web analytics
November 22, 2014 / 29 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Central Park’

Video: Anti-Semitic Elmo Ejected from Central Park

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

A man in an Elmo costume was ejected from Central Park and hospitalized after going on an anti-Semitic rant in the middle of the New York landmark.

While the man’s name was not released because he was not arrested. Police said that Monday’s incident was not the first time he had been dressed as the Sesame Street character and gone on a racial rant.

Videos of the costumed Elmo’s anti-Semitic comments began to circulate Sunday and show him directing bystanders to read “The International Jew” by Henry Ford, the automobile manufacturer who was known for his anti-Semitic views.

“I’m not making money because the Jewish costume company is harassing me,” said the man, caught on video. “That’s why I’m doing it and that’s why I want people to read ‘The International Jew,’ because if you start your business in this city, Jews will harass you.”

The man also complained that he wasn’t making any money because of “Jewish cops and company.”

A spokesman for the Sesame Street Workshop, the nonprofit group that produces “Sesame Street,” released a statement on Monday saying that “The ‘Sesame Street’ Muppets are known the world over, and we do not condone unauthorized representations of our characters.”

Running For A Cause (Part II)

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

On a cold, rainy morning in late October, a group of people of various ages, places, and points in their lives gather together in Central Park to train for an upcoming marathon. It is Sunday morning, the weather is miserable, and most people would rather be in bed. Yet this particular group is not deterred by the rain or anything else, for they have a goal and are determined to reach that goal – no matter what it takes.

These runners are just a small part of a group of incredible people who together comprise Team Yachad – a group put together by Yachad, the National Jewish Council for Disabilities – who will be running in this year’s ING Marathon and Half Marathon in Miami Beach, Florida on January 29. Yachad is an organization dedicated to addressing the needs of people with disabilities, and including them in the Jewish community. The goal of Team Yachad is to raise much-needed funds for this very worthwhile organization, with each team member committing to raise money in order to be on the team.

Included in the race package is a trip to Miami, accommodations, and a Shabbaton with the entire team at Newport Beach Resort and Spa. The team members will also receive customized training regimens from Team Yachad’s coach, Jasmine “Jaz” Graham, an RRCA certified training coach, who works with the runners both as a group and individually to prepare for the marathon. This is Yachad’s third consecutive year running in the ING Miami Marathon, and at 135 runners from all over the country it promises to be their biggest and best race to date.

Eliana Shields of Baltimore participated in last year’s marathon. She had heard about the marathon from a friend who was also running, and as someone who was very involved with Yachad of Baltimore, she felt privileged to be part of something amazing. “Yachad has given me more than I have given to them,” she says. “I am so grateful to them for all the fantastic work that they do, and feel privileged to have been a part of such an incredible experience.” Eliana has also kept up her running. It is a big part of her life now, and she is currently running a 5K in Baltimore. Yachad has affected her life in more ways than one.

Aaron Winston, a Yachad member from Dallas, Texas, also ran in last year’s marathon. “Running with Yachad strengthened my belief in humanity and in God,” he tells me. “Seeing all the people running together for a single cause showed me an incredible togetherness that cannot be found anywhere else. Yachad is a great organization, and the marathon is the pinnacle of what Yachad stands for.”

Also involved with the marathon, although she does not actually run in the race, is Nicole Bodner, program director for Yachad NY. She does, however, run the show. For the past two years, Nicole has been coordinating and overseeing parts of the event. “It’s been an incredible experience,” she says. “Being a part of this marathon is so inspiring, and it’s amazing to be on the other side and facilitate such an unbelievable event that so many people are a part of. The environment in the room is simply indescribable and it’s amazing to see so many people feel so passionately about a cause that I myself am so passionate about. There is nothing like it.”

You too can be a part of Yachad. Whether it’s sponsoring a particular runner or making a general donation to Yachad, every contribution is appreciated. Visit www.teamyachad.com for more information and to view a full list of runners. Yachad – together – we can make a difference!

