Charity will lose money after decision to hold London Marathon on Pesach


A Jewish charity has warned that it will lose out on thousands of pounds worth of donations after it was revealed that next year’s London Marathon will be run on the second day of Pesach.

Marathon organisers announced yesterday that 2016’s event will take place on April 24, when observant Jewish runners will not be able to take part.

The date was one of three that was being considered .

Special needs charity Kisharon, which mainly works with Orthodox children, said it would be denied “a five-figure sum” as a result of runners who usually raise money for the service not taking part.

Fundraising director Richard Franklin added: “This will materially impact on generosity that would otherwise be secured for people we support.”

Mr Franklin, whose charity is looking at a £24,000 boost from this year’s marathon, said the decision also excluded Jews from one of Britain’s most important cultural events.

“It is an opportunity for the Jewish community to play its part in a great celebration of all the good things in wider British society. It's a shame we won’t be able to do so.

“We thought with a bit of foresight this could have been avoided. It's regrettable that’s not the case.”

Nick Bitel, the marathon’s Jewish chief executive, said he knew the development was “disappointing,” but that he would compensate charities by adding any unfilled places to the organisations’ 2017 allocations.

Mr Bitel, also chair of Sport England, said: “We have to take in many factors, including the availability of key resources, major infrastructure and dates of other events.

“Once we've done that we try to avoid major religious festivals of all faiths, but sometimes it's not possible. I’m afraid it's part of the issues of living in a pluralistic society: clashes sometimes can’t be avoided.”

He also observed that many Progressive members of the community will not be affected.

Aid charity World Jewish Relief also expressed disappointment at the decision and said it would not now be promoting next year's race to its supporters.

Emma Segal, deputy director of philanthropy, said: "The marathon is a fantastic way to engage people with our cause, whilst creating memories that will last a lifetime. In addition, the marathon raises thousands of pounds to help the world's poorest Jews, funds that are indispensible to our organisation. In 2015 alone, our marathon runners have already raised an incredible £27,000.

"We receive fantastic widespread support from across the community. Because of the clash with Pesach, we won't be actively promoting the London Marathon 2016. However, as not all of our supporters observe second day yom tov, we will make a place available should someone enquire - these places were allocated to us before the date was set."

Flora Frank, a great-grandmother who ran her nineteenth London Marathon on Sunday for Jewish charities Emunah and Norwood, said the decision would prevent her running in 2016.

Mrs Frank said: “I can’t believe they're going to do that. How can they do it? This is a multicultural society and they should take into account Orthodox Jews. All these wonderful charities, they're going to miss out because of those people who can’t do it.

“There will be a lot of people in my position, and a lot of frum charities who won’t be able to send anyone in for it. It's a great shame.”

The Board of Deputies president Vivian Wineman said he was “deeply disappointed” with a move he predicted would “severely disadvantage Jewish charities, who rely heavily on funds raised by marathon runners, and also Jewish runners who run for other charities.”

He said his organisation had outlined its concerns to the London Marathon in January, and that it was “saddened” authorities had disregarded these fears. He promised the Board would continue the dialogue in the hope of changing the event’s date.

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