If you frequent Rock Creek Park or drive anywhere between Rockville and Silver Spring, Maryland, you may have spotted a very fit, redheaded man in his 20s running with a backpack in rain, snow, and summer heat. That would be Shlomo Fishman: a therapeutic recreational specialist at HSC Pediatric Center in northeast DC and a competitive runner. The Kemp Mill resident competes at a variety of distances, from 5K to marathon, and regularly ranks as one of the top in his age group.
On January 27, he will join the tens of thousands running in the Fitbit Miami Marathon & Half Marathon to raise money for the charity of his choice. While many from the Greater Washington area run with large teams on behalf of local chapters of national Jewish organizations, Fishman is running on a two-man team to raise awareness and funds for a comparatively modest, Greater Washington-based organization, one that impacts the lives of hundreds of people in financial distress every year with its double gift of generosity and dignity: Yad Yehuda of Greater Washington.
And Fishman’s partner in this adventure? That is Dan Kugler, president of Dan Kugler's Design Center in Rockville and Fishman’s father-in-law.
The dynamic duo spoke to Kol HaBirah about this bonding experience and why they are encouraging others to support this organization.
The Greater Washington area is blessed with a robust assortment of Jewish institutions and services. What is unique about Yad Yehuda?
Yad Yehuda offers so much to many members of our community in such a quiet way that many outsiders aren’t even aware of. Once people are aware of all the services Yad Yehuda provides, we’re sure many will want to join in helping any way they can.
Yad Yehuda runs three main programs designed to help individuals and families who are struggling financially:
Tomchei Shabbos provides scrip to ensure they can purchase Shabbos and Yom Tov food. Through an arrangement with Shalom Kosher, the program provides qualifying families and individuals with Shalom Kosher gift cards so that recipients can shop in a confidential and respectful manner without stigma. Free delivery of Rosendorf challahs are also available through Tomchei Shabbos.
Yad Yehuda’s financial relief program provides various forms of direct financial assistance and helps people find and apply for federal and state assistance programs and other community services as well.
Finally, the Capital Kosher Pantry is the only kosher food pantry in the region and it offers a dignified experience that resembles shopping in a grocery store.
Where does Yad Yehuda’s funding come from?
Yad Yehuda receives funding from across the Greater Washington community and beyond. With an annual budget of over $500,000 and over 800 donors, donations of all sizes are greatly appreciated and welcomed.
What motivated you to decide to run in the half marathon on behalf of Yad Yehuda?
We’ve made donations to the organization in the past, and we want to become more involved because of the increasing need of support for many families in the local Jewish community. This is a first for both of us in terms of raising funds for a charity while participating in a race of this size. We look forward to seeing continued growth and welcome the community in doing the same.
Dan, you’re training for this half-marathon with a bona fide athlete. What has that been like?
It’s been a wonderful experience for me to train with my son-in-law. I have been battling Type I Diabetes for the past 10 years, and Shlomo has helped me tremendously to train and to get me in shape. We’ve had many experiences running together and continue to do so on a regular basis, which has fueled my passion to run this race. We are so excited to be participants and hope to bring additional awareness to this much-needed organization.
For more information about Yad Yehuda, visit www.yadyehuda.org.
By Kol HaBirah Staff