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Deborah Denenberg

Dorothy Kripke (z”l), the wonderful children’s book author, published a series titled Let’s Talk About… Her topics included G-d, the Sabbath, Right and Wrong. The JCC Wellness Committee is borrowing her good idea, with credit and respect, to talk about wellness. This article is the first in a series.
The new JCC Wellness Committee is examining the nutritional environment of the JCC, the CDC and other youth programming.
What does wellness mean? It’s a broad term used to describe aspects of the public health. The University of Nebraska at Lincoln defines wellness as “an interactive process of becoming aware of and practicing healthy choices to create a more successful and balanced lifestyle.” Dr. Ayman El Mohandes, the founding Dean of the Nebraska School of Public Health at UNMC, outlined these wellness categories:
• Food and Nutrition
• Exercise and Mobility
• Safety and Injury Prevention
• Mental and Behavioral Health
• Sexual and Reproductive Health
While all these categories are important, our JCC Wellness Committee is urgently focused on food and nutrition. Why? Because the statistics are so alarming. Thirty percent of Nebraskans, including our children, are overweight or obese, and obesity recently surpassed nicotine as the number one form of preventable death in America. We noted “preventable” and decided to take action.
One could argue that many factors enter the obesity equation, including how much time we spend exercising vs. watching our screens. However, about 90 percent of childhood obesity is related to what children eat. Food and nutrition seemed an impactful place to start.
We teach our children the story of the Jewish sage Zusya. On his deathbed, Zusya was visibly fearful. His students surrounded him. “Why are you fearful, our teacher? Are you afraid when you meet your Maker, he will ask, ‘Why weren’t you more like Abraham or Isaac or Moses?’ “No,” Zusya responded, I am afraid He will ask, ‘Why weren’t you more like Zusya.’”
This story teaches us to wholeheartedly be ourselves, and to use G-d’s resources to be the best we can be. Our JCC is an elite health and fitness facility. Let’s be who we are. Let’s create a nutritional environment reflecting the same excellence as our physical plant, programming and staff.
Join our efforts, send comments or questions to: debbie@denenberg.com.