“Everybody Know Somebody: Eating Disorders in the Jewish Community” 10/26 in Potomac, MD

22 Sep 2014

With the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)  Director Thomas R. Insel, M.D., as a featured speaker, the Orthodox Union Department of Community Engagement, the Eating Disorder Network of Maryland, and the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) will present a free communal program on “Everybody Knows Somebody: Eating Disorders in the Jewish Community” on Sunday, October 26 at Beth Sholom Congregation, 11825 Seven Locks Road in Potomac, MD at 10 a.m.

The program is presented in loving memory of Amy Shaller, who passed away in 2007 at age 20 after a long battle with an eating disorder. The driving force behind the program is Amy’s father, Elliot Shaller.

Amy Shaller

“Having lost my daughter Amy after her long struggle with an eating disorder, I know all too well the devastating consequences of eating disorders and the many misconceptions surrounding them,” explained Mr. Shaller. “I am therefore delighted to have had the opportunity to work with the Orthodox Union and the Eating Disorder Network of Maryland to design this program on eating disorders in the Jewish community, to be presented at Beth Sholom Congregation in Potomac.” Mr. Shaller is a member of the synagogue and is on the Board of Directors of the Eating Disorder Network of Maryland, a non-profit organization that provides information about eating disorders and available resources as well as educational programs on the subject.

“The information and insights that will be provided by our panel of experts should be invaluable to individuals with eating disorders or who are in recovery; their families and friends; and professionals who work in the area,” explained Mr. Shaller. “I can’t think of a more fitting way to honor Amy’s memory than by offering this resource on this complex condition to the Jewish community and the community at large.

Rabbi Judah Isaacs, Director of the OU’s Department of Community Engagement, shared, “The Orthodox Union has a long history of dedication to communal education and is committed to raising awareness of the dangers of eating disorders as a serious, life-threatening illness. We hope this conference will serve as an impetus for ongoing community focus and dialogue on this critically important health issue.”

Hannah Farkas, Assistant Director of Community Services at OU’s Department of Community Engagement, coordinated the program.

Other presenters include Lara Gregorio, a clinical social worker based in Rockville, MD, and an 18-year eating disorder survivor; and Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, university professor, renowned lecturer and author of Starving Souls: A Spiritual Guide to Understanding Eating Disorders.

Other sponsors of the program include:


Brief biographies of the speakers follow.

Dr. Thomas R. Insel

Thomas R. Insel, M.D. is director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the component of the National Institute of Health (NIH) committed to research on mental disorders. He has served as director of this $1.5B agency since 2002. During his tenure, Dr. Insel has focused on the genetics and neurobiology of mental disorders as well as transforming approaches to diagnoses and treatment. Prior to serving as NIMH Director, Dr. Insel was Professor of Psychiatry at Emory University.



Lara Gregorio

Lara Gregorio, L.G.S.W., L.C.S.W. is a clinical social worker with a private practice in Rockville. She worked for five years for the National Eating Disorders Association, where she helped to develop standards of care based on evidence-based practices for eating disorder treatment, and provided training and consultation to community groups, families, educators, and government officials.




    Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser


 Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser is a renowned speaker, eating disorder counselor, syndicated columnist, university professor, and popular radio commentator, who has authored many books. For the last twenty years he has been a leading proponent for the prompt recognition of eating disorders and its proper treatment in the Jewish community. He spends countless hours counseling patients with eating disorders, and writes extensively on the subject.

To register online go to . For more information contact the Orthodox Union at 212-613-8300 or email community@ou.org. Registration for the program begins at 9:30 a.m.