We live in a culture of extreme partying – popularized by Hollywood’s version of fraternity life and visions of high school. Teen boys are taught that being a man requires taking risks at parties. Some of those risks may seem relatively harmless: smoking a cigarette, drinking a beer, taking a bong hit. Most people take these risks but are not really harmed by them.

For others, however, these risks are part of a larger picture including binge drinking and serious drug use. Indirectly, teen boys who are drunk or high are often involved in criminal vandalism, sexual abuse, and other destructive behaviors.

In school, teens hear a “zero tolerance policy” approach to drinking and drug use. Our goal is to create a different conversation on the topic: How does Jewish tradition view partying? What are the ethics of being at a party? What will help guide a teen to responsible partying?


  • To identify the effect of peer pressure and how it relates to partying.
  • To understand the responsibilities and consequences of partying.

Physical Activities

#1 Spin Relay

Play spin relay with a baseball bat. Here’s an example:

Once the game is complete, help the guys reflect on the experience. Ask:

  • Who thinks that they took this too far?
  • What happens to your brain in a spin game?

Cognitive Activities

Setting Ground Rules

You might say to the guys something like this:

“In this group we are going to talk about stuff that really matters to us as guys. And we’re probably going to argue and joke around. But before we start discussing things, we want to make sure that everyone agrees about how we will spend time together in this group. So let us put down some group rules. Does anyone have a suggestion?”

(We suggest using a large Post-it board and a magic marker and actually writing down their ideas.)

The group will probably suggest: Be respectful, no interrupting, and not talking too long.

If the guys do not make suggestions, give them some guidance by saying:

  • “Should we have something about how much people should talk?” and
  • “Should we have something about listening?”

If the group does not address confidentiality then say:

  • “What if someone says something or tells a story in this group and then someone else in the group tells people outside of the group about it. Does anyone have a problem with that?”

Once the rules are up on the Post-it board, make sure that everyone is in agreement. This could be documented by signing the sheet, initialing it, or even putting their handprints on it. (This last step requires washable paint!)

Once you have established the rules, you can launch into one or more of the following four exercises, which are all about challenging the “man box.” As a group leader, your role in all of these exercises is to challenge the judgments that the teens make and to ask them to challenge one another.

Here are some sample ways that you can provoke conversation:

  • “Who has a different take?”
  • “Who wants to challenge what he just said?”
  • “Who agrees with that? Why?”

All of the exercises can be used as a lead into the Jewish texts found in this section.

#1 Expectations

What risks in “Partying” do we expect men to take?

There are a few ways to do this:

Have four categories, each written on a paper bag:

  1.  In High School
  2.  In College
  3.  Before 30
  4.  Never

And cards with these risks written on them:

  • Drink a few beers
  • Drink a few shots
  • Get totally drunk
  • Get so drunk that they vomit
  • Take a hit off of a joint
  • Get very high on weed
  • Use Pills
  • Snort Cocaine
  • Take Mushrooms
  • Drop Acid
  • Drive after drinking a few drinks
  • Drive drunk
  • Drive high

Give out cards randomly and have the guys put them in the bags that they think are appropriate. Have the guys decide which bag each card should go into.

Follow this activity by stating:

  • “We all know that some guys do these things.”

Then pull the cards out of each bag and read them aloud. For each bag, ask your guys:

  • “Do you think that about half of guys would do these things by this age?”
  • “Do you think that almost all guys would do these things by this age?”

#2 Pop Culture

Have your guys reflect on the social pressures of teens in terms of partying.


Questions to ask:

  • How is partying and drinking portrayed in pop culture?
  • How does watching a video of a party affect the teen population and how do they affect you?

#3 Risks

These videos are focused on the realities of drug and alcohol addiction – but rather than warn people against the use, they use humor to articulate a more nuanced understanding of risks.
George Carlin on Drug Use

One man’s story about getting drunk

Questions to ask:

  • What do these stories tell you about the risks and consequences of using alcohol and drugs? 

#4 Role Play

Here are some two-person role-plays that might bring up issues regarding social responsibility at parties. You can have guys break up in pairs and then perform the skits for everyone.

  • Your friend is really drunk. You need to convince him to leave a party.
  • Your friend is planning on buying weed from a random guy in the park. You don’t think it is a good idea.
  • Your friend is drinking and “borrowing” pills from other people. You don’t think this is a good idea.


