Dec 27, 2004 — Avishai Chelst is spreading the virtues of good health to his peers at The Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy/Yeshiva University High School for Boys.
Concerned about his own fitness, Mr. Chelst, a senior, initiated Aliyat Regel in October – an exercise program with a Torah twist.
“Students’ schedules leave little time for physical activity. We sit in class all day and then have homework,” he said. “I wanted to help my classmates make exercise a priority.”
So through Aliyat Regel, Mr. Chelst and 50 other students are walking 5,700 miles—the distance between New York and Jerusalem – around the Wilf Campus during their breaks and when they return to their hometowns.
The project’s name, Aliyat Regel, alludes to the Biblical commandment for Jews to travel to Jerusalem on the holidays of Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkoth.
Mr. Chelst modeled Aliyat Regel after a successful program in his native Detroit, MI, where a group of students walked to raise money for charity and used pedometers to clock their distance. He ordered pedometers for the participants and sweatshirts emblazoned with the project’s logo.
He also asked a travel agency to donate a voucher to be used toward an airplane trip to Jerusalem, which will be awarded to the student who walks the most miles.
On the project’s Web site, www.aliyatregel.org, Mr. Chelst keeps a record of each participant’s mileage. He also posts divrei Torah from MSTA rebbeim that offer the Torah’s perspective on good health.
“We motivate our students to act as role models in school and in the greater community,” said Ya’akov Sklar, MSTA principal. “Avishai really took the reigns on this project.”
Aliyat Regel will conclude when students have completed 5,700 miles.