Encouraging Better Health as a Community

1. Community-based organizations—like shuls, Hatzalah, Bikur Cholim, or Jewish community centers—can provide valuable education through lectures, seminars or health fairs.

“The frum community overall is sophisticated and worldly, but you’d be surprised how many people just aren’t aware of the basics and miss the chance to catch problems early,” says Dr. Michael (Meir) Pollack of the Cleveland Clinic. Dr. Jennie Berkovich, director of education for the Jewish Orthodox Women’s Medical Association (JOWMA), adds, “The value of these events is that community members want to hear this information from a source they’re comfortable with.” JOWMA offers content and curricula for such programs.


2. Jewish organizations should take advantage of opportunities—such as during months when specific health topics are trending—to remind people of the importance of screenings.


3. Day schools and yeshivot can improve the nutritional value of the food they serve to students.

“Schools should work with a nutritionist to provide balanced meals that are appealing to children; protein and vegetables should be included, not just pizza and pasta,” says Dr. Hylton Lightman, a well-known pediatrician in Far Rockaway, New York. Additionally, teachers and rebbeim would do well to consider prizes and incentives other than candy and cans of soda.


4. At a kiddush, event or simchah, hosts can make sure healthful food options are served.

This could include fruit platters at a dessert buffet, and water or seltzer alongside the soda. “People may not want to eat certain foods and it’s difficult for them if there are no other options,” says health and fitness coach Chaim Loeb.


Rachel Schwartzberg is a writer and editor who lives with her family in Memphis, Tennessee.


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This article was featured in the Summer 2023 issue of Jewish Action.
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