Purdue Pharma gets hit with another OxyContin lawsuit, Pennsylvania

Josh Shapiro

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Pennsylvania’s state attorney general filed a lawsuit Tuesday accusing the company that makes OxyContin of fueling the opioid epidemic, making it at least the 39th state to make such a claim against Purdue Pharma.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced the lawsuit against Connecticut-based Purdue. Pennsylvania is one of the states hardest hit by addiction to opioids, a class of drugs that includes powerful prescription painkillers such as OxyContin, along with heroin and fentanyl.

Shapiro’s office two years ago joined with dozens of other states to investigate companies that make and distribute opioid painkillers. Like other states that have sued, Pennsylvania’s claims are rooted in company documents handed over in that investigation.

Elsewhere, Purdue lawyers have asserted that states are cherry-picking portions of them to make the company look worse, usually noting that the company accounts for a small portion of opioids prescribed in the U.S. and that heroin and especially illicit fentanyl, not prescription drugs, are what drove up fatal overdose rates in recent years.

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Manchester England, The Enshrouded Drug Problem and the Arrests of Chareidi (Haredi) Girls Smuggling Drugs

A Drug Problem Within the Haredi Population in Manchester, England – Rabbis, Please Help These Children

Dear Readers:

We would like to thank Yeshiva World News for covering the story below. We make absolutely clear to all readers that it is quite likely that YWN is not a supporter of this site or our coverage and perspective. That said, it does not diminish our respect for them and the work they do. We do not always agree with their coverage but they have a readership and circulation that they are beholden to and despite that, they cover stories such as the one below. We do not necessarily agree with the perspective the article took.

The issue, as we see it, is not that these girls were compelled to travel on Shabbat but that there is a growing and significant drug problem in the Yeshiva community in Manchester, England. We have been advised via a source, that the rabbis within the community know that there are a significant number of children, mostly boys, who are using drugs and either ignore the problem or actively cover it up. We have been advised that the drug of choice is Opiods.

We have further been told that the Manchester Police have been looking the other way.

We are not writing this article to condemn the actions of a rabbinical community trying to keep a drug problem quiet. It is not a shining example of how one wants a community, a family of children to be perceived. But, to the rabbis, teachers, parents and community leaders, closing your eyes to the problem or looking the other way will not make it go away. It will only get worse. The children who are using are sick and they need help as they would with any other disease.

We applaud the Chabad organization that refused to house these kids to prevent them from traveling on Shabbat. The Chabad organization stated their refusal is on the grounds that these children had committed crimes. We applaud any group that takes a stance against smuggling drugs (which is ultimately what was happening) and gets the authorities involved.

Drug abuse and addiction will not go away by ignoring it. It is a disease and these children need help like they would if they were sick with any other illness. If they had cancer, they would be given chemo or radiation coupled with love and support. If they had epilepsy or diabetes, they would be treated and loved. The same should be true of drug addiction. And, do not fool yourselves that occasional use of opiods is not addiction. It is.

Teaching religious oriented students is not going to “convince” these children to stop using and apparently it is not successful at influencing them to avoid trying these drugs in the first place. No community is immune, contrary to what the rabbis would have everyone believe. If kids are using, they need serious and medically oriented help. And they need to be embraced and loved.

The kids cannot stop using alone. They need an open and supportive, loving and kind community to help them.

We implore upon the Rabbis of the Manchester, England Yeshiva community to embrace the problem and work to fix it. These children need help, medical attention and love. At least give them that.

AGAIN: Chareidi Girls Arrested in Oslo For Smuggling “Khat”; Scheduled for Deportation ON SHABBOS


Following the YWN report of the arrest of chareidi girls upon their arrival in Manchester for smuggling in Khat (a drug), it has been learned the matter is gaining notoriety throughout areas of Europe, and there are two girls currently under arrest in Oslo.

As YWN-Israel reported, over the past few months, dozens of young charedi men and women have been arrested for smuggling contraband items in Manchester, England. Two girls spent seder night in detention and house arrest after they were apprehended. It is reported that the plant is not illegal in Israel, but it is prohibited in Europe.

BeChadrei Chareidim continues reporting on the case, explaining a number of askanim from Europe have contacted them to publicize the matter pertaining to the two girls detained Seder night, as well as the outrage of a Chabad shaliach whose become involved, albeit, not at his own behest.

Dozens of young chareidi boys and girls are smuggle the drug to Europe. They receive a sum of money and a hotel for three days and are told by the operator that if they get in trouble, they are told that they can “call the local Chabad shaliach”.

