I thought of two men as I ran in yesterday's Run for Israel, in Central Park; my dad and Fred Lebow.
People often ask me about how proud my dad would be about my running and weight loss. My dad, who was very overweight, often spoke to us about losing weight. He would start off by pointing out that “I know I am a fat horse, but…”. I know he would be glad that I have lost so much weight, but I am far from certain that he would appreciate all the running I do. He was big fan of my wife and was quick to point out when he thought I was not spending enough time with her. Perhaps it is my own guilty conscious speaking, but I can imagine him telling me to run less and help out more at home.
I think he would have appreciated yesterday's race. From his youth, my dad was a lover of Israel, a true Zionist. Seeing so many people from our community, religious and secular, Israeli and American, supporting one of the countries he loved, would have made him happy. I imagined him, along with my mom, cheering me on, and the three of us going to march in the Celebrate Israel Parade together along with the Yeshiva of Flatbush; where I teach and my mom taught.
Fred Lebow would have been amazed by the runners in this race put on by NYRR, the club he founded. Lebow who came from a very religious family, became somewhat distant from his religion (although not his family). The more he got into running, the less he connected with the faith of his fathers.
As I ran in the race, I was struck by how many observant runners were there. Men in kippot (skullcaps), or other head coverings, women in skirts. I don't know if Fred could have understood those of us for whom a commitment to Judaism and a passion for running go hand in hand. I'd like to think that, at the very least, we would have gotten him thinking.
Although, I passed a statue of only one of those men, I imagine both of them watching; one with a feeling of pride and the other wondering "what if". Who knows? Maybe both of them would have been thinking both of those thoughts.