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Pro-Israel Events Planned in Bronx and Westchester

New Rochelle’s weekly ‘Run for Their Lives’ group pauses in front of American Revolutionary War hero Thomas Paine’s home.

During the month of March, there are many ways Westchester and Riverdale residents can help support Israel.

On Thursday March 14 the Shuk to the Core Israeli vendor fair will be held at the Beth El Synagogue Center in New Rochelle from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Items will include art, jewelry, Judaica, kippot, crafts and literature. Through the organization Areyvut, this Israeli vendor market has been touring the New York area, Toronto and Montreal. Its final stops are in New Rochelle and then Manhattan this Sunday, March 17.

Lori Kurlander, operations and communications manager for Westchester Jewish Council explained: “These artists have been struggling in Israel selling their goods. There isn’t the same level of tourism in Israel since the start of the war. These vendor fairs are a good way to show support, to help them when they’re hurting.”

On Sunday, March 17 at 7 p.m., Congregation Kol Ami in White Plains will host “Comedy for Koby.” All ticket proceeds will support the Koby Mandell Foundation. The event will include comedy from Ari Liberman, Judy Gold, Tom Cotter and Ian Lara. Initially sponsored by the Five Synagogues of White Plains Israel Action Committee, five more synagogues are also sponsoring.

YINR starting point for New Rochelle members.

Kurlander said: “Westchester is a very interesting community. We do a lot of interdenominational things. It was their initiative to have a night of comedy. At first, it was debated: Should we be laughing? I’ve been reading articles about how in Israel they are having a lot of comedy events. It is a way Israelis are dealing with the situation; it’s not a disrespectful thing.

“We’re several months into the war,” she continued, “and they decided to do this benefiting the Koby Mandell Foundation, a group which helps people who lost somebody in either a terrorist incident or a war.” Kurlander noted a second purpose of the event is to get the community together.

“Run for Their Lives,” a global run/walk awareness initiative calling for the immediate release of the hostages held by Hamas, has local groups in White Plains, Riverdale and New Rochelle. Each group meets each Sunday morning and everyone is encouraged to wear red. The White Plains community began participating back in November. There are about 350 members on the White Plains WhatsApp group and around 100 participants show up regularly each Sunday.

“There are a bunch of people in this group who’ve visited Israel or are in Israel now,” Kurlander said. “They show footage of this run/walking group to hostages’ families and they’re overwhelmed by it. They report back how much the families appreciate it.”

Leffell School 10th-grader Netta Pack and Ari Vogel, a 10th-grader at the Heschel School, lead Riverdale’s Run for Their Lives group. “We started towards the end of January,” explained Netta. “Something that inspired us was the Central Park run marking 100 days, where over 2,000 people showed up. Some of our family members attended that event. That’s when we realized there wasn’t a Riverdale chapter. Starting something locally in our community, with the people we know and care the most about this conflict, is important.”

Ari noted the first week had 40 participants and they now regularly have 80. “Each week’s run/walk ends at the monument,” he said. “We try to get a local rabbi to come every week and say something. Each week we end with singing of ‘Hatikvah’ and ‘Acheinu,’ songs to lift our spirits.”

Netta chimed in: “A lot of people come to us after and thank us. I think it’s more of a ‘thank you for bringing the community together to support this cause.’ That gives us a warm feeling. We gave back and we did something important.”

The New Rochelle group is led by SAR 10th-graders Lizzie Horowitz and Yakira Rosenberg. Yakira explained: “My aunt mentioned to me she does the one in Philly and she directed us on who to contact to get started. We noticed that there was a group in White Plains, but that was a little far, and Riverdale can be a 20-minute drive on a Sunday morning. We wanted to have one that was local for our community.” Lizzie added: “It’s a 15-30-minute walk around the neighborhood, where we feel connected and that we are doing something.”

The New Rochelle group has about 40 members on their WhatsApp chat, and 25-30 people have shown up each week. The group begins their walk at the Young Israel of New Rochelle, reaches a destination and then returns to the shul. When Lizzie and Yakira return to the shul, they thank everyone for participating, saying, “We hope to do this again next week, unless the hostages come home.”

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