First Jewish woman finishes the Iditarod sled dog race
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First Jewish woman finishes the Iditarod sled dog race

Blair Braverman, who says all her dogs except one are Jewish, completes historic dog race in Alaska

Picture from Blair Braverman's twitter, announcing she had finished the race
Picture from Blair Braverman's twitter, announcing she had finished the race

A 30-year-old Californian, who says all her dogs except one are Jewish, has become the first Jewish woman to complete a historic dog race in Alaska.

Blair Braverman, who now lives in northern Wisconsin and runs a dog mushing company with her husband, finished a gruelling 1,000 mile sled race in 13 days, 19 hours, 17 minutes and two seconds. She and her 14 dogs came 36th in the Itarod race which is held in Nome, Alaska.

After finishing the race, which she says she had dreamed of competing in since she was a child, Braverman tweeted: “WE DID IT!!!!!!”  It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And also the most beautiful. The dogs and I took care of each other the whole way. Stories to come, but for now we plan to nap (and eat) for days. All dogs and humans are doing great.”

On Twitter, Braverman tweets long-form stories. She writes about her life — raising dogs, racing, and being the only Jew in her rural Wisconsin community.

“I’ve lived in places where I’m the only Jew, particularly in rural Norway,” she said. “And it’s dangerous, I think, for people to think they’ve never met certain kinds of people. Like if you think you don’t know any queer folks, or immigrants, or Jews — that’s how groups of individual humans are reduced to symbols and ideas. If I know someone, if I’ve lived with them, I don’t want them to be able to tell themselves that they’ve never met a Jew.”

Braverman joins a small group of Jews to have completed the Iditarod, now in its 47th year. In 2009, the Forward reported that 11 Jews have raced in the competition’s history.

The first Jewish musher to complete the race was Fred Agree, who raced in 1984 and 1985. His lead dog was named God, and his wheel dogs — the ones in the back — were named Sodom and Gomorrah because, as his wife, Nona Safra, said, “you should never look back.”

The 2011 Iditarod champion, John Baker, is of Jewish and Native Alaskan heritage. He is the only Inupiaq — and only Jew — ever to win the Iditarod. Baker competed in the Iditarod 22 times.

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