Largest ever Maccabi GB Fun Run raises money for over 85 charities

Over 7,500 people participated in the annual event, which included an Israel Festival for the first time


Maccabi GB Fun Run and Israel Festival, June 23, 2024

The largest Jewish community event of the year, the annual Maccabi GB Community Fun Run, took place on Sunday, aiming to foster community spirit, while supporting charitable causes.

Over 7,500 community members of all ages came together to raise funds for over 85 participating communal charities, making it the biggest Maccabi Fun Run to date.

In what was a first, this year’s Maccabi Fun Run incorporated an Israel Festival, which included Israeli dancing, Israeli charity stalls and highlighted the plight of the 116 hostages still held in Gaza, with some runners wearing Bring Them Home Now badges.

As a rallying call for participants to start, each run was declared open with the blowing of the shofar by Rabbi Habib of Chabad Golders Green.

Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis officially opened the 1km run with Jonathan Prevezer, chairman of Maccabi GB.

Prevezer started the 5km and 10km events alongside Alan Lock, who joined the Royal Navy in 2002, but three years later, at the age of 24, lost his sight due to a rare genetic condition, forcing him to retire from the Armed Forces. In 2023, Alan represented Blind Veterans UK at the Veteran Games in Israel.

The Fun Zone – sponsored by JNF UK – hosted multiple activities, including the popular teacups fairground ride, climbing wall, photo booth, inflatables glitter tattoos, as well as a police van and ambulance for youngsters to explore and enjoy.

Attendees were entertained with artistic performances throughout the day by Vanessa Class School of Dance and the Israeli Dance Institute. There was also a football masterclass by football freestyler Itai Lichtenstein.

A charity fair, sponsored by the JLC, showcased the incredible and life-changing work of all the participating charities. Reflecting on the day, JLC CEO Claudia Mendoza said: “The Maccabi GB Community Fun Run is now a firm fixture in the community calendar and rightly so. It is an honour to be a sponsor and to see so many communal charities come together with the wider community.”

Kisharon Langdon, the learning disability and autism charity, entered 48 runners, including several individuals the charity supports. Funds raised will go directly towards enhancing the services and programmes offered by Kisharon Langdon.

The charity’s fundraising manager, Emma Nagli, expressed her excitement about the event, saying: "The Maccabi GB Community Fun Run is a wonderful opportunity for us to come together as a community, celebrate inclusivity, and showcase the incredible abilities of those we support. Our runners have trained hard, and their dedication is truly inspiring."

Over 70 people ran for Chai Cancer Care, the Jewish community’s national cancer support organisation.

More than 60 runners took part in the Maccabi GB Fun Run to raise essential funds for Jewish Care and Jami, with the youngest participant being four years old.

Among the runners were brother and sister duo, Jacob and Aimee Epstein. Inspired by his grandma, a resident at Jewish Care’s Anita Dorfman House at Sandringham, seven-year-old Jacob said: “I’m running for my nana and others in Jewish Care homes because I want them to be happy and well cared for and to encourage others to support too.”

Aimee, aged 11, added she was doing it both “for my nana and to get fitter. I hope to inspire others to join this run in the future.”

Matthew Kayne, a long-time member of Jewish Care’s volunteer team, completed the 1km event in his wheelchair to raise £450 for the charity. He said Jewish Care had supported him “immensely” and he felt compelled to give back “to this wonderful organisation”.

Thirteen-year-old Alfie Blass, whose mum works for Jewish Care, said he “loved” helping out at the community centres during school holidays. He said: “Seeing how happy people are when they come to Jewish Care motivates me and my friends to raise money by running for this incredible charity.”

The family of Gayle Klein, deputy chair at Jewish Care, also took part in the runs. Klein said: “What could be better than an opportunity to come together across generations and as a community to support the many organisations which we hold close to our heart? As long-time supporters and volunteers, we are delighted to take part with our family in aid of Jewish Care.”

Ellisa Estrin, Jewish Care’s director of fundraising and marketing, commented: “It was fantastic to see so many young people and their families participating in the Maccabi GB Fun Run. This community event is truly special.

“I congratulate our runners of all ages and thank them for supporting Jewish Care’s crucial work. Young people bring so much to our community, especially when they engage in intergenerational activities and connct with older generations.”

Chana, the Jewish fertility support charity, saw 68 dedicated individuals run for it.

Prevezer said after the event: “The Maccabi GB Community Fun Run and Israel Festival is a testament to the strength and unity of our community. This event not only raises essential funds but also fosters a sense of camaraderie and collective purpose.

"Seeing thousands of people come together inspires me every year but feels particularly important at this trying time. Am Yisrael Chai."

Maccabi GB CEO, Ashley Lerner, added: “The Maccabi GB Community Fun Run has always showcased the best of a united Jewish community; regardless of religious observance, age, ability, or anything else that could divide us, the Fun Run celebrates all that makes our community so vibrant and so special. This year, we also have the opportunity to celebrate Israel. Even in the most challenging times, we come together with smiles on our faces, using the positivity of sport and community to unite as proud British Jews and express our love for our community and for Israel.

Photos: Yoni Cohen/Kisharon Langdon/Jewish Care/Chai Cancer Care

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