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In the Media | Eating Disorders and Hanukkah: Finding Light in the Darkness

Written by: Sarah Bateman, LCSW
Published by: The Jewish Journal

Eating Disorders and Hanukkah: Finding Light in the Darkness

Like with all Jewish holidays, there is a strong focus on food, such as traditional jelly-filled doughnuts (sufganiyot) and fried potato pancakes (latkes), during Hanukkah. This festive part of the holiday can be highly triggering to those who struggle with eating disorders. 

It’s that magical time of the year when the Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah, the festival of lights. 

Along with lighting candles on the Menorah for eight nights to symbolize the miracle of the oil, Hanukkah is celebrated with festivities like family gatherings, playing dreidel, giving “gelt” to the children, and eating oil-based foods, which symbolize the oil of the temple. 

Like with all Jewish holidays, there is a strong focus on food, such as traditional jelly-filled doughnuts (sufganiyot) and fried potato pancakes (latkes), during Hanukkah. This festive part of the holiday can be highly triggering to those who struggle with eating disorders. 

Eating disorders are complex illnesses with biological, genetic, psychological, social, and developmental roots. There is no single cause for the development of an eating disorder, and effective treatment covers a wide range of factors. An eating disorder is not just a phase that will pass, rather, it is a serious mental illness that can be fatal. 

The good news is that as awareness has increased, opportunities for help have also become more available. Rabbis, too, are becoming increasingly more vocal on the topics of mental health and eating disorders and urging those to seek help when needed.

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