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Jewish Journal

The Roots of an Israel Marathon

August 3, 2006 | 8:00 pm


Some people raise money for Israel, other people visit Israel, and still others look for a unique way to support the country, like Eat4Israel. Now a new group of local athletes wants to Run for Israel, in Israel. A marathon, to be precise. "Roots Marathon" is starting their training program this summer, inviting people of different faiths to run the 30th Tiberias Marathon or 10k in Northern Israel next winter.

The 10-day tour, from Dec. 30-Jan. 11, will take the group from Tel Aviv to Haifa to Acrw and Safed, to the Galilee and Golan Heights, stopping off along the way at religious and historical sites, like a Bahai Shrine, a site of Christian miracles and, of course, a Jewish holy city.

"When you train for a marathon you bring people close together, and this is a way to bridge different religious faiths," said Dan Witzling, a long-time Jewish activist and marathon runner who is co-organizing the trip.

The other organizer, Avner Hofstein, is the West Coast correspondent for Yediot Achronot, Israel's largest newspaper. He wanted to show people a different Israel.

"Israel is a lively place filled with fun, sports and action, very different from the action in which it is portrayed in the news," said Hofstein, who has been based in Los Angeles for the last four years.

Roots has been coordinated by Israel's Ministry of Tourism, and The Israeli Consulate of Los Angeles, Board of Rabbis of Southern California and Interfaith Environment Council of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life/Southern California all support the marathon effort.

Is running 26.2 miles a lot to run to see and support Israel? Hofstein gives it a historical spin: "If the Jews walked 40 years in the desert, they won't mind running 26 miles, or much less, a 10k."

For more information contact: www.rootsmarathon.com.

-- Amy Klein, Religion Editor

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