Psychiatric drugs become talk of the ultra-Orthodox community
Haaretz report exposing rabbi involvement in prescription of psychiatric drugs leads to people coming forward to tell their stories.
The Gur Hasid trembled in pain as he spoke about a family gathering held at Purim. One daughter in the extended family, a married woman with children, attended the big holiday meal after a long period in which she had remained secluded in her home. “We were shocked,” the man recalled. “At the beginning, we could barely identify her. This is a woman who has always been blessed with a lively, expressive personality, but now it looks like pills have finished her off. We met an apathetic woman who has a solemn, stony face; a woman who has had the life sucked out of her.”
The man says the family has known for years that the woman has been “shelled,” as he put it, with low dosage antidepressant and antianxiety medication prescribed by a psychiatrist to whom she was referred by rabbis and various Hasidic functionaries. But up to now, nobody in the extended family had witnessed firsthand the effects of this treatment.
"The sole reason why the woman was brought to a psychiatrist, against her will, was marital discord," the man explained. At first, she adamantly refused to take the pills prescribed her, but "she had no chance of persisting in this refusal, owing to the heavy pressure exerted on her by the rabbis."
The ultra-Orthodox man says the woman’s husband belongs to a well-connected family in the Gur community, and so the man’s family attached “responsibility” for the situation in the house to the woman, and demanded she receive medication. “She was told that the Gur Rebbe wants her to take medication, and that the pills would restore order to her home. Nobody knows whether the rebbe really said that, but this is what persuaded her.” Read more.
Ultra-Orthodox Jews gather for the funeral of Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Hager, leader of the Hassidic sect Vizhnitz in Israel, who died Wednesday at the age of 95.
The secrets of a controversial ultra-Orthodox community
The women are covered from head to toe from the age of three; the community’s leader and his followers have been accused of polygamy, sexual exploitation, and abuse of minors. Haaretz spent five days with the controversial ‘Lev Tahor’ Haredi community in Canada to uncover the truth about the sect and its charismatic head, Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans. Part one of a two-part series. Read more.