Eating Disorders in the Jewish Community

Ferkauf and Wurzweiler to Host March 31 Panel on Eating Disorders

Yeshiva University’s Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology and Wurzweiler School of Social Work will host a presentation on “Dispelling Myths: Eating Disorders in the Jewish Community,” on March 31 at YU’s Israel Henry Beren Campus in midtown.

Eating disorders—which affect people of all ages and ethnicities and have the highest premature mortality rate of any mental illness—are often kept hidden, complicating treatment and prevention efforts. Recognizing the seriousness and increasing prevalence of eating disorders, Ferkauf and Wurzweiler are training more psychologists and social workers to diagnose and treat people who suffer from these devastating illnesses.

The event, cosponsored by the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), will be open to the public and feature three experts in the field: Dr. Esther Altmann, an educator and clinical psychologist in private practice who served as an eating disorders consultant to Jewish organizations; Ilene V. Fishman, a social worker specializing in the treatment of eating disorders who taught Wurzweiler’s first elective course on the topic last fall; and Dr. Yael Latzer, professor at Haifa University and director of the Eating Disorders Clinic of Rambam Medical Center, which she founded in 1992.

“Eating disorders are a significant aspect in mental health today that’s far too common and it’s important that anyone involved in higher education in social work know how to identify eating disorders and how to treat them,” said Fishman, who helped found NEDA and was named to its Board of Directors last December. She also served on the national board of the American Anorexia Bulimia Association. “Eating disorders are becoming increasingly prevalent, especially in the Orthodox Jewish community, and people are becoming more aware of them. Events like these help people become more educated and help the community become more open in dealing with the problem.”

The event will be the second partnership between Wurzweiler and NEDA. Last April, they co-sponsored an educational public seminar at the Yeshiva University Museum for professionals to enhance awareness, empathy and expertise in how to treat patients with eating disorders. The funding for the conference came from the Karyn Tendler NEDA Conference Fund, established by family members in memory of Karyn Tendler, who lost her battle with anorexia several years ago.

“Now that there is a well-established collaborative relationship in place between Wurzweiler and NEDA, I am confident the relationship will lead to additional social research and community interventions, and to training more social workers to help those with eating disorders across North America,” said Dr. Carmen Hendricks, the Dorothy and David I. Schachne Dean of Wurzweiler. “Wurzweiler has an international student body and, as a result, the potential to make a great impact in many different communities.”

The Karyn Tendler Scholarship Fund at Wurzweiler also supports the education of promising students who wish to specialize in the field of eating disorders and focus their field placements on working in relevant hospitals and agencies. To donate to the fund or to find out more about the March event, scheduled for 5:45 p.m. in the Koch Auditorium at 245 Lexington Avenue, please email