Determined not to be deterred by the limitations of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jessica Katz, founder and director of Yad Leah’s international office, has devised a creative and accessible alternative to the two previous Dash for Dignity events. This year, on Sunday, November 8, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., participants will be able to join Yad Leah’s mega fundraising event by selecting one of four beautiful, local running and/or walking 5K courses. In addition, families can walk a one-mile course in their neighborhoods or even participate at home on their treadmills. Registration for the run is currently underway and potential participants are expressing enthusiasm for the choice of venues and are gearing up through the training course being offered with registration.
The hand-picked courses include the following within a 30-minute commute from Teaneck and Passaic: Tallman Mountain State Park on Route 9W in Palisades, New York, offers a crushed-gravel path alongside the scenic Hudson River covered by a high canopy of trees, an opportunity for a true adventure in a beautiful venue. Saddle River Country Park, located at 760 Saddle River Road in Saddle Brook, New Jersey, is a lovely, paved suburban trail that winds along the Saddle River and through attractive suburban neighborhoods, wooded and serene, with occasional appearances of geese, ducks, squirrels and deer. Offering two optional courses, this run ends at the picturesque Glen Rock area of the park. Overpeck County Park is a scenic 811-acre park situated in the heart of Bergen County. At this location, the Dash will begin at the amphitheater where ample parking is available, and proceed on a flat trail along the Overpeck Creek through fields, playgrounds and huge, grassy knolls. The fourth venue is Votee Park, in the heart of Teaneck, which will begin in the Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School parking lot and proceed via Palisades Avenue to Votee Park. After the run, participants can feast in the many local eateries on West Englewood Avenue and Queen Anne Road.
For those who elect to participate closer to their homes, including those supporters of Yad Leah from around the U.S. as well as in Israel, courses of one mile to five kilometers can be followed within the five-hour time slot, qualifying for participation in the dash. Finally, participants can also take part in the run by running on their treadmills for the one mile or 5K.
Early Bird registration is currently underway offering a reduced cost to participants and their families. When registering by going to the website www.yadleah.org/dash, participants will be provided with the free RaceJoyApp to track their run and instantly submit finishing time to a shared website. In addition, training videos including “Tricks and Tips” by Coach Atara Weissberger of Tribe Coaching will be provided. A curated music playlist will also be available. On the Thursday and Friday prior to the Dash, November 5-6, Dash for Dignity event T-shirts will be distributed in Teaneck and Passaic. Bibs bearing the individual participants’ numbers will be distributed as well.
At the finish line of the Dash, the participants will receive a Finish Line Souvenir Medal, a tasty snack pack and a memorable post-Dash photo op with free download. Careful scheduling has gone into ensuring that the four outdoor venues will practice proper social distancing and masking whenever indicated.
Founded in 2003 by girlhood friends Jessica Katz of Passaic and Karen Thaler of Beitar Illit in Israel, the mission of Yad Leah is to alleviate the impact of poverty on hundreds of families in over 30 communities in Israel. When shipments arrive of new and slightly used year-round clothing for infants to adults, as well as hair accessories, hats, linens, towels, tablecloths, handbags, school bags and cosmetics, they are distributed country-wide to designated shops in small cities and yishuvim, where they are accessible to residents for free or at nominal costs. These dignified shopping venues enable thousands of Israeli families to provide self-confidence and warmth to their households facing financial challenges. The testimonies from recipients of Yad Leah’s shipments for the past 17 years are truly accounts of life-changing experiences brought about by the largesse of Yad Leah. In addition to providing for the recipients, Yad Leah has become a very popular venue for chesed projects in Bergen County and the surrounding areas. Groups from schools, shuls and informal organizations have lent a hand to packing for Yad Leah at their enormous warehouse in Passaic. Moreover, families have selected Yad Leah as mitzvah projects for bar/bat mitzvah celebrations and other family milestones such as birthdays and anniversaries.
The 2019 Dash for Dignity attracted over 600 participants. This year, despite COVID-19, the potential for even more participants has been provided through the creativity and countless hours of planning by Jessica Katz and her local team. Register today for the November 8 Dash for Dignity by visiting www.yadleah.org/dash. Become a part of the Yad Leah family by running/walking at the venue of your choice. Invite your family and friends to sponsor you in this meaningful event.
By Pearl Markovitz