Prize bundles will be awarded every 15 minutes at Temple Isaiah's first Family Fun Day on Sunday, but the biggest reward of all for participants may be the sense of community the event has fostered.
Sponsored by Temple Isaiah Men's Club, the Temple Isaiah Family Fun Day walk/run at Centennial Park is part of an effort to raise funds for artwork for the congregation's soon-to-be built synagogue in southern Howard County. Temple Isaiah now meets at Oakland Mills Interfaith Center.
"This is the first time, as I understand it, that the Men's Club of the temple has done anything like this," says Hank Eigles, the event chairman. "It's a great activity in that it brings people together. It emphasizes community-building in a fund-raising effort. For me, personally, it has been a wonderful experience working with all the people in the group."
The event will begin at noon as families and participants gather at the park. As the focus of the day, all participants are encouraged to walk or run a roughly 4-kilometer course around Centennial Lake.
The walk/run is not competitive. "There are not too many runners in the temple. We wanted to be inclusive," Eigles said.
"I expect a low-key, family event," said member Michael Miller. "However, my son is on a high school track team, so he will run seriously."
Families are encouraged to bring picnic lunches and blankets. Temple Isaiah and local sponsors are providing free bottled water, sodas, reusable water bottles, seat cushions, plastic ware and condiments. Each family that participates will be given one Family Fun Day T-shirt, decorated with a drawing of Lake Centennial and three runners.
Raffle tickets are awarded to each participating family. Prizes valued from $15 to $125 have been donated by local businesses, some of whom contributed multiple prizes.
"We ended up with 17 sponsors in the $250 and up [range]," said Cary Millstein, an event organizer. "I think it's an awesome response to a first effort." He noted that in addition to the larger donors, "scores of other contributors" donated prizes ranging from a toolbox to gift certificates.
More than 50 families have signed up to participate, paying the $50 family entrance fee. "If you're a lucky raffle winner," Millstein said, "you could come away with more than your 50 bucks."
However, money is not seen as the primary reward of the fund-raiser. "Most of us have contributed individually to the new temple, but this is a collective effort, a way to contribute as a Men's Club," said Larry Levin, an event organizer.
"It's attractive on more than one level," Miller said. "It appeals to both the physical and the spiritual by supporting the new temple."
Said Millstein, "You have to spend your days doing more than making money. You have to participate in religious activities that are a part of your life. You are a better person for it. You feel more fulfilled as a person. This has given me a lot of pleasure to see all these guys working hard, not for ourselves but for the group."
To Eigles, the communal effort to organize Family Fun Day reflects the community focus of Temple Isaiah. "It's been a pleasure to work with the volunteers from various disciplines," he says. "Their ideas were wonderful. This was not a one-man show. All of them deserve outstanding credit."
The Men's Club plans to organize Family Fun Day annually if this year's event is a success. But the focus is on Sunday. "We want to keep the excitement level high," Millstein said. "We're praying for good weather. But this is it, rain or shine."
Temple Isaiah welcomes everyone to its Family Fun Day walk/run. Tickets are $50 for a family and entitle the family to five raffle tickets and one commemorative T-shirt, as well as soda and bottled water at the park. Visitors may register at Pavilions B and C of Centennial Park the day of the event or call 301-317-0351.