One rabbi and his dog set out on 100-mile hike

THE rabbi of one of the area s most popular synagogues is embarking on a 100-mile charity walk with his trusty dog

Katie Davies

THE rabbi of one of the area's most popular synagogues is embarking on a 100-mile charity walk with his trusty dog.

Jonathan Wittenberg, 51 and rabbi at Finchley's New North London Synagogue, sets off next Saturday and will walk the distance of more than three London marathons over the following week - with his border collie Mitzpah.

The rabbi will be staying with friends on route, stopping at various places he thinks signify the ideas and aims of his synagogue. These include the London Jewish Cultural Centre in Golders Green, the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead and the Wiener Library in Holborn.

"I will leave my house on Saturday and return home on the following Friday, with 28 stops in total. It's a carefully prepared route, stopping off in different places to listen, learn, teach and discuss," said the rabbi.

"Mitzpah runs like a looney so he'll be fine, although I will carry him over the larger road crossings."

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The rabbi's first stop will be the London Jewish Cultural Centre, where he will see Jenny Stolzenberg's Holocaust memorial, Never Forget, before moving on to the Royal Free.

He continued: "There are two hospitals on the route and hospices as well. I wanted to go there to express our appreciation for what they do. I will also visit environmental projects like the Woodland Trust and the Royal Society for the Conservation of Birds.

"I am visiting other Jewish communities, but also a Hindu temple and a mosque."

The importance of inter-faith dialogue is central to Rabbi Wittenberg's thinking as is the push for improved relations between Israel and Palestine.

Part of the walk will take in a stop at the Houses of Parliament, where he will discuss immigration, foreign and religious policy.

"I will meet with my local MP Rudi Vis in the House of Commons to petition for better treatment of asylum seekers," he said.

"We do a lot of work with destitute asylum seekers and our concerns are that government policies don't have enough compassion. Then in the House of Lords I will sit in on the all-party committee on interfaith matters."

Family, as well as international relations, will be close at heart in the rabbi's challenge. His 12-year-old daughter Libby and 14-year-old son Mossy will be walking with him at the beginning and end of the week.

When there isn't company, he will use the time for quiet contemplation at spots such as the synagogue's cemetery in Cheshunt, the Kindertransport tribute at Liverpool Street and the Holocaust Studies Centre in the Wiener library.

Money raised will go to some of the charities the rabbi is visiting and towards a new community centre for the synagogue. To lend your support, go to