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Substance Use Initiative: A Deeper Look at the Data

Rabbi Tully Harcsztark and Dr. Rivka Press Schwartz
February 24, 2021

This special edition of INSIDE THE CONVERSATION focuses on the Substance Use Initiative undertaken by Yeshiva League high schools over the past two years.

School administrators often muse that the lack of data regarding our students and parent body creates a gap in our understanding. It’s not that we don’t know our students; we work hard to know them well. Still, we often guess their overall direction—in terms of their religious observance, mental health and personal values. To fill the void, we project and hypothesize based on the personal experiences we have with our students. The problem is, “the plural of anecdote is not data.” And if our hypotheses are inaccurate, our responses will be misguided.

This has long been the case regarding substance use in our Yeshiva high school community. In one sense, we have certainly progressed in recent decades. Our community has acknowledged that substance use exists in our community and that it needs to be addressed. Individuals and organizations have done inspiring work to address substance abuse in the community. But we have not yet tackled the allegedly growing use of substances in the party and tisch cultures – in the general social culture – of our teen community. We have also never had data to understand its dimensions. Until now.

We invite you to READ this article, review the data, and share your comments.

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Rabbi Tully Harcsztark

Rabbi Tully Harcsztark

Rabbi Harcsztark is the Founding Principal of SAR High School and Dean of Machon Siach. He is the recipient of the 2017 Covenant Award for Excellence in Jewish Education.

Other Work by this Educator Dr. Rivka Press Schwartz

Dr. Rivka Press Schwartz

Dr. Schwartz serves as Associate Principal, General Studies at SAR High School, and as a research fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. She earned her Ph.D. in the history of science from Princeton University.

Other Work by this Educator