Jacques Lurie pulled into the Pennypack Trail parking lot at about 7:30 a.m. on Oct. 21 and felt a pang of fear. The skies were cloudy, leaking light rain, putting a damper on the morning of Congregations of Shaare Shamayim’s signature fall fundraising event.
The precipitation dissipated before the start of the Apples and Honey 5K race and 1K fun run, much to the delight of Lurie, the synagogue’s executive director, and the congregation. In total, about 40 runners and walkers came out and participated in the races, which raised money for Shaare Shamayim’s Moe and Dot Davis Cook for a Friend program.
“A run is something we have never done before as a congregation, and we wanted something that brought us into the local community. This seemed like the perfect thing to do,” said Alison Houghton, the congregation’s membership and fundraising associate and organizer of the event.
By about 11 a.m., Houghton and her crew were packing up the finishing line table, which had been stocked with bowls of apples and dipping honey. Participants were also given commemorative T-shirts for their efforts.
The apples and honey were worked in to draw a connection with Rosh Hashanah, said Karen Simansky, the synagogue’s vice president of ways and means.
“For the idea of new birth, renewal, new year,” Simansky said. “Come forward. Start something that maybe you haven’t done before. Try something different.”
Some members of the congregation didn’t exactly heed that message; Simansky said most of the runners were from outside the community. She seemed optimistic that the success of this year’s event would spur more participation if the congregation opts to pursue another race in the future.
Some congregants stopped by to put money in the donation box in lieu of running. It all went toward Shaare Shamayim’s efforts to combat hunger.
“It was for giving proceeds for charity for Cook for a Friend, which is really feeding the insecure, and that’s really the essential part of the Jewish mission that we have for tikkun olam and taking care of the world,” Simansky said.
Cook For a Friend volunteers cook, package and deliver meals to those in need. Some meals also go toward KleinLife’s food delivery program. The organization also directs proceeds toward the congregation’s mitzvah garden, where fresh vegetables are grown for the hungry.
That mission was on the mind of Houghton, Simansky and Lurie as runners — including some of the synagogue’s Hebrew School students — came streaming across the finish line at Pennypack Trail.
“The kids had a great time,” Lurie said. “We did a whole lesson on folks who can’t afford to eat.”l