Eat right and exercise, Conservative rabbis told


(JTA) — Conservative rabbis are being asked to adopt healthy eating, exercise and lifestyle habits.

Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, the executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly, is asking her colleagues to join the U.S. president’s fitness challenge as part of a new initiative called The Shalem Campaign, which will launch on Jan. 1. The initiative was announced last week.

It is the first time that a rabbinic group has issued a fitness challenge, according to the Rabbinical Assembly.

“With so many people facing significant stress, healthy lifestyle habits often fall by the wayside,” Schonfeld said in a news release. “Now, more than ever, we need our leaders to provide a model for investing in our own health as a contribution to our families and communities as well as to ourselves. Rabbis interact with people on so many levels, at every stage of the lifecycle. If they model positive values of physical, mental and spiritual health, it will only have a positive effect on members of the community and the public.”

Rabbis Lisa Gelber and Aaron Gaber, co-chairs of The Shalem Campaign, said in a letter to their colleagues, "As rabbis, we are in a unique position to model for our communities, whether we work in a traditional congregational setting, a school, a hospital, an agency — wherever we find our calling — what it means to make fitness a part of our daily (or weekly) lives. This means making mindful decisions about how, when and where we’ll exercise; envisioning physical fitness as a personal and professional need, we commit to creating more balance in our bodies and our lives. Improving our behaviors in relation to fitness, we take responsibility for what we can control in our lives and practice letting go of what comes with our genes.

"Our tradition reminds us, kol areivim zeh ba zeh, we are all responsible for one another," the letter continues. "For many, thinking about exercise is hard enough; when we know someone else is rooting for us to reach our goal (whether that be losing 10, 20, or 30 pounds; walking one block a day; training for the Hazon bike ride; or participating in our future grandchildren’s b’nai mitzvah), it’s easier to attend to our exercise plan."

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