Though we would like to think the Orthodox Jewish community is free from all influences of secular values and media, the truth is that America’s high regard for superficial beauty – as well as its often dangerous standards for what constitutes female beauty – has permeated our community. To address that issue, as well as the dangerous rates of eating disorders among Orthodox Jews, the Orthodox Union’s Department of Community Services will present a FREE seminar, “Promoting Self-Esteem and Positive Body Image,” at the Conference Center at Sheppard Pratt Hospital in Baltimore (Towson) on Sunday, January 31, from 8:45 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
The seminar is being co-sponsored with The Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt Hospital, in collaboration with Jewish Community Services and Hadassah. The Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt offers a comprehensive range of treatment services for patients with complex eating disorders, designed to meet both the psychiatric and medical needs of the patient.
Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, the OU’s Executive Vice President Emeritus, will be a keynote speaker at the event, along with Dr. Catherine Steiner Adair, Director, Education and Prevention at Klarman Eating Disorders Center in Belmont, MA, and a consultant, author and speaker on women’s health. Rabbi Weinreb will speak on “Self-Esteem and Eating Disorders: Facing the Issue in Our Community,” and Dr. Steiner Adair will speak on “Raising Strong and Resilient Children in Today’s Society.”
There will also be interactive workshops with health professionals throughout the event focused on topics including positive relationships with food, recognizing eating disorders, and constructive parenting. The director of the Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt, Dr. Harry A. Brandt, will be among the speakers. The event will feature the critically acclaimed documentary about eating disorders in the Jewish community, “Hungry to be Heard.” Elisheva Diamond, the creative force behind the film, will be present at the seminar to deliver introductory remarks before its showing. The afternoon will also feature a panel of students from Baltimore-area yeshivas discussing societal and peer pressures.
Frank Buchweitz, National Director of the OU’s Department of Community Services and Special Projects and conference coordinator with Sheppard Pratt, declared, “The OU Department of Community Services consistently addresses issues of great importance that impact upon the lives of individuals. This educational seminar on promoting positive body image within the Jewish community will provide a wealth of information by experts in the field to people interested in understanding how eating disorders begin, preventative measures, as well as how to live a healthy and happy life in spite of the constant projection of negative images from the media.”
This event is a chance for Rabbi Weinreb to once again be on familiar stomping ground; Rabbi Weinreb, who served as the well-respected rabbi of Congregation Shomrei Emunah in Baltimore for many years before arriving at the OU, still maintains a residence in the city and visits frequently.
Rabbi Weinreb declared, “The topic of eating disorders in the Jewish community is a relevant and pressing problem. I plan to speak about the relationship between self-esteem and eating disorders, and I will be drawing from Jewish sources in my talk.”
Rabbi Weinreb continued, “It is a special privilege for me to return to Baltimore for this event. I lived there for many years and served as the rabbi of one of the community’s most prominent synagogues. I have also worked closely on numerous occasions with the excellent staff of Sheppard Pratt Hospital, in both my role as rabbi and my role of psychologist. My wife, Chavi, also completed part of her social work training at this remarkable hospital.”