by Yosef Boniuk (’12)

This past Friday, the twenty-third of May, Yeshivat Shaalvim for Men participated in the Talmon Marathon.  The event was organized by Eli Rozenberg (’12) and Yaakov Feldstein, two Yeshivat Shaalvim talmidim, who had approached the administration, asking to brainstorm ideas to raise money for Camp HASC.

 

Camp HASC is a unique summer program which provides over 300 children and adults with intellectual and physical disabilities the opportunity to enjoy an unforgettable camp experience.  Camp HASC serves the social, therapeutic, academic, recreational, and medical needs of all its campers with a positive, “person first” approach to care.  The result was the Yeshiva collaborating with HASC to raise money for camper scholarships by running in the Talmon All Men’s Marathon, as a yeshiva.

 

Many talmidim of the yeshiva (including many MTA alumni) will be staff at camp this summer, and there was no reluctance to strengthen the connection.  HASC gained money and support, and Shaalvim received an opportunity to have achdus and perform chessed.  HASC was elated to have a third prosperous Team HASC come forward this year, after the amazing successes at Fort Lauderdale and Jerusalem.  Yonatan Sklar was the technical organizer and photographer for the run.  Rav Ari Waxman, Menahel of the American program at Shaalvim, Rav Yechezkel Yakovson, the Rosh HaYeshiva of Shaalvim, and Rav Judah Mischel, Director of Personnel and Programming at camp HASC, all supported the joint effort.  R’ Yakovson wrote a “haskamah” and quoted the Gemara in Sotah (14) “Torah techilato gemilut chasadim v’sopha gemilut chasadim.”  Rav Mischel helped on HASC’s end of the program, while Rav Waxman gave a Shiur on the bus ride and assisted on Shaalvim’s end of the program.   Working together as a yeshiva for this worthy cause were talmidim, avrechim, rebbeim, and their children all raising money, running, and just coming to help the crowd cheer on the runners.  Six of Shaalvim’s thirty runners were MTA alumni (Joseph Boniuk (’12), Eli Rozenberg(’12), Tzvi haggler(’12), Avi Borgen (’13), Avi Sebbag (’13), and Eli Weinstein (’13)).  At the race, emotions ran high.  There was a plethora of bright colors, a large crowd of supporters, and the climate was warm.

 

My personal account of the event:

I started my journey up the first hill, not quite unlike the rest of my mornings in Yeshiva.  This morning, however, I would not only be climbing this hill.  This would be the first of many hills.  I had made sure that I was hydrated (a liter and a half of water) and loaded on carbs from the night before (almost half a loaf of bread, a falafel, and some peanut butter).  I walked into the “Beis” a few minutes later than I would have preferred, 5:55 a.m. for a 6:00 Shacharis.

Davening took a respectable 45 minutes and then the runners and fans streamed outside to get on the bus.  Once we got on the real bus, it was a short hop and skip into the “shtachim,” while Rav Waxman gave an inspirational shiur on Kabbalas HaTorahShavuos, and the threes of the nation of Israel (Kohen, Levi, and Yisrael;  Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov …).  The scenery was beautiful, the group was jovial, and the atmosphere was permeated by chessed.  When we arrived at Talmon, after driving around four or five Arab villages, we all went to sign in and get our bibs with numbers and tracking chips. I then put on my suntan lotion, aviator sunglasses, and Tzahalbucket hat and headed toward the starting line.

 

I was slightly surprised to see a gang of bikers preparing to lead us, but then they announced the start of the race and there was no more thinking – only breathing and running for a five kilometer run, the shorter option of the race for those physically untrained yeshiva bochrim like myself.

 

As I reached the last incline, I began to run all out through the finish line, finishing in 30 minutes and 16 seconds.  I drank a few cups of water, returned my bib, and received a Talmon Marathon jersey for my efforts.  My parents, who were visiting for the upcoming wedding of my cousin, arrived and we took some pictures.  Eventually our captain, Eli Rozenberg (’12), ran in having completed the 10K when he signed up for the 5k.  The 5k turnaround was a water station with a man with a megaphone yelling to turn around in Hebrew–no markings or signs.  I guess Eli was so focused on his pace that he just blew past the checkpoint.

While I was running, I was thinking “Mah rabu maasecha, Hashem!”  The number of people running seemed like a herd of animals but looked like a vibrantly colored flock of birds with bright yellows, neon-oranges and royal purples.  I thought how beautiful it was that so many people had appeared to support Israel’s presence in its territories and how many yeshiva bochrim had come and raised money for Camp HASC camper scholarships.  After the race, the times were posted on a board and I went and looked up how well I had done (30:16 in 155th place, 23/32 in my category, which is not too shabby for someone who sits and learns all day).  On the way back to the bus, we took a picture with the “biker gang” that has a connection with Talmon because of an interaction a few years ago that ended positively with new understanding between both the religious community of Talmon and the non-religious bikers.

They acknowledged that the bikers might be passing by Talmon on Shabboswith the condition that they were welcome to stop in to enjoy Kiddush with the community. The ride back was relaxing and we arrived at the Yeshiva before noon, allowing generous time to prepare for Shabbos.

The credit for the creation of the idea and organizing the whole shebang goes to Eli Rozenberg and Yaakov Feldstein.  They connected us with Coach Michal who gave us sound nutritional and preparation advice.  They made sure that all the details from the purple Team HASC t-shirts arriving on time to website for donations (which can still be made athttp://www.camphasc.org/#!talmon-marathon/c11pi) being set up were arranged so that everything RAN smoothly.  After the event I asked Eli Rozenberg (’12) what he thought of the event and he said “This marathon really combined ahavas Eretz Yisrael, chessed, tzedakah, achdus, and of course physical health.”

 

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