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For Israeli Father-daughter Team, New York Marathon is a Family Affair

November 5, 2003
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

For Daniel and Ornit Morgenstern, this year’s New York City Marathon was a family thing.

Not only did the father and daughter both run the race, but they did so on the 10th Jewish anniversary of the death of Daniel Morgenstern’s wife, Leora.

“We were running in her memory,” he said.

His daughter agreed. “If she were here, she would be very proud,” said Ornit Morgenstern, 29.

The Morgensterns were two of an estimated 35 Israelis among the more than 34,000 runners who finished Sunday’s race.

Israel has only one full marathon — the Sea of Galilee Marathon — Daniel Morgenstern said, but many Israeli parks have runners on weekends and in the evenings.

Ornit Morgenstern, an urban planner for Israel’s Interior Ministry who lives in Ramat Gan, wore a pin featuring the American and Israeli flags on it. She said she wouldn’t have felt comfortable identifying herself that way when she ran the Berlin Marathon with her father last year.

“In New York, I’m not afraid to say I’m Israeli,” she said.

Her father said he enjoyed the international aspect of the race — the number of countries represented by participants and the throngs of New Yorkers who lined the streets of the five boroughs to watch.

When Daniel Morgenstern, 60, ran through the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg, home to many fervently Orthodox Jews, he saw some Chasidic men on the streets.

“Shalom aleichem,” he cried out, receiving an “Aleichem shalom” in reply.

For Morgenstern, an environmental consultant who lives in Mevasseret Zion, the race was his 13th marathon — his Bar Mitzvah run, he joked in an interview.

Morgenstern started running 19 years ago and also competes in triathlons, which include cycling, running and swimming.

Endurance sports are more fun than watching soccer, he said.

“Soccer is not a sport. It’s 22 crazy people hitting a ball and thousands of people watching them,” he said. “I’m in favor of doing sport, not of watching sport.”

His best time in the marathon is 3:40, he said, but he failed to approach that in Sunday’s race, completing the race in 5 hours, 27 minutes and 38 seconds.

With the benefits of youth and a much more rigorous training schedule, his daughter bested him by more than an hour, finishing in 3:59:12.

But if Morgenstern lost the family battle, he received another boost near the end of the race.

One of his sons, Yaron, had traveled to New York from Champaign, Ill., where he is on a work assignment, to watch his sister and father compete.

Yaron couldn’t find either of them through the maze of runners. But four miles from the end of the race, Daniel Morgenstern saw his son among the spectators, and the two ran together for a few miles.

Only a couple of hundred of yards from the end, Daniel Morgenstern said, did race officials pull Yaron aside and ask him to stop.

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