The Jewish Community Health Initiative is dedicated to developing programming and infrastructure to promote health in Jewish communities. The Jewish community is vibrant and filled with many people devoted to making life better for the community. JCHi is here to harness that power in ways that can help us all to lead healthier lives, using proven methods that have improved the health and lives of people in many varied communities.

While this website is still in its initial stages, feel free to poke around and learn a bit about what we are doing, and our plans for the future. Programs and proposals are in development, and great things will happen.

For more on why the JCHi was created, click here.

For info on what JCHi is and has been up to, click here.

JCHi is a simple but great idea whose time has come.

Know someone with cancer, or another serious illness? It can be hard to know how you can be helpful. Or what to say. And what not to say!  What are they thinking?

JCHi (thank you Eli Gancz!) created a beautiful summary of answers to these questions.

Check them out here: Friend or Relative with Cancer

I received an email from Rabbi Yakov Horowitz in regard to the recent attempted child abductions in Lakewood, NJ. This is a scary topic which isdifficult to discuss with children, but necessary. Fortunately, Rabbi Horowitz made a short video that guides parents on how to have this conversation with your children, teaching safety without creating anxiety. This video is presented as a public service of The Barry and Harriet Ray Child Safety Awareness Campaign.

Stranger Danger Video

JCHi, (with help from Mali Mendlovic and JFSA) has created a 2-page summary of key mental health related resources for Cleveland. It has local resources, but also some online and phone resources.

Here is a PDF for download

Mental Health Resources


Naaleh – 216-591-6191  Rabbi Chaim Helman

Confidential (name not needed) mental health referrals. Support groups.

Yesh Tikvah –   216-403-2726      Rabbi Aryeh Leib Joseph

Financial support for therapy for adults and children who meet organization’s criteria/priorities.


Gesher Cleveland 216-862-4599  

Connects people in financial hardship to benefits and government assistance programs.


Shalom Task Force Hotline 1-718-337-3700 or 1-888-883-2323

Domestic Abuse and recognizing healthy vs. unhealthy relationships. 6 days per week and late night support.

Call handlers have access to list of Cleveland Rabbis, therapists trained by STF. Contract with JFSA Cleveland.

Chazkeinu 314-346-7414

Phone-based support groups for Jewish women for those struggling, or family members.


Online frum support groups for health-related issues, including mental health:

Info about mental health conditions (links on left), also online support groups.

Videos on wide range of mental health issues from various perspectives:

Video explaining mental illness to teens and young adults:

Amudim 646-517-0222  Sexual abuse, drug addiction in frum community. Crisis support.

Awareness videos:

Mental Health Awareness in the Jewish Community – Facebook Page

What kinds of therapy work for what mental health challenges:

How to tell if someone is clinically depressed and in need of help

This 2 question screen has been proven to help identify people with clinical depression (proven in adults and teens):

Over the past 2 weeks, how often have you been bothered by the following symptoms:

Little interest or pleasure in doing things

Not at all

(0 pts)

Several Days

(1 pt)

More than Half the Days

(2 pts)

Almost Every Day (3 pts)

Feeling down, depressed or hopeless

Not at all

(0 pts)

Several Days

(1 pt)

More than Half the Days

(2 pts)

Almost Every Day (3 pts)


Add up your score. A total of 3 points or more indicates a professional evaluation is strongly recommended.

Jewish Family Service Association Services

  • Family Violence Services: Holistic Services for victims of Intimate Partner violence. Services are free and are available to anyone over the age of 18.

Case Management: Assists clients in navigating the maze of social service, legal, medical, vocational and welfare systems. Includes safety assessments, planning, assistance in obtaining and coordinating referral services and accompanying clients on appointments.

Journey to Empowerment and Support Groups: 4 week program, then weekly support group

Contact Mae Bennett: 216.378.8675 or

  • Hebrew Shelter Home: Homeless services for Jewish Women and their children escaping domestic violence and/or facing homelessness. Kosher home, in Jewish community.

Contact Sarah Froimson: 216.378.3406 or

  • Forward Focus: Financial literacy program to empower Jewish Families and individuals.
    • Provides one-on-one assistance towards self-sufficiency and stability with household budget, debt reduction, affordable housing, reliable transportation, reliable child care/elder care, sustainable employment, and improving credit scores.  

