Wal­ter, 70, goes back on the run to aid flooded shul

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMUNITY NEWS - BY BARRY TOBERMAN

WHEN WAL­TER Hecht turned 70, he de­cided that his half-marathon days were pretty much run.

But the Glas­gow Friends of Is­rael trea­surer wanted to do a fi­nal event and ap­proached Nigel Goodrich, founder of the Con­fed­er­a­tion of Friends of Is­rael Scot­land, to race on be­half of the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

How­ever, Mr Goodrich sug­gested that he should in­stead sup­port the ap­peal launched to raise £10,000 for the small Aberdeen com­mu­nity, which has been forced out of its syn­a­gogue after a ma­jor flood. The amount is the short­fall from what the con­gre­ga­tion ex­pects to re­ceive from its in­surer.

Suit­ably in­spired, Mr Hecht com­pleted the half-marathon in Ed­in­burgh in two hours 19 min­utes on Sun­day.

He has now com­mit­ted to a fur­ther 13-mile run in Glas­gow this week­end and hopes to raise a to­tal £3,000.

“If the Aberdeen com­mu­nity was to go, it would touch me emo­tion­ally,” he said. “It gives stu­dents, tourists and peo­ple in the oil in­dus­try a place to go on Shab­bos.

“They also teach the lo­cal pop­u­la­tion about Ju­daism. If they go, it gives carte blanche to oth­ers to di­min­ish Ju­daism and Is­rael.”

Not­ing that the ap­peal was at­tract­ing sup­port from be­yond the Scot­tish bor­ders, Mr Hecht added: “Peo­ple in Lon­don should worry about shuls in Scot­land.”

Aberdeen’s Debby Tay­lor re­ported that Yom­tov ser­vices were be­ing held in the home of a com­mu­nity mem­ber, al­though the Rosh Hashanah at­ten­dance was down slightly as vis­i­tors who might have come to the shul were not aware of the al­ter­na­tive venue.

As an ex­am­ple of lo­cal in­ter­faith sup­port, “the Aberdeen Mosque very gen­er­ously loaned us their fold­ing chairs”.

The shul is cur­rently con­sid­er­ing an of­fer from a Lon­don busi­ness­man of space in an Aberdeen prop­erty he owns for as long as it is needed.

But the con­gre­ga­tion needs funds ur­gently for de­hu­mid­i­fiers and ad­vance part-pay­ment for build­ing work.

With Mr Hecht’s spon­sor­ship money, it is close to half­way to its ap­peal target.

Mean­while, Mr Hecht has been buy­ing “huge amounts of en­ergy gel” in ad­vance of Sun­day’s half-marathon. Unen­thralled by the prospect of a 13-mile run the day after Yom Kip­pur, he joked: “I might have to phone MDA to meet me at the fin­ish.”

And will that be his fi­nal half-marathon. “I am pretty sure... My wife is cer­tain. I am tired of her shout­ing at me to grow up.”

Peo­ple should worry about shuls in Scot­land’

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