A Spate of Suicides Hits the OTD Community

Three unrelated suicides rocked the OTD (Off The Derekh) Jewish sector in recent weeks. They are all reputed to be drug-related but it is not clear that they were all deliberate -some of them may have been accidental overdoses.

Mayer Green and his consort Smash Levy with their beloved animals.

The first one was by Meyer Nick Green. He was born in New Square and and raised in the Skverer Hasidate. It is not known when and what prompted him to leave the close-knit and tightly-restricted Skeverer village lifestyle, but his Facebook page shows that in recent years he had settled in California and become an avid dog groomer. He was in a loving relationship with a girl by the name of Smash Levy who was equally enamored with the dogs and the grooming profession.

There are no signs of any social or emotional distress leading up to his demise. Facebook-published photos show him blithely socializing with friends, trimming his beloved dogs, and optimistic about advancing his grooming career and even starting his business. It is therefore probable that his demise was the result of an unintentional overdose or a lethal combination of drugs.

Another drug-induced death happened in Flatbush to a litvish girl by the name of Faigy Greenfield. No Facebook account or further information is available at this time about her and the circumstances of her death.

Lastly the haredi world was shocked to learn this past shabbos that a recently departed member of its ranks had now left the world of the living. Malka Klein, a young, attractive woman in the prime of

Malky Klein Embraced by her Loving Mom and Dad

her life died suddenly on Friday night from a drug overdose in her parents’ home in Borough Park. Her father, Abraham Klein, claims that he had kept a close eye on his daughter to ensure that no drugs were in her possession, yet it’s possible that she had left the house that evening to obtain and ingest the drug elsewhere and then returned home with a ticking time bomb fatal overdose inside her.

The Klein family is an affluent, esteemed, “baalebatisher”, Borough Park family. Abraham frequently travels to Beijing on business and has modernized somewhat, trimming his beard and sending his kids, including the deceased Malka, to Bais Yaakov instead of a hasidic

Malky Klein in Pants After her Haredi Departure

school. He is an important adherent and donor to the Krulle hasidic sect in Williamsburg under the leadership of its Rebbe, R. Naftul Horowitz, son of Reb Hershelle Spinker who is proud to count him among his adherents.

After Malka had abandoned the haredi lifestyle in her early 20’s a couple of years ago, the family had decided, as is common nowadays, to not disown her for it. It kept its house open for her and welcomed her to return to visit and hopefully return to the fold. It could not, however, track or control Malka’s whereabouts outside the home. She had travelled to California at some point, ostensibly for rehab treatment, but it may have been a social visit or to some other end.

The recent proliferation of deaths among those who have left the haredi sector is hotly debated among various stakeholders. Each tends to point the blaming finger on the “other” as the primary or sole reason for psychotropic drug abuse among OTD’ers.

OTD’ers: It’s the Oppressive Haredi System in Which We are Raised

The OTD community attributes the blame to the insular nature of the haredi subculture which makes it difficult for those who leave its ranks to successfully adjust to mainstream practices. They point, for instance, at the deficiency or lack of secular education in the boys’ schools as a the reason young OTD men can’t find gainful employment achieve a successful career, or even feel comfortable in courtships and relationships. They engage in drugs, they argue, in order to palliate the emotional pains emanating from such a desperate and hopeless situation.

Haredim: It’s the Wanton Irreligious Lifestyle that is Inherently Decadent and Fatal

According to Haredi doctrine the Jewish tradition guides the life of its people on the right path, one is that constructive, wholesome and beneficial to oneself and the community. By deviating from the righteous path –by recklessly discarding “the yoke of Torah and commandments”– one is in effect embracing nihilism and immorality and eventually reaps the poisonous fruit of what they have sown.

Zvi Gluck: Professional Help is What’s Needed

Zvi Gluck is the son of the eminent Rabbi Edgar Gluck (NYPD chaplain) and founder of Amudim (pillars) –an organization that “supports those in crisis and guides them to success” according to its website. He advocates for professional intervention by trained and certified psychologists when “at-risk” individuals or behaviors are identified. This runs contrary to the instincts of haredi clerical leaders who are suspicious of all outsiders, especially ones who have attained a secular degree based on partially heretical scientific precepts which they then use to guide the behavior of its own members. Nevertheless, argues Gluck, the technique and methodology devised and perfected by psychological experts is sound, and it is not only acceptable but imperative to employ it in the service of at-risk haredi youth instead of relying on untrained rabbis and communal coaches who use unscientific behavior modification methods that ultimately backfire.

