A group of congregants from Temple Emanu-El in Edison are combining spiritual and physical health with a dash of competiveness, all while helping the surrounding community.
The participants are competing in a “ slimathon,” enlisting sponsors as they compete to lose weight. The proceeds will be used to fund the synagogue’s lifelong education programs and such social action efforts as its community garden and food bank, which feed the hungry, and mitzva projects to benefit schoolchildren and others.
As of Oct. 15, the 13 participants — 10 women and three men — have raised $2,350 toward a $35,000 goal.
“We are a healthy spiritual congregation,” said event chair Bobbi Goodman. “However, we also want to be a healthy physical congregation and wish to be a fiscally healthy congregation.”
The initiative has been dubbed “From New Year to New Year — A New You.” It kicked off Oct. 7 at JFK Medical Center in Edison, where participants were weighed and a staff nutritionist spoke to them about healthy eating and dietary issues.
The slimathon will end on Jan. 7 with a weigh-in at the hospital. Prizes will be awarded to the man and woman who loses the most weight. Goodman said the hospital will also award a grand prize.
She said the program was suggested as a twist on the many marathons, 5k runs, and other endurance fund-raisers.
“We are helping ourselves while raising money,” Goodman said. “The hospital agreed to sponsor us and will keep all the records. We are all going to follow whatever diet suits us best and have agreed to support each other if need be, which I think is a really spiritual experience. Already there have been e-mails back and forth with ideas, suggestions, and accomplishments.”
Those interested can join at any time for an $18 fee by going to the synagogue’s website, edisontemple.org, where the amount raised to date by each participant and list of donors is posted. To made a pledge, go to 99pledges.com/fund/edisonsxWeightLoss.