Shaindy Urman is a freelance writer and editor living in Brooklyn. She can be reached at shaindy@jewishpress.com. Shaindy will be running with Team Yachad this year in the ING Miami Marathon. To sponsor Shaindy and donate to a great cause, visit her page, www.teamyachad.com/shaindy. All proceeds, no matter the sum, go to benefit Yachad, the National Jewish Council for Disabilities.

Kiruv – Outreach – A Family Affair

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis:

I come from a solid, yeshivish family. My parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles are all “Torahdik” people. Most of my friends have similar backgrounds, and when the time came for me to go to seminary in Yerushalayim, I was most fortunate to be accepted with my friends at a great school. I had an amazing year in learning and in inspirational experiences. An entire new world opened up and I loved every minute of being in Yerushalayim. Now that I am back in New York, I truly miss Eretz Yisrael and feel sad not to be there. It was probably one of the happiest years of my life.

As you can guess, I am now entering a new phase of my life – the shidduch parshah. People are calling my mom with recommendations and asking what sort of young man I am looking for. Obviously, like all seminary girls, I hope to marry someone who is a real ben Torah, with good middos (character traits) and also, something more. I would like my husband and myself to make a difference in the world, and I would like to be a partner with him in this dream. I would truly love to do kiruv – outreach.

My family is trying to discourage me. They tell me that it’s one thing to have guests once in a while, but it’s something else again when you make a career of it and it is constantly happening. I have been told that children growing up in kiruv homes very often become casualties. They take second place to the many guests who need personal attention.

Additionally, I have been told that when children are exposed to a variety of people, some of them with difficult backgrounds, they could be negatively influenced. There are always so many guests who need attention that the children get lost, and along with that, family life. To be honest with you, I am confused. I have always thought that it would be wonderful to bring people to Torah and mitzvos, but after hearing all this I just don’t know.

Since you are a pioneer in kiruv and started Hineni decades ago, and since you are also, Baruch Hashem, a bubbie and have seen generations grow up, I thought I would ask for your opinion. I would really appreciate your sharing your thoughts on this subject, although I guess that at this time, the entire matter is a moot point, since I do not have a shidduch candidate in view who is a ben Torah and also interested in kiruv.

Please don’t misunderstand…. while my parents have tried to dissuade me, they would never stand in my way and will help as much as they can. But they would like me to go into this with my eyes wide open. They agree that it would be good for me to consult you since they have followed your articles for many years. If you decide to publish my letter, please omit my name. Thank you so much and hatzlachah. May you continue your avodas ha’kodesh for many years to come.

Dear Friend:

Kiruv – outreach, is probably one of the most rewarding experiences that you can have. It is much more than reaching out and helping someone – it is nothing short of re-building and resuscitating Am Yisroel. Kiruv impacts on untold generations and changes the world. When you are mekarev someone, you not only reconnect an individual with Hashem, but more significantly, through that individual, you impact upon an entire family, an entire nation.

This is a concept that even children can be inspired by, but like anything else, it is all in the presentation. If the children are made to feel part of this vision, they will indeed be excited and ennobled by the experience, but if they are left out resentment can result. In a future article, I will elaborate on how kiruv was realized in my own family and how we practiced it. In the interim, I invite you to read an essay written by one of my own granddaughters on this very subject. It was a school assignment and the subject was “Cultural Differences That Are Unique to Each Individual Family.”

This granddaughter is the embodiment of chesed, tznius and humility, and we would never have known about this essay had it not been that my daughter (her mother), found it by accident while cleaning the house. I suggest that you read her words carefully and see for yourself how children and grandchildren can be impacted by kiruv. The following is her essay:

Writing about a “cultural experience unique to my family” seemed at first like an almost impossible task. I always thought that culture implied religion and, therefore, any experience unique to my family would also be “unique” to every other girl sitting in my class as we all come from Orthodox Jewish homes. However, as I thought more and more, I realized how although all of us do celebrate the same holidays and traditions throughout the year, each family adds its own twist, which makes it exclusively theirs.

My family’s secret twist is my grandmother, Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis, a world-renowned speaker. Growing up with a celebrity grandmother has taught me so much. Judaism is a very family-oriented religion, and so usually, for each holiday, families congregate and hold festivities together. However, my grandmother, being the public figure that she is, has always celebrated each holiday differently.

