New York’s Running Rabbis join marathon for tikun olam

Group of Jewish clergy run 26.2 mile marathon for charity; “We feel strongly that this is one way to serve the entire swath of humanity," says NYC rabbi.

New York marathon 311 (photo credit: Bloomberg)
New York marathon 311
(photo credit: Bloomberg)
NEW YORK – Amid the droves of runners in the ING New York Marathon this past Sunday, a close observer might have spotted some from a more unusual group: the Running Rabbis.
The Running Rabbis is a group of Jewish clergy – rabbis, cantors, rabbinical and cantorial students – for whom running 26.2 miles is another way to pursue justice. In each race, the Running Rabbis raise funds for different charities. Collectively, the group has raised well over $150,000.
Five of the group’s twenty members ran this year’s New York City marathon.
“The whole Running Rabbis effort is a way to turn an activity we enjoy into tikkun olam,” New York City’s Central Synagogue rabbi and runner Michael Friedman said.
Friedman walked this year’s New York Marathon as a guide to a blind athlete through Achilles International.
The group raises money for a wide range of charities. Scott Weiner, senior rabbi at Temple Israel of New Rochelle in Westchester County, New York, raised funds this year for a New York Fire Department foundation in honor of September 11th. Fellow New York City Central Synagogue Rabbi Maurice Salth raised funds for the Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind.
Although a number of Jewish charities have asked the Running Rabbis to run for them, the group makes an effort to choose universalistic charities.
“We work every day to benefit the Jewish world,” Friedman said. “We feel strongly that this is one way to serve the entire swath of humanity.”
Weiner and another Reform rabbi, Ben David of Temple Sinai of Roslyn, New York, met as rabbinical students at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.
They enjoyed their work in the school’s soup kitchen, and looked for a way to do creative tikkun olam after they graduated, finding it by founding Running Rabbis in 2005.
The group’s members have run marathons and half-marathons in multiple states, and the Running Rabbis have been featured in Runner’s World.