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Walter, 70, goes back on the run to aid flooded shul

    When Walter Hecht turned 70, he decided that his half-marathon days were pretty much run.

    But the Glasgow Friends of Israel treasurer wanted to do a final event and approached Nigel Goodrich, founder of the Confederation of Friends of Israel Scotland, to race on behalf of the organisation.

    However, Mr Goodrich suggested that he should instead support the appeal launched to raise £10,000 for the small Aberdeen community, which has been forced out of its synagogue after a major flood. The amount is the shortfall from what the congregation expects to receive from its insurer.

    Suitably inspired, Mr Hecht completed the half-marathon in Edinburgh in two hours 19 minutes on Sunday.

    He has now committed to a further 13-mile run in Glasgow this weekend and hopes to raise a total £3,000.

    “If the Aberdeen community was to go, it would touch me emotionally,” he said. “It gives students, tourists and people in the oil industry a place to go on Shabbos.

    “They also teach the local population about Judaism. If they go, it gives carte blanche to others to diminish Judaism and Israel.”

    Noting that the appeal was attracting support from beyond the Scottish borders, Mr Hecht added: “People in London should worry about shuls in Scotland.”

    Aberdeen’s Debby Taylor reported that Yomtov services were being held in the home of a community member, although the Rosh Hashanah attendance was down slightly as visitors who might have come to the shul were not aware of the alternative venue.

    As an example of local interfaith support, “the Aberdeen Mosque very generously loaned us their folding chairs”.

    The shul is currently considering an offer from a London businessman of space in an Aberdeen property he owns for as long as it is needed.

    But the congregation needs funds urgently for dehumidifiers and advance part-payment for building work.

    With Mr Hecht’s sponsorship money, it is close to halfway to its appeal target.

    Meanwhile, Mr Hecht has been buying “huge amounts of energy gel” in advance of Sunday’s half-marathon. Unenthralled by the prospect of a 13-mile run the day after Yom Kippur, he joked: “I might have to phone MDA to meet me at the finish.”

    And will that be his final half-marathon. “I am pretty sure... My wife is certain. I am tired of her shouting at me to grow up.”

     

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