From California to Canada (and everywhere in-between) my grandmother usually has speaking engagements booked over the holidays. And so, if my family wishes to spend time with my grandmother over a holiday, we accompany her to wherever she may be going. From these precious times that I share with my grandmother, I have learned an important lesson – to share her with the multitudes of people who wish to ask her advice or hear her speak. And I am able to learn how to interact with others the same way that she does, so that hopefully, one day, I can try to follow my grandmother’s ways.

The high holidays, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are days of prayer and awe. While most families spend those holidays at home and in the synagogue, beseeching G-d, my family does something a little different. We pack our bags and head for the Plaza Hotel, located in midtown Manhattan, and there, we transform a ballroom that is meant for lavish weddings and dinners into a beautiful synagogue. All this is done under the direction of my grandmother who has a passion for Jewish outreach. The goal is to attract those who may not otherwise come to High Holy Days services and expose them to the beauty of an Orthodox service.

My family has been conducting these services for the past 13 years. When I say my family, I do not just mean my parents and siblings, but all of my aunts, uncles and cousins. It is a true family affair. When I was a little girl, I looked forward to spending time with my cousins and exploring Central Park as the adults prayed for seemingly endless hours.

However, now that I am older, I am able to truly appreciate the importance of the services. My two uncles serve as the rabbis; standing at the pulpit from the beginning of the services through the end calling out the page number we are up to in the machzor and giving insightful explanations for all the prayers and the Torah readings. As most of the 500 people who attend the services are not literate in Hebrew, this is very important so that they can follow along. My father, who is blessed with the sweetest, beautiful voice, leads the congregation in a melodious service that lasts for many hours.

My role, as well as the rest of my extended family, is to help the hundreds of congregants pray. We sit side-by-side with them, pointing and turning their pages in order to help them follow along. There are many people who are praying for the first time and are not sure what to do, and so we tell them when to sit, stand, bow, etc. My grandmother, who is our role model, had us take an active role in outreach from the young age of eight or nine years old. I have gained a lot from all the members of the congregation who pray with great concentration and sincerity, even though many were not raised with a religious background.

The way my family spends the High Holy Days is unique when compared to most Orthodox Jewish families. It has served as a great conversation piece for me, as most people find it interesting that I “do Tashlich” in Central Park. I view it as a tremendous privilege to be able to be involved in outreach and help many Jews become more involved in Judaism, especially when the future of every person is decided in the Heavens Above.

(To be continued)

Fishl’s Footrace: An Interview With Fred Lebow’s Biographer

Wednesday, February 16th, 2005
Fred Lebow, who died in October 1994, took a small race that had been held in Central Park and turned it into a Big Apple spectacle – the New York City Marathon, the world’s greatest footrace. Ron Rubin, a professor of political science at the Borough of Manhattan Community College and a six-time Marathon participant, has written an entertaining and inspiring biography of Lebow titled Anything For a T-Shirt (Syracuse University Press). In a recent interview with The Jewish Press, he shared some thoughts on his book and on the life and legacy of Mr. Lebow.

Jewish Press: How did you get involved writing a biography of Fred Lebow?


Rubin: As I write in the book’s preface, I was one of the “shleppers” – the ordinary, middle- and back-of-the-pack, “grassroots” runners convinced by Fred Lebow that they could go the distance. I was a firsthand recipient of the gift he created. I am one of those who ran the race and made it to the finish line in Central Park – and the experience was so rewarding, I went on to do it five more times.
Shortly after Mr. Lebow’s passing, I began doing research into his life. What I found was a story that embodied almost all of life’s most important themes: surviving adversity; rising above challenges; overcoming humanity’s worst nightmares and reaching for our individual dreams; working hard to achieve our goals or volunteering to help others accomplish theirs, etc. And the story was chock full of fascinating people and places, politics, hype, shtick, competition and controversy.

How long did it take to write the book?

It took almost nine years to put together all the information from more than 120 interviews and 27 quoted publications and to get the first draft manuscript written. Another year was spent working with an editorial consultant who polished the manuscript, contracting with a publisher, going through the publisher’s proofing and editorial review, checking the typeset copy, and going back to my editorial consultant for indexing, all before going to print. With just a little juggling at the end, the book wound up coming out in connection with the tenth yarhzeit of Fishl Lebowitz, better known as Fred Lebow.

