We have a very extensive and unique set of Board Members. Each one was carefully chosen to serve their respective purpose and assist Mission Critical to achieve our goals and help the community fight against vices that can ruin lives.

Board of Directors:

Charlie Anteby, President & Director

Abe Franco, Honorary Chairman

Freda Faham, Vice President

Shani Marcus, Treasurer

Steven Shabot, Secretary

Board of Advisors:

Dr. irwin L. Azar
Ezra Braha
Raquel Dabah
Alan Mosseri
Charles Sarway
Ronnie Sassoon
Billy Shalom
Eddie Sitt
Jack M. Sutton

 Articles & Literature:
(Scroll down to see our earlier messages)



An Open Letter to the Many Beloved & Respected Rabbinical Leaders of the New York Area Sephardic Jewish Communities

Dear Rabbis,

As each of us has dedicated so many decades to the well-being of our Community, the need and desire to protect our investment continues to grow with each passing year. The lives and futures of our children and grandchildren, our nieces and nephews, our institutions and legacies, and our life’s work are all at stake.

The continuance of our generations, - so meticulously maintained and preserved from the times of Mount Sinai until now, - are at greater risk today than has been the case at any other time throughout our sometimes quite fragile & oppressive history.

We have a very serious drug and alcohol abuse problem. Despite the misguided attempts by many, - including parents, educators, and various leaders, to ignore the problem, it has not been improving or going away. Throwing money at the problem, or responding by saying that there is a mechanism in place to combat it, - is only a valid response if the money and mechanism are providing the necessary result.

When these issues threaten our very existence as a world class community at every level, social class, age group, religiousness and gender… the buck no longer stops someplace else. It has now officially been declared the responsibility of each and every one of us.

If there is any question or debate as to the extent or significance of the problem, I can assure each of you that there is no multi-million dollar research study required to establish the veracity and validity of my information. In fact, the least minor amount of investigation and anecdotal evidence will alleviate us of any ability to claim ignorance or engage in denial.

Just sit down for ten minutes with any 18 year old and ask her what’s going on. She will tell you how things are in our schools and social scenes, and then ask any 28 year old about the young married crowd. Our problem is at epidemic proportions in every category from the bar-mitzvah boy and his friends, to their grandparents.

Whether or not we believe in New Year’s Resolutions, let us resolve to make 2012 the year when the community starts to win the battle against drug & alcohol abuse. It’s time to slam the door closed on complacency & stop enabling what’s inexcusably happening to our people. We need to sort out the effective from the ineffective, the information from the misinformation, to start educating ourselves & making progress.

Rabbis, we have our own women walking around in sunglasses, ashamed to go to their own mothers for help, because their husbands got high or drunk and gave them black eyes. We have men not coming home to their wives and kids, for consecutive days and nights, - out spending all kinds of money snorting cocaine or smoking crack with hookers. We have stoned out or drunk father’s heads falling into their soup at the Shabbat dinner tables, and their children so traumatized and confused that they’re too scared to complain or even indicate that they notice it.

Do we not owe these situations and human beings our intervention and protection? I ask you, with all the respect and courtesy I can muster, - when is enough enough? In a large percentage of the situations that arise in our homes, the Rabbi is the front line, and first point of contact. With the realities that we are being confronted with in today’s culture, our spiritual leaders must know as much about these issues as they do about all their other subjects and studies.

My phone, email, offices and calendar remain open to each and every one of you, at any time, wherever you like, - to discuss all of the above in further detail, and continue this crucial dialogue.

Happy New Year to you, your families, your committees and your students / congregations.


Charlie Anteby
Director & President
Mission Critical Inc.

Mission Critical Succot 2011 Message

We were fascinated to see The New York Times article that appeared in yesterday’s newspaper, front page, titled “States Adding Drug Test as Hurdle for Welfare.”

The article went on to describe new efforts by dozens of states and also our Federal Government to pass laws requiring urine samples before people can receive certain benefits, including; welfare, unemployment, food stamps, public housing and job training.

Conservatives argue that if oftentimes these drug tests are required in order to get a job, then people shouldn’t be offended if tests are also required to get various forms of assistance. Liberals contend that drug testing the poor is discriminatory, unfairly stereotypes those in the lowest financial brackets, and compromises their dignity.

Of course, with the condition of the economy over the past four years, the applications for financial help had been skyrocketing. Since implementing these new laws, officials are pointing out that the number of applications is suddenly decreasing.

Should such policies and laws be considered additional indignities being thrust upon our neediest and least fortunate, or, can these new efforts be viewed as collectively serving our common interests? The debate is heating up, with people and politicians lining up on both sides of the issue.

No topic brings more emotion to our community’s families than private school tuitions.

Many have approached our organization in the past year questioning if it would be appropriate for parents who receive tuition assistance to be tested for illegal drug use.

They have shared concerns about financially subsidizing the use of such substances, as well as indirectly enabling the habits of those individuals.