Text #1

Satan came and stood before Noah, saying, “What are you planting?” Said Noah, “A vineyard whose sweet fruits will produce wine that causes the heart to rejoice.” Said Satan, “Let us be partners in this vineyard.” “Yes,” said Noah. Satan then brought a lamb and slaughtered it under the vine. Then he did the same—one after another—with a lion, a pig, and a monkey, sprinkling their blood throughout the vineyard, thus causing Noah to drink their blood in his wine. In so doing, Satan hinted to man that when a person begins drinking alcohol he is shy and innocent like a lamb, then when he drinks just enough he is strong like a lion, thinking that none are as strong as he. But when a person drinks too much, he acts first like a pig polluting himself in his urine, then like a monkey who dances around uttering vile words, completely out of control. All of this happened to Noah.

-Tanhuma, Yalkut Shimoni, Noah 61

Questions for this text:

  • The text uses four animals. Between the lamb, lion, pig, and monkey –What would you not want to be compared to? What would you want to be compared to?


(Prepared by Rabbi Danny Moss, Shevet Achim leader)

Text #1

 It is the duty of a man to mellow himself [with wine] on Purim until he cannot tell the difference between cursed be Haman’ and ‘blessed be Mordecai’.

-Talmud, Megillah 7b

Questions for this text:

  • Where do you think this tradition comes from?
  • In what other Jewish rituals/holidays does alcohol play a role?
  • What PURPOSE does it play in these situations?
  • In Judaism, alcohol is consumed on many occasions. It is only on Purim, however, that we are seemingly commanded to drink to excess. Why? 

Text #2

Rabbah and R. Zeira got together for Purim Seudah (the feast on the afternoon of Purim). They got very drunk, and Rabbah got up and cut R. Zeira’s throat(literally, Rabbah butchered him). The next day, Rabbah prayed on R. Zeira’s behalf and brought him back to life. A year later, Rabbah asked, “Would you like to have Purim Seudah with me again this year?” R. Zeira replied, “One cannot count on a miracle every time.”

-Talmud, Megillah 7b

Questions for this text:

  • What do you think the Rabbis were trying to illustrate through this story?
  • Does this agree or disagree with the first two texts (which are from the same section of the Talmud)?

There are many ways to interpret this text. One 16th-century commentator, the Maharsha, notes that Rabbah’s “butchering” of R. Zeira actually means that he caused him to drink so much that he became ill, or passed out. Click Here to see an elaboration on these texts.

Text #3

How does one fulfill the obligation of the Purim Seudah? One should eat meat and prepare as nice a meal as one can afford and drink wine until one becomes drunk and falls asleep from drunkenness.

-Maimonides, Laws of Megillah 2:15 (12th Century)

Questions for this text:

  • Maimonides was a philosopher, theologian, and legalist. He was also a physician. Does this seem like sound medical advice?
  • Is there more than one way to interpret it?

Text #4

Since the entire miracle of Purim came about through wine, our sages obligated us to get drunk, or at least to drink more than what we are used to, in order to remember the great miracle. However, if one knows oneself, and is likely to neglect the performance of a mitzvah [commandment], such as washing one’s hands before eating bread or making a blessing over food before and after eating or that one might forget to pray or might act in a light-headed way, it is better not to get drunk.

– Chafetz Chaim, Biur Halakhah 694, s.v. “Ad” (18th/19th century master of mussar)

Text #5

We are not commanded to reduce ourselves to levels of drunkenness, but rather to rejoice in a manner that will lead us to the love of God.

–Chafetz Chaim, Biur Halacha 695:2

EMOTIVE Activities


Have participants write down on 3×5 cards their thoughts in response to the following:

Read the below statements aloud and have the guys rate themselves on a scale of one to ten with one meaning ‘I am clueless’ and ten meaning ‘I am an expert’:

  • I know what happens to people when they drink too much.
  • I know what happens to people when they mix drinking and taking pills.
  • I know what happens to people when they smoke too much weed.
  • I know how to help someone who is intoxicated or inebriated.
  • I know the signs to look for and can intervene when it is time to help someone who is really messed up.

Ask the guys this:

“We are not going to share the numbers we wrote down, but I want to know: Add up your scores. Who scored themselves over 30? 40? I’d like for you each to think to yourselves– what can I learn to be better prepared for what happens at parties?”

Then share a personal story about a time when you or a friend intervened to help someone at a party.


Ask the guys:

  • How have you, in your family and in school, been taught about partying?
  • Is there a difference between what you have been taught at home and what you have been taught in school?
  • What has been effective? What do you ignore?

Closing Ritual

Make a l’chayim on grape juice in shot glasses. Have each person touch glasses and meet eyes with everyone else before drinking, say l’chayim together or teach the phrase “l’chayim tovim u’l’shalom!” – To life, goodness, and peace – to all participants.

For a little background on the L’chayim toast: Click Here