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SUHI Project:Jewish Community Health Survey


Jewish Community Health Survey



Project Plan:

Phase I
With a lead grant from the Polk Bros. Foundation, SUHI and the Jewish Federation launched the first phase of the project- data collection.  A three-stage sampling design was used to select a random sample of 201 Jewish adults from these two neighborhoods. Between August 2003 and January 2004, these adults participated in a face-to-face interview conducted by the University of Illinois at Chicago’s (UIC) Survey Research Laboratory.  Interviews to collect data on children were also done, with the child’s primary caregiver.  In total, the Jewish surveys included 475 adult questions and 100 child questions. 

Phase II
Grants from the Fel-Pro/Mecklenburger Supporting Fund, the Irvin & Ruth Swartzberg Foundation, the Fund for Innovation in Health, and the Michael Reese Health Trust supported the second phase of the project in 2005.  During this phase, an analysis of the data was completed (see Final Report) and, together with the Jewish Federation, a series of presentations were made. The findings showed that, in general, the residents of West Rogers Park and Peterson Park are as healthy or healthier than their counterparts in Chicago and the U.S. for most risk factors and outcomes.  However, several serious health problems were identified, including elevated levels of obesity, depression, disability, and domestic violence.  These findings were shared with over 100 community members, including local rabbis, social service providers, educators, lay leadership, and health professionals, in order to prioritize health concerns and to determine how to address them.  

Phase III

This work has all lead up to the most important objective of the overall project – addressing priority health problems with targeted interventions.  One topic - elevated rates of childhood obesity - was chosen as a top concern because it affects the majority of children in the community and because it foreshadows serious health consequences for the future.  To address this issue, a school-based obesity intervention was developed and pilot-tested in two pilot schools in the target community, Joan Dachs Bais Yaakov and Yeshivas Tiferes Tzvi.  It was then implemented in three more elementary schools, Akiba Schechter, Arie Crown, and Hillel Torah, during the 2008-09 school year.   Following this, all other interested ATT schools were invited and 4 new schools were added.  For the first time, high schools were invited to participate and both Lubavitch Girls High School and Hanna Sacks Girls High School chose to be a part of the project. Together, nearly 2,000 children in grades K-8 benefitted from this intervention.

The initiative focused on the following five areas: family involvement, school environment, health education, physical education, and staff wellness.  A special component on mental and emotional health was also included for older girls.  This initiative continues to serve as a model for other schools in the Jewish school system of Chicago, as well as other Jewish schools across the country. 

Project Updates:

This project has ended. For more information about the school initiative, please see the Jewish Day School Wellness Initiative.



Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago
Associated Talmud Torahs
Michael Reese Health Trust
Polk Bros. Foundation