April 16, 2024
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Yeshivat Sha’alvim Partners with Team HASC to Take On Talmon Marathon

I started my journey up the first hill not quite unlike the rest of my mornings in yeshi­va. This morning, however, I would not only be climbing this hill, but this would be the first of many. I was not afraid though, for I had made sure that I was hydrated and loaded on carbs from the night before.

It was May 23, Erev Shabbos, and 33 mem­bers of Yeshivat Sha’alvim participated in the Talmon All-Men’s Marathon, proudly wear­ing matching purple running shirts with the words “Team HASC Talmon” across their chests. The group consisted of students, kollel mem­bers, and even rebbeim and their children, rep­resenting their yeshiva. It was a yeshiva effort to perform an act of chesed, and the result was the yeshiva collaborating with HASC to raise much-needed money for camper scholarships.

Camp HASC is a unique summer pro­gram that provides over 300 children and adults with intellectual and physical dis­abilities the opportunity to enjoy an un­forgettable camp experience. Camp HASC serves the social, therapeutic, academic, recreational, and medical needs of all its campers with a positive, “person first” ap­proach to care. Many talmidim of the yeshi­va are staff members at Camp HASC, and there was no reluctance to strengthen the connection. HASC gained money and sup­port, and Sha’alvim was proud of the op­portunity for achdut and performance of such a beautiful and impactful chesed. HASC was elated to have a third prosper­ous Team HASC come forward this year, af­ter the amazing successes at the Fort Laud­erdale and Jerusalem marathons.

That morning, I walked into the “Beis” a few minutes later than I would have preferred, 5:55 a.m. for a 6:00 Shacharit. We boarded the bus and heard a shiur from Rav Ari Waxman, Me­nahel of the Overseas Students at Sha’alvim, en route to the Yishuv. The scenery was beau­tiful, the group was jovial, and the atmosphere smelled of chesed.

When we arrived at Talmon, after driving around four or five Arab villages, we all went to sign in and get our bibs with numbers and tracking chips. I put on my sunscreen, aviator sunglasses, and Tzahal bucket hat and head­ed toward the starting line. I was slightly sur­prised to see a gang of bikers preparing to lead us, but then they announced the start of the race and there was no more thinking, only breathing and running for a five kilometer run, the shorter option of the race for those physi­cally untrained yeshiva guys like myself. Emo­tions ran high. There was a plethora of bright colors, a large crowd of supporters, and the cli­mate was warm.

Around a half hour later, I reached the last incline and decided to run all-out through the finish line. I drank a few cups of wa­ter, returned my bib, and received a Talmon Marathon jersey for my ef­forts. My parents, who were visiting for the wedding of my cousin, ar­rived and we took some pictures. Af­ter the race, the times were posted on a board and I went and looked up how well I had done (30:16 in 155th place, 23/32 in my category, which is not too shabby for someone who sits and learns all day).

While I was running I was think­ing, “Ma rabu maasecha, Hashem!” The view of the Shomron hills was nothing short of breathtaking (as if I had any left). The number of people running seemed like a herd of animals but looked like a vibrantly colored flock of birds with bright yellows, neon-oranges, and royal purples. I thought how beautiful it was that so many people had appeared to support Israel’s pres­ence in its territories and how many yeshiva students from Sha’alvim had come and raised money for Camp HASC.

Our inclusion in the event was organized by Eli Rozenberg and Yaakov Feldstein, two sec­ond- year Sha’alvim students and both coun­selors at Camp HASC. They had approached the administration, asking to brainstorm ide­as to raise money for Camp HASC. The mara­thon became an agreeable option, and every­thing moved forward quickly from there under their leadership. They facilitated recruitment, sponsorships, T-shirt orders, and all of the logis­tics for Team HASC Talmon. They also served as the middlemen between the organizations of the marathon—HASC, and Sha’alvim—none of whom have ever worked together before. Rav Yechezkel Yakovson, the Rosh HaYeshiva of Sha’alvim, Rav Ari Waxman, and Rav Judah Mis­chel, Director of Personnel and Programming at Camp HASC, all enthusiastically support­ed the joint effort. In R’ Yakovson’s written has­camah (approval) of the event he quoted the Gemarah in Sotah (14a) “Torah techilato gemi­lut chasadim v’sopha gemilut chasadim—To­rah’s beginning and ending is acts of kindness.” Yonatan Sklar was the technical organizer, do­ing all the behind-the-scenes work from the HASC end, and photographed the run. Team HASC’s Coach Michal gave us sound nutrition­al and preparation advice.

During the planning stages, I asked Yaak­ov Feldstein for a summary of what they were doing and he told me: “We spend day in and day out learning in the Beit Midrash, but we can’t forget the importance of chesed and do­ing things for other people, especially allowing these beautiful souls the opportunity to come to Camp HASC. We’re trying the best we can to make as big of Kiddush Hashem as possible.”

And a tremendous Kiddush Hashem it was. There is no doubt that Friday’s success will pave the road for others to join and contribute to the constant effort in acting selflessly for others and making the world a better place.

Donations can still be made at talmon. teamhasc.com. To contact Eli Rozenberg and Yaakov Feldstein, email talmon.teamhasc@ gmail.com.

By Joseph M. Boniuk

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