Running is good philanthropy at 2023 Jerusalem Marathon

Elite international and Israeli athletes, along with those who like to pound the pavement, speed past Jerusalem’s historic sites, many of them to raise money for nonprofits.

The start of the Jerusalem Marathon on March 17, 2023. Credit: Sportphotography.
The start of the Jerusalem Marathon on March 17, 2023. Credit: Sportphotography.

In its 12th year—its “bat mitzvah,” so to speak—the Jerusalem Winner Marathon on March 17 drew more than 40,000 runners and participants from 72 countries.

Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, Jerusalem’s deputy mayor who also holds the city’s tourism and foreign affairs portfolios, told JNS that the marathon is one of the world’s most iconic ones.

United Hatzalah emergency medical technician Linor Attias starting out the Jerusalem Marathon with a group of children on March 17, 2023. Credit: United Hatzalah.

“It is literally a run through history—and a challenging one at that, comprising hills and valleys. We are thrilled that it attracts not just the most skilled marathon runners from around the world but also regular tourists, who are looking for an unforgettable experience,” she said.

Runners who opted not to run the full 26.2 miles had the option to do a half-marathon (13.1 miles), 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), 5 kilometers (3.1 miles), a 1.7 kilometers “family race” (one mile) or a “communities” race of nearly half a mile.

Kenyans posted both the men’s and women’s best times. Noah Kigen Kiprotich, 34, clocked in at 2:18:13, while Margaret Njuguna, 54, recorded a time of 2:52:44.

Jerusalem Marathon 2023 winner Noah Kigen Kiprotich, 34, clocked in at 2:18:13. Credit: Sportphotography.

Robbie Sassoon directs Crossroads, a Jerusalem-based organization that provides prevention and intervention programs for Anglo teens and young adults in Israel. His nonprofit, and dozens of other local ones, form running teams—often with shirts of their own design—to raise money from family, friends and businesses.

“It is important to participate in the marathon because it is a great way to bring people together,” said Sassoon, whose Crossroads marathon team consisted of 62 people, including five teens who benefit from the nonprofit’s services.

“Through this event, we can share with people the life-saving services that Crossroads provides to teens and young adults,” he said.

Crossroads had a fundraising goal of $20,000, which “is going towards offering crucial therapeutic support services to teens and young adults,” added Sassoon.

Members of Team United Hatzalah. Credit: United Hatzalah.

‘Understanding people with differing abilities’

A combined 175 runners—ranging in age from 1 to 89, and including 11 United Hatzalah volunteer first-responders—on Team Avraham and Team United Hatzalah raised more than $100,000 to support United Hatzalah, according to a Hatzalah release. “The sum will go towards purchasing new vehicles and medical equipment, as well as training additional volunteers,” it stated.

Team Avraham is named for the teenager Avigdor Chai Avraham Lifshutz, who passed away two years ago and was a big fan of Hatzalah, per the release.

Team Koach Eitan, the “strength of Eitan,” represents an eponymous initiative led by Eitan and Leora Ashman. More than 100 people ran for the team to raise awareness about the importance of understanding aphasia, a disorder that affects communication including speech, and strokes—aiding those who suffer from them.

Leora and Eitan Ashman of Team Koach Eitan. Credit: Courtesy.

“By joining Team Koach Eitan, wearing our team shirt and fundraising for our initiative, our runners not only raised awareness to those around them about the importance of understanding people with differing abilities and the challenges they are faced with, but they will also be helping to fund our year-round projects, programs and initiatives that enable inclusion for so many,” Leora Ashman told JNS.

A team member from Atlanta with aphasia wasn’t able to run in Israel but wanted so much to be a part of the team that he wore the team shirt and biked 25 miles in his community, reported Ashman. He raised a “significant” amount towards the team’s goal of $27,500, she said.

Members of Team Yacahad. Credit: Courtesy.

‘Enjoying an unforgettable experience’

Team Yachad had 300 runners in various race lengths, including two-dozen athletes with disabilities, Yachad’s development director Yoel Sterman told JNS. Yachad had the ambitious goal of raising $200,000 through runner sponsorship, he said.

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion was all in as well, running the 10-kilometer race.

“We are happy to have professional athletes and sports enthusiasts take part in one of the most remarkable sports events in Israel, alongside families and social organizations running together, and enjoying an unforgettable experience that includes getting to know significant landmarks in the history of Jerusalem,” he stated.

Since the Jerusalem marathon’s inception, it has become one of the most exciting professional sporting events for Israeli and overseas runners, he added.

“Today, Jerusalem once again revved up its engines, launching many participants of all ages who have come to partake in Israel’s biggest sporting event, held in Israel’s athletic capital,” he said. “I congratulate all marathon runners and wish everyone a Happy Marathon.” (He also invited the public to next year’s event, scheduled for March 8, 2024.)

The Jerusalem Municipality’s sports department and the Jerusalem Development Authority manage the marathon with support from and assistance from the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, and the Ministry of Culture and Sport.

Relishing the end of the race, March 17, 2023. Photo by Daniel Abraham.
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