An Open Letter to Those Who are Struggling with an Eating Disorder at Yom Kippur...

September 24, 2020Lucie Waldman

To You, Who Are Struggling with an Eating Disorder or Disordered Eating in the Lead-Up to Yom Kippur:

I see you, and I understand what you are going through. The tenseness that is creeping up as people are discussing “The Fast.” I can empathize if the urges are getting stronger as others around you as the days approach.

And here I am, as someone who has recovered from my own eating disorder, urging you not to fast even if those around you are.

I am not even telling you this because the Torah clearly indicates that those who are ill are not supposed to fast or because of the detriments to your physical health, because that is not only the tip of the iceberg.

I am telling you this because you deserve recovery in 5781.

Recovery is possible for you, and fasting is likely to take you further away from this. Instead, it is likely to awaken your eating disorder and make it stronger – and in my experience, you will not feel the pain of it dissipate at sundown with the relief of eating a bagel, as others will.

At Yom Kippur, we wish one another "a safe and easy fast," but for those of us with eating disorders, it will be neither safe nor easy. It will be dangerous, but more so detrimental. Instead of focusing on the meaning of the holiday or the fast of affliction, it will feel like total numbness.

Additionally, Yom Kippur is about t'shuvahT'shuvahתְּשׁוּבָה"Return;" The concept of repentance and new beginnings, which is a continuous theme throughout the High Holidays. , repentance, apologizing for the ways you hurt others. I discovered through recovery that the best apology is recovering. One of the best ways to show t'shuvah is by challenging your eating disorder – and that means not fasting. It means choosing the harder option – choosing to adequately nourish your body, even when others around you are not doing so for the day. And I promise you: That takes so much more strength than sustaining an eating disorder ever did.

Remember that recovery is a form of t'shuvah, as you are not just returning to your authentic self with an illness or food rules, but to a recreated one. One who has turned the page and can be present. It is possible – and you deserve peace for yourself, in 5781 and beyond.

G’mar tovahg'mar chatimah tovahגְּמַר חֲתִימָה טוֹבָה"A good final sealing;" a High Holiday greeting used between Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur. Often abbreviated as g'mar tov. ,

Someone Who is Not Fasting, Even Though She is Recovered from Her Eating Disorder, Because She Knows to Honor the Best Interests of Her Body and Soul

Related Posts

Taking a Breath for Life: the Union for Reform Judaism's Actions to Build Resilience

January 19, 2022
On Tu Bishvat we celebrated trees and a season of new growth. I've been doing lots of thinking about trees, as I frequently do, and the role they play in providing oxygen for the planet. At the Union of Reform Judaism, we provide oxygen to our communities by creating compassionate spaces for our participants to grow and thrive. We can respond to current and future challenges by fostering resilience that reflect our Jewish values.

A Jewish Take on New Year’s Resolutions

December 27, 2021
New Year's Day and the traditional resolutions that accompany it invite us to take stock of our lives. Are we living our lives to the fullest? Can we imagine a future in which the commitments we make for ourselves (e.g., healthier habits around eating and exercise) actually come true? What will it take this year to really change?