Six dads celebrated Chanukah with a difference this year as they raised thousands of pounds by taking part in a Menorah half-marathon.

David Blitz, Matt Martin, Danny Fresco, Dan Lion, Daniel Carmel Brown and Darren Brown created a route around Epping, Loughton, Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Gants Hill and Barkingside, which took them past six menorahs in their area, culminating at the Wohl Ilford Jewish Primary School Winter Fete.

Raising money by running for WIJPS, Kantor King Solomon High School and Clore Tikva, the event was sponsored by local business Land Commercial Surveyors www.landcommercial.co.uk

Delighted to have taken part – and completed the challenge, Matt Martin and David Blitz have so far raised over £1,600, for WIJPS, with the former saying: “Once I heard this amazing idea I realised it would be a great way to bring our community together. With the cross-school collaboration it was obvious Chabad were the perfect partners to help facilitate the event. With superb support from each other it was an enjoyable, if not freezing, occasion and with the funds raised, especially from our sponsor Land Commercial Surveyors, it’s amazing to think we will be able to fill some of the void left by the Government’s funding cuts that will have a lasting impact on our childrens’ education. Let’s hope it becomes an annual event and we hope it will be bigger and better next year!!”

Outside Lubavitch Buckhurst Hill

Danny Fresco, who with Dan Lion, has so far raised more than £1,000 for Clore Tikva, said: “After having the initial idea, this fabulous if not tiring event could not have happened without my fellow running partners and their huge input to this event, while bringing all our community’s together was really special.

“It was wet, windy and hilly, but the totals raised so far have been inspiring. Massive thank you to our sponsor Land Commercial, Rabbi Brandman for the menorahs & whisky, not forgetting Rabbi Goodwin for the lift there and bringing us together through his shiur, and also the community for really taking this to their hearts.”

Daniel Carmel Brown, who along with Darren Brown were running for King Solomon, and have so far raised more than £1,000, added: “I’m delighted to have been part of this amazing effort. The community in Redbridge and Essex is very much alive and full of people wanting to do their bit. Having run the London Marathon in April, I genuinely thought this would be a breeze, but the hills of Epping and Loughton were gruelling. It was a wonderful relief to reach the Kantor campus with so many supporters from all three schools for who we were running. Kol Hakavod to the gang!”

Praising the dads for their efforts, Rabbi Rafi Goodwin of Chigwell Shul said: “The idea for the boys to run for their schools came up during one of our weekly shiur groups. I’m so proud to see the boys pull together and encourage each other to run. I might even join them next year.”

By the Loughton menorah

Rabbi Odom Brandman of Chabbad Buckhurst Hill added: “This Menorah Half Marathon brought together the community in a fantastic way. Combining the messages of Chanukah – freedom of persecution, determination and the spreading of goodness and kindness.

“The religious freedom we are thankful for in this country is demonstrated by our wonderful state aid local Jewish schools, where Judaism and British values are taught side by side. Determination to survive that Jews have demonstrated throughout the ages, well, nobody can run a half Marathon without determination. Spreading of goodness and kindness, well, each of the runners was raising money for a great cause! So, it was a real pleasure for Chabad to help this fantastic effort, our 6 Public Menorahs across Essex being used as markers for this amazing run!

Adam Diamant, Managing Director of from sponsors, Land Commercial Surveyors, said: “We’re so proud to have sponsored our local dads who ran a half marathon in the freezing cold to help raise much needed funds for three schools within our community. We know the money will be put to good use to help provide a first class education.”

You can still donate at jewishessex.com

The team standing outside Land Commercial’s office