many gap year students drink until they are sick, passed out, or exhibiting dangerous or inappropriate behavior (such as vomiting in your rabbi’s yard). Although alcohol consumption in the US is illegal for people under the age of 21, in Israel, it is legal from age 18.
This year Purim is on Wednesday night, 3/20, and Thursday, 3/21, outside of Jerusalem. Purim in Jerusalem starts Thursday night, 3/21, and ends with Shabbat, 3/22. Many gap year students celebrate BOTH Purim days, traveling in and out of Jerusalem… and binge drinking for 2 days!
Unfortunately, every year there are alcohol-related injuries among gap year students, even resulting in alcohol toxicity (which can be fatal).
8. Encourage spacing drinks – 1 drink per hour with a glass of water in between
9. It would be great if everyone felt comfortable saying, “I don’t want to get drunk, so I’m not drinking a lot on Purim.” Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Ask your child if he/she is comfortable with that statement. Is your child feeling pressured to drink on Purim? Talk about other ways to say no:
a. I don’t feel good; I have a headache
b. I don’t want to be sick on Shabbat
c. I don’t want to be sick when I travel
d. Drinking makes me feel dizzy/ queasy – I wouldn’t say I like the feeling
EMA Care encourages all parents to speak to their children about how to handle Purim and excessive drinking. Click here for more information about alcohol abuse during a gap year in Israel.
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