Nohum Rosenberg: We Need to Root Out the Pedophiles

R. “Nuchem” Rosenberg is a one-issue advocate. He sees everything that occurs in Haredi society through the prism of pedophilia. All communal problems and individual flaws can be explained, according to the Rosenberg theory, by the prevalence of “pigs”, i.e. pedophiles, who roam the community and prey on defenseless children unimpeded by communal authorities because they are ashamed to admit that such grievous crimes are being committed under their watch. Rosenberg believes that the high rate of OTD departures and the ensuing personal problems of the departees are a direct consequence of their being sexually molested as children.


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26 Responses to A Spate of Suicides Hits the OTD Community

  1. Abe says:

    Welcome Back..

  2. Moshe says:

    Very well written I like your style

    • Issac katz says:

      The facts in this article are completely wrong and if it’s not taken down the owner of this site will be sued for defamation of character.

  3. Mira says:

    Very well this is epedemic I m profecianal detox nurse have 19 years experience it is really problem in Jewish frum and not frum Comunity
    We need to get to bottom of this problem and have profecianal help for our kids
    A lot of help available but Haredim word need proper education about drug/alcohol abuse overdose and withrowals. If can help I ll be very happy

    • SARA says:

      are you seriously a professional nurse???? how were you able to get passing grades with such bad spelling??!?! and i will not even get into the grammar. i should give you the benefit of doubt, perhaps english is not your native tongue.

      • Tanja says:

        Sara please stop critique on a professional detox nurse, she is trying to help safe life and we should be grateful for her instead of trying to bully her, thank you much.

      • Common sense says:

        Sarah your comment makes no sense you have plenty of professional’s who can’t read you don’t need to read and know how to spell to be good at your job

      • Anonymous English Teacher and Discouraged Parent says:

        I just read Mira’s comment and had the same thought as Sara and wondered how someone with such poor writing skills could be a professional. (My kids’ school psychologist has a PHd and can’t even spell their names correctly and with capital letters, so I guess it’s plausible in our community.) Anyway, Sara goes and criticizes Mira’s comment displaying just as bad, if not worse, writing and grammar skills. (It was not very nice of Sara to do this, especially when she did not take any steps to be less sloppy.) Then I see that Tanja goes and writes a comment criticizing Sara’s critique of Mira’s comment in one long run-on sentence. Finally, Common Sense sends in her two cents on Sara’s condescention of Mira while pluralizing the word “professionals” with a possessive apostrophe and neglecting to punctuate either of the sentences in her comment with a period.

        To address the subject of this article, there is no question that the schools are at fault. The school system in any community is the greatest factor in forming a child’s view of their lifestyle, even more than their parents. By and large schools are adminstered by arrogant, self-important, self-righteous bullies who care more about preserving their own reputations and the schools’ good name over the needs of the children. Any kid who doesn’t fit into their little box, especially when not from an important family, is thrown out and the parents are told, “Maybe our school is not the right fit for your child.” I am sickened by the society we live in that doesn’t take care of its own. Where’s the Kol Yisroel Areivim? Why isn’t there a vaad in place for the entire frum community to make sure that no Jewish child is left behind? All the people raising money for at-risk and off-the-derech teens should rather compel the mafias who are running all of our schools into treating the children like human beings when they are in first and second grade. Somebody important needs to step up to the plate and demand the removal of all the vicious animals that have been tolerated for damaging our children.

  4. a yid says:

    When youth in the religious world are not able to keep up or say/show that they are not interested etc… significant steps must be taken immediately to give them an alternate that is healthy and safe. In public schools they have such “alternate schools” and some students need a slower pace and more individual, caring attention. Does this exist in the religious world? Maybe many lives could be saved if this were put into practice years before teenagers went OTD.

  5. Green family says:

    You have your information completely wrong and if you don’t remove this hurtful article to my family you will be hearing from my lawyer

  6. Issac katz says:

    The facts in this article are completely wrong and if it’s not taken down the owner of this site will be sued for defamation of character.

  7. Green says:

    You still have not removed this article and you will now be hearing from our lawyer. You had your chance .

  8. Boruch Shimon says:

    The publisher should be hembarresed for publishing this article as it’s completely wrong and if it’s not taken down, the owner will be sued.

  9. Dan says:

    Green, Katz, Boruch Shimon.

    This is a sad reality which effects all the members of the family from young to old.

    However, instead of threatening why don’t you correct the wrong facts?
    The truth is, these are all good families.
    We should never know of such pain!
    Besuros Tovos

  10. Eli says:

    http://www.ourplaceNY.org an organization within the community has been dealing with these issues for 20 years now. Yes there are hundreds of overdoses within the community however it is far less prevalent than the outside world. OurPlace and it’s affiliate programs (The Living Room, etc) has over 15,000 teens and young adults it has saved from drug overdose and the underlying issues and causes. People should learn more about the positive within the community and then use the services of those who offer them.

  11. Common sense says:

    This has nothing to do with their chassidic upbringing if they come from a loving family they will not want to leave it’s all emotional when they are emotionally happy they don’t want to leave and if they do it’s the parents job to get to the bottom of it not to show them to the bottom

    • Marv says:

      The parents are not the only ones, and usually not at all the ones, to be blamed for this. There is also the school system, which does not cater to the needs of anyone but the best students who can cope. Often, there are rabbinical or educational leaders involved. Have a long look at the book entitled “Off the Derekh” to understand.

  12. Alex says:

    This is a horrible hit piece on… wait for it… dead people. Someone is dead, and you think it’s important to point out that he lived with a “consort”, or that a girl wore pants (C”V, I should klap Al Cheit for even saying the P word)?

    “She had travelled [sic] to California at some point, ostensibly for rehab treatment, but it may have been a social visit or to some other end.” This is one of the most disgusting lines in the article. Her OWN parents said they sent her their for rehab, and you make it your job to imply otherwise? How do you live with yourself? Who are you helping to save with this article?

  13. Shana says:

    These deaths were accidents (drug overdoses) not suicides! Why are you trying to deceive your readers with this erroneous title? These deaths are tragedies and you should not be defaming their characters to gain readers. How callous can one person be?! Young lives cut shot and you are writing a fictitious story to further wound the families… very classy.

  14. Joe Helmreich says:

    You need to change the headline IMMEDIATELY. There is not a single case you cite that indicates suicide.

    • Jacob Gluck says:

      Upon looking up the definition of suicide I now realize that it includes only self-death caused INTENTIONALLY. If the self-death –the literal translation of “suicide”– is not intentional then it’s not suicide according to the official definition.

      You are right. I will update the article. thx for noting.

  15. Simon says:

    The rabbis are busy with smart phone instead of education
    Very sad very sad so many good Jewish people has to die because of the on educated teachers and principals

  16. Daniel Lesser says:

    There is a parenting blog which is in middle of a 4 part article on OTD. I suggest reading http://www.yidparenting.com

  17. Chai says:

    Save our Jewish children from drugs ,alcohol, suicide sexual abuse or from mental illeness or whatever has taken over there brain and does not allow them to function. Dont worry what people will say or where you have to send them to save them do whatever works it is your blood on your hands if you dont reach out for help and somethings happens to them. I would rathet have my child alive than religous. We can work on that again after all issus have been addressed. If its in there heart bthey will gravitate back to whats important to them.

  18. mendy deen says:

    This is very sad, it’s heart breaking, my heart go’s out to the young kids that suffered so much and for all the family members… I can not imagine what it’s like to lose a child…. I cannot imagine what it’s like to lose a brother or sister.. this is heart breaking and very sad.

    I think it’s easy for people to put blame and criticize one another. All although we are all coming from a place of deep care, we all mean well. I would like to ask my self if i can take a step back and instead of blaming each other or criticizing each other, ask my self how can I help make a difference… what can I do to prevent something like this… for me the answer was to start looking at my own kids and how they are doing… instead of going to sleet I toke a walk with my 14 year old daughter and asked her how her day whent…

    I wish we can all just look in to this and be United and see this as a tragedy. And not use as it jumping board to blame but rather as a jumping board change…

  19. Tabak says:

    I have a hard time accepting that you’re religious and call yourself jewish after reading a couple of your “articles” on this website- how are they all worse than TMZ reporting? Did you actually allow yourself to write that the first guy “probably committed suicide because there was no sign of struggle on his facebook on the days leading up to his death”? This website and your “articles” are embarrassing and idiotic, Jacob Gluck.

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