Two chareidi girls from Jerusalem were detained for a number of days in Oslo, the capital of Norway, for the attempted smuggling of Khat leaves. They are scheduled to be deported on this coming Shabbos to Israel. [They spent Pesach in detention.]

The Norwegians refuse to put them on a flight with a stopover, insisting on a direct flight, and this only happens on Shabbos, and for now it seems that the two will be forced to be mechalel Shabbos against their will because of the smuggling.

The Chabad shaliach to Oslo, Rabbi Shaul Wilhelm, says in a conversation with BeChadrei Chareidim, that all those who have become entangled with the law in the past few months are asking him if they can stay at the Chabad House and pay as much as they can, but he does not agree. “They are breaking the law and I do not assist lawbreakers,” said Wilhelm.

To continue reading Yeshiva World News click here.



Chareidi Girls Arrested in England for Smuggling “Khat” Substance From Israel

Ultra-Orthodox Community and Drug Abuse, OTD or Otherwise, it’s Still a Community Problem

Image: Elana Forman

Elana Forman clawed her way toward the light of sobriety. Now, more than a year and a half later, the Teaneck, New Jersey, native – who now goes by Ellie – is a vocal member of a growing movement trying to save the lives of addicts in religiously conservative corners of Jewish America.NBC News


Battling addiction in Orthodox Jewish community means breaking through silence

“The Orthodox attitude about drug problems is to stay quiet on the issue,” said one rabbi working as an advocate for those fighting addiction.
By George Itzhak and Dennis Romero


Elana Forman, 23, hit rock bottom near Palm Beach, Florida, where she stayed in motels for two weeks with someone she met in a recovery program.

“We left treatment to go shoot up heroin, pretty much,” she said. “And we were running in the streets down here. It was the worst, like, two weeks of my life. The two of us kind of went to a motel. It got really bad. We were held at gunpoint at one point.”

It ended, she said, with her “back in a detox center somewhere.”

Forman fought her way toward sobriety. Now more than a year and a half later, the Teaneck, New Jersey, native who goes by Ellie is a vocal member of a growing movement trying to save the lives of addicts in religiously conservative corners of Jewish America.

“The more Orthodox Jews that, you know, end up seeking help, it just raises awareness in general in the community,” she said.

It’s not easy, Forman said, for an Orthodox-raised woman to recall a dark and shameful chapter in her life. Particularly when her journey has seen her leave Orthodox Jewish life and observancy. Starting in her early teens, Forman was keenly aware that she didn’t quite fit in with her peers.

“The Orthodox Jewish traditions and such felt constricting to me. I felt no connection to it,” she said. “I was looking for whatever else there was in this life that would fill that hole that I felt.”

That “whatever else” ended up being alcohol, weed, painkillers, heroin, and “anything offered to me,” she said.


Talking about substance abuse and addiction in the Orthodox Jewish world is a difficult endeavor that Rabbi Zvi Gluck is well acquainted with. He grew up in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Borough Park, Brooklyn and said that, “any insular community likes to remain in their bubble so that they deal with things themselves and not have to mix in the outside world into it.”

Rabbi Zvi Gluck has changed attitudes about opioid addiction in Queens, New York's Orthodox community.
Rabbi Zvi Gluck has changed attitudes about opioid addiction in Queens, New York’s Orthodox community.NBC News

Gluck knew early on that helping others was his calling in life because, as he says, “at the end of the day, every time we lose somebody, no matter how old or young, you’re not just losing that person. If we can even just save one life, as the Talmud says, you’ve saved an entire world.”

To read the article in its entirety, click here.


Amudim – Trying to Banish Stigma of Sexual Abuse and Drug Use


Ultra-Orthodox group looks to banish stigma from community’s sex abuse victims

Citing a virtual absence of resources available to young Jews, Amudim has set out to break taboos affecting survivors and drug addicts


There are two people who Rabbi Zvi Gluck credits with helping him bring the topic of sexual abuse into the ultra-Orthodox mainstream: His father, and the late Jewish philanthropist Mendy Klein.

Gluck is the co-founder and director of Amudim, which means “Pillars” in English. It is an organization dedicated to educating, preventing, and helping victims cope with addiction and sexual abuse in the Jewish community – subjects long ignored — intentionally — as taboo.

Since its inception in 2014, Amudim has taken on nearly 5,000 cases, by its own count, providing clients with therapy, rehabilitation, and support in dealing with family and community from its staff of certified clinicians. The organization’s main headquarters are in New York, and they recently opened offices in Israel. On a daily basis, Amudim fields calls from around the world.

Gluck got his start at a young age, volunteering with teenage drug users and addicts within his childhood community in the New York City area. He quickly found that a disturbing number of substance abusers suffered from darker, deeper-rooted issues.

