Spokane’s Jewish marathoner

Jody Shapiro is part of the small Jewish community in Spokane. As far as I know, he’s the only Jewish runner of the hundreds of people I’ve met in Spokane running clubs.jody at TC 50 (1)

One of the founders of the Manito Running Club, he’s a prime example of how the running lifestyle can be so beneficial.¬†Though a runner in his teens and early twenties, he stopped during his last year of college, and over the course of several years, gained weight until one day in the shower he noticed his belly was sticking out so far he couldn’t see his feet.

He resumed running in his thirties and over time got more and more into it. He started doing marathons and since turning forty, has run four sub-three hour marathons, his best being 2:52:16.

Our 2011 Spokane to Sandpoint relay team. Jody is on the far left. I'm at right, wearing the white T.

Our 2010 Spokane to Sandpoint relay team. Jody is at far left. I’m at right, wearing the white T.

On occasion, after our group runs, topics have come up that touched aspects of Jewish culture, and Jody has been a great resource. Growing up, I didn’t know anyone who was Jewish, and my views of Judaism were shaped by things I’d read and watching movies and TV.

Jody with fellow Jewish runner Deena Kastor, Olympic medalist and American women's record holder in the marathon and half-marathon.

At a road runners convention last year, Jody met fellow Jewish runner Deena Kastor, Olympic medalist and American women’s record holder in the marathon and half-marathon.

Among the things Jody has taught me is the meaning and origin of the word Jewish. He says the very first synagogue in ancient Israel had to call themselves something, so they came up with an acronym –¬†Just Enjoying Weekly Interesting Sermons & Hymns.

Most of us know the menorah below is a symbol from Jewish culture, but I didn’t know its meaning. Jody says long ago, way before NASA existed, there was an extreme shortage of kosher food on earth. A Jewish astronaut was sent to each planet of the solar system to search for kosher food. Each candle symbolizes the flame used to light the fuse that blasted the rockets into space.menora-297125 (1)

I’m delighted I’ve become so versed in aspects of Jewish culture. I can have conversations and come across as educated and intelligent. And I know Jody is very happy to share his knowledge and wisdom. I thank him profusely whenever he does, and he always breaks into a smile and has to work hard to stifle joyful laughter.