It’s hard not to love Jerusalem, from the extensive history to new innovations, the multiculturalism and differences between the people, and even the hot weather. It’s even possible to sunbathe here without being near the beach. However, despite all of this, there’s one overarching problem: the enormous disconnect between Arabs and Jews.
In order to improve this situation, an organization I am a member of called Runners Without Borders was established. Through the sport of running we are trying to make connections between Jews and Arabs and create a city that is united. In addition to the weekly running workouts, we also meet after training to eat and drink and travel to different races around the world to represent Israel and the values we believe in. In the past year we started an additional project: our own race!
The idea began when we realized that the Jerusalem Municipality had set their Night Run to take place during the period of the Muslim holiday Ramadan, thereby preventing Muslim participants from competing in the race. Despite our attempts to have the date postponed to make it possible for everyone to run who wants to, the race organizers did not change the original date. In protest, we decided to create an alternative and organize our own race with participants from our group and anyone else that may be interested to join.
The competition was a great experience and I was happy to take third place in my age group. As a child I could barely run 400 meters, now thanks to the group I am able to run long distances with good results.
As a result of our protest, the Jerusalem Night Run changed the day of the race to a date that accommodates all citizens of the city. As for us, we decided to continue the tradition of running our own race.
This year’s “Jerusalemites Running Together” will take place on June second and we are inviting everyone to join us. The distance is just 5 kilometers, a distance that even people who have not been training regularly can usually run without difficulty. I also promise you a medal and cake at the finish and an excellent atmosphere. If there’s a way to help improve the city, why not have some fun and participate in a way that benefits you as well?
Itzik Karacik is a member of the Jerusalem-based Runners Without Borders, a running team of Jewish and Arab youth from east and west Jerusalem.