I realized that a lot of the people I was dealing with were victims of childhood sexual abuse, and there was really not enough being done to help them,” Gluck said.

“I gave my first public speech on the subject, which generated a lot of noise within the Jewish community, in October of 2010,” he said.

The “noise” Gluck generated was not all good. His efforts, he said, would not have lasted long, had he not been the son of Rabbi Edgar Gluck, now chief rabbi of Galicia.

“It was a very interesting situation, because my father being as influential as he is, the haters couldn’t come out against me publicly,” said Gluck. “I was sort of in a weird spot where they’d see me on the street and they’d say, ‘You know, you shouldn’t talk about these topics, it’s not right,’ but they couldn’t do anything to me — as opposed to a lot of the other advocates that have dealt with sexual abuse and were chased out of town, or got bleach thrown at them, or other things that have occurred.”

Speaking animatedly, Gluck dropped a laundry list of big names in the Orthodox community during a telephone conversation with The Times of Israel, as he described how Amudim got its start.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Zvi Gluck@zgluck

“Zero tolerance” Said Pope Francis, “We need to keep kids safe” to myself, my father and members of delegation, at meeting in the Vatican


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Drug Addiction in the Orthodox Community

Children on Drugs Within the Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox Community…. Is Technology Making Them More Accessible or Are they Being Provided to Sedate Children??? 

by LostMessiah, March 21, 2016

Several months ago, we were told by some kids from various Brooklyn neighborhoods that drug and alcohol addiction within the ultra-Orthodox community is rampant. It was suggested that children who are willful are given sedatives and in some cases alcohol to make them less unwieldy. While sources at a number of treatment facilities were willing to acknowledge that the population of ultra-Orthodox kids with drug problems is higher than most would think; due to HIPAA, confidentiality and other privacy laws, we could not get information on the reasons for the staggering percentages of addicts within the ultra-Orthodox population. While probing people in treatment centers for a response regarding our question of whether it is possible that kids become addicts because of an introduction of drugs and alcohol in schools to sedate them,  not only did the question not yield answers, but the lack of an adequate response was quite telling.

We remain unable to reconcile the numbers of kids within the communities addicted to drugs, anything from prescription drugs to heroin, with the sheltered lives of the kids in many of these communities. 

Then, we came across a series of articles regarding drug addiction in the Orthodox community and thought there might be something to the whisperings of the kids.

In an article entitled, “Coming out of Denial Drug Addiciton in the Orthodox Community, published in Jewish Action The Magazine of the Orthodox Union” from December 4, 2015,  Bayla Sheva Brenner, the author of the article quotes a number of sources:

“We’ve had over two dozen deaths related to overdoses in our community in the past year,” says Zvi Gluck, founder of Amudim Community Resources, a Manhattan-based organization offering assistance to Orthodox Jews in crisis.

“Painkillers have become huge,” says Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein, founder and director of Ohr Naava Women’s Torah Center in Brooklyn. “You get a root canal, you get a tooth pulled, and you get codeine. With all the prescribed oxycodone [out there], it’s easy to get one’s hands on.”

Not surprisingly, abuse of prescribed opiate painkillers often leads to heroin use. “There’s a [typical] progression,” says Menachem Poznanski, the clinical director of The Living Room, a post-rehab program in Brooklyn and Wesley Hills, New York, catering to Orthodox teens. “Pot to painkillers to heroin. [Moreover, nowadays], heroin is cheaper and more available.”

Our Place, an Orthodox-run drop-in center for troubled Jewish youth in Brooklyn, services around 800 to 1,000 teens each year, representing every segment of the community. Our Place staff report that it’s not uncommon to find substance-dependent kids as young as fourteen coming to the center.

“We’re addressing a population that [consists of], for the most part, drop outs from school,” says Rabbi Aryeh Young, executive director of Our Place. “They’re roaming the streets; they come in late at night, get up late in the morning and avoid communicating with their families. Some are living in crash pads, with friends or with someone they met at a party. Others are passing through stages of homelessness.”

While the article purports to blame the internet for accessibility of drugs,  and changing attitudes about drug use for its widespread usage, that does not mesh with the communities with which we are familiar. Many of the children, at least in areas like Boro Park, Crown Heights, New Square and Monsey don’t have access to the internet or to computers and certainly don’t have access to “changing attitudes.” The walls of their community bind them to the community with little understanding of the outside world. It is therefore somewhat troubling to see an article which places blame for drug use, at least initially, on outside influences when many of the children don’t have access to the outside. Moreover, in areas like New Square, Monsey, KJ, Crown Heights and Boro Park, the kids are so sheltered, their English so limited, it is inconceivable that they would magically decide to begin trying their parents’ painkillers. We therefore cannot rule out the possibility  

In addressing the issues of the psyche that create addictive personalities, addiction and what it takes to come clean, there are some insightful points as follows.


