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December 2, 2015 / 20 Kislev, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘marathon’

The Amazing Race (Part III)

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

As some of you may know, either through my previous articles, numerous online posts, or non-stop chatter about the topic, I recently had the pleasure of attending Yachad’s marathon weekend event in Miami Beach, Florida. I was invited to participate in this incredible experience, both as a writer and as a runner, and to feel firsthand what the words unity, commitment, dedication, and inspiration truly mean.

It all started three years ago when Yachad, the National Jewish Council for Disabilities, put together a team of 29 runners to participate in the ING Miami Marathon and Half Marathon, with the goal of raising much-needed funds for this incredible organization. The following year, that number doubled, with 77 runners committing to and running the marathon. This year was their most successful one yet, with 135 runners fundraising, training for, and running 13.1 or 26.2 miles, all with the same goal: to help Yachad continue their dedicated work of enhancing the life opportunities of individuals with disabilities, and ensuring their participation in the full spectrum of Jewish life.

My experience with Yachad began well before the actual marathon, dating back about six months or so when I first signed up to join the team. After my initial meeting with some of the dedicated staff members and runners in a New Jersey high school, I attended a couple of training sessions with Coach Jasmine (“Jaz”) Graham, who patiently answered every question I threw at her, and who provided me with my very own training regimen to fit my schedule.

Team Yachad 2012

After months of training and hard work, I hopped on a plane from rainy New York City to beautiful, sunny Miami Beach. The weekend began with the entire group meeting on Friday and registering for the race at the Miami Beach Convention Center, which was packed with booths, vendors, visitors and excited runners who were gearing up for Sunday’s race. After that, it was off to the beautiful Newport Beachside Resort in Sunny Isles, Florida on a chartered bus, followed by a lovely Friday afternoon lunch.

Then it was off to our hotel rooms to get ready for Shabbos. Walking into the beautiful room that the staff at Yachad had prepared, I was pleasantly surprised to discover a travel bag waiting for me, filled with goodies like snacks, drinks, health items, orange Team Yachad T-shirts, headbands, and several other surprises. On the bag were two tags; one had my name with the title “runner,” the other had my three-year-old daughter’s name with “fan club” underneath. It seemed like Yachad had taken care of every detail – from the couch-bed pulled out and made up for my daughter, to the many bottles of Gatorade that were provided for us even before the actual race.

It has been quite a number of years since I’ve attended summer camp, but that’s exactly what Shabbos with Yachad felt like. From the beautiful Friday night davening, to the heartfelt singing at the Shabbos table, to the warm feeling of unity that was felt throughout the entire Shabbos, from beginning to end. Many of the runners were high school students who are connected to or involvedwith Yachad and are tremendous supporters of its work. Other runners included college students, grad students, and professionals who took time off of work to support Team Yachad. Others were staff members from different branches of the Orthodox Union throughout the country, and came with their families, some even recruiting their spouse to run right along with them. However they got there or whatever their motivation, every member of Team Yachad contributed to the Shabbaton and to the entire weekend in their own unique way – helping make it as special as it was.

Shabbos afternoon consisted of a beautiful Shabbos lunch, followed by a chance for everyone to enjoy the boardwalk, the beach, or to simply rest. Right after shalosh seudos, everyone gathered in a circle to sing Shabbos zemiros as a group. This was followed by one of my personal highlights of the weekend: a question-and-answer session with Richard Bernstein. Bernstein, 37, is blind since birth, and ran with Team Yachad for the first time in this year’s ING Miami Marathon. He has completed 15 marathons – including seven NYC Marathons, the Ironman Triathlon and the Israman Triathlon. An attorney, he is a tireless advocate for disabled rights and was so excited to run as part of Yachad, an organization that works hard at enhancing the life opportunities of individuals with disabilities, the very same mission to which he has devoted his life. It was a privilege to hear him speak and to have him share inspiration with the entire team.

Another inspirational moment for me came at the end of Shabbos, during Havdalah. As many of the team members were teenagers, I expected them all to race out of the shul the minute Shabbos was over and head straight toward their cell phones/laptops/iPods/cameras/iPads, etc. Much to my surprise, Havdalah was a lengthy and very beautiful ritual that I don’t normally have the pleasure to witness. When it was over, the kids started singing, “Six more days ‘till Shabbos…” and formed a circle, singing and dancing as if they didn’t want Shabbos to end. It was incredibly inspiring.

Zehava Shmueli: Women’s Leadership Awardee

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

The Women’s Leadership Award was created in 2007 by the European Athletics Development Committee to raise awareness of the issues related to women and leadership in athletics. National recipients were declared for 24 European countries, and the Israeli Athletic Association voted Zehava Shmueli the national winner of this most prestigious award.

This has not been Zehava Shmueli’s first, nor was it her last award. This year the Israeli Athletic Association honored Shmueli at the Israeli Open Championships with the Israeli Women in Sport Award and named her an honorary member of the Association, declaring: “Shmueli exemplifies the spirit of the European Athletics Women’s Leadership Award through her extraordinary athletic records and her current strong community involvement. She has contributed not only to women’s athletics but to all women’s sports in Israel, and for this she is a role model to all.”

