As Passover descends upon us this year, I came across this article highlighting the growing concerns about eating disorders in the Orthodox Jewish community.
Although it may not be well known, the Orthodox community faces unique pressures and challenges that may put young women at risk of eating disorders.
- Although Orthodox women dress modestly, matchmakers routinely ask about a prospective bride’s dress size, with the implication that smaller is better.
- Girls are often expected to help care for younger siblings in large Orthodox families, limiting time to pursue their own interests.
- Orthodox women subscribe to a strict code of conduct, with few outlets for rebellion.
- Young women may avoid psychiatric care in fear that it may affect their chances of a successful match.
Although research is limited and exact figures are not known, many rabbis are calling attention to the growing problem of eating disorders in the Orthodox community in the US. As more Orthodox Jews seek treatment for eating disorders, treatment centers now accommodate their needs. The Renfrew Center, a residential eating disorder facility, now offers kosher food at its clinics in Philadelphia, New York, Dallas and Florida.
As more attention is drawn to this issue in the Orthodox community, hopefully more young women will get help for their eating disorders.