How did Judaism influence Fred’s life?

Fred, or Ephraim Fishl Lebowitz, was born into an Orthodox Jewish family in pre-war Europe. As a child he attended cheder, and Yiddish and Hungarian were the languages spoken at home. He observed the main Jewish holidays, such as fasting on Yom Kippur and attending a Passover Seder. During his tenure, a pre-race Marathon minyan was launched, attracting some one hundred participants. This prayer service remains the only such minyan in the world. It is housed in a tent, passed by tens of thousands of marathoners, near the entrance to the race’s staging area at Fort Wadsworth, Staten Island. He made sure the marathon never took place on any of the Jewish holidays in the fall. In designing the marathon route, he insisted that the race pass through Williamsburg along Bedford Avenue. “Lama heren” (“Lets hear it”) were the words Fred shouted to the chassidim as he led the runners through Williamsburg.

When did Fred begin re-exploring his Jewishness?

From the information I was given by those I interviewed who had a connection with Fred’s Jewishness, he began his re-exploration on the day he was told he had terminal brain cancer. In the spring of 1994, when he sensed his impending death, he dramatically showed just how far his religious transformation had gone. His club, the New York Road Runners, put out a press release saying that he wanted to be known by the Jewish name he’d been born with. On April 28, 1994, the New York Daily News reported that Lebow had “started the process of reverting to his original name.” Explaining his move, Lebow said, “I’ve always observed the Jewish holidays and always been proud of my heritage and it’s time I return to my original name.”

In your book you write that Fred’s Jewishness informed his vision of a people’s marathon.

As a child he was taught that a Jew, rather than lead a status quo life, must continually shteig, which means climb, or strive, in order to justify his very being. From there came the idea that a non-athletic type should not be discouraged or look for excuses for not trying to cross the marathon finish.
The second major influence was the Holocaust. Elite categories or any type of exclusionary standards held a hollow ring to anyone such as Lebow who had to do all sorts of maneuvering during his formative years just to stay alive. Thus, he developed the vision of an inclusionary marathon with all members of the human race doing their best to go the distance.

What was his relationship with city officials, and how much of a help or hindrance were they in setting up the marathon?

Fred’s relationship with city officials varied widely, depending on what he or they were looking for and where they were along the timeline of the marathon’s history. At times they were a great help, at other times a hindrance, but they were critical to the success of his show so he used his chutzpah, his skills – and T-shirts! – to win them over time and time again. The politics of the marathon are covered in depth in my book.

How was he able to secure corporate backing?

In 1973, Kathrine Switzer, who in her review of Anything for a T-Shirt points out that the book “is a case study in sports marketing, event management and psychology,” was instrumental in helping Fred secure Olympic Airways as the first sponsor of the New York City Marathon, which was then a small race held totally within the confines of Central Park. Throughout the years, others came forth to help Fred get sponsors, but in the long run, as indicated by the title and subtitle of my book’s chapter about sponsorship, it was a matter of “Squeezing Money from Sponsors: Like squeezing juice from a Big Apple, having the right handle helped eliminate any need for pressure.” Lebow simply created a show that companies wanted to sponsor.

Explain the title of the book.

Simply said, Fred Lebow used T-shirts from the very beginning to draw runners and volunteers and to make friends with politicians, the police and fire departments, etc.

What are your plans for the book now?

At this time, my editorial consultant and I have been busy working to keep Fred Lebow’s memory alive during this 10th yarhzeit year in as many marathons and runners clubs as possible. For example, we arranged to present the book in Fred’s memory to the recipient of a special award given by the Carlsbad (CA) Marathon to a person who overcame great obstacles to be there – the kind of person who would not have even considered doing a marathon before Lebow created and promoted what I refer to as the “people’s” marathon.
In March we’ll be at the Los Angeles Marathon. Beyond that, only time will tell.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/fishls-footrace-an-interview-with-fred-lebows-biographer/2005/02/16/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: