When the bullhorn sounded signaling the start of the Ocean Drive Marathon on March 27, Runner Number 284 took off wearing an orange shirt sporting the words “Run, Rabbi, Run!” on the back.
Imprinted on the front of the shirt was the motivation behind Rabbi Elie Tuchman’s first marathon: “Yeshiva at the Jersey Shore.”
Head of school at the Modern Orthodox day school in Deal Park, Tuchman ticked off the 26 miles on the route through the scenic barrier islands of Cape May County, raising funds for YJS tuition assistance along the way.
Tuchman so far has raised more than $8,500, at a rate of about $327 a mile. Donations are still being accepted.
The race enabled Tuchman, 43, to realize two dreams at once — completing a marathon, and raising critical scholarship funds, he said. He trained for the race for four months, logging thousands of treadmill miles at home and at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Monmouth County in Deal, and hitting the streets around his home in Passaic on Sundays.
“I run for my own health, but I thought if I was going to put myself through this personal challenge, I wanted to make it meaningful and help others in the process,” said Tuchman, who recently earned a doctorate of education from Yeshiva University’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration. “My true love is Jewish education and YJS. We want to continue to make it possible for everyone to get a Jewish education because it’s the key to the future of the Jewish people.”
Tuchman finished the race in five hours and 39 minutes, through frigid, windy weather and light snow flurries. Cheers from his family and spectators along the route helped keep him on course, he said.
When he trudged into school the morning after the race, he told NJJN, his muscles were screaming with each step.
“I am in enormous discomfort and pain. It takes a big toll on your body. I keep a gallon of water on my desk to keep myself hydrated, but also because it hurts too much to keep getting up for refills.”
Pain and anguish were not in the job description when Tuchman was hired to lead the school in 2006, quipped YJS board president Sydney Lekach of Oakhurst.
Tuchman’s run, he said, “shows his extreme level of commitment and dedication to YJS. It is so gratifying to see the rabbi, as well as his entire staff, go the extra mile to ensure YJS offers a progressive top-notch education.”
Tuchman earned the kudos of JCC members who watched his progress in the fitness center. “Only a very small percentage of the general population achieves running a marathon,” said JCC assistant executive director Randi Freed Cohen, who has completed 10 marathons herself. “I applaud him for using his effort and time toward raising money for what he has dedicated his life to — Jewish education.”
To contribute to the Rabbi’s Run, visit www.yatjs.org/giving/the-rabbis-run.