On Wednesday night, OSI joined Jewish community group Charm City Tribe at Max’s Taphouse for its first-ever “Beit Midrash” (House of Study) event, on the subject of “Opioids in Our Communities.”
Rabbi Jessy Gross, the director of Charm City Tribe, began the event by sharing texts from the Jewish tradition with relevance to the conversation, including this startlingly relevant passage from the Talmud: “Rav said to Hiyya, his son: Do not get into the habit of drinking medications, lest you develop an addiction.” (Pesachim, 13a). She also mentioned that local rabbis have been approached by directors of Jewish funeral homes, who see how many community members are dying of overdose, encouraging them to talk more about addiction and treatment in the Jewish community
Next, a member of the Baltimore Jewish community talked about his experiences struggling with addiction while growing up in an Orthodox family, in particular the tremendous stigma that drug users face in talking about and confronting their addictions.
Michael Walter, a program specialist in OSI’s recently renamed Addiction and Health Equity program (formerly Drug Addiction Treatment), talked about some of the ways that OSI works with partners, including the Baltimore City Health Department and the Baltimore Policy Department, to address overdose, addiction, and stigma from a public policy perspective. Among the initiatives he covered were the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program and efforts to educate the community about the benefits of Safe Consumption Spaces.