“Experts reveal that there are various factors that lead to addictive behavior, including failing to live up to parental expectations, as well as sexual, physical, verbal or emotional abuse. “All of my therapists will tell you that over fifty percent of their clients [suffer from sexual abuse of one form or another],” says Rabbi Young.

Another factor is failing to fit in. Although the mainstream yeshivah structure works well for the majority of its students, for a significant number of addicts it was torture. They found the acceptance they craved in the streets. “Some of our children can’t find a connection within that system; they struggle in these institutions. It’s a reality,” says Rabbi Silver. “They need other [educational] programs in order to move them to the next level.”

A central part of the treatment at Retorno Jewish International Rehabilitation Center is therapeutic horseback riding, which connects the rider not only to the horse but to himself and his emotions. Seen here, clients trotting through a nearby pond during an afternoon horseback riding activity. Courtesy of Rabbi Eitan Eckstein



“If we are going to invest in yeshivot, the foundation of the community, we have to take care of those who have been abused, neglected or just don’t fit in,” says Rabbi Young, who is also a high school boys’ rebbe at Rambam Mesivta in Lawrence, New York. “They should know that they can be loved and supported even if they don’t fit the cookie-cutter model that the yeshivah portrays. Show them we are going to help them find a place, so they [aren’t driven] to commit suicide, overdose or leave the community.”

In an article from The Forward, an article entitled, “For Orthodox, Addiction is Unspoken Problem”, posted on August 13, 2015, Asher Ehrman tells his story. He refers to his childhood in Monsey as great, loving, he could not complain. But, then when he was caught wearing a blue shirt instead of white, his parents kicked him out of his house “to protect his sister’s shidduchI, or marriage prospects and future.”  Ehrman describes the rest of his life as “a bit of a blur.”

According to the Author:

“Ehrman’s story of addiction and his struggle to recovery reads like many other experiences of substance abuse, but many Orthodox Jews face obstacles to recovery that are absent for others.

Education about substance abuse doesn’t really exist for a large population of Jews at risk — teens in the Orthodox community, where elitism and separatism create a stigma against talking about risk and getting help. At a turbulent time when many adolescents question their role in the community, they can turn to drugs in their struggle for identity. With the ignorance in the community, both of how to prevent substance abuse and of how to address it if it occurs, some, like Ehrman, become addicts.

It is “a community that’s very much built on secrets and being in denial on a lot of things,” Baila Drucker, the assistant clinical director at the recovery center Beit T’Shuvah, told The Forward by phone. “There is so much energy placed on hiding things, [and] appearing perfect. The community has a superiority complex because they aspire to a higher way of living.””

From these articles, as well as many others on the subject, what is clear is that there exists a drug problem within the Orthodox community and one which faces numerous obstacles, not the least of which is the secretive nature of the community. While neither of these articles substantiate the stories we have been told, they go a long way to acknowledging the existence of a problem.

Anyone with information regarding heavily sedating unwieldy children in the community is welcome to send it along, with advance thanks. 



From a 2012 blog entitled haemtza.blogspot.com (haemtze – meaning the middle) is another article entitled “Yes, Victoria – We Have a Drug Problem”. Click, here.
2009  – from The Lakewood Scoop, explaining the editing of an article about drug abuse in the community. The article was edited to avoid offending someone in the community.

Interview With The Voice Regarding Finkelstein Article

The Voice of Lakewood published an article last week about Yehoshua Finkelstein in commemoration of his shloshim. The article discusses the unfortunate proliferation of the drug problem in our community and recommends establishing Jewish rehabs for those who have been affected. The Voice is known to discuss topics that others would not, so TLS asked The Voice what went into the decision to print the article and was Daas Torah consulted? TVOL responds: As always, whenever a topic like this is printed, Daas Torah is definitely consulted. In this case, much thought and time went into the decision to print it and only after large amounts of the article was cut out and the rest was carefully edited. We do understand that some people may have been offended by it and we truly apologize for that. In the realm of publishing a publisher constantly has to decide when the pros of printing something will outweigh the cons, in this case our rabbinical board felt that it should be published.

– See more at: http://www.thelakewoodscoop.com/news/2009/03/interview-with-the-voice-regarding-finkelstein-article.html#sthash.kMxTS2iZ.dpuf