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Why I Run: Rabbi Maurice Salth’s Reflection on Running the New York City Marathon

Posted November 2, 2017

By Rabbi Maurice Salth

When I was 17, my father Irving had a massive heart attack.  The doctors told us that he would not survive, but he did.  Dad had triple bypass surgery to address the blockage in his arteries.  Four years later, he ran his first-ever New York City Marathon.  I was mesmerized by his transformation and the experience of being on the sidewalks of New York City rooting for him and thousands of other runners.  I’m still mesmerized.

I hated running when I was a kid; hated it.  I can still access memories of despising running in high school gym class, but after my father ran the marathon I had a change of heart.  I completed my first marathon with my father and sister in 2000 and I’ve been fortunate to run six more since.

I run in honor and support of my dad.  I run for David and Riley – beautiful children that I’ve met here at Central.  I run for Central families who pay tribute to their loved ones by creating and supporting charities that help tens of thousands.  I run in solidarity with Fred Bondy, one of our members, who has run 43 marathons and the many other Central members who have taken on the challenge of the marathon.

I run in spirit with other clergy advocating important causes – we call ourselves The Running Rabbis

I run because on the marathon course I am eyewitness and beneficiary of a taste of Olam HaBah – Judaism’s concept of the world as it ought to be; where people from all backgrounds and more than 100 nations are running, cheering and genuinely supporting each other.

I run to read the signs on the course.  Some of my favorites over the years include: Chuck Norris never ran a marathon; Run for Love; and You Are Fast!  And yes, it is invigorating to have strangers shouting, “Go Mo!” at me as I traipse through the five boroughs.

I run because it is hard.  I run because the training keeps me physically and mentally fit, especially heading into the High Holy Days; the most demanding and stressful time of my year.  And I ran this year to celebrate my turning 50… but most of all my marathon passion and determination to finish the race is fueled by my dad and his dramatic comeback years ago.  This is a gift I will always treasure.

I’d love to hear about your running story – connect with me at the synagogue or via Facebook .