x1By Rabbi Pesach Sommer, Director of Team Just One Life

Women and families in Israel were helped. Lives were changed. Friends were made. People accomplished more than they thought they could.

It’s hard to believe all of this happened in the first year of Team Just One Life’s existence. Through the first two races, the Jerusalem Marathon (which also had a half-marathon and 10K) and the San Diego Rock N’ Roll Marathon and half-marathon, almost 50 runners and walkers raised funds to help mothers in Israel who are dealing with crisis pregnancies. Whether it was a high-school student doing her first race in San Diego or an older veteran runner running his latest race, every member of the team had a great time and was moved by the cause of building families in Israel.

Looking back and reflecting on all Team Just One Life accomplished in its first year, there is so much that comes to mind. The visionary leadership of Just One Life chairman of the board Jack Forgash has been an inspiration. The encouragement and support of Just One Life director Rabbi Martin Katz and executive VP Rabbi Etan Tokayer were invaluable. In particular, I continue to be inspired by our first race, at the Jerusalem Marathon/half-marathon and 10K in March.

Although I had heard of the many accomplishments of our staff in Israel under the inspirational leadership of Just One Life’s executive VP in Israel, Madelaine Gitelman, I learned how true Chazal’s words are, that hearing does not compare to seeing. I was inspired and humbled as I watched members of the team sit, awestruck, as they listened to Madelaine describe some of the women and the challenges they face. We all left the office that day with an even greater commitment to doing anything we could to help Just One Life.

We were all inspired running through the streets of Yerushalayim, seeing the Holy City in a way we had never seen it before. Having longtime runner and Just One Life board member Steve Adelsberg run with us helped reinforce what the team was about.

As we prepare for our second year, I am excited for what is yet to come. We have only just begun to scratch the surface of what we will accomplish, and I look forward to helping new people experience the excitement, joy, and passion that comes from being a member of Team Just One Life.

In addition to returning to Jerusalem in March, and San Diego in June, we have a third race in Southern California. Team Just One Life managed to secure 30 spots in the sold out Tinker Bell Half-Marathon at Disneyland on Sunday, January 19, 2014. As our runners and walkers go through the course, which goes through the theme park, they will be entertained by Disney characters and incredible on course entertainment.

For more information, see the ads on pages 9 & 21, visit www.teamjustonelife.org, or call 973-668-7672. v


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here