April 8, 2024
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‘Run for Their Lives’ Walks for the Hostages in Votee Park

Ronnie and Bonnie Schwartz hold up pictures of the hostages donated by Majestic Signs of Teaneck.

It was 10 a.m. on a beautiful Sunday morning as a large crowd gathered at Votee Park in Teaneck by the corner of Court Street and Queen Anne Road. As part of the Teaneck chapter of the Run for Their Lives campaign, which calls for the immediate release of the hostages held by Hamas, this large group was there, once again, to take a walk around the park, clad in flags of Israel and the United States, and clutching signs with the faces of the hostages, They have been doing this for many weeks now and Sunday marked day 149 of captivity for the hostages being held in Gaza.

It was Julie Wasserman and her sister Abbie Sophia Adamit who founded and organized the Teaneck branch of Run for Their Lives. The sisters were feeling hopeless and wanted to do something, anything, that they thought could help. They discovered Run for Their Lives and the walking groups that had been established all over the world, including neighboring Tenafly and Fair Lawn.

Groups gather at a set time every week to remind the world about the plight of the hostages in Israel, let the families of those hostages know that they have not been forgotten, and that they will continue to remind the world of their plight for as long as it takes.

Walkers holding up pictures of the hostages donated by Majestic Signs of Teaneck.

“We are showing the world and the hostages’ families that people all over are speaking up for them, we’re not forgetting them — it’s a human crisis — this is a human issue,” Adamit said. “It’s a meaningful way to start your day to put all of our thoughts and prayers and to feel like we are doing something.

“It’s a way for the kids of our community to get involved,” she continued. “A huge thing for me is showing our Jewish family here and in Israel that we, one of the largest Jewish communities in the world, show up. I am so proud of Teaneck!”

“There are a lot of opinions regarding what should be done and how it should be done in terms of getting the hostages home. But Run for Their Lives is purely to keep their names in the news and in the public eye.” explained Wasserman, “The hostages need a voice and they need our actions to make their plight known.” Adamit added that it’s also about commemorating those who were savagely murdered in Oct. 7 attacks.

The walk began, like it always does, with a few words by Wasserman who said, “What a world we live in that parents are beseeching the public to get their children back … at Hostage Square I heard parents screaming at the top of their lungs for their children. They know that we are here and that’s what we are here to do — to scream with our feet and hold up our signs.” A misheberach is then recited for the hostages.

During the walks, Adamit calls out the names of the hostages, letting them know that everyone is waiting for them to return home. Wasserman added, “We use the strength of the group to daven together for the safe return of the hostages.” This week was particularly poignant, as this Friday, March 8 will mark International Women’s Day, a day the United Nations has designated to call on the world to “Celebrate women’s achievement. Raise awareness about discrimination. Take action to drive gender parity,” all while hypocritically, shamefully and willfully ignoring the plight of the female hostages held in Gaza, and the mass sexual violence and murder perpetrated by Hamas on Oct. 7.

Ronnie and Bonnie Schwartz of Teaneck were handing out signs with pictures of the hostages. They have been coming every week since Run for Their Lives first started in Teaneck. A few weeks ago, they decided to have signs of the hostages made to carry on these weekly circuits. They ordered them from Majestic Signs in Teaneck. When they returned to pick the order, the owners, Robert and Barbara, refused payment telling the Schwartzes that donating these signs was the least they could do.

At the conclusion of the walk, a chapter of Tehillim is recited, followed by “Hatikvah” and “Acheinu.”

“Our goal is that we won’t have to keep walking every Sunday because the hostages will come home but until that happens, we are going to keep on walking for them,” said Adamit.

“It is our duty and moral calling to stand and walk and speak for them. I love that RFTL mandates that groups walk peacefully and do not disrupt public places but subtly and kindly share our message. It is meant to share the message in a respectful manner, something that we keep in mind each week. The police know we walk and we thank them always for their watchful eye,” added Wasserman

When Wasserman had the privilege to join the ”Bergen County Unites Mission to Israel” a few weeks ago, she met Rachel Goldberg Polin and Jon Polin, the parents of hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin. She shared with them how they formed a walking group in Teaneck and that so many people from the community are regularly calling on elected officials to ask for support.

“They said that they feel our efforts and it helps them and asked us not to stop.”

Adamit and Wasserman express their sincere gratitude to The Jewish Link for its continuing coverage of this initiative. Run for Their Lives meets at Votee Park in Teaneck at 10 a.m. Sunday mornings at the corner of Queen Anne Road and Court Street.

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