Meet the 2013 AJWS NYC Marathon Team

AJWS’s small but mighty marathon team will soon embark on a journey that will test their physical and mental strength: the 2013 New York City Marathon. Inspired by the Jewish commitment to justice, these nine runners have already spent months tirelessly training to tackle 26.2 miles.

In addition to training for the race on November 3, the team is dedicating its efforts to raising money—more than $21,000—to support AJWS’s work in the developing world. You can support the team here.

So, who are these runners and what motivates them to seize this challenge? Here’s what they had to say for themselves:

Ariel Amaru Washington, DC

Ariel Amaru

I look forward to running with AJWS because it’s an organization that I believe in. AJWS has taught me enormous amounts about sustainability, international development and personal character growth. Ever since I volunteered with AJWS in Ghana in 2011, I have been looking to reconnect with the organization—and I can’t think of a better way than joining the marathon team. I look forward to this personal challenge of both completing a marathon and raising money for AJWS.

Dana Baum Dallas, TX

Dana BaumI am so excited to be running on the AJWS team because I have the opportunity to unite two of my passions: running and empowering others to make meaningful change in their lives. I can’t wait to deepen my understanding and commitment to AJWS’s work and meet wonderful people in the process.


Jack Baum Dallas, TX

Jack BaumI have admired the leadership and amazing work of AJWS for years. My daughter, Dana, traveled abroad with AJWS and then worked as an intern in the Washington, D.C. office. She was able to get an insider’s view of AJWS, and my esteem for the organization has continued to grow. Being on the AJWS marathon team with my daughter is truly an honor, and I hope we can help AJWS make an even bigger difference for all of those less fortunate than us.

Ziva Cooper New York, NY

Ziva CooperAs a novice runner with only a year of experience under my belt, I have participated in several races simply for my own love for running. I am so excited to now have the opportunity to train for and run the NYC marathon on behalf of AJWS. My training is inspired by the organization’s dedication to the Jewish idea of working toward achieving social justice and self-sufficiency across the globe. Running with Team AJWS will give meaning to every milestone on my way toward a successful finish. That meaning extends far beyond personal accomplishment because of the organization’s commitment to alleviate social, economic and health disparities worldwide.

Drew Denker Rumson, NJ

DrewDenkerI have been a runner, on and off, for a long time. I’ve wanted to run the New York City Marathon for about 20 years.  When I was in med school, I applied through the New York Road Runners lottery two or three times and wasn’t successful; the odds were low, especially as the marathon became more popular. In the past couple of years, I’ve thought more about running for a nonprofit organization. My wife and I have known about AJWS for a long time, and we like to think that we’ve been Ruth’s pen pals for a while now! I am very excited to run my first full marathon as part of the AJWS team in New York.

Jon Elkin Washington, DC

Jon ElkinAs a group leader for AJWS’s Volunteer Summer program in Ghana in 2011, I began to understand the thoughtful and intentional way in which AJWS engages in social justice work. AJWS’s rights-based approach to development, as well as the powerful case it makes for the Jewish imperative to engage in global social justice, resonated with me.

Running has been a big part of my life for a number of years. I’ve run two marathons and was planning to represent Team AJWS in the NYC Marathon last fall before Hurricane Sandy hit. I’m eager to merge two of my passions, international development and long-distance running, by running the NYC Marathon as a part of Team AJWS, and I’m excited be a part of bringing a powerful and important tradition back to the City of New York!

Ovadia Labaton New York, NY

Ovadia LabatonReally, I’m running because my younger brother did. (And we’re not competitive at all or anything.)

Seriously, though, I’m proud to represent AJWS and look forward to the challenge and satisfaction of completing the marathon. This will be my first marathon ever.

Ilana Shapiro San Mateo, CA

Ilana ShapiroThis will be my third year training for the NYC Marathon. Despite pulling my hip flexor (2011) and breaking my ankle (2012), I’m still just as excited (if not more so!) to train and be a part of team AJWS! I’m running in loving memory of my father and to prove to myself that no matter how many setbacks I might face, I can do anything that I put my mind to.


Jessie Feinstein New York, NY

Jessica FeinsteinI’m very excited to join the AJWS NYC Marathon team. Although I’ve competed for years in half marathons, adventure races and triathlons, this will be my first NYC Marathon. I’m ready to take on this challenge for an amazing cause.

We hope you’ll cheer on Team AJWS as they take on all five boroughs and race to the finish line to build a more just and equitable world!