The Three hundred Team OneFamily runners – including 70 victims of terror – who participated in Friday’s Jerusalem Marathon didn’t just run the grueling course of the race. They sent a powerful message of defiance in the face of the massive wave of terror.
“Jerusalem is being attacked every day and we have the victims of terror running through the streets, not scared,” said OneFamily staff member Michal Belzberg. “It’s not just 25,000 people saying ‘we’re not scared.’ The victims themselves are expressing strength and resilience.”
With the slogan – “The Power of Together” – Team OneFamily brings together runners from Israel, US, Australia, England and Canada to raise money for OneFamily through sponsorships. Team OneFamily members also raise awareness about the struggles people face in the recovery from terror, and provide a vital emotion and psychological lift to those who have suffered.
This year’s team included reality television star Tamar Shilo, a longtime supporter of OneFamily; Ayala Fraenkel, whose brother Naftali was one of three teens kidnapped and killed in 2014; Naftali Moses, whose son Avraham David was killed in the shooting attack on the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva in 2008, and Yifat Aluf, whose father was killed in a suicide bombing in 2002.
Other terror victims who joined Team OneFamily were 16-year old Ido Yeori, whose brother Amit was killed in Operation Protective Edge and Oren Chubara, whose sister Odelya was killed in a suicide bombing in 2005 at the Stage club in Tel Aviv weeks before her wedding.
Aharon Karov, who was critically injured in Operation Cast Lead, ran with Team OneFamily for the third time. Pia Levine, who survived a terrorist attack in 2011 and ran in the Jerusalem marathon a few days later, flew in from the US to run for the fifth time.
For the 50 children from OneFamily’s Youth Division, the race represents an opportunity to bond with their OneFamily friends and to push their physical limits. Their OneFamily counselors joined them for the race and all of the activities before and after.
“We look at it as a therapeutic day, just like a day at the OneFamily Camp – the children meet up with their counselors and spend time with their friends who have also experienced terror,” Michal said. “It starts Thursday evening at the pasta party.”
More than 200 members of Team OneFamily gathered for a pasta party at the First Station in Jerusalem the night before the run.
Naftali Gross, a MDA volunteer who was one of the first responders to the terrorist attack on Har Nof in 2014, captured the true essence of the marathon, especially for victims of terror.
“If you want to PRAY to God you go to the Kotel. If you want get to KNOW God you open up a Tanach.
If you want to SEE God, you run in the Jerusalem Marathon with thousands of Jews through the streets of Yerushalayim – and then you will see God,” he said.