Levin claims youth drinking is a factor in many serious road accidents, vandalism, acts of violence and sex crimes.
Yet Chabad argues that at underage drinking rarely leads to intoxication at its functions. In recent years Chabad educational institutions introduced a prohibition against young people drinking more than a revi’is (less than 3.5 ounces) at farbrengens.
Chabad Spokesman Mendi Brod said the proposed legislation should be changed. “I suggest an exception be made to permit drinking alcohol in limited quantities, in educational or religious frameworks and under the supervision of a responsible adult.”
He stressed that Chabad does not encourage teenage intoxication. “Making a lechayim is supposed to end well before there is a danger of inebriation,” he said.
In a recent World Health Organization study of alcoholic consumption among sixth-graders in 40 countries, Israel tied with Romania for second place, ahead of countries such as Bulgaria, Slovenia, Italy, Croatia, Russia and England.
To combat the growing problem, various government officials have called for educational campaigns, increased taxes on alcohol and tighter enforcement of laws prohibiting the sale of liquor to minors.
Yet according to Prof. Rabbi Eliyahu Zinni, excess drinking among youths points to a much deeper problem. “The youth’s escape to alcohol is an expression of the destruction of values in which we find ourselves,” Rabbi Zinni, who serves as rosh yeshiva at a hesder yeshiva in Haifa and rabbi of the Technion, told Arutz Sheva’s Hebrew newsmagazine. “The only thing that interests them today is how to make money.”
“We have to give our youths ideals to hold onto, and then they won’t want to try to escape reality through drugs and drinking. It’s true that through the back door we allowed into our country all sorts of people who brought in drugs and alcohol, but a strong value-based society should be able to deal with that.”