Placeholder: Eating Disorders and Orthodox Judaism

Still unspeakably busy.  There's so much I want to blog about lately (especially the Girls Gone Wild lawsuit discussed by Fannie, among others), but there is no time!  Here's another placeholder link, this one on the intersection of eating disorders and identity.  Hopefully later this week (or next week? or the week after?) I can come back and deal with this one in more depth.  Lots of inneresting stuff at work here.

Eating disorders a hidden problem for Orthodox Jews
by Eleanor Goldberg, for Religion News Service

Two pieces that are of particular interest to me:
“It’s not this evil thing anymore,” Hart shared of her relationship with food. When she toils in the garden’s acre of produce, she often thinks, “this is what a zucchini looks like—it’s beautiful. It’s magical.”

The problem is as much cultural as kosher, experts have learned. They discovered that a skinny bride in her early 20s is often idealized as the ultimate prize, as well as her quick evolution into a mother of a large brood.
“I speak to boys who tell me they want someone who’s a size zero or size two,” said Frank Buchweitz, director of community services and special projects at the Orthodox Union.
Such issues are now incorporated into Renfrew’s group therapy sessions and Jewish-themed classes, starting with the text of a traditional prayer sung by husbands on Shabbat.
“There’s many things your wife is supposed to be—gracious, kind and wise,” Hahn said. “Thin is not one of them.” 

I will endeavor to put some thoughts together later in the week.


  1. Wow, thank you so much for sharing that.
    As someone who comes from (and observes) a modern orthodox lifestyle I think it is so important to highlight the issue. Food is such a big part of Jewish tradition, but modern values of thin=beautiful have caused a major shift in the way things work today.

    A very interesting article.

  2. Thought you might be interested in this one. My interest is specifically in "evil" and in the "a wife is supposed to be," but from a more general and secular viewpoint.

    I'm surprised Renfrew didn't have a specialized program until now, especially in the New York center. When I was there at least half my group was observant, if not Orthodox.

  3. The problem as I see it, is still in the more ultra- orthodox culture, because they don't "see" disorders until its too late.

    The world I grew up in may not be open about these things, but in ultra-orthodox society, a disorder is something that cannot see the light of day because it affects the way a prospective match looks at the whole family - the whole family is "tainted" by anything that is seen as negative and so, you sweep it under the table.

  4. Yeah, I was just gonna say -- it's really good that Renfrew's started Orthodox-friendly treatment, and I too am surprised they didn't account for that earlier. When I was in IP there were two women who were Orthodox Jews and I think counselors generally handled their food restrictions pretty well.

    And Noa, I agree with your comment.


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