It is often assumed that the cost of full tuition would be lowered if fewer families required discounts. How much are some of the parents that are receiving discounts spending per year on their drug habits? Marijuana is said to cost over $500.00 per ounce these days! Is the use of drugs affecting their ability to function productively? How prevalent is the problem? How fair is it to even suggest that this might be a widespread issue in our community?

When we board airplanes, we submit to all forms of inspections for the common welfare and collective safety of the airplane and passengers. Would it be worth drug testing 100 parents to uncover and begin the process of correcting a latent drug abuse problem for 20 of those parents? For 35? For one? At what level, if any, is it worth the collective sacrifice?

Mission Critical continues to explore these matters on behalf of our community in pursuit of correcting our drug and alcohol abuse problem that is at epidemic proportions. Mission Critical is managing many important programs, including the Mission Critical Library, the Mission Critical Helpline, and others designed to share information and raise awareness.

We encourage your comments and opinions on this and any other topic.

Thank you and happy holiday!


Tuesday September 27, 2011

Dear Friends,

As we are coming upon the preparations and festivities of the Jewish New Year, we are once again expressing our concerns for the number one problem facing our community. The abuse and misuse of drugs and alcohol amongst all segments of our community is at epidemic levels.

Mission Critical has compiled a list of things we can reflect upon in our efforts to reverse the trend, and start to see some improvement, as we enter into the High Holiday season.

1. Stop Pigeon Holing the Problem:

We have received and responded individually to almost 1,000 correspondences from concerned parents, educators, rabbis, and medical professionals in the past year. Many have indicated that our drug/alcohol problems are due to one reason or another.

It’s the poor kids, who feel inferiority and self-esteem issues. Or it’s the rich kids, who have the money to buy the stuff and are lacking in parental supervision and oversight. It’s the bored kids, who are lacking in activities to engage in, or it’s the kids who are too overwhelmed - with homework, responsibilities and other activities.

One person says it’s the less religious kids, who are trying to fill a void that they could be getting from Torah, while another counters that the problem is as prevalent in our more Orthodox schools than it has even been, with marijuana and pills now being considered completely acceptable & commonplace. Some report that our issue exists only with the young crowd, and it’s a ‘phase’ that they’ll grow out of, - while others explain that since these activities are part of progressive patterns, that the older people who have been doing these things for decades are in the worst predicaments.

The truth is that these problems are everywhere. They are all around us. Rich poor, smart dumb, handsome plain looking, old young, bored active, married single, funny serious, happy sad. We need to dispel the incorrect myths and assumptions to begin moving in a positive direction.

2. Start Giving Warnings About Hereditary Addiction:

Is there a parent, uncle or aunt, great uncle or great aunt, grandparent, sibling, or anyone in the family’s history that has suffered from gambling, drug, or alcoholism issues? If yes, the children, nephews, nieces, grandchildren, etc. all need a heads up about the increased level of danger that they are facing. Starting such an ongoing dialogue is necessary and appropriate, and can begin before the age of Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah.

3. Start Communicating, and Don’t Stop: 

Our young people need the drug talk. Unabashed, direct, honest, and in their face. Tell them one by one, all at once, or both. They need to hear it and know we care about them. Studies indicate that when told early and often, they seldom do drugs, or drink irresponsibly, - and their chances of avoiding problems increase exponentially. Start anywhere and let the conversation take its own course. You will be glad you did.

4. Raise our Standards and Expectations:

We have a great community, with lots of heritage, traditions, structure, and opportunities for our people. We don’t need to settle for complacency or compromise when it comes to drug use, alcohol abuse, and their many ramifications that can affect our homes, families, & deplete our social services resources. Accept no substitution for a healthy lifestyle free of the drama and dysfunction on all levels, - including mentally, emotionally and physically.

5. Be Positive Role Models:

Our actions will always speak louder than our words. We need to act in accordance with how we wish others to become, if we’re their influences. Young people are much more capable of understanding what’s going on around them than we think. We need to take responsibility for the impression we make on others, and our contribution to the healthiest possible environment. Parents who smoke cigarettes, do drugs, or abuse alcohol could be heading for major problems down the road.

6. Establish Boundaries:

Hopefully any reasonable person can agree that there is no such thing as recreationally using heroin or crack. Mission Critical believes there is no such thing as recreationally using cocaine or recreationally popping pills either. If we suspect that someone we love is taking pills or snorting cocaine, this is to be considered cause for some very serious concern and alarm.

7. Re-examining the ‘Functioning User / Functioning Addict:’

We have literally thousands of individuals who are roaming our community that use drugs every day, - whether it is pot, pills, cocaine, excessive alcohol, or some combination. In many cases these patterns have been going on for many years, - and those close to the situations have become numb about it. Why? Perhaps because that man or woman appears to still be functioning. They show up to work, make money, pay mortgages and tuitions, drive cars, maintain homes, meet their social obligations, etc.

