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Fox Chapel Rabbi ready to run half marathon

| Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Jan Pakler | for The Herald
Rabbi Ely Rosenfeld watms up with his four children Leah, Chaya, Chezy and Mendy getting ready for the race.

Just as Rabbi Ely Rosenfeld hit his stride in preparation for Sunday's Pittsburgh Marathon, the bombings at the Boston finish line sent the country reeling.

It wasn't enough to make Rosenfeld run the other way.

“I was in Israel recently and you know, they dealt with this all the time. You can't let it effect your life,” said Rosenfeld, a resident of O'Hara and head of Chabad Fox Chapel, The Jewish Center.

“If we don't do what we want, they win.”

If anything, the Boston Marathon bombings steeled Rosenfeld's resolve.

He'll run the half-marathon, 13 miles, beginning at 7 a.m. Sunday with more than 27,000 others under the banner of “We are Boston Strong.”

The course crosses the city's three rivers on the North Shore and South Side before streaming onto the streets of downtown to the finish line.

Rosenfeld is running to benefit the Jewish Relief Agency (JRA), for which he helped found a local chapter. The JRA is a quasi food bank/emergency aid program, doling out relief each month to needy local families.

The 35-year-old said he was motivated to participate in the marathon to make an example of himself.

“I'm always asking people to give, to do,” he said. “I needed to do something myself.”

Having only become a runner in the past year, Rosenfeld said it is a perfect way to push himself outside the box. Logging 25 miles a week, Rosenfeld said he has become a common sight on the roads of the Lower Valley.

“I hate the treadmill. It makes me feel like a mouse,” he said, laughing. “Usually, I'm outside and people are always telling me they saw me on the bridge or by the park. I guess you don't see Rabbi's running down the street everyday.”

After pushing hard the last four months or so, Rosenfeld feels confident looking toward Sunday. He chose the half-marathon because it fell in line with the symbolic number 13 — far from unlucky in the Jewish religion.

“When we turn 13, we get bah mitzvahed,” he said. “It means you are accountable to do good deeds.”

He hopes to raise $13,000, with which the JRA will help buy enough groceries to fill a box each month to deliver as needed to Jewish families throughout the Pittsburgh region.

“I am constantly asking people to go beyond themselves,” Rosenfeld said. “Running this marathon and raising this money is my way of stepping out of my comfort zone and going beyond myself.”

To donate to the JRA, call 412-781-1800.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or tpanizzi@tribweb.com.

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