Report: Psychiatrists Gave Drugs To Yeshiva Students To Inhibit Untoward Desires

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(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

JERUSALEM (VINnews) — A probe has been initiated by Israel’s Health Ministry into 4 psychiatrists, after a Channel 12 report accused them of prescribing unnecessary medications to Yeshiva students, including minors. The medication was allegedly given to inhibit untoward desires.

In an expose aired over the weekend, Channel 12 sent two formerly ultra-Orthodox men undercover to seek care from the prominent mental health professionals — Prof. Omer Boneh, the head of the psychiatry department at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital; Prof. Abraham Weizman of Tel Aviv University; Dr. Michael Bontzel of the Maayanei Hayeshua hospital in Bnei Brak; and Dr. Tali Vishne — after allegedly receiving claims from former yeshiva students of the phenomenon, which was ostensibly sought for religious reasons, reports the Times Of Israel.

The undercover operatives, who are formerly ultra-Orthodox – primarily from Hasidic familes – allege that they were prescribed heavy anti-psychotic or antidepressant drugs after admitting to having unclean thoughts, including about other men.

The practice of supressing libido is allegeded to have been started by the Gur Chassidus in the 1990s. The practice is alleged to have spread to other Hasidic communities that also uphold strict gender separations and modesty laws.

“For three years of my life I was in yeshiva without coming out [of the closet],” Kobi Weinberg told Channel 12. “The condition was that I take the pills. From the age of 9 until 15 I took psychiatric pills that I didn’t need. I didn’t eat and I didn’t sleep, it made me depressed and it made me a shadow of my former self. I didn’t want it. They also forcibly gave it to me, a teacher grabbed my throat, put the pill in and poured water.”

Channel 12 also interviewed former Yeshiva mentors who claimed the practice was true.

Haaretz reported on Monday that the Health Ministry has demanded explanations from the 4 doctors in question, and will continue to investigate.

“The ministry will investigate the claims that arose from the investigation and if any faults in the medical treatment are found, it will act to the fullest extent of the law,” it said.

According to Haaretz, the Health Ministry does not expect any disciplinary actions to be taken as a result of the investigation, since this is not in fact a new accusation. Similar claims arose over the past decade against 3 out of the 4 doctors being investigated currently, to no avail.

Dr. Zvi Fishel of the Israel Psychiatric Association told Haaretz that the practice is “a wrongful act in any case that is not a sex offender, and we strongly oppose it.”

However Dr. Fishel warns the public to not jump to conclusions yet, since “no one knows what really happened in those meetings as part of the report.”

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17 COMMENTS

  1. If such pills work why aren’t they given to all celibate clergy of a particular religion that has to constantly pay out millions of dollars to settle law suits? That would save the institution many millions of dollars. Whoever can approach the officials of that religion with this suggestion should be entitled to 10% of their savings.

  2. whats really going on …
    a bochur confides to a mashpia that he is having ” intrusive thoughts – & he cant learn .. focus
    a diff. bochur tells the menahel that for some reason a ” friend in class” wants to only learn w him/ goes to mikva same time /over friendly – not doing any maasim or in other cases some maasim
    options; whether it is a crush or ocd or unhealthy relationshi..p / semi addiction these things are tough to treat and almost impossible when THE TWO OF THEM ARE IN THE SAME class or camp…changing yeshivas is not so simple
    the mashpia was trusted by the bochur if he tells parents the the word will leak that you CANT confide in rabbi … if he does tell parents in many cases bochur is no longer comfortable at home.. IF A BOCHUR IS NOT COMFORTABLE AT HOME NOR IN YESHIVA BECAUSE THEY KNOW SOME STUFF – than the street is the next stop ( at times will notify parents but bochur doesnt know and parents will send $ to cover doc appt.)
    so the practice has been for the difficult cases to have a relationship w/ licensed psych who after an eval prescribed a small dose of an ssri which treated the “obssesive thought” & by lowering a bit the drive helped w the crush part
    in any case its a very small % and the stories in the article are either exaggerated or the exception to the rule

  3. Sounds like very sour grapes by loser people with a chip on their shoulder.

    You wanted to come out of the closet at nine years old in a Yeshiva? No wonder why you needed drugs!

    • Sounds like you are supporting non medical professionals pushing drugs on our children.

      You sir are sick.

      I guess you think it is great that we are ensuring that Gay kids are going to be depressed (obviously they are sick and need drugs… but when that does not help, then what?) and going on in some cases to commit suicide.

  4. Lets face facts, hashem created up with libido and its strongest in male teens, 75% of the bucherim messed around with other boys and 20% lied that they didn’t, big deal, as long as one is forced who cares???

  5. Omer Boneh heads the closed Psychiatric ward in Hadassah Hospital Jerusalem. Just take a look at what goes on there in its mixed ward. Boneh and the hospital need serious independent investigation. Giving a few pills to stop yeshiva boys playing with each other is nothing.

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