It should be noted that such situations should not be considered acceptable. The scenario of the functioning addict is one of the most damaging and insidious of all, because it can go on indefinitely. The absence of (surface level) dysfunction eliminates any urgent need for change. The end result is a cheated existence that slowly goes through decade after decade quietly without the benefit of clean, free, quality living.

8. Defining and Making Progress:

We need efforts to restore stability and sanity in the lives of our community and family members. If you’re still smoking cigarettes, perhaps you can inspire those around you by taking the steps to quit. Do you think that you’re a casual pot smoker, but know someone who you feel is a pothead? It’s possible that if you stop smoking pot completely, it can have a positive effect on them. Have a spouse who feels a need to get loose at the parties with a drink or two, but often ends up having more than that and getting drunk? Maybe you can suggest the two of you start by missing one party & catching a movie together, - for a more laid back & sober evening.

Thank you for your interest and best wishes for a healthy happy and prosperous new year…


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dear Friends,

Last week as the Kletzky family in Borough Park sat shiva for their nine year old son Leibby, all of us were stunned and devastated about the horrible acts committed by 35 year old Levi Aron of East 2nd Street in Brooklyn.

This weekend, I read in the Saturday New York Times the shocking story of how 17 year old Tyler Hadley of Port St. Lucie, Florida threw a party at his home for 60 friends, who were watching music videos, playing beer pong, drinking liquor and smoking marijuana – when he revealed to his friend, one of the guests at the party, that he had bludgeoned both his parents to death with a hammer earlier in the day. The friend did not believe him, until he was taken to the master bedroom and shown their remains. Tyler, who has been charged with two counts of 2nd degree murder, was said to be aggravated about his parents requiring him to go to outpatient drug rehabilitation.

By Saturday night, the news was all over television, Facebook, and various websites that Amy Winehouse was dead, presumably from drugs, at the age of 27. Amy, a divorced Jewish & very talented internationally recognized musician, had been in and out of rehabilitation facilities, arrested multiple times, - and was perhaps better known for her drug & alcohol problems then she was for her best selling albums and industry awards.

Over the past month or two, it was difficult not to notice the trial of Casey Anthony, a mother who stood accused of murdering her two year old daughter, and then spending the next month “going out partying” instead of reporting the incident to the authorities, and then properly mourning the loss of her child. The little girl is dead, the mother has been acquitted and set free, and everyone from the judge, attorneys, jurors, relatives, reporters, and Casey herself will profit from the entire industry that the media circus has turned this case into.

Last month, local law enforcement agencies, pharmacies, and the general public became much more alert about the rash of drugstore burglaries plaguing our country, (1,800 incidents over the past 36 months) after a highly publicized quadruple murder & robbery. David Laffer, 33, an ex-Army soldier, shot four people dead at point blank range while stealing 11,000 Hydrocodone pills from Haven Drugs in suburban Medford, NY, - while his girlfriend, another junkie, Melinda Brady, 29, waited in the get-a-way car.

Earlier this year, in January, in Tucson, Arizona, a lone lunatic, Jared Loughner arrived at the parking lot of a Safeway store, shooting & killing six victims, including 9-year old Christina Green, while injuring Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and eleven others. Loughner was prevented from producing any further damage only when he stopped to reload his weapon. His record indicated that a previous application for military recruitment was rejected due to failing the drug test, and also that he had been known to Tucson Police because of multiple drug related offenses. Jared Loughner is in custody and currently facing the death penalty.

Throughout all of this, we had the misfortune of witnessing close up the ridiculous disintegration of Charlie Sheen, who during his psychotic episodes, - which included prostitution, pornography, heroin & crack cocaine, - repeatedly claimed to be winning.

The common link to all of these events is obvious; drugs and alcohol.

The bad news is that we have here in our own tight-knit Sephardic Jewish Community a very substantial drug & alcohol abuse problem. The problem is evident in a new phenomenon, a large number of our marriages that do not last even one year. There have been dozens of these divorces over the past decade. Can we imagine saving for 20 years to make a daughter her wedding, and then – hass ve shalom - having her back in the house six months later because the boy was on drugs, or owed the bookies all kinds of money, - and somehow the girl and her parents were the only ones who didn’t know?

So one would ask, what are we doing about the problem?

Mission Critical understands that drug & alcohol abuse are the biggest challenge our community has had to face in the last 100 years. This is a fight for our community’s survival and future. This is a battle that we are losing, and losing badly. Anyone that tells you otherwise is engaged in denial, and therefore is part of the problem, and not the solution. Our community has seen enough overdoses and deaths, enough shame and discomfort, enough fighting and frustration, and enough suffering and isolating. We are committed to reversing the negative trend & to seeing the problem finally start to improve.

We welcome your comments, questions, & feedback.
Please email us at


Charlie Anteby

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