OU Announces Anorexia Support Group in 5 Towns, Manhattan

25 Oct 2010


In recognition of the frequent occurrence of eating disorders in the Orthodox Jewish community and the role that a support group plays in complementing therapeutic treatment, the Orthodox Union Departments of Community Services and Day School and Educational Services are pleased to bring to the attention of young women between the ages of 17 and 24 with anorexia a new support group that has been formed to supplement therapy in treating the illness. It will hold weekly sessions in both Manhattan and Lawrence.

This independent support group was formed as a result of a seminar conducted for yeshiva/day school high school guidance counselors at the Board of Jewish Education of Greater New York by Frank Buchweitz, National Director of Community Services and Special Projects; Rabbi Saul Zucker, Director of Day School and Educational Services at the OU; and Rabbi Ellis Bloch, Director of the Department of Yeshivot and Day Schools at the BJE. The group has been approved by Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski, Dr. David Pelcovitz, and Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, who are members of its organizing committee.

Dr. Sarah Roer and Dr. Ellen Haimoff, two Orthodox psychologists who specialize in eating disorders, will be leading the sessions on a weekly basis, in Manhattan and in Lawrence respectively. There will be a charge of $60 per session, with a limit of six to eight people per group. (Additional groups may be formed if there is demand.)

“Many support groups that currently exist are held in churches; include a wide diversity of young women with very different values, background, and complex issues; are not led by psychologists specializing in eating disorders, nor by people who are familiar with or can encourage an Orthodox regimen and value system,” the OU officials declared recently in a letter to heads of schools and synagogue rabbis in the area, thus bringing the group to the attention of communal leaders.

“You may personally know some young women who can benefit greatly from this program; we ask that you please share this information with them and/or their parents. Together, we can truly make a difference in conquering this debilitating and dangerous illness.”

Rabbi Zucker noted that support groups are an essential part of recovery from a variety of illnesses, supplementing therapy. The goal of the newly formed group, he said “is to intervene in anorexic patterns by confronting ineffective ways of dealing with stress (turning away from food) while simultaneously building and supporting healthier coping mechanisms.”

Frank Buchweitz declared, “This is a wonderful opportunity for participation in a support group with peers who come from religious backgrounds, presented by therapists who are receptive to the nuances and various challenges that are brought to sessions.”

For further information, contact Frank Buchweitz at frank@ou.org or Rabbi Zucker at zuckers@ou.org, or at 212-613-8335.