Zehava Shmueli represented Israel in a number of World Championships, among them the 1983 Marathon in Helsinki, Finland and the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, USA where she placed 30th in the Marathon.

Shmueli got her start in running at age 12 when a teacher noticed her natural talent. She competed at a young age but stopped at 17. After marrying and having two children she missed the sport and began to run with a local club two days a week. It only took a year of training for Shmueli to reenter the competitive world. She broke records and won races throughout Israel.

Currently retired from competition, Shmueli lives in Ramat Hasharon where she is still active in the running world. She founded “Runners of Ramat Hasharon,” helping to train athletes for long distance and marathon competitions, and managing all youth athletics in town. The most memorable of all the races Zehava organizes is the “Eyal Race,” one of Israel’s largest running events, in memory of her beloved athletic son, Eyal Shmueli, who tragically collapsed and died of cardiac arrest in June 2001 when he was 27.  A young family member remembers Eyal as a kind, loving soul:  “For my family, the smile he had on his face when he fell told them that his death was that of an angel.” The famous “Eyal Race” is Zehava’s way of coping with her grief.

“I approached Zehava to help me train for the New York City marathon because of her reputation as an exceptional runner and coach,” relates Yitzchaka Jackson who successfully completed her run in this year’s New York City Marathon. “At first Zehava was not that keen to take on a ‘newbie’ runner like me. But after she understood my reason for running this race she got behind the project 100% and helped me make it to the finish line.”  We featured Yitzchaka’s story in our October 28 issue.  Yitzchaka tells us, “While we have received generous donations, we still, unfortunately, fall short of our targeted amount of $42,000. ($1,000. for each of the 42 marathon kilometers).”

”Would you please ask your readers to visit http://www.irunforavi.com/how-to-donate,” Yitzchaka implored. “They can help us complete the mitzvah of Zehava Shmueli’s efforts.”

Husband Spending Too Much Time With Business Partner Of The Opposite Sex

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Question: I trust my husband implicitly. He has never given me reason to suspect him of wrongdoing. So, why am I writing? Three years ago he began a new job. He works very closely with a frum woman. They make a very good team – she is the salesperson and crucial to the business. A few months ago they started to train together to run in a half marathon for tzedakah. Then I found out that she and her husband had separated. I did not hear this from my husband – it was a friend who told me. When I asked my husband why he didn’t tell me, he said that she asked him not to tell anyone and he respected her privacy. Then I found out that they skipped a workout because of the rain and instead had lunch together. This I heard from a friend who saw them together. Please understand I don’t want to think he’s doing anything wrong. Surely he wouldn’t be in a restaurant for all to see if he was up to no good. He says I’m being overly sensitive. Is he right?

Answer: Let me begin by saying – stop trusting your husband implicitly. You said he’s never given you reason to suspect him of wrongdoing. Guess what? Now he has. I’m not a fan of any married person spending loads of time with a member of the opposite sex – alone – especially for extracurricular activities. Training for a half marathon means they have practice runs for at least an hour to start and eventually it will work itself up to two hours or more. As they jog they chat, laugh, discuss business; all the things you’d like to do with your husband but probably don’t have the time to. One of the reasons you don’t have that time is because he’s with her. It’s one thing to have a business relationship, and even that should be scrutinized, but this is a further step – and it’s dangerous. The number one place men meet the women they cheat with is at work, the number two place is while engaging in a hobby. Your situation rings both bells. Trust your intuition. If you are getting a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach over this, that tells you better than any list I could give you that something is up.

What may be confusing you is that you don’t want to believe your husband is physically cheating on you. But this doesn’t mean you should be ignoring his behavior. Unlike what many think, research has proven that the vast majority of men who cheat had an emotional relationship with the woman well before it became physical. Perhaps your husband is out in public with this woman because he hasn’t gone so far as to physically cheat, so he’s not hiding the relationship. However, this doesn’t mean he is not doing anything inappropriate. Spending hours of leisure time alone with her and having this emotional relationship is inappropriate. It is also likely to develop into an emotional bond that will threaten your marriage, regardless of whether he ever turns it into a physical affair. You have every right to be concerned.

Have a serious talk with him and explain that you want to feel closer to him. Let him know that you value your marriage and don’t want to take what seems to be the easy route of not confronting the situation. Tell him your frustration; don’t make it about this other woman as much as it being about the two of you. Both of you deserve to have more time together and should be working on how to make it happen. Maybe the two of you need a new hobby or exercise routine. Be willing to listen to what he’d like to do for fun and share your own ideas as well. You want to stop him from relating to this other woman, but you need to give him an outlet for this emotional energy. I’m not suggesting he’s missing something and you’re at fault. I’m suggesting that he’s acting inappropriately, but this emotional energy needs to find a home and it better be your home. You want to get your marriage back on track to where he’s getting this emotional bond and then some, with you.

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/

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