Friday, December 16, 2011

Jerusalem Night Run

This week, Jerusalem hosted its first 10K Night Run. Ostensibly, the Night Run was supposed to get all of us runners pumped up and excited about the Jerusalem Marathon which is right around the corner. I think that this is nonsense. The Jerusalem Marathon is a full three months away. If you ask me, the real reason that Jerusalem decided to have a Night Run is because Jerusalem has a problem.

The problem is one of demographics. Young people, or at least young people with an interest in useful education and gainful employment, either do not come to Jerusalem at all or they come to study and then run away the moment they have their degree. And it is hard, HARD, to run a city when a staggering percentage of your citizenry does not work and does not pay taxes. So our fearless leaders are trying to address this. Apparently, they did some surveys and they came to the conclusion that the reason everyone keeps running away is not the lack of job opportunities and not the rock-hurling Haredim and not the ongoing war on women and not the rampant religious coercion and in short it is not that the city is well along its merry way to becoming a kosher version of Tehran or Kabul. No, the reason is image. Young people do not see Jerusalem as being cool. Jerusalem is not happening. So our leaders said to themselves—follow the logic here—if Tel Aviv had a Night Run and Tel Aviv is cool then if Jerusalem has a Night Run it will be cool too.

Genius, no?

Right, so our fearless leaders were possessed of a plan. All that was left was the minor issue of execution. Compare, if you will, the Night Run in Tel Aviv versus the Night Run in Jerusalem:

Tel Aviv


Scheduled in

October, when the Tel Aviv nights are still nice and warm, but no longer hot.

December, when the Jerusalem nights (and the days) are fucking freezing.

Sponsored by

Nike. The god of athletic wear.

Aminach. A mattress manufacturer. (WTF?)

Number of participants

About 15,000

About 1,000


Super-trendy world music stations all along the route

A couple college students with drums at Jaffa Gate.

The winner of the Jerusalem Night Run got a mattress. Runners-up got pillows. I do not know what Nike gave out in Tel Aviv, but somehow, I do not think their prize basket looked quite like ours.

God bless 'em, our fearless leaders. They try so hard.

Of course, I signed up. Because, hey, the Jerusalem Marathon (Half, for me) is right around the corner and I need to train. And I am a total sucker who is willing to pay NIS 90 to do a run I do every week anyway, for free. So I went, and I got my ugly-yet-very-functional running shirt and the route was super flat, for Jerusalem. But, sadly, a bit boring. And it was only sort of freezing. But I finished in what was, for me, very respectable time, 1:17. And then I went home and read articles about how women in Jerusalem are being forced to dress in religious garb if they want to visit the Clalit Health Plan main clinic, and how a Haredi rabbi justified segregation of women on the basis that “this is how it was done at Auschwitz”.

But yes, a Night Run is going to solve all of our problems.


e.e. said...

Oh my Goddess!
Justifying the segregation by comparing it to a concentration camp!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Now I remember why I can go days without reading the local news.

ProphetJoe said...

I'm confused (well, some people would say I'm dazed and confused... other would just say I'm an idiot, but that's beside the point).

Are the Haredim throwing rocks at the runners? That would certainly improve my personal best time (which would be something like 2.9 days if I actually ran... anywhere). You mention the ongoing war on women and the rampant religious coercion... are these related to the run or to the Haredim? I'm really confused now.

And your reference to the "kosher version of Tehran or Kabul" has me even more confused. I thought the midnight runs in those cities required the runners to wear explosive vests...

I think you should move to Tel Aviv so you can join the trendy people! Maybe they don't segregate women there based on concentration camp traditions.


P.S. - In all seriousness, what is considered "religious garb" when visiting the aforementioned clinic? As you may recall, I'm a middle-aged goy in fly-over country in America, so I haven't a clue about it.

Gila said...

ee: someone topped it this week. Another Rabbi was caught on tape saying that the Shoah was due entirely to women's immodesty. That is right, 6 million Jews and 5 (?) million other people were brutally slaughtered because some woman did not cover her hair. Who knew?

PJ: Re: rocks--see my last post. Throwing rocks at cars and/or people is a time-honored tradition here, used by Palestinians, the Right, the Left, protestors against the Gush Katif withdrawal and the Haredim. Recently, the latter have been throwing rocks at cars in central areas of the city on Shabbat. (Because driving on Shabbat is forbidden, but killing someone on Shabbat is just fine).

Re: kosher version of Tehran or Kabul.... You are (I hope) joking. Here, a small group of radical Haredim are imposing their standards all over the city (and other parts of the country as well). I am not so convinced that it is this "small group" as the leaders of the "big group" have been pretty happy to pick up all of the crazy stringencies the small group proposes, but so we are told. That is why you will be hard pressed to find posters of women up anywhere. I am not talking about scantily-clad women. Not at all! Any picture, of any woman, is forbidden. That is how you end up with women's clothing stores downtown who have a picture of, say, a handbag, rather than of the model wearing the clothes.

Tel Aviv--nice city, and smeared by the religious unfairly. I lived there for three years. But Jerusalem is my home.

Religious garb=skirt below knees, long sleeves, covered up collarbone, head covering for married women.