Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Kosher Food for Survivors of Sex Crimes Needed in Psychiatric Facilities Too!

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Letters to the Editor
Beyond The Pain
Baltimore Jewish Times
November 10, 2006

Reading the Nov. 3 article "
Bar None" about kosher food for state prisoners, I started to think: prisoners in Maryland include convicted sex offenders. We all seem concerned about the rights of those who commit violent crimes, but not their victims.

It is not uncommon for those victimized by criminals (especially survivors sex crimes) to go through periods of depression, which can become severe leading to thoughts of suicide; psychiatric hospitalization may be required. Most treatment facilities do not offer kosher food. This means family members or friends must bring food to them.

Once again it appears that we care more about offenders than about those victimized.
Perhaps Jewish groups involved in the kosher food effort for prisoners (including Agudah Israel of America and the Orthodox Union) will start an effort to help those living in a nightmare of flashbacks.

Vicki Polin
Executive Director, The Awareness Center Inc.


Anonymous I know the deal because I was there said...

Dear Vicki:
You are sorely misinformed and in your overeagerness to find fault with people anywhere you can,you have jumped the gun.

A prison and a hospital are 2 different facilities. In a prison situation, the facility has the obligation to provide, within reason, for the dietary needs of the inmates. For example, not every Federal Correctional Institution offers kosher meals, but all offer a "common fare"- a menu of vegetarian foods designed to meet the religious dietary needs of Muslims, Buddhists, and Jews. In prisons with larger Jewish populations (such as Allenwood, PA and Otisville, NY) there are kosher kitchens providing food for the large population of inmates who require a kosher diet.

Now on to the hospital. Based on what research do you conclude that "most treatment facilities do not offer kosher food?"

While most institutions do not have kosher kitchens, I challenge YOU to find the institution with a Dietitian who refuses to get a patient (and remember, patients are paying customers, unlike inmates) kosher food.

I know firsthand of several institutions in places far less "Jewish" than Baltimore, where Dietitians have gone far out of their way to acommodate the dietary needs of Jewish people undergoing psychiatric treatment.

Why wouldn't they?

I think that this is the precise reason why your issue is a none issue. Health care facilities will get whatever food is needed for their patients. Will they get a kosher kitchen?
Well, does a psychiatric institution have the same population for the same length of time as a prison?
In addition, many of the off the shelf products distributed through SYSCO, a main supplier to hospitals, are national brands with reliable supervision (Kellogs,etc)

You discredit yourself and your movement with your inane criticisms and would better off not starting to think.


A survivor of sexual abuse who has been hospitalized and ate tuna and veggies until the Dietary Dept. had Wilton Kosher meals flown in at their expense since there is no distributor in Montana.

November 22, 2006 5:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was in a hospital in Maryland where I had to depend on my mother and a friend to bring me food. B'H' they were willing to help me out. Not all survivors are as fortunate as I was.

One can only eat so much cereal in a day. The hospital also only allowed packaged food to be brought in, meaning there was the added expense. I personally think this is a great idea. I was in the hospital for two months. It's a long time to be eating processed foods.

November 22, 2006 8:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think if you are in a private hospital or a psychiatric unit of a regular medical hospital you are more likely to be able to get kosher food. If you are in a state facility it's really up to your friends and family to help you out.

November 22, 2006 11:19 PM  
Anonymous No longer keeping kosher said...

Dear "I know the deal because I was there",

I'm so happy you know so much about this topic. I had a few experiences when I was hospitalized in Maryland. I was in because my PTSD got too bad.

I was shocked that the hospital staff made my wanting to keep kosher a "therapy issue." They decided that I was "just trying to be special" and that if it was a real issue I would just eat the vegetarian diet they offered.

Who cares if not all vegetarian food is kosher and that the fact is that I'm not vegetarian. I feel better when I get protein derived from meat.

I am an incest survivor I had not choice but to severed ties with my family. They are way to toxic for me to be around, especially when I'm feeling vulnerable. I couldn't call them for help. If I told any of my aunts or uncles they would just encourage me to call my parents.

It's embarrassing to tell people in my community that I was f___ by my father growing up. How do you tell people you look up to that you are in a psychiatric hospital? I know the shame and humiliation from friends of mine who have done that. I was also afraid what would happen to me when it came time for a shudduch. I wanted to keep my personal problems private.

I was afraid to say anything to a rabbi because my family is well known. My rabbi would want to know why I was in the hospital and I didn't trust that he would keep it confidential.

I was already dealing with so much of my stuff at the time I started eating treif. At least I could eat and stay physically healthy.

November 23, 2006 10:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the person who thinks vicki is sorely misinformed,
What an attitude! This is far from a "non issue" as you say. ou were lucky. This is definantly an issue. I lost a lot of weight in the hospital because I was not getting enough food. The "kosher food" they provided was a plane meal served once a day. Cereal for breakfast, no lunch, and a plane meal, was just not enough. I became skin and bone. I fianlly took the hospital to court and they used me as proof to have the policy changed. "Just look at ther she needs more food!" Now they are required to provide THREE kosher meals a day, as well as snacks. This is a state hospital in Maryland and I was there for a year.

November 24, 2006 4:36 AM  

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