As Hanukka approaches, many are preparing for the holiday by purchasing candles, cleaning the hanukkia, practicing some dreidel moves and looking for new latke recipes.
Meanwhile Sara Greenwood, a 25-year-old immigrant from America, is getting ready for the Festival of Lights by lacing up her running shoes. She is doing a running challenge during the eight days of Hanukka to raise money for Save a Child's Heart (SACH), an international organization based in Israel that improves the quality of pediatric cardiac care for children from developing countries in need.
This is not Greenwood's first year doing such a challenge, however.
"Last year I decided to challenge myself to eat a sufganiya per candle of Hanukka," says Greenwood. "It wasn't so difficult to accomplish. I just convinced myself that I could, and then did it. My friends bought the sufganiyot, so I ended up tasting a whole variety of flavors and recipes," she says. "It wasn't too painful towards the end. I ate them spread out throughout the day. By the last day, all I was eating was sufganiyot."
According to Greenwood, she decided to "â€¦use my gluttonous behavior for goodâ€¦" and asked people to donate money during her challenge. Greenwood raised a couple of hundred shekels and gave the money to her synagogue's charity fund.
This year, Greenwood is channeling another physical dimension and working toward a larger goal.
"I knew I wanted to do another Hanukka challenge this year, and I wanted to place a bigger focus on the charity aspect of it," she explains. "I am a competitive person - I guess some might say a bit crazy - who likes challenges, and I wanted to do something positive with my crazy tendencies," she says.
So Greenwood has shifted her training and motivation from sufganiyot to sneakers.
To match the difficulty of last year's sufganiyot challenge, Greenwood will run two kilometers for each candle during Hanukka. By the eighth night, she hopes to complete a 16-kilometer run strong. Within the eight days of Hanukka, Greenwood's goal is to have run 72 kilometers in all.
"Sixteen kilometers in one day should be a challenge in itself, let alone after having run 14 the day before and 12 the day before that. My greatest challenge will be avoiding injury and fatigue," she explains.
Greenwood will be posting her routes and run times on her "Sara's Hanukka Challenge" event wall on Facebook. She hopes that individuals will come out and run or walk with her during the challenge.
The most important aspect of the challenge, however, is not the number of kilometers run but the number of shekels raised for Save a Child's Heart.
After raising money for SACH while in a university a capella group, Greenwood decided that the organization would be a good recipient of the donations.
Since 1995, SACH has treated more than 2,200 children suffering from congenital and rheumatic heart diseases from 36 countries. The children are treated at the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon.
As Greenwood hits the pavement and raises money this Hanukka, she may not be refueling on sufganiyot, however. "I don't know how many sufganiyot I'll be eating this Hanukka. I don't particularly like them - I just ate them because I challenged myself."
As for next year's challenge, Greenwood has already gotten some suggestions.
"I'm not sure what next year's challenge will be, but I have a year to think about it," she says.