Vaping in the Gym

No Vaping

You read that right, “vaping in the gym.”

Yesterday evening, I went for a run on the indoor track that runs around the main gym, but up a level. When running on the track it is possible to look below and see kids playing on toys, adults playing Pickleball, and teens playing basketball. I could not believe my eyes when I saw–of all things!–three teenage boys vaping IN THE GYM on the side of the basketball court.

I work at the gym and, even though I was not in uniform, when I got around the track to where they were I stopped running and called down to them. “Excuse me, gentlemen!” They saw where the voice was coming from and I said “You can’t do that here.” One of them said, rather sheepishly, “I’m sorry.” I responded, “don’t be sorry–just don’t do it!”

The same boys were seen and reported by two members vaping again the Fitness Center. I would say that I was speechless when I heard this, but this is a blog so I’ve got to write about it.

I know this shouldn’t matter, but what really bugged me was that the boys were obviously Jewish teens. How did I know? They were dressed in clothing and “accessories” that clearly identified them as Jews–and observant ones at that. Ugh.

I know this isn’t fair. I find it horrifying when I see any young person (or any person for that matter) vaping or smoking. It is so clearly detrimental to one’s health. Do I need to quote articles and health journals? We’ve known for a while just how damaging and addictive it can be. It is also a very expensive “habit.” How people still vape and smoke is beyond me.

Why does it bother me that they were Jewish…and apparently observant? How does one follow the Jewish laws so closely–so much so that it dictates their dress, diet, social interactions, etc.–and at the same time destroy one’s own body–a potentially holy vessel given by God?

There may not be a commandment in the Torah that says Thou Shalt Not Vape, but Jewish law clearly mandates that we have an obligation to preserve our health so that we will live and be able to serve God and our fellow human beings. How can someone care so much about the food that goes into their body and ignore the noxious chemicals they inhale? It is a total disconnect.

It is important for all religious leaders to share the dangers of vaping and smoking. We also need to call out the cigarette and vape companies that market to teens and young adults. They know that if they can create an addict early, they will have a customer for life.

Vaping in the gym? Sadly, yes. We can do better. We owe it to the next generation to get the message out.

That Feeling of Being Needed…

cute baby with her dad in the pool

Thought for Shabbat

On Thursday I was at the JCC swimming pool.  At the far end of the pool was a little girl (maybe 12-15 months) being held by her dad.  She was crying (which is why I noticed her) and holding on to her daddy with all her might.  And I had a flashback to my own days as a father of a young child.

I remember those days when my children (the youngest of whom is 19) would hold on to me in the pool.  That firm grip from those little hands and arms reminded me of just how much my kids needed me.  At the same time, it was heartwarming to know that not only did they need me, but I was able to give them exactly what they needed:  a sense of safety and security.  There is nothing in the world like that feeling.

Even though my kids are grown up now, I know that they still need meā€¦but in different ways.  I also recognize that at different times there are others who need me.  There are members of the congregation who depend on me for guidance, and who know that at some time I may need to accompany them through a difficult time.  There are clients of mine at the JCC who depend on me to help them reach their fitness goals in a safe and effective way; others rely on me help keep them active and independent in their older years.  There are also those in society in general who count on me as a fellow citizen to do the right thing, to support the positive endeavors in which we are engaged, and to help them meet their needs.

It feels good to be needed, but it feels even better to be able to provide for those needs.  This is a Jewish value to be sure, but more than that, we know it to be true in our hearts.

Shabbat Shalom!