For more information regarding Forward Focus, Contact Janisse Nagel at  216.378.3477 or Ginny Galili at 216.378.3420

  • Homelessness Prevention/ Financial Assistance Program: Provides limited, short term financial assistance to Jewish Families to prevent eviction and utility shut offs.

Contact Ariella Dowek at 216.378.3563 or Sarah Froimson at 216.378.3406

Mental Health Services

For more information, eligibility and assessment please contact Jane Harkey at 216.378.3406 or Wendy Cantor-Dobo at 216.378.3412.

Counseling Services: Services are open to anyone over the age of 18 with health insurance. Counseling services accept Medicaid/Medicare health insurance

Cognitive Enhancement Therapy: An evidence-based practice that helps people with schizophrenia and related mental illnesses improve their processing and cognition.

Community Psychiatric Support Treatment (CPST): help individuals with mental health diagnoses live as independently in the community as possible.

  • Assisting clients with paying bills on time, doing chores, getting to the doctor, exercising or looking for a job.

PLAN: Social, recreational and wellness programming for those with severe mental illness.

Residential Services: Supported living sites for 2-4 adults.11 suite apartment building offering subsidized rent.Specialized services for adults with hearing impairment, traumatic brain injury, Autism spectrum disorder and young adults.

Older Adult Services

For more information, eligibility and assessment please contact Cindy Kaufman at 216.378.8661

  • Counseling: To help cope with issues associated with aging, such as changes in independence, health problems, dementia, death of a loved one, isolation, and family dynamics.
  • Geriatric Case Management: service to help older adults and their families understand, access, and coordinate available resources so they can continue to live safely and independently at home.
  • Holocaust Survivor Support Services
    • Help with Reparations claims, Care coordination, Counseling, financial assistance, Personal Care, Europa Café, Home Cleaning, TOV (friendly visitors), JFSA shuttle

Many people have asked about obesity in the Jewish community, and specifically whether it is more common in the Orthodox community. JCHi conducted health interviews in all 5 jewish middle schools in the Cleveland area in 2010, and most of this information was not made generally available. However, much material was gathered and analyzed, and some of it has been presented in public as well as shared with Jewish organizations trying to address identified areas of concern.

JCHi is now going to start releasing findings.

The % of students who were overweight or obese (using standard definitions) is broken down by family religious affiliation and gender. Individual schools cannot be identified as no single school made up more than half of any religious affiliation.

Please note the total number in each category can become small, e.g. 56 kids from Chareidi families split into females and males doesn't leave a large number in each group.


N = 235


N = 85

Modern Orthodox

N = 94


N = 56


































Note the very low rate in non-orthodox and modern orthodox boys, and the high rate in chareidi boys.

More information to come to learn about the reasons, and how communities can respond. But one word of caution: don't rush to blame the schools. It is really more about the home.















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This past fall, the Jewish Community Health Initiative (JCHi) conducted an online health survey to examine diet and exercise in Orthodox Jewish Families. The goal was to use the information to help design an intervention. Thanks to all of those who took the time to participate! Here is a summary of some of the key results.

We ended up with 134 respondents from Cleveland (59) and Lakewood (75) that completed their surveys and had at least 1 child under 18 living at home. About ¾ of survey participants were women. A little more than half felt they eat a healthy diet. Commonly cited barriers to eating healthy were higher cost and greater preparation time, and kids not wanting to eat healthy. A large majority of those not eating healthy wanted to learn more about making healthier snacks and meals and how to get healthier foods into the family diet. Only 16% of the Chareidi respondents exercise regularly compared to 38% for other Orthodox respondents. Time and cost were common barriers to more exercise for adults and kids. Chareidi respondents were far less confident they could keep to a healthy diet or exercise regularly.

In response, JCHi has been developing a program to help Orthodox mothers keep a healthier home. It is an adaptation of a successful program called “We Can!”. The revised program has a schedule more amenable to the busy life of Orthodox mothers, and will build in content tailored to our community. JCHi is now seeking feedback from both professional and lay leaders in the community. After using operational funds to cover most of the development, we are now looking for financial support to complete the program (including training materials for group leaders) and run pilot groups prior to dissemination to communities across the country. Donations are tax-deductible.

