Every year, during the period before Rosh Hashana, bereaved father Ari Schwartz holds a special fundraising run in one of the places that were important to him and his son, Ezra, who was killed in a terrorist shooting at the Alon Shvut Junction in 2015 when he was 18 years old.
The goal of the run each year is to remember Ezra in manner that befits Ezra’s personality and character, and to raise money and awareness for OneFamily, which has been at the side of the Schwartz family for the long years since Ezra was killed.
Ari spoke about how OneFamily helps the families of those who lost loved ones to terror carry on with their lives.
He also noted that OneFamily made a special effort to help comfort his own children at OneFamily Camp over Chanukah with the entire Youth Division:
“This past December, Mom and I picked up the boys in a forest near Be’er Sheva where we were able to witness the whole group together with about three hundred kids, all divided by age, talking and having fun, all remembering who they lost, some having lost multiple family members, and yet, they too were away on the retreat feeling comforted being with others who have been through the same tragedy. [The Schwartz children] were the only non-Hebrew speakers at the camp, and yet OneFamily consistently found translators who come on the trip just to help the kids understand the discussions.”
The timing of the run aligns with the period when Ezra would have celebrated his Hebrew birthday, which is the day before Rosh Hashana (or Oct. 1, 1998 secular calendar). This year would be Ezra’s 21st birthday. And the location of the run is always a place that holds special memories of Ezra’s time growing up.
This year, the run took place at the end of July at the Imogene Pass in Telluride, Colorado. Ari and Ezra had come to ski there during one of their vacations together. “It was here at Telluride when you really started to enjoy the part of skiing that involves hiking,” Ari read from a letter he composed to Ezra especially for the occasion.
“With the skis on your back, you were no longer the kid in Silverton who the guide had to carry your pack with your skis. You were now a man who hiked up a ridge at 12,000 feet in the driving wind,” he read.
“Ezra, life is not the same without you. But you are still a part of our lives, every single day. You are still making us laugh, you motivate us, and many others in so many ways.”
Hear Ari read his entire heartbreaking letter to Ezra here: