Rabbi says Yomtov participants cause damage in long run


A United Synagogue rabbi has criticised communal charities which fielded runners in the London Marathon, held on the second day of Pesach, for "weakening our community".

At least half-a-dozen Jewish organisations were represented in Sunday's race. Others decided against involvement, hoping that the loss of revenue would be offset by the promise of extra places for 2017.

Ilford Synagogue's Rabbi Geoffrey Hyman had hoped for a united stand against participation. In his view: "We lose out if the likes of the Board of Deputies make a noise about the London Marathon falling on second-day Pesach because Jews aren't able to participate and then Jews do participate.

"I believe Yomtov is a time to celebrate, not to exercise. It's sad, but that's the way Jewish identity is these days. I put my Judaism first and not everyone is going to hold that view."

Emunah was among the charities which declined to enter runners and director Deborah Nathan admitted it had been a financial blow.

"On the positive side, Emunah has 16 places for the London Marathon 2017, having carried eight places over.

"We've signed up a couple of people so far and we'll be stepping up our efforts to fill the rest."

Educational charity Kisharon will also have additional 2017 places after not participating this year. Fundraising director Richard Franklin was "hopeful" that supporters would take up the extra spots, "given our position of not running on Pesach". A marathon spokeswoman said that the extra places could be carried over to 2018.

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