JCHi is a project headed by Mendel Singer PhD MPH, Associate Professor and Vice Chair for Education in the department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio. He can be contacted at: or 216-368-1951.

Lots of work has been going on behind the scenes developing content for this website, and after Jan 1 it will begin to be rolled out. There will be a whole section on mental health. This will cover depression (including post-partum depression), anxiety and stress. The content will include video clips that tell the story of what it is like for people who suffer from these conditions, e.g. patients and family members talking about living with post-partum depresion and how it has affected their lives. There will also be a quick online depression screen to suggest whether a person should see a doctor for an evaluation.

There will be a section on eating healthier - what you need to know, and how to do it. This section will also feature video clips for the purpose of instruction and sharing ideas for making healthy changes. Also, how to teach your kids about basic nutrition - information for parents and teachers, too (including links to teaching materials).

So stay tuned....and check back!

Tons of tips on how to get started exercising - at home, at work, wherever!

Check it out here!

Event held June 7, 2012 in Teaneck, NJ

Fast Track to a Healthier You! 

Posted by mendel Sunday, April 29, 2012 9:10:15 PM
“Fast Track to a Healthier You”, is a special program sponsored by the Jewish Center of Teaneck (JCOT, Teaneck, NJ),  Thursday night June 7 at 8pm. Three speakers from the Jewish Community Health Initiative (JCHi),, will discuss... read more

Safety Advisory for Passover 

Posted by mendel Monday, April 2, 2012 3:51:17 PM
Lead Poisoning: Crystal Decanters and Glassware, Glazed Dishes Print and Post the PDF of this Safety Advisory - Download and Share! Recommendations Crystal decanters should only store beverages during the seder or meal. Pregnant women, babies ... read more

U of Michigan, Monday March 26: The Obesity Epidemic: A Jewish Perspective 

Posted by mendel Wednesday, March 21, 2012 2:56:50 PM
Dr. Mendel Singer will be giving a talk, "The Obesity Epidemic: A Jewish Perspective" at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, Monday March 26 at 5pm, 1415 Washington Hts, Ann Arbor in the Community Lounge, room 1680. He will also be... read more

Jewish Community Health Fellowship at Case 

Posted by mendel Friday, February 24, 2012 2:12:15 PM
In the fight against obesity and chronic disease, health promotion is getting renewed emphasis. The most efficient way to accomplish this is through community health methods that leverage existing relationships, infrastructure and resources. Every... read more

Don't Spread Shigella on Your Mid-Winter Trip! 

Posted by mendel Wednesday, February 1, 2012 10:17:18 PM
As many Cleveland, Lakewood(NJ) and Brooklyn Orthodox Jews travel over the schools' mid-Winter break, there is the very real risk that the Shigella outbreak could spread to other communities. Traveling with small children adds various challenges... read more

Shigella Health Advisory for Cleveland  

Posted by mendel Monday, January 23, 2012 8:26:43 PM
The Cuyahoga County Board of Health has issued a health advisory for the Orthodox Jewish community of Cleveland relating to the current outbreak of Shigella, a highly infectious bacterial infection causing diarrhea. As of Jan 20 there were 21... read more

The Obesity Epidemic - A Jewish Perspective 

Posted by mendel Sunday, January 22, 2012 11:15:46 AM
Dr. Mendel Singer is available for speaking on obesity from a jewish perspective, in addition to the public health/medical perspective. The talk incorporates classical Jewish sources on eating and preventive health, as well as community issues such... read more

IER Approach to Health 

Posted by mendel Wednesday, November 30, 2011 5:39:00 PM
How do we live healthier lives? Keep the focus on the ier, as in healthier. Step by step. Just do something, and stick to it. Start with something easy. I will be writing more on this at my blog, but I would like to ask you to share your ideas on... read more

Healthy Jews: La-briut! 

Posted by mendel Friday, October 7, 2011 10:54:03 AM

My health blog has begun! You can check out the first post at the Cleveland Jewish News website. It is October and time to get your flu shot!

Health Blog at Cleveland Jewish News 

Posted by mendel Wednesday, September 28, 2011 1:59:52 PM

Our director, Dr. Mendel Singer, will be starting a health blog at the Cleveland Jewish News website. It is scheduled to begin on Friday Oct 7, and is called: LaBriut! To Your Health!

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