Team Yachad Jerusalem Finishes Marathon ‘Hand-in-Hand,’ Promoting Inclusion

06 Mar 2013


Team Yachad Jerusalem, 214 strong, gearing up for the big race.

Team Yachad Jerusalem members, 214 strong, reached the finish line this past Friday at the Jerusalem 10K, Half-Marathon and Marathon, exemplifying Yachad’s mission of Inclusion for those living with disabilities within the broad Jewish community all the way to the finish line.

Participating with Team Yachad Jerusalem was Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman, national director of Yachad | Jewish Disabilities Inclusion/The National Jewish Council for Disabilities (NJCD), who has run the ING Miami Half-Marathon with Team Yachad in 2010, which he established four years ago.

Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman, Yachad national director, participated in the 10K.

Gila Bublick, a returning Team Yachad Jerusalem runner.

Yachad/The National Jewish Council for Disabilities (NJCD), an agency of the Orthodox Union, is dedicated to enhancing the opportunities of individuals with disabilities, promoting Inclusion and independence through various integrated activities and ensuring their participation in the full spectrum of Jewish life.

Sponsors of Team Yachad Jerusalem include Café/Café, the Jerusalem Post, Soho Gift Shop, and “MyPlace” Realty.

Each participant committed to raise $500 for Yachad/NJCD’s Israel Chapter. In return, Yachad provided a personalized training regimen offered by Coach Chaim Wizman of Beit Shemesh; official Team Yachad race gear; guaranteed race admission; a pre-race pasta party and post-race BBQ.

Straight from the race, Team Yachad members spent an Inclusive and inspiring Shabbat in Sderot with members of Yachad Israel in the Hesder Yeshiva of Sderot. During the Shabbaton, Rosh Yeshiva of Sderot Rabbi David Fendel spoke with them about the importance of giving; and devotion to a great cause resembling the daily bravery of the people of Sderot.

“The Talmud indicates that every four steps a Jew takes in Eretz Yisroel is a mitzvah,” noted Yoel Sterman, co-director of Yachad Israel. “Team Yachad Jerusalem not only managed to raise funds to continue promoting Yachad’s goals of Inclusion within the Jewish community but together, ran 1,480,045 mitzvahs. In so many ways, they united to be part of a greater purpose.”

Yehuda Berren, 74, the oldest member of Team Yachad Jerusalem, shows his race medal during an interview with Nachum Segal.

Radio personality Nachum Segal of the Nachum Segal Network ( broadcast live with the team for two full days at the Yachad tent of the Marathon EXPO and from the finish line. Among many runners and supporters who Nachum interviewed were Rabbi Avi Berman, executive director of the OU’s Seymour J. Abrams Jerusalem World Center in Jerusalem; the Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, who ran the half-marathon; and MK Danny Danon of Likud, who came to the Yachad tent before he headed to the start line.

“Team Yachad members truly exemplified its motto of ‘Running Hand-in-Hand,’ especially as two groups of three or four runners ran alongside team members in wheel chairs,” Yoel Sterman emphasized. “Three students from Yeshivat Lev HaTorah ran with 60-year-old Israel Dienstag, who sat in a special wheel chair designed for running; and two students from Machon Lev College ran with Zev Chaim Kastner, a young boy who participated in his wheel chair.”

Team Yachad members included students who ran with 60-year-old Israel Dienstag, who sat in a special wheel chair designed for running.

“I have coached many runners from all different walks of life in my coaching career, but rarely have I been so privileged to be associated with such an idealistic and enthusiastic group,” shared Coach Wizman. “What the Team Yachad runners have accomplished was far more than simply going the distance in one challenging race. They have embarked on what is hopefully a lifelong commitment to going the extra mile both for themselves and on behalf of the countless others they will help and inspire through their efforts.”

Sam Sicklick, who held a special Purim carnival this year in honor of becoming bar mitzvah, runs outside the Old City of Jerusalem.

Yachad Israel member Yaacov Braun gave the race his all.

Team Yachad Jerusalem members included: Yehuda Berren, who, at 74, was the oldest member of the Team, and who ran for the second year in a row with Team Yachad Jerusalem; Mannie Fabian, only 15-years-old, from Beit Shemesh, completed the full marathon; Isaac Buchine, 18, from Houston, who ran the full marathon in just 03:52:20 and announced during Shabbat his plan of making aliyah—joining the army and hoping to stay involved and connected to Yachad Israel; Natan Shor, managing director of OU Israel; members of the Sicklick family (mom, Tamar; and father, Andrew; and son Sam) who also celebrated Sam’s bar mitzvah recently with a Yachad Purim Carnival; and Jillian Goldsmith from Ra’anana, who ran with her sister Ariana, and at 12-years-old was the youngest team member.

In an ‘only in Israel’ experience, a goat befriended Yoel Sterman during his run, and stayed beside him all the way from the Old City of Jerusalem to the finish line (5K). “The goat started following me as we left the Old City,” said Yoel with a smile. “At the finish line, the goat was given water, food and a Team Yachad T-shirt!”

Yachad Israel Co-Director Yoel Sterman, left, running the race with his new friend.

Yoel and the goat catch their breath post-race.

OU | Enhancing Jewish Life