Monday, April 11, 2011

In Orthodox Jewish Enclaves, an Alarm Sounds Over Eating Disorders -

I remember reading several years ago in Ha'aretz that Orthodox women suffered from a peculiar form of OCD: that, urged on by their haredi rabbis, they rip their houses apart at Passover looking for any trace of hameitz.

I raise this because Pesach, for all its joy and celebration, is also one of those Jewish holidays that's all about food and food denial, and while many find it quite meaningful to change one's diet and keep Kosher for Passover throughout the week (in some cases being the only time during the year where people keep kosher at all) it raises some questions about our food culture.

Enter this article from the New York Times about Orthodox Judaism and eating disorder (linky below). While I'm hesitant to call this a trend (indeed, the author even admits that there is no data pointing to an increase in Eating Disorders among North American Jews), it does send up some very important red flags. I'm glad to see leaders in the Orthodox world who are taking this seriously. That hasn't always been the case in Judaism (you don't have to go far to hear of stories from the 60s, 70s and 80s of Jewish alcoholics and abused spouses and children whose pleas for help went unheeded). Whether it's an increasing trend or not, I hope it's something we'll all keep an eye out for, and help us frame the conversation about how we engage in food and eating.

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