Let’s Celebrate: because embracing community is good for your health

By ORT Staff

An 80-year study into health provides important insights for living a healthy life but for many researchers, the most significant finding from the study is the impact of social connections on long-term health.

Harvard scientists began tracking the health and lives of subjects from mixed socio-economic backgrounds in 1938. In the decades that followed the researchers expanded the study to include more subjects and the findings have been released over time.

Among the positive factors contributing to long-term health discovered are of course physical activity, absence of alcohol abuse and smoking, access to education and having ‘mature mechanism to cope with life’s ups and downs’.

In eight decades, tens of thousands of documents’ worth of data have been gathered which can provide insights for a good life.

The most surprising finding has been the importance of relationships and healthy connections with others.

People who are more socially connected to family, friends and community are happier and live longer than people who are less well connected.

What makes us happy?

According to the scientists of this study, age, gender and professional life are not relevant. Connection with others is more significant for long-term health.

Embracing community and feeling a part of something bigger than ourselves helps us to live longer and be happier.

And being a part of a global community like ORT provides lots of opportunities to embrace such connections.

Our Let’s Celebrate activities encourage students and teachers from around the world to come together around Jewish festivals to celebrate what brings us together as well as what sets us apart.

This is the foundation of a strong community: sharing similarities and differences.

The most recent Let’s Celebrate event took place around Chanukah, which saw 13 different schools join online to present their own Chanukah traditions.

The students found that their traditions were largely the same, including special foods and activities for the festival such as donuts and dreidels, as well as songs like Ma’oz Tzur.

Where the traditions differed was in the details. A different tune or translation to the song, a different design or name for the dreidel or a different recipe for the traditional foods.

The opportunity to learn from different Jewish communities and to feel connected in this way is an exciting one and something to be valued. 

ORT students from 11 schools around the world also entered a dreidel design competition for the event and you can read more about their submissions here.

If you have a suggestion for the next ‘Let’s Celebrate’ event please get in touch. We’d be glad to collaborate with you to build our community to live a long and healthy life!