Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Conservative Rabbis Fighting The Battle Of The Bulge

Last month we reported that the Israel Defense Forces are waging a war against rugelach and bourekas, which are causing an epidemic of chubbiness among officers who attend meetings where these weapons of destruction have been served.  The Israeli cabinet has also been fighting this battle.

Now comes word that Conservative rabbis in America are under orders to shape up, too.  The Rabbinical Assembly has launched The Shalem Campaign to encourage its members to "adopt healthy eating, exercise and lifestyle habits."  

The RA says it's the first time a rabbinic organization has issued a fitness challenge.  Shalem is the Hebrew word meaning “whole,” and the philosophy of The Shalem Campaign is holistic and also reflects core Jewish principles, organizers say.

According to a JTA article,
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." 
So who's next?  We haven't heard anything like this yet from the organization of Reform rabbis or any of the numerous organizations of Orthodox rabbis.  But at least one Orthodox rabbi seems to have beaten all of his colleagues to the punch.  Reb Moshe Steinerman of Tzfat, a Breslover chasid, can be seen below on a YouTube video doing weightlifting and bench presses and hitting the treadmill since December 2007, all the while saying the Sh'ma and exhorting viewers to do more mitzvot.  He says it's important to take care of your body as well as your soul, and that working out will enable you to lift heavy books, like gemaras.


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